Polyamorous Hierarchy Labels

Primary. Secondary. What do they mean? Do I believe in these labels?

To those who look at my relationships and lifestyle, they’d say I have one primary relationship, and a few secondary ones.

By definition (thanks Wikipedia) “Primary and secondary (and occasionally tertiary) are words used by some polyamorists to distinguish between different degrees of relationship and to describe participants in those relationships (e.g. “John is my primary”).

These terms indicate degrees of entanglement and involvement: ‘primary’ generally indicates a closer degree of involvement than ‘secondary’, and ‘secondary’ closer than ‘tertiary’. Usage varies between describing a type or “class” of relationship (which could for example involve situations with multiple primaries, or with secondaries but no primaries), or a 1-2-3 ranking of importance (in which case the most important single relationship, even if casual, would be “primary”; and lesser involvements would be secondary or tertiary in order).

The type of entanglement/involvement described varies according to the speaker. The terms generally refer to one or more of the following:

  • Emotional involvement: the intensity or depth of participants’ feelings for one another.
  • Logistic involvement: living and financial arrangements, shared child-rearing, etc.
  • Ground rules within relationships: participants might agree that the maintenance of a particular relationship takes priority over others, making that relationship ‘primary’.”

I will admit that I term my relationship with my hubby Gun as “primary”. We are legally married, have 2 kids, 3 pets, a mortgage, bills…you see where I’m going here. He has been my rock for over two decades now, has been supportive of this journey we’re both on, and with me exploring myself.

We’ve been with our quad for over 2.5 years. I consider Bob more equivalent to another spouse, and have called him my poly hubby for a while now.  We met back before I knew I could be polyamorous, and connected right away. We knew that our relationship was different, more than just friends.  It’s evolved and deepened even more so recently as we’ve started exploring D/s together.

I started dating my boyfriend Erik around 10 months ago now.  We’ve gotten pretty close over that time, and I feel a connection with him that’s rare.  He’s very observant, and he has picked up things within me that I’ve either tried to hold in, or have been unaware of.

But really, I don’t base my relationships on a hierarchy. When it comes to feelings, I don’t consider any of my relationships more important than the other. They run parallel, and my feelings for one don’t have any impact on my feelings for the others. Yes, all men (and wives) have met, and know each other to varying degrees. That’s the type of poly I prefer to practice, open communication between everyone, and as long as that communication is open, what happens in one relationship has little impact on the others. They’ve each helped me uncover facets of myself I didn’t necessarily know where there, and I’m thankful to them all.  I am in love with, and committed to each man. For decades, years, months, however long our journeys take us.

2 thoughts on “Polyamorous Hierarchy Labels

  1. shutterboB says:

    Very true.. I consider ourself.. Our quad as part of a poly group .. And others attached as the come and go… Being a dominant I’m more hierarchical it’s part of my nature.. Lexxi and you will always be at the top… After well lest call it a hybrid of anarchist 😉

  2. kalypso10 says:

    “But really, I don’t base my relationships on a hierarchy. When it comes to feelings, I don’t consider any of my relationships more important than the other. They run parallel, and my feelings for one don’t have any impact on my feelings for the others.”
    ^Yes, I absolutely agree with this…

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