... and I also deserve the right to get pissed off when someone insults me and that person ought to feel the effects of pissing someone off.
There has been some discussion in several venues lately about primaries and secondaries in the poly community. We did a Poly Weekly
segment about it (coming out next week), it's been a discussion topic in several online and in-person discussions, tacit
wrote a post about prescripting primary/secondary in order to create a delusion of control against change
, and then RedPepper started a thread about it in the polyamory.com
I had decided to rant about the primary/secondary issue because it kept coming up and I kept getting angry over it, but what sparked the *direction* of the following rant was the argument in the polyamory.com forums. I've had a few run-ins with the members of the polyamory.com forum members, and this last one was the final one - I'm dropping my account the way I did when the old PolyMatchMaker forums had the same kind of people. I hear PMM has changed now, so I may re-sign up, at their request.
I've had it up to here with passive-aggressive and ego-centric behaviour. I am sick to death of people who take every mother-fucking statement as a personal attack, whether it was directed at them or not, and whether the "attacker" even said whatever it was that got their panties in a bunch. I am sick to death of getting into a discussion or debate on an important topic only to spend the next 8 fucking pages saying "I didn't say that, I said this and I was responding to [your quote here]". And I am royally sick of moderators allowing people to be repeatedly insulting and offensive, as long as they say it with nice words, even after it has been repeatedly, politely pointed out that it was insulting, but when I'm fed up with being insulted, getting MY posts blocked because I didn't bother using nice words to express my frustration.
Sorry, but using cuss words is not the only way someone can make a "hostile and inflammatory attack". I don't appreciate the way everyone else has to pacify and pander to a handful of the most vocal members because they get their feelings hurt everytime someone disagrees with them and they take it as a personal attack. Being forced to defend myself every time I make a statement because someone thinks I was personally insulting *that person* is tiring and puts me on the defensive from the outset as I try to out-think how someone might possibly interpret something I said as "offensive" when I know damn well that I wasn't talking to or about whoever it is that will throw a hissy fit, or when I am talking to someone in particular but there's just no way to cushion the truth any more and still have it resemble the truth. Especially when I and 2 or 3 others have already rephrased it as many ways as we can think of and people are still misinterpreting, or worse, outright saying the opposite.
I'm sick of people making generalizations like "all monogamous people are inherently selfish" and "a mono mind will read a book about polyamory and interpret its spirituality content differently than a poly mind" and "all women are bi and all men are straight" and "all men take flirting as a promise while all women naively take flirting not seriously", while those same exact people read a post that says "Poly people who make rules out of fear are insecure" and say "hey, not all people who make rules are insecure, you shouldn't generalize like that!" And I'm fucking sick to the point of blind, spitting, rage of people saying that my relationships "don't count" because they're long-distance or not live-in or I wasn't there first, and that the primaries are more important than the secondaries, whomever they designate as "secondary" by whatever arbitrary limitations they place on relationships they're not in.
What strikes me most about this topic is that, over and over again, people don't seem to see any problem with saying "My life is more important than yours, therefore if we start dating, we require you to rearrange your life to suit our issues so that you make no meaningful impact on our lives. We have it just as we like it and we don't need you coming in and messing that up, so we're going to limit your impact." People continue to justify treating their future partners like threats, like criminals guilty until proven innocent, like dating is an adversarial relationship and all efforts must be made to preserve the status quo at all costs. The new guy is the enemy and we have to protect the primary relationship against possible and unknown CHANGE, whether we know if that change will be good or not.
"We want to have a relationship with you, but we don't want to, y'know, CHANGE anything about our lives to accomodate that new relationship. Our lives should look exactly the same as it does now, except we get sex from you and we get to say we're dating you (but only when we want to say it, you're not allowed to decide when we say it). You do all the changing to make sure our lives stay exactly the same while still giving us sex and dating privileges with you."
And I have a BIG problem with that. Why the fuck are you getting involved in any way with someone you view as a threat to your existing life?
Like non-religious folk for centuries, poly people who find themselves as "secondaries" (i.e. second-class citizens) to these selfish, self-centered, ego-centric, solipsistic assholes have been saying politely "um, y'know, I'd kinda like to have a say in my own relationship here, but since this whole relationship is new, I'm not going to insist that I be treated like a human being with equal rights because that might cause you to dump me". OK, the non-religious or other-religious folk have been saying "uh, look, I have rights too, but I'll sit quietly over here, not demanding my rights, because you might kill me." But the point is still the same. Things don't get changed when only one side is being polite and the other side goes on happily tromping all over the other side's life, liberty, and dignity.
So I'm not going to be polite. In this post, I'm going to get angry. I'm going to get emotional, raging angry. I'm going to cuss and I'm going to be mean. I'm going to call names. I'm going to talk in the second person because it more effectively illustrates my anger, so if you don't personally do this (even though you're in a pre-existing couple or you use the words "primary" and "secondary), then assume I'm not talking about you. If you don't do this, pretend you came across a letter to someone else because I don't want to hear "I do primary/secondary but I don't do it like this".
I don't fucking care. If you don't do this, I'm not talking to you (but it might benefit you to be more aware of how other people might perceive you). If you *do* do this but are in denial, the last thing I want to hear is your justification and rationalization for why it's *different
* when you fuck someone over.
I think you people need to hear just how insulting, just how offensive, just how HURTFUL you are to the people you date. Too many people who become secondaries are not allowed to get upset or angry, or if they do, it's after you've already dumped their ass and you don't see it. If you do happen to get a glimpse, you get all self-righteous and defensive, saying that the other person just didn't respect
your relationship. Well why should they? You don't respect them!
So I'm going to show you what your actions do to other human beings. I'm going to lash out like the secondaries you treat like non-people aren't allowed to. I'm going to attempt to hurt you with my words the way you've hurt them and the way they aren't allowed to hurt you. I'm going to show you the hurt feelings, the rage, and the emotional tantrum THAT YOU CAUSED with your insensitivity and lack of empathy because I think you need to see. Because those people you hurt are unlikely to show you themselves, and because those who have been burned by you and others like you are afraid to speak up publicly because we have to be polite
of your oh-so-special primary-bond, because there isn't "One True Way" so no one is allowed to say "you're doing it wrong!"
Maybe if you had to suffer through the fallout of your actions, you people would be a little more sensitive and think about your partners a little more and yourself a little less. Since you're already partnered & looking for those single polys whose lives are unimportant enough to be absorbed into yours, you won't ever feel what it's like to be in this position, so I'm going to yell and scream the way these secondaries can't ever do themselves in the hopes that SOMEONE will look at this and say "I never realized I hurt another human being so badly." Ya'll seriously need a Breakfast Club
detention session where you have to come face to face with the people you're hurting and SEE
Of course, the ability to accept that we contributed to another's pain is a sign of true maturity, and those who treat secondaries like this are still stuck in the kindergarten-phase of life, where the world revolves around them and everyone else's feelings are incidental, if noticed at all, so I'll be shocked if I actually achieve my goal. Oh well, at least shouting makes me feel better, since I can't actually knock you people upside the heads to beat some sense into you. Believe me, if that method showed any evidence of working, you'd all see what kind of physical temper I traded for this verbal temper I now express online.
So, in the polyamory.com thread
started by RedPepper, she and others have expressed (there and in other threads) the idea that there is nothing wrong with a pre-existing couple pre-scripting their future (read: not-yet-existing with people not-yet-met) relationships in order to protect their existing structure. Several people tried in mostly polite words to explain that this doesn't take into account the fact that the new person is, in fact, a person, with needs and rights of their own and, at the very least, deserve a say in negotiating their own relationship.
It was also said SEVERAL TIMES that this is not the same thing as making someone an automatic equal partner on the same level as a spouse starting on the first date. As usual, the opposition seems to have failed reading comprehension in high school, because more than once, the response was "I shouldn't give my new partner the same rights as my spouse".
NO SHIT SHERLOCK.
No one has now or ever said "when you go on a first date with someone, that person is now the equivalent of your spouse and has equal say in parenting, financial, physical, and emotional issues in your life." That's a strawman argument, which is a logical fallacy, which means SHUT THE FUCK UP.
What is being said is that the new person should not be given a handbook with their relationship description, their rights and benefits, as though it were a company handbook and he has just been hired for the position of "new secondary". What is being said is that it is reasonable for the member of the existing family and the new partner to sit down together and NEGOTIATE the rules and/or boundaries of their relationship TOGETHER. What is being said is that the new partner gets to say "uh, I don't think that clause is very fair, I'd like to discuss it" or "I have a few non-negotiable clauses of my own".
What is being said is that the new person has financial obligations, familial obligations, a job, a home, a social life, friends, family, maybe even children and existing partners, that are JUST AS IMPORTANT as those belonging to the couple making all the rules. Just because the new partner is single does't mean that it is easier (or fair) for the new person to give everything up to merge into the new family than it would be for the existing couple.
RELATIONSHIPS SHOULD NOT BE ADVERSARIAL. When an existing couple begins a relationship with a new partner, whether it's together, or just one member, you are not absorbing the new person into your family. YOU ARE BUILDING A WHOLE NEW FAMILY.
Expecting that just because someone is single, that it is easier for them to do all the changing and accomodating to suit the couple they're getting involved with, is unfair and not based in reality. Single poly people have all the same goddamn obligations as partnered polys, only we have to do it all by ourselves with no help and no safety net, no one to support us if we pick up and move across the country to join you, no one to share the financial burden, no one to take over or help with the care of our ailing parents, no one to watch our kids when we go on a date with you, no additional income to make up for that vacation time we took to go on YOUR family vacation, and no one to support us when you do something to hurt our feelings. We have to do this all by ourselves. When you're feeling alone or neglected, you get to call your partner home, but since we're not allowed to make demands or requests, and we have no one else, we have to deal with our bad days at work, our financial stress, our hormones, our illnesses, and even our celebrations by ourselves. Accommodating the two or more of you can be MUCH harder than a group of you making some accommodation for one of me.
And, on top of that, we're met with suspicion by you or your spouses, treated as though we're on probation while several sets of eyes watch us for any moves that could be interpreted as too pushy, too forward, trying to take over, trying to "steal" you, trying to move in too quickly, or not moving quickly enough if we resist some of the changes you insist we make for you. You insist that we respect your relationship while you do not respect our existing relationships, our future relationships, or our current singlehood. It feels like living in a fucking Police
song ("Every Move You Make, I'll Be Watching You") or a police state.
All the while, we're being constantly reminded that YOU already have what we're trying to build, and that you think we'll never measure up, that we're not good enough, that we don't deserve to be treated fairly. Sometimes we're not even allowed in your house, our PDA is curtailed, our every action is scripted before we come on the scene, the names we're allowed to call you, the places we're allowed to go, the bed we're allowed to make love in, the amount of time we're allowed to spend with you, all written without our input. Those of you who started out your coupleship as monogamous, you got to experience NRE with no outside restrictions and you got to build your relationship naturally. We have our NRE pre-written for us and we have to pay attention to our NRE and curb our expression of our NRE to prevent you from feeling left out. We do not get to experience the full joys of a relationship the way you did because you didn't have someone standing over your shoulder like we do, telling you how you're allowed to love someone.
If I wanted a fucking parent, I'd have stayed back home. Hell, even my parents let me negotiate what time my curfew was. The fact that you are giving me one now that I'm an adult and dating another adult is ludicrous. Back the fuck off and let me fuck up first before you punish me for it. You're acting like an overprotective parent or a jealous mother-in-law.
So, while people were trying to politely get these points across (even I started out relatively nice), the most predictable objection EVER got thrown in: "What about the children? Won't somebody please
overprotect the children?"
This is used to justify all those slights and offenses, as though simply saying "I have children" is an excuse for treating another adult like a pariah.
Three points that I will address next:
1) Not everyone who behaves in this fashion has children, so the Kid Defense is a cop-out
2) Some single polys and new-partner polys have kids too
3) Non-parents aren't clueless or heartless about other people's kids
1) Stop trotting out the Kid Defense every time someone says "Please treat me respectfully". This is not about your children, this is about how you treat other adults.
Every fucking time this subject comes up, those on my side of the argument get sidetracked trying to explain why we are not talking about making the new guy an equal fucking partner to your spouse. "I deserve an equal say in my relationship" IS NOT THE SAME THING as "I deserve to be an equal member of your household."
WHY CAN'T YOU PEOPLE SEE THAT?
I think that giving a new partner's needs the same weight right off the bat is cruel to those already involved in the relationship. I would never presume that someone that I have just started dating make their schedule fit my own. I have not earned that level of consideration. As things develop and you become more important to one another that may change (or it may never change). But I think those already invested in the relationship can and should have more of a say in how anyone new added to the dynamic will fit it.
You clearly have a reading comprehension problem, since I explicitly said, more than once, that a new partner does not get the exact same rights as the existing partner. I said that they get to have the same right TO BE HEARD and to have a say in the relationship.
OF COURSE a brand new partner doesn't get to change your schedule, and changing their own schedule for you at the beginning might be premature. But when you're making up the rules for which days of the week your future partner gets to see you, that future partner deserves the right to negotiate what those days are according to HIS needs and schedule. This is the same for monogamous people dating as it is for poly people.
This is absolutely not the same thing as giving some guy you went on a single date with access to your Google Calendar or checking account.
Stop treating your future partners under the "guilty until proven innocent" theory. If you think they're bad people who will take advantage of you, don't date them. Your future partners do not generally approve of being assumed to be bad people who must be held carefully in check to prove their goodness.
As I said earlier in the forum thread, when two monogamous people begin dating, they do not exchange checking account numbers on the first date. Most reasonable adults do not bring a guy home at the end of the night, wake up the kiddies and say "Billy, Suzy, meet your new daddy! You will listen to him exactly as you listen to me." A relationship needs time to grow, to see which direction it even wants to grow in. Many specific privileges are granted only with a certain level of intimacy.
But monogamous people ALSO do not go on a first date with a 40 page contract spelling out what level of intimacy they're allowed to achieve, what pet names they're allowed to be called, on which numbered date they're allowed to have sex, and in which rooms, all of which has been determined by more than one person, none of whom are the new date (that's not a strawman, that's an anecdote - someone actually published a 40-page contract on their website, including which pet names new partners are allowed to use. If they hadn't taken down the document, I'd post a link). Those things are determined over time as the individuals learn what their relationship wants to be. Single parents who date manage to figure out how to introduce a new partner to their family just fine without writing up the path of the relationship beforehand.
What they do is get to know each other. Then maybe they talk about how they think their relationship is going. Through the course of their relationship, they discuss their dreams and goals, and they see how they fit together. Anyone who has ever dated a "momma's boy" or girl with an overprotective father knows how frustrating it is to have a third party looking over your shoulder and deciding for you the course of your relationship. And anyone who has ever eloped or snuck out in the middle of the night, or skipped class to have sex knows just how realistic those rules are when the participants are head-over-heels "in love" and the rules no longer make sense or hold any power over them. The day we, as children, realize our parents only have the power over us that we give them is the day their control over us ends. The day we, as adults, realize that our spouses' rules are only effective for as long as we want to follow them is the day the "rules" no longer dictate our behaviour, and it is our individual choice to behave respectfully and lovingly that controls whether or not we behave respectfully and lovingly. Our partners have no control over our behaviour. We choose
to behave in certain manners, and if anyone ever decides they don't want to behave that way anymore, having a "rule" will not stop them.
If your new partner or metamour wants to behave respectfully, they will not need a "rule" telling them to do so. If they do not want to behave respectfully, your "rule" will not prevent them from being disrespectful, because (get this!) they're disrespectful!
So don't treat your spouse and his new girlfriend as if you were their mother trying to keep teenagers in check before they get into trouble. If your adult partner needs to be watched like a child for his or her own good, then you really ought not to be doing polyamory, or any relationship with that person, for that matter.
The people who are actually in the relationship being negotiated are the ones who should make up the bulk of the negotiation process. OF COURSE the other pre-existing partner can express his or her concerns, and should discuss them directly with both the partner and the new person. Group discussions are recommended. So quit going to extremes, quit pulling out the strawmen, because it's becoming a fire hazard in here. Just as we're not abdicating full and equal household rule for the new guy, we're also not abdicating pushing aside the feelings and concerns of the non-participating pre-existing partner or other family members. Everyone affected should get a say, and that includes the new partner! But the ones who are actually in the relationship should have the most say, and should have an equal say to each other.
I will repeat, because apparently the 50,000 times I've said it before didn't get heard:
THIS DOES NOT MEAN THE NEW GUY IS EQUAL TO YOUR SPOUSE IN YOUR LIFE DECISIONS. It means the new guy is an equal partner IN HIS OWN FUCKING RELATIONSHIP. If the new guy and the wife have a "secondary" relationship, that means that they are BOTH "secondary" to each other and have the same rights and privileges AS each other TO each other. If he's not allowed to make demands on your time anytime he wants, NEITHER ARE YOU.
Or, instead of writing up prohibitive permissions, you could negotiate welcoming guidelines instead and, y'know, behave as though you all WANT this relationship.
2) If you have kids AND a spouse (or two), how fucking arrogant is it of you to think that your kids and your family deserve more respect and more protection-from-change-masquerading-as-s
tability than the single poly parent? As a single parent, it's fucking HARDER to provide that level of stability and protection without a spouse to help, poly or not. I repeat what I said above, the single poly is not a potential job applicant for joining your
family. You are creating a new family. And just like single monogamous parents, each side should have equal negotiating status.
Do you understand that we're saying the new partner, and the person with existing partners that the new partner is dating, should be equal TO EACH OTHER in the negotiation process, not that the new partner should be given equal relationship status to the existing partners? For the existing partners who are insisting on this prescription method for their partners & metamours: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. Quit being so narcissistic and making everything about YOU. This relationship is between your spouse and his new girlfriend. Yes, you ALSO have a metamour relationship with the new girlfriend, and that should be negotiated between you and her. But your spouse and his relationship with the girlfriend is between THEM. It is NOT between you and your spouse. It is not a reflection of his relationship with you, nor is it the two of you crafting a relationship that he can have where she is merely a feature in the arrangement, as opposed to a partner in it, like negotiating with your spouse how much time he can spend on his new hobby. The hobby doesn't care. The new girlfriend does.
And now onto the part that got me blocked in the polyamory.com forums...
3) "If the new partner doesn't have kids, the new partner isn't in a position to really understand what goes into raising children."
FUCK. YOU. Fuck you with a razor-sharp, red-hot poker in the eyeball, repeatedly, you insensitive, callous, selfish prick.
What's that? Think I'm paraphrasing? Misinterpreting? They couldn't have said that, I must be reading too much into it?
Here's my actual post that got blocked (that you won't see if you follow the link to the thread above), including the quotes I responded to (make note here that the statement I quoted was not the first time that sentiment was uttered, it was merely the final time that pushed me over the edge and into anger, and the previous statements were equally as clearly stated):
Originally Posted by Derbylicious
until you have a child it's hard to truly get that this little person's needs come before anyone else's (including your own).
Oh, I'm sure the people who have nieces and nephews, committed teachers, foster parents, medical staff, adult-children caring for ailing parents, older siblings caring for younger siblings when the parents fail or die, step parents, and adopted parents will be glad to know that their feelings for children don't really count. Because unless they've had their own, they don't really know what it's like to put someone else's needs before theirs.
As I've said before, I helped raise my nephew. Even if I hadn't, I have to say "fuck you" for telling me that I can't possibly know the feeling that someone else's needs come before my own. How dare you tell me what I think and feel? Where do you get off presuming to know what someone else feels? It sounds more like YOU lack the empathy and foresight and assume everyone else is that self-concerned.
The whole damn reason I put off having children is because I get that children's needs come first and I was not in a position to care for them properly.
Considering how many people have children by "accident", I'd venture to say that I understand this concept better than many young parents. People who think having a child will be "fun", will give them someone to "love me forever", people who make the decision to have children after they're already pregnant, not speaking to the father, without higher education or a job that makes more than minimum wage, these people do not understand the responsibility a child is, and will learn the hard way at the expense of the child.
Breeding does not make one an expert at children, nor does it automatically create those feelings by magic. In fact, an awful lot of women suffer from PPD and have feelings of resentment towards their children, some women have it so severely that they neglect their children and a handful actively try to kill them. It takes more than incubating fetuses to make a "good" parent.
All of us are around children at some point in our lives. Some of us had children who have grown. Some of us had children and lost them. Some of us currently have children but are sharing custody. Some of us work with children. some of us studied or trained in subjects like child psychology or medicine or daycare. Some of us desperately wish to have children and are only waiting for the right circumstances. Some of us helped raise other people's children. And some of us are just empathetic enough to see what other people go through when they raise children. Most of *those* of us who are child-free are without children precisely BECAUSE we know EXACTLY how much work goes into raising children and we choose not to.
How many new parents actually spent years thinking and planning and discussing exactly the reasons for and against having children? Some, sure, but many didn't. However, people who are intentionally child-free HAVE. That's the "intentional" part. We've thought about it. Many of us have agonized over that decision, weighing the options, REALLY considering what goes into being a parent and making the conscious decision that we do not have some important element required for raising children and so, FOR THE CHILDREN'S SAKE, we do not have them. How many parents actually said "We have decided to have children for the children's own sake"? No, all of them want children for the sake of the adults, and the responsible parents at least thought about how to make it mutually beneficial by providing for those humans that did not get a vote on whether or not they were brought into the world. How many parents have had to defend their reasons for having children against a hostile society that thinks nothing about having "accidents" as long as you don't get an abortion, but consideres carefully, thought-out reasons against children as "selfish"?
And regardless of who has kids and who doesn't, most people who have ever felt love for either a romantic partner or a family member, knows about putting someone else's needs or life before our own. Many people make the same kinds of sacrifices for their elderly parents. Many people end up raising their younger siblings either because of absent parents or incompetent parents. One of the *reasons* so many poly people are poly is because we feel a strong sense of family, and family obligation, and what we're trying to create is a FAMILY.
I don't need to have had my own children to have seen what my sister gave up when she got pregnant, to see the changes in the decisions she made for her life in order to accomodate her child. I don't need to have had my own children to KNOW the feeling of "I'd give up everything to help this person if they needed me". I have family and I have loved ones. Maybe YOU don't love your family as much as I do. I've seen my mom's family shuttle around my maternal grandmother from sibling to sibling as a burden that none of them are willing or able to take on because they've built their "own life" and they don't accommodate change. It's apalling. Yet *I* am the one accused of not understanding the commitment and obligation caring for another human requires.
You people with your prescripted rules are thinking only of yourself. You are not considering the new partner as another person, you're thinking only about what he can do for or to you, not what you can or should do for him. What do you have to offer? Why should anyone care about or respect your primary relationship when you don't give a fuck about anyone else's obligations, responsibilities, or life? You don't consider my life as important as yours, so why should I place any priority on you? You don't think I'm capable of being considerate of you or your family because my current family doesn't look like yours, and you make rules to try to MAKE me be considerate of you. You don't think I can possibly understand that you have obligations, responsibilities, that I don't get that children need care and stability in their lives!
You can't find a hot bi babe to be your special third to complete your family? It's not because there aren't any hot bi poly babes out there, it's because you are not worth the time, energy, or emotion they will lose chasing after a relationship that they were not consulted on before being offered it. It's because you're a selfish, egotistical, myopic asshole and anyone with any decent amount of relationship skills knows better than to get involved with you, so you're only left with the bi-curious, the "just trying it out", and the cowboys because they're just as selfish as you are and don't give a fuck about all your rules because they'll do just what they want to do whether you approve or not, or they're "too naive" to know better & will get their heart broken when they struggle with all your rules that they don't understand and the disrespect and lack of consideration for them.
Don't you DARE tell me how I feel. Don't you dare accuse me of not respecting or understanding that you have responsibilities when you clearly don't respect or understand that I have responsibilities. And don't you fucking dare treat me like a naughty child or a criminal on probation by dictating to me how my relationship with you will go. I am a partner in my relationships, not servant, subordinate, or employee. You will get exactly the same amount of respect and consideration for your feelings, family, and life as you give to mine.
And right now, with your attitude and rules and willful ignorance and selfishness, that's exactly zero.