"The Secondary" is a carousel posted on Marjani Lane's IG page. This is the all text version of all of the slides.
the hierarchal "position" of secondary in polyamory - what it is and what it isn't
Secondary is a person's "position" in a hierarchal polyamorous relationship. this person could be "second" to primary relationships or to the relationship the person has with themselves. The term "secondary" can also be used in other non-monogamous relationships. Sometimes people have secondary partners even if there is no primary partner present. Hierarchal polyamory is often frowned upon and considered unethical or unfair, however it can be practiced ethically and consensually.
There are people who prefer the classification and position of secondary partner to their lover(s). This may be because they already have a primary in their life, do not want to take on higher relationship responsibilities, are managing their poly-saturation with less intense relationships, and more. To be clear - just because someone wants to be a secondary partner does not mean they want to be devalued or treated as disposable. Some people are aware of the range of their emotional support and resources. While they love their partners entirely, they may prefer their partner have a primary partner and keep them as a secondary. This also does not translate as a lack of investment in the relationship or mean they may be disinterested in ever being a primary to that partner or someone else. If there is confusion, it is best to ask why they prefer that position/classification.
MEASUREMENT OF LOVE?
"Does being someone's secondary mean they love you less?" No, not necessarily. Secondary is not a measurement of love. If anything it can be a measurement of someone's allotment of resources or bandwidth for a relationship. Not every polyamorous person can navigate multiple deeply invested relationships. It does not mean they have less love for someone, it just means they know their limits and preferences.
WHAT IT ISN'T?
Secondary partner(s) are not assistants. They are not back up plans for when things go rocky with a primary. They are not disposable at the whim of a primary partner. Do not confuse a secondary partner with a casual partner, friends with benefits, or no strings attached relationship.
Egalitarian (everyone is equal) and hierarchal relationships can exist in the same space. Some people may have a partner that practices egalitarian polyamory, while they practice hierarchy. However - in order for this to be successful, there must be conversations focused on boundaries, expectations, and what those "positions" mean to each person in the polycule, including metamours. While they may can work together - it does not mean that it will work for YOU, and that's okay.
SET THE STANDARDS
A metamour who is a secondary may feel like because there is hierarchy, that they do not have the right to express their opinion or concerns in a polycule. A metamour who is a primary may feel comfortable vetoing other partners. This is not okay. The boundaries for ethics need to be set and adhered to by all parties. if you feel like you will struggle ensuring your secondary partner's feelings and boundaries are validated - you do not need a secondary partner.