I currently have two partners, but describing these relationships to others can often be tricky. It seems logical to call the person I have lived with for over a decade my primary partner, but the accompanying term that I might use to describe the person I have been with since the start of the year, secondary partner, conjures up a few negative connotations. Many people immediately think that secondary means “being of second rank, importance or value”. Another popular definition is “depending on or incidental to what is original or primary”, which is very much true in this case… but that does not mean that a secondary partner is of lesser importance. There are many reasons for one partner to be called primary – e.g. length of relationship, shared assets, children – and these reasons could mean that particular relationship has to be considered first and foremost when making important decisions regarding the activities of anyone involved.
So, what’s in a label? Don’t forget that secondary education builds on what is taught during primary education. Where primary gives you the basics, secondary can add value. Secondary education can enhance the primary – adding depth, confidence and fun, but also making sure you truly value what you gained from it. They compliment one another perfectly. My own secondary partner recently described primary relationships as being the foundations on which other relationships rest. You can build your house any way you want, but every part is just as important. So, if I use the term ‘secondary partner’, I don’t mean ‘second best’… I’m just being linguistically tidy.
Image via Spitefully‘s Flickr photostream.
Excellent post, sums up well what these kinds of relationships should be about I think!
I'd never considered the school alegory before, but I have to say I like it. It certainly does well to explain how my most recent non-monogamous set-up worked.