Why The Fuck Should Anyone Treat A Secondary Well?

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 12.06% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

The biggest sin a primary couple can perpetrate upon a quote-unquote “secondary” is to treat the secondary like an ablative meat-shield. “Hey, you’re fun to fuck, but – oh, whoops, did you actually have needs of your own? You want us to do something? AWOOGAH AWOOGAH ABORT ABORT!”
Basically, if you’re dating someone as a couple, you need to care – *both* of you – for the well-being and happiness of the “secondary.”
This applies even if you’re not dating the other person.
“But that’s crazy!” you say. “I’m not fucking him, she is! Why should I care if she’s upset?”
There’s two answers here: there’s the “because you’re a compassionate human being” answer, and the “You’re a selfish jerk, but need reminders as to cause and effect.”
The “Compassionate human being answer” is simple: Because even every human being is due respect. You’ve generously allowed your partner to have a relationship with someone, and that person has their own needs and desires that also need to be fulfilled.
If you treat your combined relationship as a closed ecosystem – as in, “The two of us make the rules, and to hell with anyone who thinks they can ask anything of us” – then you’re going to have a lot of hurt partners who feel powerless, because they are powerless.
Secondaries should have the right to negotiate for better terms. They should have the right to open up uncomfortable questions in the “main” relationship, such as “Is this restriction placed upon me fair?”
Which is not to say secondaries should always get what they want – but then again, nobody gets what they want entirely in any healthy relationship. But if the rule is “No sleepovers, my man sleeps in my bed,” then after some time a secondary should have the right to open up a dialogue saying, “Okay, why no sleepovers? Why can’t we go away on a two-day weekend?” And to have their questions answered honestly with the possibility of change, not just shunted away with BECAUSE I’M THE BOSS HERE, SEE?
Ah, but wait: You’re kind of a selfish git, and you don’t believe you should have to care about the feelings of these secondaries. Fuck those people. They’re getting enough already.
Yeah, that’s gonna backfire.
Because while we talk about the horrors that primaries enact upon secondaries all the time, we often don’t talk about the depravities of the shitty secondaries. They’re the inverse of this “I don’t give a shit as long as I get mine” rule – hey, I’m dating this guy here, who gives a crap about his wife? He’s a big boy. He can settle those differences on his own time.
And those shitty secondaries are just as awful as the shitty primaries, causing all sorts of havoc because fuck it, I didn’t make these rules, I’m not gonna obey them, let her handle it with him.
When you become a dictator, you tend to drift towards other dictators as partners. Because compassionate folks won’t stay in a relationship where the primary can change the terms at any moment on a whim, for no good reason. Why should they? You’re not offering anything except heartache and loss.
So if you don’t give a shit about your partners’ secondaries, the ugly truth is that your partners’ secondaries won’t give a shit about you.
And that might work well for months, even years, as long as your partner’s okay with losing whoever she’s dating. But what often happens in the long run is that your partner runs into someone he does value, and you’ve trained that person to dismiss your needs because you dismissed theirs, and now they’re wondering why they shouldn’t just take everything they can get…
…well, you see a lot of broken-up primary relationships where one partner Tarzan-swings to their new lover, and the former dictator is left alone and broken.
Look. As a primary couple, what you want in a secondary is someone who respects your dynamic. Someone who is, in fact, invested in your combined happiness, who wants you to thrive as a couple. Someone who, when you guys run into the inevitable bumps that any primary relationship encounters, will work to put you two back together rather than trying to tear you apart.
But you won’t find those people dictating terms from on high. If you want the best kind of secondary partners, you have to provide the best kind of secondary relationship – one where their needs are respected if not always met perfectly, one that changes depending on the situation to accommodate the shifting needs within.
In relationships, I find, you often get what you give. It’s scary, giving. It’s weird, negotiating with people you have no romantic attachment to, may not even necessarily care for, and yet still treating them like their desires aren’t invalid merely because they conflict with yours.
But damn, man, it’s really the only way to build lasting relationships for everyone.

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