Frangipani

Polyamory, bisexuality and maybe even some atheism

Privilege, or Why Douchebags on Dating Sites don’t Bother Me January 15, 2014

I’m lucky.

I am really very lucky.

I’ve been hearing a lot about online dating in the last few months. Everything from how American race relations translate into who gets contacted most, and by whom, to how many men don’t seem to care if a woman is an asshole, so long as she’s pretty, to a man finding out for himself the muck women have to wade through out there has been discussed recently and there’s lots more to come.

There’s a lot of truth to what those articles say. I’ve had a profile on a fairly popular and poly-friendly site for over six years now. It’s had at least some role in making my relationships happen, and I’ve also made some very cool people through it, so I like it quite a bit.

But I also get hate mail. In my case, most of it isn’t sexual so much as just plain hostile. Men (always, exclusively men – often American and on average about 10-20 years older than me) have told me that:

  • I am sexist against men
  • I’m doing feminism wrong
  • I’m too aggressive
  • I’m uppity
  • I’m the perfect example of the worst kind of woman in the world
  • I am too pretty to need such a long profile
  • I am confusing because pretty and aggressive don’t go together
  • I am confusing because aggressive profiles and polite responses don’t go together
  • I am never going to get laid

Generally, I find these messages really funny. Sometimes I bait the guy into an exchange that unravels him, other times I just block and delete him. I’ve only reported a person once, and that was an actual threat (albeit a toothless one).

So why am I lucky?

Because I get to be the kind of person whose profile elicits such responses. And I get to be the kind of person who finds such reactions funny.

I got a message a little while ago from a man in another country that brought this point home to me. In an exchange which began with him expressing complete bafflement at my existence because, in his experience, women were cagey and dishonest about what they wanted, I ended up laying out why exactly he found me so ‘unusual’.

A) I’m not.

B) What is unusual, perhaps, is that I feel free enough and secure enough to actually express myself clearly, at least as far as what I want from a profile on a dating website is concerned. And where does this security and freedom that some men can’t seem to stand come from? Honestly? It has a lot to do with the men in my life, starting with my father and all the way on up to my current partners and friends.

I wrote a few years ago about suddenly becoming aware of the protective cloak the men in my life afford me – this is similar, but here we’re talking about emotional safety as well.

Now, I’m certainly not saying that all the good things in my life are exclusively the result of my relationships with men. People who fit under the category of ‘men’ have also harassed, undermined, insulted, threatened, stalked, attacked, and sexually assaulted me, and  Schrodinger’s rapist looms just as large in my life as in that of most other women. Similarly, some of the best, most supportive, liberating, dependable and downright brilliant people in my life have been, and are, women.

But what I am saying is that the kind of people, particularly male-type people, I have in my life inoculate me from the effects of a lot of (also mostly male) asshattery. I’m sure some of my cussedness is innate, but I’m also fairly certain that it could have been warped or knocked out of me altogether under different circumstances. The fact that I can face the world head on despite all the shit that’s out there is not because I’m special but because, on balance, I have the privilege of not having most of that shit in my actual life.

In one of my responses to Mr Baffled, after he whined about how he’s a nice guy and why won’t women just trust him, I wrote:

No, all men are not the same, but do you really think women have an infinite number of chances to find someone who they can trust? By the second or third betrayal, it’s quite possible that the woman’s reputation and spirit and self esteem has been so thoroughly shredded that she’s not going to be able to keep trying. By then, yes, it is much easier and safer to just pretend to be a robot and go through the motions and never, ever open up. This is horrible and I wish it didn’t happen, but it does. Being annoyed at women for being victims of it is pointless.

And no, being ‘shy’ is not women’s nature. It is something that they are taught to be to survive. Which should also give you a clue as to the role they are expected to play. Again, only very lucky women get to actually be able to show that they are not ‘shy’ and not be punished for it by their immediate cohort. Rest assured there are still plenty of people out there who would love to punish me for being this open, but fortunately the people closest to me can protect me to a degree. That’s the reality.

and later, after a ‘but you did it’:

Knowing I was safe came first. Then I tested it. Found I was still safe. Tested it some more. Women don’t spring fully formed out of the blue. They’re taught how to behave, just as men are and they’re taught what’s required of them, just like men are. Sadly, most women are taught that if they ever let men see them as human beings who are less than perfect, not only will nobody love them, they will be treated like dirt. To make matters worse, men and women are also taught that if a woman strays from societal expectations, they have the right to treat her like dirt. SOME people decide that this is wrong and stupid and if they happen to be the ones a woman comes across, then maybe she can start to express herself, but all the while, the knowledge that there are people out there ready to harm her if they get the chance is still there.

That’s what I mean when I say I’m not unusual – I’m pretty certain that I’m part of  a decent cohort. What is unusual is that I have men in my life who think societal expectations of men and women are largely a load of horseshit and who have the mettle to do things their own way while also not being threatened by my doing the same. To my mind, that is as it should be, but even that assumption is a privilege, for which I am grateful.

 

Discussions of “Sex at Dawn” December 5, 2011

Filed under: Definitions,Monogamy,Politics of sexuality,Polyamory — Araliya @ 3:14 pm

First things first. I have not yet read this book. It’s on my list and I will get to it eventually, but I have way too much on my plate at the moment.

However, I’ve been hearing about it for the better part of this year and it has piqued my curiosity. Today, I came across a post by Emily Nagoski on the subject, which is why it’s in my head. Her post was interesting, as always (go read it), and I’m writing this post mostly because I liked her negative take on it (seriously, go read it) and because I wanted to record my comment here.

I said

[snip]I’m polyamorous and quite a few people I know have been telling me this book is fantastic because it ‘proves’ that we were ‘meant’ to be polyamorous. I haven’t had the time to read it myself yet, but statements like that set off my BS sensors.

I agree with the statement above (actually I agree with all of them) that this is the good old appeal-to-authority fallacy in action. If it’s ‘natural’ then we can’t help it, which means we are not the “bad” people that flouting convention makes us. Way to get yourselves off the hook.

Personally, I’d rather take active responsibility for my life and choices.

The breathless buzz about this book, specially in poly circles, irks me. It suggests that people are desperately hungry for justification and validation and that their own ability to reason isn’t good enough. Now, everyone has a different level of confidence in themselves and a lack of confidence is not really the worst thing ever. I can have all the confidence in the world and still make a stupid decision – it’s not about that. What pisses me off is that people aren’t prepared to own their decisions.

I think that polyamory is right for me. I made the choice to be polyamorous after a lot of thought and a lot of discussion with H. We decided that it sounded reasonable and was worth trying. Then we read some more and talked to more people and got to know the community and kept checking in with each other to make sure it was still ok. Now, years later, I can say that it worked. I’m happy, H is happy, my other partners are happy. There have been ups and downs, of course, and not all my relationships have lasted, but that’s life.

But I also know that for all that effort and reasoning and care, I may yet fall flat on my face. Knowing what I do and knowing myself, I can only say that I don’t think that will happen, but I have no guarantee. And that’s ok. I’m doing the best I can to the best of my knowledge. I don’t need someone to pat me on the head and tell me that I’m doing what I’m ‘programmed’ to do (unless that happens to be reasoning, thinking and acting responsibly. And even then, you pat my head at your own risk.). That is patronizing and deeply offensive. But more importantly, this kind of biological determinism is also potentially harmful because it effectively absolves us of responsibility for our actions. It suggests that we can’t help doing these things and that we have no control over our own lives and inclinations. From where I sit, that’s a whole lot of hooey.

(To be updated once I’ve read the book. Probably next year.)

 

Things I Don’t Get October 10, 2011

When discussing polyamory, be it on a forum, mailing list or the comments following an article in the MSM on the subject, someone inevitably brings up the ‘well I suppose it’s ok for men but women would have a hard time with it.’ The reasons given for said ‘hard time’ are generally along the lines of:

a) women don’t like sex as much as men and so having two or more men to ‘satisfy’ is difficult for the poor little darlings

or

b)men are horndogs but women like fidelity and get ragingly jealous (extra points for the ‘hell hath no fury’ line) so the idea of their men having other partners would drive women out of their minds

I’ve never understood that particular (set of) argument(s). I mean, let’s talk basic genital biology for a second. Men need a helluva lot more time to recover from orgasm than women do. Now, there’s lots of individual variation, but technically speaking, I can totally see how a woman could have sex with two men consecutively, but I have a harder time seeing how a man would manage to get it up without a break (or ‘medical’ intervention). Even allowing for an extremely short refractory period, superb health and preternatural horniness, and all of them coinciding, we’d still be talking about a very small number of men.

And let’s be clear here. In these conversations,  sex is usually assumed as men wanting to stick their penises into women. Personally, I think sex encompasses far more than that, but I have yet to come across someone concern trolling about, for instance, all those poor women who struggle to satisfy their male partners’ need for cunnilingus all day, every day. Something tells me that the oft-lamented female distaste for sex – if it exists at all – may have more to do with men being rubbish at it than women not liking it. I mean, I love chocolate cake, but if you screw up the recipe,  I won’t want to eat it, you know?

As for b), I’d like to point to the societal imperative placed on both men and women to mark their territory when it comes to sexual partners. For women, the competition is meant to be more passive – we have to be more attractive/alluring than the competition in the hope that our men will continue to choose us over them. For men, the competition is meant to be – and can become – much more active and aggressive. Take this ad, for example:

Yes, it’s very silly, but that silliness speaks to how normal we find it for men to be violent towards other men when competing for a woman’s affections. (Note also that nobody asked the woman in question who she would prefer. Her job is to stand there, look pretty and be the prize.)

This doesn’t mean that jealousy doesn’t happen between women by any means. It just means that people constructing women as exclusively jealous are basically just talking out of their asses. People get jealous. Some people get extremely jealous, and some only mildly, if at all, and all of them are normal. Besides which, jealousy isn’t some sort of permanent, inescapable state. If you’re a mature adult, odds are you can figure your shit out and deal with it successfully, or at the very least try to.

So not only is b) yet another example of the gender essentialism that plagues our societies but it also infantilises women by implying that they can’t act like adults and deal with their jealousy, should they encounter it in the first place.

But of course, these people don’t mean any harm. They’re just looking out for us poor females because gosh we’re so silly to think we can keep up with the manly men and their manliness.

*eyeroll*

 

“Kinky” February 19, 2011

Filed under: Definitions,Kink,Sex,Sexuality — Araliya @ 10:55 pm
Tags: , , ,

I have a confession. I’m profoundly uncomfortable with the word ‘kinky’. I’m just not sure what it means. I admit, the word elicits some immediate images: leather, bondage, sharp things, etc., but I also know that they are the result of the media’s representation of the term, as well as what some (but not all) self-identifying kinky people like to do.

The word itself seems to mean ‘twisted’ or ‘perverted’ and though, by extension, that can be taken positively to imply something exciting, I have a knee-jerk negative reaction to the word because it sounds pejorative. I realize this in no way bothers the vast numbers of kinky folk out there, and it really shouldn’t. It’s just a label and as such cannot fully encompass every individual’s experience.

My problem is I don’t really get why anything anyone likes to do should be labeled as more or less ‘kinky’.

There are things I personally don’t like or that simply don’t pique my interest, but the fact that someone else likes to do them with other consenting adults doesn’t make that person, to my mind, any weirder than me or anyone else. I personally don’t like eating escargots, but I don’t find people who do like to snack on snails disgusting. People’s palates are different, right? So what’s wrong with having varying tastes when it comes to sex?

A similar problem I have is the concept of sex as something ‘naughty’ or ‘dirty’. There seems to be some sort of social code that requires us to cast things that are perfectly natural as ‘bad’, so that we can ‘protect the children’ or some such nonsense. I think kink falls under the same category. You have to believe that there is such a thing as ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’ before you can call yourself – or anyone else – abnormal and I think that’s what I have a problem with. After the kind of life I’ve had, I have a profound mistrust of the idea that some things are ‘normal’ and others aren’t. We’re all ultimately trying to get to the same place, sure, but I don’t think anyone’s way of getting there is any more or less ‘normal’ than anyone else’s.

I’m not, by the way, arguing that there is no such thing as kink. There are clearly demarcated sexual practices that fall into that category. The analogy that works best for me is that kink is the extreme sports of sex. A reasonably large number of people are happy with a jog or a walk in the park, but another lot of people like to throw themselves off tall buildings with varying levels of frequency. I get that.

I guess where I get unsure is not the ‘clearly kink’ stuff but the stuff that one person would find ‘kinky’ and another would take as par for the course.  By the same token, I don’t get ‘vanilla’ either. Again, I get the mechanics of it, but I don’t get the value judgment that seems to go along with it. Depending on the context of the conversation, either kinky or vanilla will be used pejoratively, and that really bugs me.

The more I think – and write – about it, the more I realize that what really bothers me is the concept of shame in all this. Somewhere along the way, I seem to have broken the connection between shame and sex in my head, (I can’t remember when it was ever there, but it would be hard to grow up without some sort of negative association with sex, so I’m assuming it must have been there at some point.) but I live in a world that will either shame you for being kinky or will be open and accepting of all kinks but turn around and shame you for being vanilla instead. In both cases, shaming what you’re not seems to be a very basic way to establish that you belong in one group or the other.

Shaming people for their desires, not to put to fine a point on it, is an incredibly shitty thing to do. It damn near broke my heart when my girlfriend thanked me the other day for not making fun of what she wanted to do in bed. The way she put it, clearly someone had made fun of her and had made her feel horrible for both knowing what she wanted and articulating it. Both of which should get you praise and gratitude, not shame.

So yeah, to sum up this ramble: The word ‘kinky’ (and ‘vanilla’) sits badly with me because of the value judgment it seems to contain, particularly when it’s used as a means of shaming other people. I think that kinky and vanilla are terms that, while useful for organizing interest groups and negotiating partnerships, are best left out of actual sex.

Unless, I suppose, transgression gets you off.

Oh dear.

 

On Labels, Bi-Phobia, And The Importance Of Community – Part II January 31, 2011

This is Part II of an overlong post. Part I is here.

I recently had a conversation with a lesbian-identified bisexual who pretty much embodied the bi-phobia I’ve encountered in lesbian circles before. This woman chooses the label lesbian because, even though she has the occasional male partner, she is married to a woman and came into her own in the lesbian community. Based on her interactions with women on a dating website who called themselves ‘bisexual’, she announced to me – after declaring the existence of a bisexual community support group ridiculous – that (female) bisexuals were clearly only sex maniacs who were looking for a woman to add to threesomes with their boyfriends and that ‘bisexual’ just meant basically duplicitous and untrustworthy fakers.

I managed to stay calm during this exchange. It had been a pleasant conversation up until that point and the statements she made were said mildly – she was simply stating her position. For my part, at the end of her little speech, I pointed out that attitudes like that were precisely why we needed both bisexual activists and bisexual community support groups in the first place. She shut up. We moved on.

But the more I thought about it after the fact, the angrier I got.  Who the hell was this woman to define bisexuals like that in the first place and then tar us all with the same brush? Hell, if I used her method of data-collection (i.e., base my opinion purely on the lesbians I’ve spoken to online) I’d have to conclude that lesbians were all bi-phobic bigoted flakes who couldn’t spell. Here I was bending over backwards trying to understand the attitude I was getting and arguing that it was understandable even if it wasn’t fair, blah, blah, blah, while this horrible creature felt entitled to blithely shit all over what she knew to be my identity. Oh yes. This wasn’t a ‘just among us lesbians’ type of discussion. She knows I am bisexual and that I belong to a bisexual community. She just doesn’t think it’s ‘real’ enough to deserve any respect.

I think one of the things that irritated me most about the whole encounter was that, fundamentally, her sexuality and mine are so similar, ie, we both consider ourselves lesbians who are occasionally interested in men. I suppose I thought that should have served as common ground for the tentative friendship we’ve been thrown into (this is purely platonic. Various events in our lives have thrown us together, but I have no sexual interest in this woman.). But the difference between us is that I am married to a man and, when I came out, I found support and acceptance in the bisexual community. Not only that, but I was outright rejected by the lesbian community and only found the bisexual community because one of the bi-phobes posted a rant about how bisexuals should all fuck off to this bisexual community and leave the ‘proper’ lesbians alone. The only reason I have any contact with lesbians now is because the poly community functions as a sort of bridge.

I think I also realized, in the days that followed that conversation, why the  label ‘bisexual’ is one I want to hold on to despite how I feel about men and women.

She spoke of the lesbian community as hers in a way that I know it will never be mine, and that made me sad. But then I realized that the reason her attitude towards the bisexual community made me so angry was that it was MY community she was talking about – not just mine in the abstract but mine as in the way the lesbian community is hers. When I was struggling with my sexuality and trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do about it, it was the bisexual community that took me in. It was the bisexual community that introduced me to the poly community and it was in the overlap between the bi and poly communities that I found my partners and my friends. Not all the polys are bi and not all the bis are poly, but I can move through both communities with equal confidence and without being questioned. I prefer women and I have a preference for long-term relationships over casual affairs or sex-only relationships, but not once has anybody in either community ever accused me of not being bisexual enough or poly enough. And not only are my personal interpretations of bisexuality and polyamory accepted, H, who is not bisexual nor actively polyamorous has been embraced by the community as well. That, I think, seals the deal. When a community is not only willing to take you as you are but also take in the people you love, no questions asked, you know you’ve struck gold.

Despite how my orientation develops, I cannot turn my back on the bisexual community and I cannot relinquish the label. Instead, to the extent possible, I want to support the community and work towards better bisexual visibility and representation. Every community comes complete with assholes and while the bisexual community is certainly not free of them, it took meeting one from the lesbian community to make me realize which I’d rather put up with.

 

On Labels, Bi-phobia, and the importance of community – part I

This post was getting ridiculously long so I decided to split it into two, slightly more reader-friendly posts. This is Part I. Part II is here.

When I started this blog, I called myself bisexual and basically figured I was as attracted to men as I was to women*. Over the years I have come to realize that my orientation isn’t as 50-50 as I thought. Today, I think a more accurate description of me would be that I am a lesbian who occasionally fancies men. Most of the time, however, men outright repulse me. Or rather, they’re lovely to be friends with, but the concept of having sex with them repulses me (except, of course, when it doesn’t). I don’t have an explanation for it. This is just where my sexuality seems to have settled, at least for the time being. I can’t say for sure that this is exactly where I’ll be in a couple of years, but as I get older I feel like these shifts signify a growing-into rather than the exploration of even a few years ago.

I am, however, still married to a man and I have no intention of changing that. What can I say? I picked a keeper.

Needless to say, this complicates my status. When I said earlier that I am more accurately described as a lesbian, I meant that my orientation for pretty much everything is primarily towards women. Life, love, sex – everything is just easier with women. And by easier, I don’t mean less complicated, but simply something I feel like giving my energy to. Whether I am at home or out in public with my girlfriend, I feel like I’ve just let go a long-held breath. When someone in the street obviously thinks I’m gay, I feel no need to correct them, unlike when they think I’m straight. Being assumed to be heterosexual feels like being backed into a corner and suffocated. Being assumed to be homosexual gives me this incredible sense of relief.

But then I run headlong into the minefield that is the lesbian community. To be fair, I should state up front that I have met and in some cases had relationships with polyamorous lesbians who didn’t have a problem with bisexuality, or at least with my being married to a man, so clearly they do exist. However, the overwhelming majority have been bi-phobic, and some very aggressively so.

Now, I do get that since being ‘bisexual’ was deemed cool by whoever it is who decides such things, lesbians have been repeatedly approached by women claiming to be bisexual who were in it only to get their boyfriends off, who were just fooling around or experimenting, who were only marking time till they could have a ‘real’ relationship with a man, and so on. Basically, lesbians have been jerked around and women calling themselves ‘bisexual’ have often been the cause. I understand how that can lead to a general wariness around women who purport to be bisexual – once bitten and all that.

But at the same time I have to wonder – do lesbians never jerk each other around? Has a lesbian never left a lesbian for another lesbian? Has a lesbian never entered into a just-for-now relationship that the other partner though was for keeps? Given the healthy balance of exes the lesbians I know seem to have, I’m going to assume that lesbians can and do do all of the above to each other. So why blame bisexuals?

I think the problem lies in heterosexual privilege. Out lesbians have committed to a lifetime of potential if not actual discrimination. In most countries, they can’t marry their partners, have little to no protection under the law, and have to deal with the social stigma attached to being gay. They don’t have a choice in the matter. I think the hostility towards bisexuals comes in part from the fact that we can, at any point, retreat into heterosexual privilege. I am married to a man. That affords me a certain amount of social protection, whether I like it or not. Even if I shouted my bisexuality from the rooftops, the fact that I am in a straight relationship means that my queerness can be ignored wholesale. I can ‘feel’ as lesbian as I like – socially, I have a kind of protection that no out, exclusively homosexual person does.  And even if I wasn’t married to a man, the fact of my bisexuality represents a sort of escape route if things get too dicey over in lesbian-land – an escape most lesbians do not have and could not access without denying who they are.

Part of me wants to give up the label ‘bisexual’ and embrace ‘lesbian’ for all of those reasons. That my marriage to H prevents me from doing so frustrates me no end and I wish there was a solution that did not involve divorce, because that ain’t happening.

But then I run into self-righteous, bi-phobic lesbians and I remember why my community means so much to me.

Continued here

*I am for the moment leaving aside the valid criticism of the assumption that there are only two sexes and that a bisexual person is one attracted to ‘both’ sexes. There are interesting discussions on that topic that I will write about later.

 

“Primary” and “Secondary” September 29, 2008

Filed under: Definitions,Figuring it out,Polyamory — Araliya @ 4:00 pm
Tags:

Lately, the terms ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ have been popping up rather more often than usual in the Poly blogosphere (at least in the part of it that I read) as well as in some of the recent discussions I’ve had with people in the community.

In essence, I understand the usefulness of the terms ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’. Not always, but often enough, a polyamorous setup will include one pair that has had a longer relationship with each other than with any of their other partners, and this older relationship will include shared finances, kids, property, etc. Often, but again, not always, this relationship will have started out monogamous and then become polyamorous over time. With the shift to poly will have come some questioning and reassessing of the time spent by the original couple with each other, shifts in responsibilities, and adjustments of different kinds within the relationship, all of which will have been dealt with in whatever way seemed best to the couple at the time. One way of dealing with it is to set up the original relationship as the ‘primary’ relationship and to count all other relationships as ‘secondary’.*

On the face of it, that’s pretty reasonable – the older relationship seems the most ‘real’ or even ‘grown up’ one given the presence of financial investments in housing and other kinds of property, shared living space, shared family, shared children, shared goals, and the mutual support that all of this entails. This casts a newer relationship as less ‘serious’ because the people involved are only just starting out and can’t really say for sure whether it’ll last or end up filed as a pleasant diversion. The amount of time invested in each relationship is also (usually) in proportion to the number of places where the lives of each pair intersect – the more points of contact, the more time given to (and needed by) the relationship. This then also leads to the conclusion that the first relationship – the primary in this case –  is more important, more worthwhile, more permanent, more serious, etc. than the second – or secondary – relationship.

This bugs me for a number of reasons – some of which I realize are specific to me and my situation. I’m sure the above can and does work for many people and I don’t mean to imply that there’s something inherently wrong or bad with they way they do things. It’s just not, I’m beginning to understand, the way I want to do it.

First of all, in this kind of situation, one relationship will always be older than the other, but I think casting one as less serious and one as more based solely on that is a mistake. Eventually (however far down the track) I think the relative ages of the relationships in question cease to matter very much. Using the sibling analogy, there’s a bigger gap between a two-year-old and a four-year-old than between a twelve-year-old and a fourteen-year-old; by the time they’re reach twenty-two and twenty-four, the gap has shrunk even more, and so on. Each relationship grows and matures at its own pace, but, assuming it lasts, it does get there.

Another thing that puts me off the terms ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ is the implication that one must maintain this dichotomy and pull back if the ‘secondary’ relationship starts to stray into ‘primary’ territory. Privileging one relationship over the other, while perhaps reasonable at the outset, can soon start to limit the ‘secondary’ relationship unfairly. Obviously, not all relationships automatically bloom into always-and-forever type scenarios, but assuming a connection that feels lifelong is made, I don’t think it makes sense to deliberately stop it from developing. As I understand it, the whole point of polyamory is the ‘many loves’ idea, ie, the freedom to have multiple committed relationships. A primary-secondary setup seems, to my mind, to limit that unnecessarily.

Speaking of privilege, there’s also the assumption that primary partners have a say in each other’s secondary relationships. Again, while that may make sense at the beginning when you’re only just beginning to figure out your desires and boundaries – and is probably very useful in some cases – I don’t think it’s sustainable in the long term. Once begun, relationships can and do take on a life of their own and are intensely personal and specific to the individuals involved. Interference from a third party is just that: interference. To give a third party veto power over the relationship after a certain point is grossly unfair as well as disrespectful to all involved.

No two relationships are identical so you can’t really expect them to be equal in all respects, but you can value each for what it is. Terms like ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ are unnecessarily limiting and impose a structure that may not actually suit the nature of either relationship. I’ve heard over and over that each relationship finds its own level* and I have found that to be true. Sometimes, relationships move levels quickly, sometimes slowly, sometimes not at all. And sometimes they end up at the same level quite unexpectedly and it can be something of a challenge to figure out how to make it all work. But I’d rather have the challenge than put relationships into artificial cages and not allow them to grow as they will.

_____
*That may be a quote or a paraphrase from The Ethical Slut.