Tristan Taormino, a prominent sex radical and a columnist for New York's Village Voice (March 17, 2006) talks to folks of the "independent actor" persuasion who are happy to live their lives as secondaries:
By Tristan Taormino
Polyamorists must create and maintain their complex, nontraditional relationships in a society that promotes and values monogamy as the ideal model. There's a growing list of publications, websites, groups, and events dedicated to polyamory, but most of them focus on the primary couple. There may be tips on how to transform a monogamous relationship into a non-monogamous one or, for those already in open relationships, strategies for negotiation and problem solving. Like advice I've read (and given) about how to have a threesome, most is geared toward the couple, and the third of three is given little information or support. That person is not simply a plaything or a third wheel, but a human being with as many needs, desires, and feelings as the primary couple.
A few months ago, I attended "Polyamory for Non-Primary Partners," the only class I know of to address this issue....
Some folks... eschew the concept of primary/non-primary altogether because they don't believe in the hierarchy it implies. "I'm in two relationships, and I consider them both equally important," says Cate, a San Francisco-based filmmaker. "A mother doesn't consider one of her children to be the primary child, does she?" Sarah counters, "Eventually someone has to be on top because we will be put in a position where we have to choose where our energy is going to go. If [people who reject a hierarchical model] can make that work for them, it's great. In my world, at some point you have to decide." Penny says, "We think of each relationship as different. I don't know if non-primary is the word I would use, but there is no other word, so it's like the default."
Regardless of semantics, what these women do have in common is their emphasis on being very aware of their wants and needs. Sarah stressed that people must have good boundaries and practice honest negotiation and communication to make polyamory work. For her, it has great rewards: "If I wasn't poly and willing to be someone's non-primary partner, I would miss out on incredible people and the lessons I've learned from them. I will trade the silly fantasy [of one true love] for multiple functioning relationships any day of the week."
Read the whole article.