I love holidays. But Valentine's day is a bit problematic for me this year. One reason is obvious: I'm thoroughly single this year, again, which leaves me with nobody special to share it with. For adults, the "prom nights," the nights when you're a total loser if you can't get a date, are New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day. NYE has never been a problem with me, I'm at my poly finest on NYE. I simply find a big enough party full of close friends and declare, either silently or out loud as the occasion (and alcohol level) dictate, that I'm there with Everyone. VD used to be less of a problem, too, because I used to host a large party in mid February whether I was seeing anyone or not, the Lupercalion.
But this year I'm thoroughly alone. Oh, sure, I'm thinking of going to the PolyMunch on Saturday, which is at least something to do. But between the "very little to do" and "nobody to impress" factors, and the fact that I'm having to take a couple of days off work because of dental problems, I have plenty of time this week to think about when I've been happiest in relationships. And the examples reinforce a feeling I've had for months now: I'm at my happiest as a secondary.
For those of you who aren't into polyamory and don't know the jargon, the most common form of polyamorous relationship is the triad. Some triads are "balanced triads," where everybody's romantically and sexually into everybody else. But "vees" are more common, where one person (usually female) has two lovers. Not all vees are "balanced vees," either. If the person in the center of the vee has more of a permanent or emotional committment to one person than the other, which is pretty common, that person is called the primary and the other person the secondary.
Which is where I fit in best, if I fit in at all. Heck, when I first met my ex-wife, I was her secondary ... which makes her later paranoia over my polyamorous nature even more galling. But that specific example aside, I'm just better suited overall to be a secondary than a primary. It's cheap to blame the Asberger's, but I think it's something else. In fact, I think it's due to a whole bunch of other things, none of them especially related to Asberger's.
I'm undemanding. I'm low-maintenance. My emotional needs and sexual needs are modest. A relationship has to be very very distant before I feel like I'm not getting enough out of it. Did you ever read Tribe of the Tiger by Thomas and Williams? (If not, and you 're at all interested in cats, you should.) There's a mention of something in there that had real emotional resonance for me. When a pride of lions are on the move together, they spread out in a long line, perpendicular to the direction they're going. They space themselves very far apart. Every lion in the pride still considers themselves to be "with" the rest of the pride if they can hear the lion on either side of them. That's kind of how it is with me. In the most emotional and intense relationships I've ever been in, it was enough for me to see the other person a couple of times a week. No, really. And I don't need to be told over and over again how much I'm loved or attractive ... a couple of times a year is enough for me to remember it.
Sexually, I'm perfectly happy having sex once a week or so. That's especially true because I prefer quality to quantity. They say that your average married couple has sex two or three times a week? And I know from overhearing them that it seldom takes longer than half an hour, start to finish - for some couples, much less, more's the pity for their wives. So figure that that means that your average married American spends about two hours a week actually having sex, OK? Or in any given two-week period, a bit more than four hours? Well, me, I'd rather have the four hours of sex all at once and then wait a week or two. For me, having sex is a lot like getting drunk or getting stoned or going to a party, in that it's a major investment in time. Who has time to do that every night? For whatever reason, some people would rather have fifteen minutes of sex every night or every other night, that's what meets their needs. But it's not for me.
I'm not much of a provider. Even when I'm making money, I'm not especially responsible with it. That's a major turn-off for most women, for perfectly good evolutionary and cultural reasons. Women are sex objects and men are wealth objects, that's just how it is. But that makes me a loser. I'm just not suitable as a long-term mate or husband, I'm just not. On the other hand ...
I make an excellent friend. I've had years of spiritual practice and meditation. I've read extensively in psychology and history and everything else. Three separate religions have tried to "groom" me for the clergy, including extensive training in clerical counseling. My years of Discordian spiritual practice have trained me extensively to look for, understand, model, and balance conflicting points of view. And here I'm going to give the Asberger's credit instead of blame: I had to figure out verbally and logically all the social cues and rules the Neuroligically Typical (NT, in autism jargon) process on a pre-verbal level .. which makes me great at explaining things. All these things combine to make me an excellent person to come to for any problem that I can maintain some distance from, some objectivity in. When married couples, or couples who are living together, are both my friends, then often they can better communicate with each other through me than in person. Not only am I calmer, and trained to deal with these things, but I often understand both of them better than they understand each other.
Whatever he can't or won't do, I probably can. He's a good provider because he spends 70 hours a week in the office? Then it's a good thing I'm a slacker and available to do things around the house he just doesn't have time for. He's on the management fast-track because he's morning people? Then it's a good thing I'm awake in the middle of the night for the occasions when she needs that. They have a great sex life except that there's some kink she fantasizes about that he's not into? Look, I'm an attention slut with a very high squick point ... whatever she wants, I'm probably up for it. Did I mention that I spent a long time, in the early internet days, on alt.sex.wizards, alt.sex.bondage, and the Alternative Lifestyles Digest mailing list? I'm trained and safety-trained in almost every kink known to man. Most of them aren't my kink, but why would I care about that as long as I'm making her happy?
I can't fill in the missing parts in every relationship. If he's an intellectual but she needs a secondary who's athletic, that's not me. But in my experience, more often than not, there's something I can offer a woman that her primary partner just can't. And if he and I are friends (as often happens), and what we both want is to make her completely happy, then something can be arranged. This is especially true once he realizes that I am no threat to him, period. I don't want to take her away from him! As often as not, if she didn't have him, I wouldn't find her as attractive in the first place.
I'm not possessive, but unfortunately I am very territorial. This, more than the Asberger's, is the true "bad" reason why I'd rather be a secondary. I make a poor roommate. I have to have my living space, with locks on the doors (even if she, or they, have keys, it's a psychological thing). I need a whole dwelling unit. I need my kitchen, my computer, my closets, my decor, my closets, my thermostat. I share these things with very poor grace. The best relationship I was ever in, we each had our own apartments, across a hallway with each other, with an indoor back stairway landing that nobody else ever used. That meant that we could shuttle back and forth between the apartments in total privacy, as needed. We spent nearly all of our together time in her place, because that's what she wanted. But when we weren't together, I had my space already prepped and ready. So I'm perfectly happy to let primary partners be the one with the big lease or the big mortgage. Just give me my bachelor apartment or (some day) my motorhome. That way I can "parachute in" when we're going to be together, and "escape" when we're not.
There's more of me to spread around, that way. If I'm the secondary, if a relationship only requires a few hours a week or even a few evenings a week for me to maintain it, then that leaves me with more hours, more days for yet another secondary relationship. I could probably quite comfortably juggle as many as three secondary relationships without anyone feeling neglected or left out. If I had that, I'd feel rich. Instead of having to have only one woman tell me over and over again that I was attractive, until I thought she was saying it by rote and no longer believed it herself (since I mostly don't, myself), I'd have two or three women reassuring me, from time to time, that I'm attractive to them. I'd much rather have that, if I can get it.
From time to time, someone "reassures" me that my One Special Someone is out there. I'm hoping for my Two or Three Special Couples, instead. That's just how I am.