Does Couplehood Require Hierarchy?

In any range of relationships, some will be more intense, more closely bonded than others.  This can lead to placing some relationships ahead of others in priority for time, attention, and resources.  Depending upon what agreements one has with other partners, that can be fine — or deeply troublesome.  But is it inevitable?


That often seems to differ based on how people began their polyamorous journey. Those who began with a steady existing coupled relationship that they later “opened up” often see a need to defend that relationship and its emotional primacy. They practice hierarchical poly whether they are aware of it or not. Others started from a more egalitarian perspective.


It is possible to begin as an established couple, understanding that there are financial, family, and other entanglements but without decreeing that no other relationship will be allowed to reach that same level. Given how most of us were raised, that’s a much harder ideal to achieve.


Those who began as solo poly or relationship anarchists, or who started as a group dating situation rather than a couple, seem to be less susceptible to ranking relationships based on longevity.


Anytime one joins a relationship, there will be pre-existing conditions. The new partner will have other relationships, family and work commitments, among others. The question is how strongly partners defend their existing commitments as their preferred reality versus allowing the new partner to change that reality.

One thought on “Does Couplehood Require Hierarchy?

  1. Another factor in couples’ hierarchy is the societal pressure/assumption of what is “normal” for couples, from finances that are shared to entangled, to family events and vacations.

    Life reality is that things are constantly changing. Family members, ourselves, our beloveds, can get ill, die, or simply find new interests we don’t share. Even if it seems like it’s great, we can’t trap our current life circumstances in amber.

    Liked by 1 person

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