I learned a brand new-to-me term for a poly partner: anchor partner. I’m familiar with primary partner, of course, and nesting partner, but “anchor” is a new one to me. I believe it encompasses exactly what role Adam is in my life, though.

I’ve never had an issue with labels. Language and the words we use are how we communicate ideas to one another. Unlike some people, I don’t feel that a label is necessarily limiting, nor does it have to be all-encompassing. To me, a label is a starting point. A place where we can pause and reflect, and then expound upon it – or not – as needed.

When I was with W and Adam, W insisted on a hierarchical approach to labeling our relationships. Adam was “primary,” W was “secondary.” He insisted on it being that way. But it was not very long before I knew that W was not in a “secondary” position in my life. “I have two primaries,” I insisted, and meant it. There was no world in which W’s role in my life existed as lesser than Adam’s. Adam was my rock – my anchor. We shared a life together. If I had known the term “nesting partner” back then, I would have called him that. And if the world had been kinder, we three would have shared a life together. We’d have all been “nesting” partners. They were both my primaries.

But Adam and I don’t live together anymore, and our relationship has shifted in subtle ways.

“Primary” reflects our commitment to each other, but it casts my other relationship in a secondary role, with implications as to its importance to me, and I don’t like that. On the other hand, although my relationship with Viper is a primary one to me, I am not his primary partner. My secondary status in his life is always front and center. So I don’t have two primary partners, as I did with W and Ad. “It sucks to be a secondary to someone who is your primary,” is an oft-repeated lament, and, in some ways, true. In others, not so much. I am learning to navigate the ins-and-outs of those particular highways and biways of poly relationship a little more successfully these days.

But “nesting” partner no longer applies either, because we do not share living space, nor the day-to-day interactions of those whose lives are inextricably intertwined. Our lives could be unraveled. Painfully, yes, but fairly easily. But that doesn’t mean our importance to each other has diminished. Nor our commitment to one another. Until I heard of the term anchor partner, I had no way of expressing what it is we are to each other, or at least he is to me. Within that simple label there is a lifetime of knowing each other, of love and commitment and care. Of being there thru thick and thin, of having and holding, of a deep, abiding trust and love and friendship.

All of this pondering came about this weekend as he and I visited an amusement park for my birthday. It might seem a strange thing to do on one’s over-50-years-old birthday, but the thing is – Adam knows me that well, and knew that was exactly what would be the perfect day for me. And it was. We had so much fun. I felt like I hadn’t laughed that much in years. And…he and I needed that. Because here is another truth: he may be my anchor, but oftentimes that means he is hidden, and even taken for granted. Being an anchor is sometimes not that exciting, and we both grow complacent and forget that this relationship needs to be nurtured as much as the other(s).

Here’s to nurturing the relationships that sustain us, that hold us up and nourish us.


  1. John P

    As usual, your comments are keen and salient. I share so many ideas and thoughts with you.

    I admire your writing (and so many other things) and look forward to them appearing in my feed. Thanks again my friend.


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