Back in 2003, the Proposed Secondary’s Bill of Rights first went online on this site. This Bill of Rights, aimed at secondary partners in relationships with enforced primary/secondary relationships, was intended to act as a list of things that even people in a secondary position could reasonably expect to have in their relationships.

When we were working on the book More Than Two, my co-author, Eve Rickert, and I extended this idea into a relationship bill of rights. The relationship bill of rights draws on writings about domestic violence and abuse, because it is in abusive relationships that we see most clearly where people’s rights are being violated. If you think you or someone you know might be in an abusive relationship, please consult the resources on this page.

The Relationship Bill of Rights

You have the right, without shame, blame or guilt:

In all intimate relationships:

  • to be free from coercion, violence and intimidation
  • to choose the level of involvement and intimacy you want
  • to revoke consent to any form of intimacy at any time
  • to be told the truth
  • to say no to requests
  • to hold and express differing points of view
  • to feel all your emotions
  • to feel and communicate your emotions and needs
  • to set boundaries concerning your privacy needs
  • to set clear limits on the obligations you will make
  • to seek balance between what you give to the relationship and what is given back to you
  • to know that your partner will work with you to resolve problems that arise
  • to choose whether you want a monogamous or polyamorous relationship
  • to grow and change
  • to make mistakes
  • to end a relationship

In poly relationships:

  • to decide how many partners you want
  • to choose your own partners
  • to have an equal say with each of your partners in deciding the form your relationship with that partner will take
  • to choose the level of time and investment you will offer to each partner
  • to understand clearly any rules that will apply to your relationship before entering into it
  • to discuss with your partners decisions that affect you
  • to have time alone with each of your partners
  • to enjoy passion and special moments with each of your partners

In a poly network:

  • to choose the level of involvement and intimacy you want with your partners’ other partners
  • to be treated with courtesy
  • to seek compromise
  • to have relationships with people, not with relationships
  • to have plans made with your partner be respected; for instance, not changed at the last minute for trivial reasons
  • to be treated as a peer of every other person, not as a subordinate