Jurassic Park Secondary

This week’s column is a guest column by Jessica Burde.

Ladies, gentlemen and assorted gender identities, today I would like to address one very important point of natural law. Where there is PIV sex, there will be pregnancies. Period, dot, underline, hell I should probably just go and put it in all caps. But I don’t like shouting.

A year and a half ago, I started the blog that became Polyamory on Purpose. Almost immediately, I began a series of posts on polyamory and pregnancy that ran about 6 months. Nearly a year after that series ended, a name change and a new URL later, search terms related to “secondary got her pregnant” or “Got his secondary pregnant” are still in the top 10 ways people find my site. Strangely I have never had a single hit for ‘primary got me pregnant’. I may be wrong, but I think it’s related to Jurassic Park.

Anyone else here old enough to remember Jurassic Park? I could never sit through that movie, tried five times and ran out screaming every time. But I always got to that scene with the egg shells. You know the one – when they’re standing around the broken shells that shouldn’t exist because the dinosaurs can’t have babies? “Life finds a way.”

But for some reason people insist on treating secondary partners like dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. The idea of a secondary becoming pregnant or engendering a pregnancy immediately leads to reactions that end up with me getting search terms like “polyamory secondary ‘got her pregnant’ ” Please note the quotes around ‘got her pregnant’. Those are not ‘this is what she said’ quotes. Those are ‘she expects me to believe this?’ quotes.

Yes, I am pretty sure she does. And yes, I am pretty sure he did. Because you know what? When you repeatedly insert penis into vagina at such a rate and frequency as to result in ejacula entering said vagina, there is a chance that pregnancy will occur.

I do not care what kind of birth control is being used – if your primary came to you and said ‘shit honey, birth control failed and you got me pregnant’ or ‘shit honey the condom broke, you might have gotten pregnant’, how would you react? Probably something like, ‘Okay, how do we deal with this?’ Am I right?

But somehow, when a secondary gets pregnant (or engenders a pregnancy) people become incredulous, disbelieving, betrayed, and all kinds of “OMG how could you!” start flying around.

Folks, I know a woman who had her tubes tied, cut, and cauterized, and had that followed up with a uterine oblation, and still ended up pregnant (she was so shocked she asked me to look over her shoulder while she took the test a second time). So please do not tell me that if your partner had been using condoms or taking the Pill properly they couldn’t have gotten pregnant. Birth control is not infallible.

It is a very simple equation. P + V = risk of pregnancy. If you cannot handle this, please stop having PIV sex and ask your partner if they would be willing to stop having PIV sex.

Secondary partners are not dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. They are not sex dolls. And that is what you are treating them like when you react this way. When you act like by the nature of being a secondary partner they should be immune to the biological function of reproduction. It doesn’t work that way. If there is PIV sex, there can be pregnancy. Life finds a way. Please find a way to accept this, before you destroy your relationship with knee-jerk ‘How could you?’ stupidity.

Jurassic Park Secondary, © 2012, Jessica Burde

Used by Permission

Personal Bio:

Jessica Burde has been exploring polyamory in various forms for 10 years. A year and a half ago she started the blog that became Polyamory on Purpose, to examine the intersection of real life and polyamory. Her first book, the Polyamory on Purpose Guide to Pregnancy, will be released in Spring 2013.

22 thoughts on “Jurassic Park Secondary

    1. ashbet

      I’ve been known to joke that my boyfriend and I are ‘the most infertile couple ever,’ because we were both surgically sterilized when we got together, and then I had a hysterectomy . . .

    1. Christian

      I, on the other hand, am more than happy with the idea of my companion being the mother of someone’s child whom we both enjoy and appreciate enough to call family. Or to have mothers for my children, if it should work out that way.

      But I realize I’m likely in the minority here. I don’t put any stock in many of the relational boundaries most seem to have, and the idea of my companion being “mine” in any way greater than anyone else she wants to be close to is sort of alien to me.

      My only bottom line is that everyone who is going to be co-parenting is clear that they are ready/ok/want to co-parent, and if not, to terminate the pregnancy or offer the child for adoption. No kid should be raised in an environment where people felt roped into it. That leads to all kinds of hell.

      1. ashbet

        I’m going to chalk this one up to being a case of people having different, and equally valid, needs and boundaries. It’s less a case of someone who doesn’t want their partner to have someone else’s children necessarily having a “mine and no one else’s” issue, it may be something practical, like already having children with that partner and not wanting child support money to be leaving the home, for example.

        I have a lovely daughter, age 20, and I’m also a third parent to my partners’ daughter, age 5-at-the-end-of-this-month. I was incredibly honored and delighted to be a part of the conception, birth, and upbringing process of this beautiful little girl, who I love as my own.

        However, I wouldn’t want to have a live-in situation where one of my partners, or their partners, had an infant living with us, because I have a serious chronic illness which has gotten a lot worse in recent years, and I have issues with lifting and bending (and I can’t pick up S, the 4-yr-old, anymore, although she does like rides in the wheelchair) . . . so I’d set a limit, were I in a relationship with people who desired more children, that I would prefer for the children not to live in my home. Not because I don’t love kids (I do!), but because it could have disaster-waiting-to-happen potential for me, or the child, to be injured if I fell, or for the adaptations I’ve made to make my house more wheelchair-accessible meant that some things were closer to little-grabby-hands height than they should be.

        It’s also perfectly reasonable to just have an emotional limit of not wanting your partner to have kids with someone else, period. It’s not an unreasonable request to make, *as long as everyone involved has done everything possible to prevent pregnancy, and there is a plan in place to deal with unexpected pregnancy should one occur, AND there is a plan in place to deal with what happens if the first plan falls through, because pregnancy can bring out some really strong emotions that weren’t necessarily present when dispassionately talking about a *potential* pregnancy.

        And I’m in total agreement with your last paragraph!!

        — A <3

  1. Christian

    Oh hell yeah. Thank you for saying it. I generally loathe primary/secondary terminology for a lot of reasons, largely having to do with secondary folks getting a bum rap on their emotional needs, their relational needs, etc. But this is a classic example.

    Secondaries (gag) are people too. If you can’t handle that, and all the realities of being with a human, you shouldn’t be having relationships at all, let alone poly ones.

    1. Jessica Burde

      I have seen primary/secondary relationships handled in a way that is respectful and . considerate of the secondary’s needs and wellbeing, There are also people who prefer being in secondary relationships and don’t want the intensity of a primary relationship.

      But I agree that those often seem the exception rather than the rule.

  2. ANON

    I, on the other hand, am more than happy with the idea of my companion being the mother of someone’s child whom we both enjoy and appreciate enough to call family.

    My husband just started dating someone I haven’t even met yet — and he and I have two children together. I’m genuinely quite happy when he is happy. But I don’t want my home life and the lives of our children overturned by unplanned pregnancies. I include myself in this — which is why I had a tubal ligation when we decided we were happy with the size of our family.

    1. ashbet

      Totally fair!! (And see my reply above, because we’re addressing some of the same points, but we were writing at the same time.)

  3. ANON

    What Jessica says is correct, of course — pregnancy can happen even in singularly unlikely circumstances. Our response to that, since we are happy with the size of our family, has been to choose the forms of contraception that make the most sense for us.

    If there were an unplanned pregnancy despite that, well — we’d deal with it in the most supportive and compassionate manner we could manage.

    In addition to my husband, I have a girlfriend, so pregnancy between us really ISN’T possible, even in Jurassic Park. Since my husband is straight, his partners are female and pregnancy is possible; but he also tells them that if they’re looking for a partner to have children with, that he isn’t the right partner for them — he’s already happy with the size of our family and is scheduled for a vasectomy. Neither one of us would be upset if someone who was interested in building a family passed one or the other of us by because we weren’t interested in having more children — it’s their perfect right to pursue the kind of life that they want.

    1. Jessica Burde

      Thank you – that is a great example of what I think is the perfect way to deal with the possibility of a pregnancy outside the primary relationship. You take the best protection you can, you recognize that it is still a possibility and you accept that your boundaries will restrict your dating options.

      And it sounds like guys have a great thing going.

  4. Jessica Burde

    To the various folks saying ‘Vasectomy! We’re good.’

    A vasectomy is, absolutely, the most effective form of birth control. It has a 99.7% success rate in the first year. That means that if 1,000 men have vasectomies, by the end of the first year 3 of them will have impregnated a partner. Aside from castration or a radical hysterectomy, nothing is 100% effective.

    Now, I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade – it is great that so many people are considering this issue and taking precaution. And because the success rate of a vasectomy is so high, you are probably never going to have problems. But please be aware that even with a vasectomy, you do not have 100% protection.

    1. Teal Cuttlefish

      I do qualify as good, though. I no longer have a uterus, cervix, or ovaries. The top of my vagina is sewed shut, so the sperm runs into a dead end. (Though I had two more D&Cs after my endometrial ablation, so I know that procedure is no guarantee.)

      In the current configuration, pregnancy with another partner for the guys is quite unlikely, but if it happens, we’ll figure it out as a team. And willy wraps are used for additional pregnancy prevention as well as disease avoidance.

    2. Alexander Unwyn Cherry

      “Vasectomy + regular testing” = good! After ten years of clear tests, I’m so close to 100% that I feel relatively secure in my confidence. (Pregnancy is one of my hard limits, so I’m pretty vigilant)

  5. Jonathan

    Quotes have been used as whole-phrase search delimiters for almost as long as there have been Internet search engines. What’s up with the projection of hysterics onto an unassuming technological idiom? It feels dishonest.

    1. Goddess of Java Post author

      Since the author was writing a guest article for someone else’s site,,I expect the quotes were a convention older than the Internet to express the *ahem* quotation of a phrase rather than any lame SEO technique.

      Don’t be an idiot.

      1. DDA

        My, my, such hostility.

        Using quotes as a whole-phrase search delimiter has nothing to do with SEO and lots to do with limiting bogus hits. Given her entire article dealt with *hits from search engines*, I strongly suspect those quotes were in the search phrases themselves.

      2. Ana

        What DDA said. Quotes are no ‘lame SEO technique’, they are a way to search for that specific string with the words exactly in that order, and has saved my read end countless times. Anyone with a cursory knowledge of searching techniques knows this, there was no need for harshness.

        *However*! The quotes used for that are double quotes, while the article cites apostrophes (apostrophes-as-quotes are useless in search). Whether the term had actual quotes or apostrophes only the author knows.

    2. Jessica Burde

      Fair question, the answer has two parts.

      While it may be I am projecting hysteria onto search terms, the hysteria is very real and obvious on forum posts about this topic. So it may be that I have come to expect this hysteria after seeing posts about how a primary partner ‘betrayed’ their marriage by getting his secondary pregnant, how a partner has obviously been lying about using birth control and the poster is devastated and how s/he continue in a relationship with someone who won’t keep agreements about not having children with other people, and many other comments to that nature.

      Second, I am not an expert on Boolean searches or much of anything technological. However my understanding is that a whole search phrase ‘got her pregnant’ would be more likely to bring up general pregnancy websites and that someone searching specifically for pregnancy involving a secondary would be better putting the quotes around ‘secondary got her pregnant.’

      Combine that with the tone of the forum posts, the fact that no searches ever come up for pregnancy related to a primary relationship, the frequency of comments in all forums and chat groups about “I could never handle it if my partner got someone else pregnant/someone else got my partner pregnant” and hard limits of “I agree to an open relationship, but only when he/she promised me that they would make sure their was NEVER a pregnancy outside our relationship”… ultimately, whether or not I am projecting hysteria on the search terms (and it is possible I am misunderstanding the tech idiom and the search in question would not have had the meaning I ascribe to it) I believe the main point – that many poly-folk in primary relationships have an unhealthy attitude towards the possibility of a secondary getting pregnancy by or impregnating one of the primary partners – is valid.

  6. Jena

    THANK YOU! People are always amazed that my husband and I were perfectly happy with a “no PiV sex with anyone but each other” boundary for YEARS. First of all, there’s a LOT you can do without PiV sex. No one was truly lacking. Second of all, it wasn’t him “imposing” a rule on me- it was just as much MY decision to take no risk at all that I would get pregnant by someone I was not willing to raise a child with.

    And now that I have another long-term partner, that boundary has changed. Yes, my tubes are tied, yes, we use condoms and both boys are supposed to be getting vasectomies, but even then all 3 of us know that it’s still possible that I could end up pregnant again with the paternity of the child in question. And we’ve all agreed that if that happens, WE WILL MANAGE.

    So, thank you again for taking the time to point out what should be obvious, if so many people weren’t living in their own private fantasy lands.


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