Relationship anarchy is one of the (roughly) four types of polyamory. It can also refer to a type of monogamy, but we are going to focus on the polyamorous relationship anarchy. Basically, relationship anarchy means that only the people within the relationship dictate what they want that relationship to look like. Societal norms for relationships are questioned and often discarded.
If this definition seems a bit vague- it is because it is. There aren’t rules or guidelines to follow; after all, it is anarchy. People within the relationships dictate how they want the relationships to look. Therefore, each and every RA relationship is going to look different. It wouldn’t be true to say “there is no wrong way to do relationship anarchy.” It would be wrong to not communicate about this being your relationship style or be honest throughout any and all relationships.
In nonmonogamous relationships, an existing marriage or relationship often is rewarded certain privileges. Often a lot of rules for dating focus on protecting the existing relationship at the expense of all other relationships and everyone else’s wellbeing. Read more about it here.
One of the focuses of many people’s relationship anarchy is eliminating couple privilege. Many of the rules that are created out of couple’s privilege dictate relationships outside their own. Because relationship anarchy is about only the people in the relationship dictating how they want their relationship to look these rules don’t really mesh with rules that come out of couple’s privilege.
Friendship & Platonic Relationships
In our society, there is a lot more emphasis and importance put on romantic relationships than friendships. One of the appeals of RA to many people is that friendships can be focused on and made as important as they want. Sex isn’t the end all be all to relationships. If the relationship anarchist wants to spend most of their time in their friendship or if they want their friendship to be the closest, most important relationship in their life they can choose that.
Not letting people outside of your relationship dictate your relationship doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be considerate towards our metamours. I strive to be considerate and think of my metamour’s feelings. However, I no longer enter into relationships with people who allow their other partners to make decisions for our relationship. I won’t date people who give their partners veto power, make rules about what their partner can feel, make rules about what their partner can do sexually, etc.
Dating only people who value their autonomy as much as I do means that my partner and I are the only people making decisions within our relationship and it really helps to uncomplicate things.
I currently have a nesting partner, live with partners, and have a few casual partners. None of them are my primaries or secondaries and none of my relationships look the same.
My nesting partner is also a relationship anarchist. He and I share a room because right now it is right for us and our relationship, both our financial situations, and with my disability. We spend the most time together and are the most serious, but we have discussed that we are both okay with our relationship changing and embracing the fluidity of our relationship. We’ve discussed that this might not always be the case.
It is hard to imagine or talk about our relationship ending because it is currently not what either of us wants. However, we also both agree that ending our romantic relationship would not necessarily be a failure of our relationship and that a breakup doesn’t have to devalue that relationship. This leaves room for both of us to date others with freedom, let those relationships grow organically, and allows our relationship to grow. It is what we prefer to placing limits on each other’s relationships.
I have a few undefined relationships with people who I don’t see often and still mean a lot to me. I think on average I value friendship and nonromantic parts of relationships more than most people. That is why relationship anarchy is perfect for me.