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Relationship Anarchy


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@Mark brought this up and I think Relationship Anarchy deserves its own topic (I know there is a similar topic but it had a specific skew, I'm looking at discussing the guidelines). Pulling from these two sources: http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/andie-nordgren-the-short-instructional-manifesto-for-relationship-anarchy and https://www.theodysseyonline.com/how-to-practice-relationship-anarchy

The basic guidelines of 

  • Love is abundant, and every relationship is unique
  • Love and respect instead of entitlement
  • Find your core set of relationship values
  • Heterosexism is rampant and out there, but don’t let fear lead you
  • Build for the lovely unexpected
  • Fake it til’ you make it
  • Trust is better
  • Change through communication
  • Customize your commitments

see to mesh fairly well with the experience of aros - mainly in the point of it acknowledging another style of living beyond the blinkered view of amatonormativity. It also skips the general relationship progression timeline. 

I have an issue with the 'fake it til you make it' point, which may just be a bad translation understanding or something. The point is extrapolated to mean: 

Sometimes it can feel like you need to be some complete super human to handle all the norm breaking involved in choosing relationships that don’t map to the norm.

A great trick is the “fake it til’ you make it” strategy — when you are feeling strong and inspired, think about how you would like to see yourself act.

Transform that into some simple guidelines, and stick to them when things are rough. Talk to and seek support from others who challenge norms,

and never reproach yourself when the norm pressure gets you into behaviour you didn’t wish for.

Which seems to include more self analysis and re-evaluation that I don't see as a common context to the phrase. Maybe I see 'fake it til you make it' in a negative way because it seems to commonly occur when aros are trying to force themselves to feel romance before they know about or accept the aro identity. I am still unpacking these concepts but it would be nice to hear from others. 

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I've run a discussion group for the local polyamory community for several years, and a number of relationship anarchists are members of this community.  There is significant overlap in the philosophy of polyamory and the philosophy of relationship anarchy, though the language is different.  They have different philosophical roots, but have arrived to similar philosophical conclusions.  Most of what you listed are also considered to be key values of polyamory.

 

Mostly, in my discussion group, we focus on developing skills and providing a supportive and safe environment for people to talk about personal issues.  The skills we work on are mainly communication skills, emotional self-awareness, time management, setting boundaries, and ethical consideration.  These are, of course, useful skills for nearly any human interaction, which is something I point out regularly.

 

The foundation of polyamorous relationships is open, honest communication and informed, enthusiastic consent.  These are philosophies that I find work very effectively in any kind of emotionally or physically intimate relationship, or really any relationship that involves spending a lot of time together.  And I like to add a third part to the foundation, which is critical, never-ending self-exploration to understand one's boundaries, needs, desires, and emotional states, which can often be fluid.  The three parts of the foundation are interdependent, and it all falls apart if any one of them is neglected.

 

As an aromantic, I do find it a little odd that I'm so heavily involved in a polyamory community, since the implication is that polyamorous relationships are inherently romantic.  But while the assumption of romance is there, I've found that people engage in polyamory for a wide variety of reasons beyond infatuation and attraction, and the kinds of intimate relationships I want are compatible with the desires of many polyamorists.  Polyamorists tend to be well-practiced in critically examining relationship structures, which is something I value greatly.  Plus, relationship anarchists don't form large communities that hold regular events, at least not in my area.

 

Some polyamorists follow the typical relationship progression timeline, which we call "the relationship escalator", and others don't.  In general, I've found that the polyamorists in this area just advise to think critically about the cultural scripts that guide people to follow the relationship escalator, and make conscious decisions about whether or not to do that, rather than unconsciously following those scripts.  Though a few speak out strongly against following it regardless of examination.

 

I'm not sure what "fake it til you make it" even means in the context of relationship anarchy, or relationships in general.  That doesn't make any sense to me.  The only time it's ever made sense to me is in behavioral therapy, and that is about convincing yourself that you are worthwhile or skilled or whatever, not convincing other people.  "Faking it til you make it" to convince other people of anything seems dishonest to me.

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21 hours ago, Eklinaar said:

I'm not sure what "fake it til you make it" even means in the context of relationship anarchy, or relationships in general.  That doesn't make any sense to me.  The only time it's ever made sense to me is in behavioral therapy, and that is about convincing yourself that you are worthwhile or skilled or whatever, not convincing other people.

Possibly that's what it's intended to mean here.
Maybe someone who knows Swedish can comment on what Andie Nordgren wrote.

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21 hours ago, Eklinaar said:

"the relationship escalator"

I knew about this, I just had a blank moment when I was writing before and so of course I didn't get the correct informative answer when I was googling 'relationship ladder' or 'relationship staircase'. 

 

20 minutes ago, Mark said:

can comment on what Andie Nordgren wrote.

There may be some issues in an comprehensive and understandable translation. The English language section I quoted in the small text doesn't make much sense to me but it is the point that is being spread to the English language audiences. Maybe the meaning of that paragraph is about self improvement, and maybe it is just the reused word 'guidelines' that seems to link it back to the interpersonal guidelines from the relationship anarchy outline. 

 

@Eklinaar I hadn't known about the similarities in fundamental values between relationship anarchy and polyamory but it does completely make sense. They are both about finding the right relationship for yourself and how to healthily construct it with partners. 

 

Ultimately the emotional self-awareness and communication based on individual's needs and experiences needs to be more widespread and not just in regards to bonding relationships. I think lots of people are caught in situations where they are fundamentally unhappy but don't address the issue or make changes for the better. Ultimately I guess that is the point of the 'fear' comment. Don't be an unhappy conforming sheep.

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16 minutes ago, Apathetic Echidna said:

Ultimately the emotional self-awareness and communication based on individual's needs and experiences needs to be more widespread and not just in regards to bonding relationships. I think lots of people are caught in situations where they are fundamentally unhappy but don't address the issue or make changes for the better. Ultimately I guess that is the point of the 'fear' comment. Don't be an unhappy conforming sheep.

 

Yep, I completely agree.  Those are skills that everyone could benefit from.  I often invite monogamous friends to my discussion group because I think they would find it interesting and useful, and most of what they would learn would be just as helpful in their monogamous relationships.  I'd love an opportunity to run workshops for the general public, but I'm not really sure how to get started on that or if I'd need a degree or something to be viewed as "legitimate".

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10 hours ago, Eklinaar said:

if I'd need a degree or something to be viewed as "legitimate".

I guess this is the point of education qualifications versus experience qualifications. I think just being known as a active member/organiser who has respect of other members would give your workshop weight and legitimacy. You could always extend an invitation to certain relevant academics to be participants in a workshop, either as a member or as a discussion co-leader for a specific topic. 

 

 

Simply by having gone through the discovery process of finding our romantic orientations are we 80% of the way for the guideline "Find your core set of relationship values". I feel that being aromantic answers most of that statement already. In a large part discovering what you don't want informs of what you do actually want. 

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On 06/12/2017 at 1:30 AM, Apathetic Echidna said:

@Mark brought this up and I think Relationship Anarchy deserves its own topic (I know there is a similar topic but it had a specific skew, I'm looking at discussing the guidelines). Pulling from these two sources: http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/andie-nordgren-the-short-instructional-manifesto-for-relationship-anarchy and https://www.theodysseyonline.com/how-to-practice-relationship-anarchy

The basic guidelines of 

  • Love is abundant, and every relationship is unique
  • Love and respect instead of entitlement
  • Find your core set of relationship values
  • Heterosexism is rampant and out there, but don’t let fear lead you
  • Build for the lovely unexpected
  • Fake it til’ you make it
  • Trust is better
  • Change through communication
  • Customize your commitments

see to mesh fairly well with the experience of aros - mainly in the point of it acknowledging another style of living beyond the blinkered view of amatonormativity. It also skips the general relationship progression timeline.

I found a few other possibly useful resources.
http://www.thejillofalltradesblog.com/relationship-anarchy-what-it-is-and-why-its-awesome/
https://theestablishment.co/relationship-anarchy-takes-the-judgment-out-of-love-96a9a7af9954
https://goodmenproject.com/gender-sexuality/relationship-anarchy-basics-jvinc/
http://journal.richard.levitte.org/entries/relationship-anarchy/
http://www.thejillofalltradesblog.com/relationship-anarchy-what-it-is-and-why-its-awesome/
http://livingwithinreason.com/2014/11/20/consent-based-relationships/
http://livingwithinreason.com/2015/10/29/polyamory-vs-relationship-anarchy/    Especially the first comment.

https://kinkcraft.co/2017/01/relationship-anarchy/
http://heartlessharless.tumblr.com/post/103091378930/aromanticism-and-how-relationship-anarchy-can

 

10 hours ago, Apathetic Echidna said:

I knew about this, I just had a blank moment when I was writing before and so of course I didn't get the correct informative answer when I was googling 'relationship ladder' or 'relationship staircase'.

 

The term "Relationship Escalator" is the most used. I've also heard "relationship conveyor belt".

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On 2017-12-07 at 12:53 AM, Mark said:

Maybe someone who knows Swedish can comment on what Andie Nordgren wrote.

Somebody called? ;)

 

When I look at the Swedish versionhttps://auroraaurum.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/relationsanarki-i-atta-punkter/ it says pretty much the same. The way I read "Fake it till you make it" is that it is difficult to step out of all the hang ups of relationship norms. You might feel embarrassed or silly about it but if you pretend that it feels normal you will more quickly feel comfortable with it.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/12/2017 at 1:57 AM, Holmbo said:

if you pretend that it feels normal you will more quickly feel comfortable with it.

it is just such an odd phrase. 

'Accept and celebrate your differences' would probably be the more commonly used way to describe that meaning.

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i wasn't familiar with this concept but it's pretty much how i think about relationships.  i feel like many people define and restrict theirs to an unhelpful degree.  personally, i can be attracted to multiple people at once and can imagine being happily in relationship(s) with more than one person at once, so i identify as polyamorous.  idk about the whole qpr thing, like i do get squishes but if they're purely platonic, my ideal relationship with them (any gender) would be close friendship.  if sexual attraction/activity were also present i might call them my boyfriend, if only for simplicity's sake.  so i wondered how much of a choice you guys consider all this.  aromanticism, i'm guessing not at all, but what about polyamory and relationship anarchy?  for me, none of them really are, they're just how i feel.  like, being in polyamorous or undefined relationship(s) may be a choice, but not being poly.

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@aro_elise well there are some people who can't deal or feel for more than one other person at a time, so they are sort of default monogamous and it isn't a choice, same would be for people who can have relationships with multiple people at once. It isn't a choice it just is. 

I think how you structure your relationships is a choice between the people involved.  Working around things like possessiveness, jealousy, expectations and repulsions is just part of the minefield of setting up the relationship you want. I don't know if relationship anarchy is really a choice, it mainly seems to be a framework about embracing what you need in a relationship and can apply to everyone. Really it should be the standard and all other relationships where you conform to something specific should be seen as the 'choices'. Sort of like the idea of you are you and everyone is individual, you start choosing to fit in and choosing to follow previous examples of what relationships should be. 

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