Anarchy! (Um . . . Relationship Anarchy, that is.)

Marcus

Well-known member
I'm not sure I'd go the direction of labeling poly+RA as "true poly" . . . that seems a little heavy-handed to me, a little too much about ideological purity for my taste.

"True poly" hahahah

Polyamory is about having, desiring, or being allowed to have multiple romantic associations. Distinctions about rules, boundaries, longevity, sex, courtesy, kink, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc are personal preference and in no way impact the definition of the word. Instead of trying to redefine polyamory, I suggest people just add a prefix to it if they feel it presents assumptions which they don't agree with... or just use a different word.
 

Eponine

New member
Joe has a romantic friendship with another man named Paul who he loves just as much as Taylor. Joe and Paul’s relationship looks very similar to Joe and Taylor’s relationship, but it’s a little different simply because Paul isn’t interested in dating or having sex with Joe in the first place. Paul’s straight.
It might be "my literal" but if Paul is straight, isn't interested in dating or having sex with Joe, how can they have a "romantic friendship"? I mean, if Paul describes it as that too, sure, but if not, surely it's a friendship. Even if Paul did call it that I would wonder what aspects they consider "romantic". I think non sexual affection is within the realms of friendship if the people want it to be. Affection doesn't necessarily constitute romance, nor does sex. It's friendship which is absolutely as important as a relationship.
Good question. I guess people have different interpretations of "romantic friendship". Some may call a relationship a "romantic friendship" if it involves behaviors that are usually reserved to romantic partners (e.g. physical affection), even if it doesn't involve romantic feelings. Some may apply the label to a relationship that involves ambiguous feelings between platonic and romantic (and some people just can't distinguish between platonic and romantic feelings). Personally I only use the term when I'm romantically attracted to the other person though.
 

london

Banned
I actually knew a gay girl and a straight girl who were friends. The gay girl often said they were girlfriends without the sex or something similar and eventually, the straight girl had talk to her about how uncomfortable it made her
 

hyperskeptic

New member
Romance Stew

Good question. I guess people have different interpretations of "romantic friendship". Some may call a relationship a "romantic friendship" if it involves behaviors that are usually reserved to romantic partners (e.g. physical affection), even if it doesn't involve romantic feelings. Some may apply the label to a relationship that involves ambiguous feelings between platonic and romantic (and some people just can't distinguish between platonic and romantic feelings). Personally I only use the term when I'm romantically attracted to the other person though.

This brings me right back around to the line of thinking that led me to starting this thread.

The thing is, 'romance' is a treacherous term for anyone who takes a radical approach to relating to other people - that is, an approach that tries to get at the roots of things - because 'romance' is a bundle of ideas and expectations that defines a very particular and tightly circumscribed corner of the space of possible relationships. It's something like all-aflutter-gushy-feelings-attraction-and-affection-and-devotion-hearts-and-flowers-and-candlelight-dinners-leading-inexorably-to-exclusive-commitment-emotional-intimacy-physical-intimacy-first-base-second-base-third-base-home-marriage-and-babies.

If being poly just means extracting the "exclusive commitment" and "marriage" and maybe "babies" parts and setting them aside, we'd still be left with a strange stew of feelings and expressions and degrees of commitment.

What seems to happen in practice is that people use the term 'romantic' to refer to just one or another ingredient in that stew - sometimes all-aflutter-gushy-feelings, sometimes hearts-and-flowers-and-candlelight-dinners, sometimes attraction-and-affection, sometimes physical-intimacy-first-base-second-base-etc - which can really only cause confusion.

Hence the problem with 'romantic friendship.' Sometimes the 'romantic' part seems to signify feelings, sometimes expectations, sometimes actions. It doesn't help a lot to juxtapose 'romantic' with 'platonic', because that term has issues of its own.

(I've written about this elsewhere, so I won't belabor it here. Suffice it to say that I don't use the term 'platonic' because what Plato actually says about love is deeply, deeply offensive to me. It ain't really love at all.)

Before I came across and started considering the usefulness of 'relationship anarchy', I was already at the point of un-bundling conventional notions of romance, and avoiding the term 'romantic' altogether.

Taken out of the context of traditional monogamy, it just doesn't signify.
 
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MeeraReed

Active member
Hyperskeptic, I am really excited by this thread! I also noticed Eponine's recent use of the term Relationship Anarchy and it really resonated with me.

I think you are right--it overlaps with poly in many ways but also differs from poly.

The biggest difference between polyamory and RA is that poly is "love-based." Specifically, romantic-love-based. I have always struggled around the label* "poly" and the idea of a "love-based" approach to relationships. Because while love is nice, it's not everything to me and it's not what I seek first.

In fact, polyamory feels restrictive to me because of the expectation that I ought to be seeking/developing romantic love. I have always thought, "But that's why I don't want to be monogamous--because of the expectation that romantic love is the ultimate aim. So can I really say that I'm poly?" Polyamory doesn't go far enough [away from the norm] for me. In that sense, I think that yes, RA could be viewed as more radical than poly.

*And labels are important to me for the pragmatic reason that they are VERY useful for online dating. I need various labels to describe myself in my profile and to search for like-minded people. Maybe I won't care so much about "What am I?" when I'm more settled in whatever relationships will work for me, but I am very much still searching--for myself and for those who are compatible with me.
 

london

Banned
You see, poly to me has never been love based. It just means that I can fall in love without having to only do it with one person. Doesnt mean I have to. Most of my relationships are FWBs. What I meant by twue poly is that I believe the only way to truly allow your partners to develop loving relationships with others is if you remove all the elements of control. Do away with the possessive and controlling rules about who and when and how. Then your partner can actually develop organic relationships, free of your control. That is polyamory.
 
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Hyperskeptic, I am really excited by this thread!

Me too. :D For pretty much the same reasons.

I remember not long after finding this forum, I spoke to my SO about how polyamory seems to me to be a good thing in terms of making the possibilities for relationships wider but that for me, it doesn't go far enough.

To me, anarchy is a pretty simple concept. It is nothing more than the idea that nobody needs to be in charge. People are capable of organising themselves and working together to do things without having a single person always telling them what to do and how to go about it. This is something that just seems like common sense to me.

Anyway - applying that idea to relationships, I guess that I would take it mean that the key thing with relationships is that a freedom must exist to set things up so that they work for the people involved. Through discussion, reflection and a critical look at how the relationship is going and what is wanted from it, people should be free to decide for themselves.

The way I see it, the people who choose to center their lives around a single other partner who they live with, socialize with and spend all their sleeping and non-working waking time with can fall under the heading relationship anarchists.

As can the people who are in a similar situation but split their time between more than one partner.

As can the people who want nothing to do with sex or romance and who center their lives around a group of friends and a compelling interest.

As can the people who want to have lots of sex but aren't interested in forming the sort of connections where somebody might expect them to be around every night of the week and sharing the bills.

For me, what makes it RA is some thought and discussion having gone into it and for all parties feeling like their current living condition is something that can be changed if they need or want it to. That the change might be hard and talking about it difficult to bring up but that it is possible and that those in their lives won't go out of their way to make things worse. (as far as is possible - splitting up a household and going your separate ways might be the right thing to do but it is upsetting and stressful and it's hard to do well).

Good topic indeed.

IP
 

hyperskeptic

New member
To me, anarchy is a pretty simple concept. It is nothing more than the idea that nobody needs to be in charge. People are capable of organising themselves and working together to do things without having a single person always telling them what to do and how to go about it. This is something that just seems like common sense to me.

Anyway - applying that idea to relationships, I guess that I would take it mean that the key thing with relationships is that a freedom must exist to set things up so that they work for the people involved. Through discussion, reflection and a critical look at how the relationship is going and what is wanted from it, people should be free to decide for themselves.

Thanks for this. It strikes me as an especially clear and direct statement of the idea.

I wonder if it would be fair to summarize this take on RA in a way that might, unfortunately, come across as a slogan: relationships should be intentional, not conventional.

Have to work that into a chant, for when I get my t-shirt.
 
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hyperskeptic

New member
Institutions, or The Personal and the Political

I have at least one theoretical worry about the ideas in this thread.

To use the label 'relationship anarchy' for an approach to relationships necessarily takes all of this out of the realm of the personal and into the realm of the political: to call oneself an anarchist in the serious, theoretical sense of the term is to take a stand on the nature and necessity of social and political institutions.

In truth, I think this social and political aspect of non-monogamy is also latent in 'polyamory', though there it's buried under language that frames everything in terms of personal preferences.

Really, though, we should be aware of the social and political radicalism of any attempt seriously to practice non-monogamy.

Institutions serve to limit and channel human activity in particular directions, providing predictability and stability for our lives together in the world; institutions can make it easier - or even possible - to secure things generally regarded as good, all else being equal, that we cannot secure as individuals.

To the extent conventional forms of relationship are embedded in institutions that promulgate and enforce them, anyone interested in an idea like RA would have to understand those institutions in some depth and ask very seriously whether and how society more broadly would function without them if everyone was really free to work things out for themselves, from the ground up.

Anyone who would seriously practice non-monogamy must also understand that institutions have a lot of momentum: they can be hard to change and have a nasty tendency to roll right over those who stand opposed to them.

Part of what makes them hard to change is that people tend to internalize the limits and channels established by those institutions, incorporating them into their values and even their perception. Hence, perhaps, the persistence of the idea of 'romance', as discussed above.

Now, we may be at a moment in the history of our own culture(s) (i.e., societies with English heritage?) that those who have a mind to can get away with developing unconventional approaches to relationships in their own private lives, and there is at least the hint of a possibility of nudging the relevant institutions in the direction of being still more permissive of "deviance" . . . but that's not at all certain.
 
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ColorsWolf

New member
Honestly, I don't "subscribe" to any thing at all.~

I also find the find the term "Relationship Anarchy" to be a self contradiction and it defeats the purpose of itself: how can you profess to practice a practice that "has no labels" when you continue to label every thing including this very practice itself?~

For me personally: this is just how I am.~

I don't believe you can control who you love, with how many it happens with, and when it happens.~

I don't believe you can control love at all: you can't schedule love, you can't put rules on love, and you can't stop love because love is going to do what ever it is going to do whether you like it or not.~


I'm not going to put my life and my dreams on hold for any one, I don't like schedules and I don't like rules as I have enough of them in my life with the military, if you want to be with me: then tell me and be with me but I will never be "your's" and you will never be "mine" for you can't "own" some one, don't "expect" any thing of me and I will not "expect" any thing of you: I want us to do things with and for each other because we "want" to not because it is "expected" of us.~

My love is eternal, my friendship everlasting: "ex-lovers" do not exist for me, if you want to be with me then be with me, but we may or may not always be together, regardless I will treasure every moment with you: you can't "let me go" because you never "had me", you don't have to "leave me" if you don't want to, but please try not to be afraid if it does happen for I never shut people out of my life ever and you are always welcome back into my life.~

The wind and the river may dance away and come and go as they please and I may or may not ever see them again, but we will always be friends and even lovers.~
 
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ColorsWolf

New member
In many ways the way that I see relationships can be likened to Relationship Anarchy in that there is no "1 way" to deal with or treat all relationships.~

Every relationship is unique whether I feel love for some one, sexual attraction, etc. depends on those involved: me and them.~

I feel what I feel and they may feel what ever they may feel, we talk about these things to let each other know what we think and feel of each other.~

It's all very "simple" to me.~

I just throw all the other stuff about "restrictions", "exclusitivity", "rankings of importance", "requirements", etc. out the window as I never saw them as applying to me in the first place.~

Other people may make claims that this way of thinking is "selfish", "impulsive", etc.~

But who exactly has the answer to every thing, who has the authority over what is the "best" and what is the "worst" of any thing?~

People still question the raising of children with Homosexual Parents, Polyamorous Parents, etc. or raising children in a "settled-down" lifestyle as opposed to a nomadic one.~

You could raise 2 children exactly the same and both could turn out completely different: such as 2 children being raised in a house-hold with love and support with no history of any abuse in any way what so ever and 1 becomes a Lawyer and the other becomes a Serial Killer.~

We do the "best" with what we see as the "best", but our "best" may not be the same as others' "best".~

It may not even be about what is "best", but just what things are.~


You could raise 3 children with 3 parents: you, Jill, and Jack.~

You and Jill are sexually involved with each other, but you feel no romantic-kind-of-love for each other.~

You and Jack feel a romantic-kind-of-love for each other, but you are not sexually involved at all with each other.~

Jill and Jack feel a love for each other but do not find the words to describe it.~

You all have relationships outside of each other that you feel love with, but that can not be described as "friends" nor "more than friends".~

None of you are "exclusive" in any way at all, but none of you are in any relationships that are exactly the same as the each other and none of these relationships matter any more nor less to any of you.~

The 3 of you live together and have agreed to "parent" your 3 children and of course your children are important to you all, but the fact that you 3 have "agreed to be parents of these children" does not prioritize you 3's relationships with each other, it is simply the way things have turned out.~


This was simply 1 possible example, but any thing is possible depending on what you and those involved in each every relationship you have feel and think.~
 
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kdt26417

Official Greeter
Re: hyperskeptic's OP ... I was introduced to Relationship Anarchy (RA) by a guy named Richard (username levitte) on Polyamorous Percolations. Relying on his guidance, I assembled the following entry for the glossary on that site:

RA = Relation Anarch, Relation Anarchist, Relation Anarchy, Relationship Anarchy, or unlimited relations. RA is a form of polyamory in which relationships are not formally defined, so that one is not expected to behave strictly as a "friend," a "spouse," a "lover," a "partner," or what have you, in the company of any one (or more) other person (or persons). Many relationship anarchists simply call everyone they know "friend." This freedom from RD (Relationship Definitionism) enables several parallel relations that can each be friendly, sensual, and sexual. As with other forms of polyamory, RA depends on the acceptance of all persons involved.
RA principles:
  • You can love many, and each relationship is unique.
  • Love and Respect is to have no demands (no templates).
  • Give yourself a solid point of view (no exemptions).
  • Remember the heterosexual norm but don't be afraid.
  • Spontaneity instead of duty.
  • Fake it til you make it.
  • Trust instead of suspicion.
  • Change through communication.
On-site threads:
Off-site references:
With finpoly being perhaps the best of the above.

Re: does RA make sense ... certainly.

Re: is it tenable ... not for everyone, but for many people yes.

Re: am I, Kevin, ready to set sail on the RA ocean ... nope, too chicken/comfortable with the structured relationships I've already got. This is largely because I don't think my two poly companions would go for the RA adventure.

Re: is RA a subset of poly ... no. It is arguably a subset of (responsible) non-monogamy, but it covers more ground than poly. I do think poly and RA can overlap.

Re: is anarchy really the best word for it ... if you visit Wiktionary, you'll observe that anarchy doesn't necessarily entail violence. It just means that one is shrugging off the agents of authority that predetermine one's life. It means the shrugging off of the traditional order of things. Is the word "anarchy" loaded with violent connotations? Yes (at least in the U.S.). But those connotations are technically misinformed, and in any case, I'm pretty sure the phrase "relationship anarchy" is here to stay, so we might as well get used to it and make the best of it.

Re: what about "relationship-queer" ... good idea, but alas, "relationship anarchy" has already taken hold. That's my assessment anyways.

Re: the rest of this thread (after hyperskeptic's OP) ... it seems to me that many/most polyamorists are inclined to define polyamory (and other poly-related words) in their own way (which is probably why polyamorists in general are infamous for arguing about semantics). I am thinking RA is destined to follow the "same" kind of path, and already is headed that way. My own interpretation of RA is crude, subject to change, rather subjective, and perhaps not cool of me to talk about here ... but I do find the topic interesting and thought I'd share what I know. Having read the whole thread I suppose know more now, but I have to say I liked Marcus' posts best in the sense that they gave me the greatest sense of clarity about what RA is (and what it means). Second place then goes to hyperskeptic for framing what I thought were the most important RA-related questions.

Glad I noticed and checked out this thread; it was a good learning experience for me.
 

ColorsWolf

New member
Re: hyperskeptic's OP ... I was introduced to Relationship Anarchy (RA) by a guy named Richard (username levitte) on Polyamorous Percolations. Relying on his guidance, I assembled the following entry for the glossary on that site:



Re: does RA make sense ... certainly.

Re: is it tenable ... not for everyone, but for many people yes.

Re: am I, Kevin, ready to set sail on the RA ocean ... nope, too chicken/comfortable with the structured relationships I've already got. This is largely because I don't think my two poly companions would go for the RA adventure.

Re: is RA a subset of poly ... no. It is arguably a subset of (responsible) non-monogamy, but it covers more ground than poly. I do think poly and RA can overlap.

Re: is anarchy really the best word for it ... if you visit Wiktionary, you'll observe that anarchy doesn't necessarily entail violence. It just means that one is shrugging off the agents of authority that predetermine one's life. It means the shrugging off of the traditional order of things. Is the word "anarchy" loaded with violent connotations? Yes (at least in the U.S.). But those connotations are technically misinformed, and in any case, I'm pretty sure the phrase "relationship anarchy" is here to stay, so we might as well get used to it and make the best of it.

Re: what about "relationship-queer" ... good idea, but alas, "relationship anarchy" has already taken hold. That's my assessment anyways.

Re: the rest of this thread (after hyperskeptic's OP) ... it seems to me that many/most polyamorists are inclined to define polyamory (and other poly-related words) in their own way (which is probably why polyamorists in general are infamous for arguing about semantics). I am thinking RA is destined to follow the "same" kind of path, and already is headed that way. My own interpretation of RA is crude, subject to change, rather subjective, and perhaps not cool of me to talk about here ... but I do find the topic interesting and thought I'd share what I know. Having read the whole thread I suppose know more now, but I have to say I liked Marcus' posts best in the sense that they gave me the greatest sense of clarity about what RA is (and what it means). Second place then goes to hyperskeptic for framing what I thought were the most important RA-related questions.

Glad I noticed and checked out this thread; it was a good learning experience for me.

Relationship Anarchy in the simplest way can be defined as, "Relationships Without Pre-Set Rules".~

It's actually kind of ironic don't you think?~ That people need a "name" for what relationships basically are before you start talking about what you and those involved want in the relationships.~

Polyamory and Monogamy are terms used to pre-define and describe the kind of relationships you may want or have developed into.~

I suppose Relationship Anarchy is a way to say that your relationships have not followed the same "pattern" that could be described in one or more terms for all of them.~


This thread was buried under more "recent" threads since it was over a year long, but I found it while searching for "relationship anarchy" and I thought this was a great thread to, so I posted my new thoughts on it.~

I'm glad I could help make this more noticeable for you, Kevin.~ ^_^

Love,

ColorsWolf
 
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Tomcat27

New member
This whole thread has been so helpful, because I am the type to avoid labels, but totally can relate to the relationship anarchy idea.

I recently started a new romantic relationship with one of the people who share the house I live in and she defines herself as "poly". but I'm thinking "relationship anarchist" would be a better definition (although as I said earlier labels kinda irk me). I also agree with this type of perspective, because I do not desire to have any expectations, control, or authority over her, or any other "partner".

We have talked about boundaries, and mostly (since I'm new to open relationships) I am concerned with hygiene, and safe sex. There is a responsibility people must acknowledge when they are sexually active with more than one person.

So far, being in an open relationship has had ups and downs (just over 4 months), and I have already experienced pain and hardship regarding my emotions. They eventually subside, and I can then focus more on loving and enjoying my new "partner" (haha I usually call her friend) in the moment when we are together.

I look forward to meeting more like minded people, but the online dating thing is not working out for me too well, so my next attempt will be a poly meetup.

Anyway, thanks for all the good stuff on this forum. I especially like ColorsWolf's explanations. It's good to hear someone else project the same types of thoughts that I have.
 

ColorsWolf

New member
This whole thread has been so helpful, because I am the type to avoid labels, but totally can relate to the relationship anarchy idea.

I recently started a new romantic relationship with one of the people who share the house I live in and she defines herself as "poly". but I'm thinking "relationship anarchist" would be a better definition (although as I said earlier labels kinda irk me). I also agree with this type of perspective, because I do not desire to have any expectations, control, or authority over her, or any other "partner".

We have talked about boundaries, and mostly (since I'm new to open relationships) I am concerned with hygiene, and safe sex. There is a responsibility people must acknowledge when they are sexually active with more than one person.

So far, being in an open relationship has had ups and downs (just over 4 months), and I have already experienced pain and hardship regarding my emotions. They eventually subside, and I can then focus more on loving and enjoying my new "partner" (haha I usually call her friend) in the moment when we are together.

I look forward to meeting more like minded people, but the online dating thing is not working out for me too well, so my next attempt will be a poly meetup.

Anyway, thanks for all the good stuff on this forum. I especially like ColorsWolf's explanations. It's good to hear someone else project the same types of thoughts that I have.

Glad I could help!~ ^_^

I'm sympathetic to your situation of online-dating not working out for you, even though you may find a wonderful site like did with OkCupid the truth may still be that there aren't that many people who "resonate well" with you.~

Too many times I have found some one who seems awesome, but often they turn out to be too picky and never respond to me because I don't happen to be at their finger tips or within driving distance of less than a few miles.~

Oh well, I'm focusing on what I want to do in my life.~

I ideally want to meet some one doing some thing I am passionate about and maybe we could be passionate about that some thing together if we resonate well enough together (what others call "clicking" or "meshing").

But I'll leave my information online of expressed thoughts for any one who might be interested or who just might find the courage to express their true selves to their world by reading my novel of a profile!~ ^_^

I'm on OkCupid.com as ColorsWolf.~

Nice talking to you!~ ^_^
 

Marcus

Well-known member
Can you elaborate on that one a bit, please? Kinda rubs me the wrong way on first glance...

It's part of the short manifesto about relationship anarchy written by Andie Nordgren (linked in my profile).

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.​

I presume it is addressing a situation where our intellectual agreement to non-traditional values comes into conflict with our socially enforced instincts to behave (or appear to behave) otherwise. In this situation if one wants to uphold their norm busting values they might need to go through the motions even though their instincts are telling them it's sinful.

I don't personally find this part of the article informative nor exactly central to the theme. It was most likely included because of a specific issue the author worked through or knew someone who had worked through it and seemed important at the time he wrote the article.
 

ColorsWolf

New member
It's part of the short manifesto about relationship anarchy written by Andie Nordgren (linked in my profile).

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.​

I presume it is addressing a situation where our intellectual agreement to non-traditional values comes into conflict with our socially enforced instincts to behave (or appear to behave) otherwise. In this situation if one wants to uphold their norm busting values they might need to go through the motions even though their instincts are telling them it's sinful.

I don't personally find this part of the article informative nor exactly central to the theme. It was most likely included because of a specific issue the author worked through or knew someone who had worked through it and seemed important at the time he wrote the article.

Nor do I find it applicable, because it's basically telling you to lie to please the perception of others.~

Relationship Anarchy is all about no pre-set rules: freedom to handle your relationships how ever you choose to, what ever you choose to do with your relationships make sure it is what you decide to do NOT what others have pressured you into doing.~

What ever some one else did with their relationship was their decision, the whole point of Relationship Anarchy is for each individual to handle their relationships how ever they choose to, NOT for every one to handle their relationships exactly the same as another.~
 

InsaneMystic

New member
Thanks for the clearup, Marcus! :)

It's just the wording then that ticked me off - it does sound reasonable when explained that way... but I agree with you and Color, it does not seem like a central/main component of RA philosophy, in general.
 

nycindie

Active member
Nor do I find it applicable, because it's basically telling you to lie to please the perception of others.
You missed the point altogether. "Fake it 'til you make it" isn't about lying at all. Sheesh, where did you come up with that? It's about giving oneself certain self-motivating cues when one feels less than confident, capable, or secure in new situations. Basically asking yourself what a confident person would do or say, or what a wise person would do or say, and then emulating that kind of person and doing those things to find your own sense of confidence from doing/saying those things before you actually feel confident. It is a way to become more grounded in expressing and/or living with your choices by using an exercise that is about practicing what you preach, and building a foundation from the outside in.
 
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