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

hyperskeptic

New member
I haven't read up on RA myself, other than what I've read here, but are you saying that honesty is a basic tenet of RA?

I haven't done much further reading on RA, myself - I have too many other things to read! - but, based on what I've seen up to this point, I think it wouldn't be quite right to say honesty is a "basic tenet" or a "core value".

It's deeper than that.

If RA is about two individuals negotiating the terms of their own relationship without following any particular script made available by the society (e.g., romance, "the friend zone", etc.), then honesty strikes me as just one of the conditions on which negotiation - in any meaningful sense - is possible.

On that score, RA strikes me as beautifully optimistic: individuals can, without any sort of external social control or guidance, work out the terms of their own relationships . . . so long as the negotiation is done in good faith, on a basis of honesty, reciprocity and consent.

It's bottom-up social organization, one dyad at a time.

And, as I say, it's beautifully optimistic.
 

Marcus

Well-known member
I am curious about something - how do Relationship Anarchists regard cheating, for the most part?

Monogamy: I generally reduce this to "romantic and sexual exclusivity clause"
Polyamory: I generally reduce to "potential for multiple partners, and sometimes lacking a romantic and sexual exclusivity clause"
Relationship Anarchy: I might define as "live a genuine life and completely disregard any relationship trappings which don't apply to you"

I think someone trying to be a proper Relationship Anarchist is using their time about as constructively as someone hopping in a row boat and casting off to find the land of Asgard. Anarchy is a philosophy regarding self-regulation which is (rightfully) poorly defined and anyone who actually claims to be able to answer the question nycindie asked is full of shit :)
 

Marcus

Well-known member
RA strikes me as beautifully optimistic: individuals can, without any sort of external social control or guidance, work out the terms of their own relationships . . . so long as the negotiation is done in good faith, on a basis of honesty, reciprocity and consent.

That's as good a description of an anarchistic ideal as I've ever seen.
 

bookbug

New member
Re: the question of cheating. What if the relationship were set up so there was no way to cheat? What do I mean?

The Philosopher came to me one day and said, "I've always viewed the idea of trust as requiring full disclosure. But if I truly trust you, why would I require full disclosure? I trust you to make sound decisions, to manage your life outside of our relationship however you see fit. If you take on a new lover, you are not required to tell me unless you want to. That's trust."
 

FallenAngelina

Well-known member
The Philosopher came to me one day and said, "I've always viewed the idea of trust as requiring full disclosure. But if I truly trust you, why would I require full disclosure? I trust you to make sound decisions, to manage your life outside of our relationship however you see fit. If you take on a new lover, you are not required to tell me unless you want to. That's trust."

I love this, bookbug. Having a list of relationship rules doesn't appeal to me one bit and Philospher's quote up there pretty much says all I need, not just pertaining to trust but to being with someone in general.

"I trust you to make sound decisions, to manage your life outside of our relationship however you see fit."
 

MusicalRose

Member
The only thing that really makes me uncomfortable on that level is stuff having to do with sexual safety in someone I'm fluid bonded with, especially if we do establish that we have different levels of comfort.

Having the full disclosure there means that I can make decisions about how comfortable I feel with a given level of contact, although in a longer term and very trust built relationship, I can see where it might not always be explicitly necessary. I feel divided on this one area in particular. With anything else, yeah, I don't require my partner to disclose what all they are doing with another person (although my compersive self does like to hear it if they're willing :)).
 

A2Poly

New member
Our agreement is to tell each other anything that will effect the other one.

So safe sex with a FWB/hook up isn't on that list. He can tell me if he wants to, but doesn't have to (and vice versa). If a condom breaks or the choice is made not to use one then that effects me so he'd need to tell me or I'd have to tell him if I did the same.

But once feelings get involved, be it before or after the sexual relationship has started... well that affects me because he'll be wanting to stretch his already stretched time to handle another relationship. And since that will affect my time with him he'd need to tell me. I doubt I'd be in that situation soon (feeling poly-saturated with just the one relationship), but if I was the same would hold for me.

So it's "full disclosure" of anything that might effect me, but not of everything. I think this works for us.... but only because I've known him half my adult life and trust him completely.
 

bookbug

New member
Glad to meet a kindred spirit, Karen!

As for safe sex, we trust one another to confide any issues that were to affect health. But we would each do this because it is the ethical thing to do, not because of a rule.

As for compersion, MusicalRose, we both experience it, and so not telling is probably not an option either of us would ever invoke. :)

I think the point the Philosopher was trying to make in the bigger scheme of things is that rules do not replace trust - and yet time and again we have seen on this forum rules put in place designed to make the participants feel safe, only to see the rules broken (often because they deny the natural progression of feelings) further eroding trust the rules were supposed to protect.
 
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Nadya

Member
The only thing that really makes me uncomfortable on that level is stuff having to do with sexual safety in someone I'm fluid bonded with, especially if we do establish that we have different levels of comfort.

This. This is the only "rule" I have in my relationships. Me and CJ have differing comfort levels in this matter. I have made it clear to him what my comfort level is - that is, he knows what level of protection to use with other sexual partners and still stay fluid bonded with me. Of course, he has the freedom to behave in other ways and stop the fluid bond with me - and I trust him to keep me informed.

With anything else, yeah, I don't require my partner to disclose what all they are doing with another person (although my compersive self does like to hear it if they're willing :)).

Me too :) The more we know each other the more information CJ is willing to give me about his other relationships. He tells me when he feels like it.

Just to clarify: my other partner Mark chooses to be mono with me, so this does not apply there.
 

InsaneMystic

New member
Re: the question of cheating. What if the relationship were set up so there was no way to cheat? What do I mean?

The Philosopher came to me one day and said, "I've always viewed the idea of trust as requiring full disclosure. But if I truly trust you, why would I require full disclosure? I trust you to make sound decisions, to manage your life outside of our relationship however you see fit. If you take on a new lover, you are not required to tell me unless you want to. That's trust."
I love this, bookbug. Having a list of relationship rules doesn't appeal to me one bit and Philospher's quote up there pretty much says all I need, not just pertaining to trust but to being with someone in general.

"I trust you to make sound decisions, to manage your life outside of our relationship however you see fit."
Wonderfully put. :) Just adding - in case it needs to be said? - that this is fully compatible with my insistence on the right of all parties to break up at any time, for any reason. Trust does not require commitment - I can trust myself and anyone else involved to do what we want for as long as we want, and do it together as long as it fits everyone involved.


The only thing that really makes me uncomfortable on that level is stuff having to do with sexual safety in someone I'm fluid bonded with, especially if we do establish that we have different levels of comfort.
*nods* Rationally, that makes perfect sense... however, there's a big fat neurotic "but" coming.

The way I know myself, it would unbearably stress me out to state a demand of disclosure, let alone a demand of behavior; even when my physical safety is at risk, I'd still see it an an imposition on their freedom that is not in my place to make. I can choose to walk away at any time, but I can not ever demand anything. Here's me, taking care of my stuff; here's you, taking care of yours; and that should stay separate, with any "us" happening incidentally, as a bonus. (If this reminds anyone of the Gestalt Prayer... it's no coincidence. ;))

Questions like this show I'm possibly too rigid in my ethics for my own well-being (been told that by therapy folk more than once... and still don't see a way to be less rigid that would still let me look myself in the face in the mirror. *shrug*).

As monogamy simply is not an option I'm willing to even consider, I guess if I were to have sex, my only real option would be to always use protection that prevents fluid-bonding, in every single situation involving me. I can't imagine a hypothetical situation in which I could f-b with someone that fulfills the criteria of being both reasonably safe and sufficiently ethical.

Yes, I'm that neurotic. :/

Being asexual, though, I'm in the lucky position where that problem simply isn't a factor - I don't feel any desire for sex with anyone, to start with, and am fully at ease with the thought of dying a virgin. So whatever sexual safety measures a partner takes with other folks will only impact them, not me. I'd hope for them to stay safe for their own sake, simply because I care about the health of folks I love, but in the end, I can let it rest as something that is none of my concern. For me, life would be a lot harder if I weren't asexual... having an orientation that minimizes my stress is of the few unconditionally "lucky lots" I drew in life, I guess.



BTW, the irony of how the "mellow, happy anarchist" first part of this post clashes with the "rigid neurotic" second part isn't lost on me... no need to point it out, I already know. *sigh*
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
I guess if a partner told you, completely voluntarily, without being asked, that they were practicing safe sex with others, and if you knew them well enough to take them at their word, then you could fluid bond with them with reasonable assurance of low risk and without putting a ding in their freedom. Does that make sense?
 

A2Poly

New member
I guess if a partner told you, completely voluntarily, without being asked, that they were practicing safe sex with others, and if you knew them well enough to take them at their word, then you could fluid bond with them with reasonable assurance of low risk and without putting a ding in their freedom. Does that make sense?

Yes. This. I don't need a rule to tell me that I need to tell Mal about a condom breaking/other non-safe event while I'm with another (hypothetical at this point) partner. And I know he'll do the same because he already has.

ETA: we actually only just had this talk a few days ago, and only because Djinn was reading something that made her ask Mal if he and I had any 'agreements' about having other partners. But when we did talk about it, it turned out we had the same ideas about the usefulness of 'rules'. When I said earlier we had 'agreements' it might have sounded like 'rules', but it was more both of us stating our own thoughts ('I think it only fair if I tell you if.. ') and learning that the other's thoughts on what needed to be told were the same. So we 'agree'. It wasn't negotiated so much as pre-existing but unstated until now.
 
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InsaneMystic

New member
I guess if a partner told you, completely voluntarily, without being asked, that they were practicing safe sex with others, and if you knew them well enough to take them at their word, then you could fluid bond with them with reasonable assurance of low risk and without putting a ding in their freedom. Does that make sense?
Yes, it totally does. :) For a person capable of that ultimate amount of trust in another human, this would indeed be a viable option.

However, I'm really not sure if I, personally, have that capacity for utterly unconditional trust. There's always the thoughts in the back of my head that humans are subjective, humans are fallible, every human is different from every other human. Each of these thoughts puts conditions on the amount of trust I can comfortably give someone, as well as in the amount of trust I'm comfortable with being given by someone else.

I'm still doing well enough to be ethically at ease with myself in regards of trustingness... but I know all too well I'm far, far away from any theoretical ideal (regarding this scenario, or any other) - and can't expect from others what I can't provide, myself.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Right, if knowing how fallible people are puts a ding in how much trust you can earn and bestow, you'll just avoid fluid bonding altogether which isn't necessarily the end of the world.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
I guess you can be RA and technically be a number of other labels (which you'll probably eschew) at the same time, e.g. single, monogamous, ethically nonmonogamous, polyamorous, etc.
 

MusicalRose

Member
It seems like relationship anarchy and polyamory are two different things. If you are looking for a deeper understanding of polyamory for comparison purposes, check out www.beyondtwo.com. I'm not sure if it will give you the direct information you are looking for, but I think by looking at poly in practice it will help you to see that it is distinct from relationship anarchy.

While polyamory and relationship anarchy are different concepts, certainly, I don't think they are in any way exclusive concepts. One can be both, and most relationship anarchists are likely polyamorous in nature (though I'm sure there are always exceptions out there).

I am both. Polyamory really just describes my ability to love more than one person. Relationship anarchy describes my philosophy that my love will not be bound by rules and obligations, that no one relationship is to be inherently held on a pedestal above any other, and that my relationships can have their own forms with different types and intensities of intimacy without me needing to label them if I don't want.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Perhaps ... "Relationship anarchy is a state in which people grant each other complete freedom." A bit more could be added to that depending on what needs to be emphasized for a particular person.
 

Marcus

Well-known member
I was trying to tell someone about RA recently and fumbled a bit. For any of you who are well-versed in this approach/philosophy, how do you concisely describe it? I'd like to be able to convey the gist of what it is, in just a sentence or two.

I only use the term relationship anarchy here, I've never said that to anyone else (that I can recall). I have a hard enough time getting people to understand how polyamory is not the end of all that is pure and beautiful without treading into deep water with terms like RA.

Though, when I describe my relationship worldview these days I don't say poly (unless they already know that term and seem to want to use it); I generally describe myself as non-monogamous and wait to see if they want more description. If they do, I end up describing essentially how I interpret the aspects of RA that I find personally critical.

1. All relationships are handled independently, no one relationship has any say over another.
2. Non-sacrifice based associations only, no sexual/romantic exclusivity clause or compromise agreements
3. Relationship setup based exclusively on the people involved with no deference paid to external/social expectations​

Generally speaking I never make it to the third principle, which I view as kind of second tier of discussion. Those first two freak out, piss off, and/or shut down most folks so the third principle doesn't really come into play in polite conversation.
 
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