Relationship Anarchy: What It Means And Why It Matters
The word anarchy has such an undeservedly terrible reputation thanks in part to the prevailing capitalist hegemony. Anarchy is derived from the Greek word anarchos, meaning “without rulers.” It is the organization of society on the basis of voluntary cooperation, without hierarchy. Relationship anarchy (RA) is a way of approaching relationships that rejects any rules and expectations other than the ones those involved people agree on. A relationship anarchist is someone who believes that all relationships should be free from rules, labels, and hierarchies. Your relationship is what you decide it is.
The relationship anarchy manifesto
The term “relationship anarchy” was originally coined by Andie Nordgren in a 2006 pamphlet.
- Love is abundant, and every relationship is unique (love is not a limited resource. Love is equal and all relationships are equal not ranked).
- Love and respect instead of entitlement (love is not a license to control your partner. Still, you have to respect each other’s boundaries).
- Find out your core set of relationship values (focus on what you want and need and your core set of values).
- Heterosexism is rampant and out there, but don’t let fear lead you (don’t let heterosexism make you fearful. Heterosexism is the assumption that heterosexuality is the only correct, moral and desirable way to organize romantic relationships).
- Build for the lovely and unexpected (be spontaneous and don’t feel held back by shoulds and ought to).
- Fake it till you make it (breaking with monogamous, heterosexist norms is hard work and can be overwhelming so stick with it).
- Trust is better (operate from a place of trust).
- Change through communication (open communication and continuous dialogue is the key to success or you risk inadvertently falling into old norms).
- Customize your commitments (configure your relationship how you want. Do you want children? Do you want to move in together? Do you want to get married?).
Common misconceptions about relationship anarchy
Relationship anarchy is not about having casual sex with multiple partners. Some relationship anarchists may choose to have casual sex with multiple partners while others choose not to. Non-monogamy is not a defining characteristic of RA.
An excuse to avoid commitment
Relationship anarchy is not an excuse to avoid commitment. It is a redefining of what commitment means rather than just following the rules and expectations set up by society.
Relationship anarchy does not have rules but it does have boundaries. The key is not to attempt to control your partner but for all of you to exercise your individual freedom in ways that don’t cause each other harm.
Why it matters
Challenges traditional norms
Relationship anarchy allows people to challenge restrictive and sometimes oppressive traditional norms especially those rooted in patriarchy and sexism.
Customize your relationship
Relationship anarchy allows people to customize their relationship so that it works for them and meets their needs. It is especially beneficial for people who don’t fit neatly into traditional relationship models, for example, people who are asexual, aromantic or non-monogamous.
Rooted in freedom
Relationship anarchy is rooted in the individual’s freedom and agency, allowing individuals to define their own paths to love and connection. The rejection of hierarchies allows individuals even more freedom to live their lives as they wish.
Relationship anarchy promotes a more inclusive and accepting approach to relationships of all kinds.
The key thing about relationship anarchy is it’s about freedom to structure your relationship as you want, in a way that works best for you not based on the arbitrary often sexist rules and hierarchies set by society.