Relationship Anarchy

Anarchy, baby!

Relationship Anarchy, to be a Relationship Anarchist, is thé incorporation of anarchist ideas into the practice of romantic sexual and platonic relationships. It involves internalizing values of horizontalité, free association, autonomy, and mutual aid as a guide for how we structure and engage with our relationships. It often also means a kind of polyamory, wherein the values of anarchism are most readily able to flourish.

In building romantic sex relationships with anarchy we seek to structure them horizontally, without a hierarchy. Where no one person is of a higher rank or status than another, where each individual relationship is able to exist independently without having to be compared to others. As The Buddha said, not to compare one to another as good, the same or worse. To let each relationship be enjoyed in what it is itself without one having to be better or more important. Most especially, that no relationship has to reach a socially determined point before deep love and affection are allowed to exist. That those feelings of love and affection don’t require specific benchmarks of sex or action; that we can love our friends whether we go down on them or not.

The value of free association is what enables a genuine expression of autonomy. Allows oneself and those we are close to to exercise their own decision making on who they associate with, without dictates of class, race or religion. In practice this is a kind of non-monogamy. In allowing ourselves and others to associate with new and different people at all times, our love isn’t constrained to a closed loop and in doing so we are able to form complex and broad based relationship networks.

In structuring our relationships around autonomy we allow our partners to both be engaging with us genuinely and to never become owned or subservient to our partners implicitly or explicitly. We allow ourselves to pursue our own dreams and values and allow our partners to lead their lives without compromise. We refuse to let social notions that love is more valid or real through the sacrifice of autonomy exist within our relationship paradigm. We exercise autonomy over our own bodies/minds and respect the bodies/minds of others by seeking and maintaining clear consent. Whether that’s kissing or off loading trauma. We let our partners decide where they want to live and we decide for ourselves what choices are most desirable to us without fear of being a bad partner or destroying the relationship.

In considering Mutual Aid as an important facet of a relationship we have to consider that human evolution itself has gifted us our present dominance through mutual aid. We must understand our relationships as existing in a state of reciprocation and that a relationship without reciprocation is an inherently hierarchical relationship. Often, relationships without reciprocation are ones of patriarchal slavery or abuse. Relationship Anarchy means understanding that a relationship survives off of a back and forth, of emotional, social and material exchange. It doesn’t (necessarily) mean a one for one count of all things given and taken, more an intentional awareness of not creating a defacto hierarchy through means of status, class or ability, as far as is possible given the unfortunate realities of life under capitalism.

These values of horizontalité, free association, autonomy and mutual aid can be a struggle to realize in our lives and relationships. We grow up indoctrinated into a capitalist patriarchal society that pushes puritanical anti-pleasure ethics and compulsive monogamy and heterosexuality. We give birth to cops that live in our head and bring the nightstick down when we step out of line: the blood rushing to our cheeks and urge to hide when shame we’ve been taught to feel sets in. It’s a shame and guilt that doesn’t come from who we care about or from our own values. It’s a shame and guilt ‘gifted’ to us by a hierarchical society. In order to exercise real autonomy over ourselves and others we have to kill the cop in our head. We have to intentionally act opposite to urges to avoid communication and instead be willing to share our experiences of shame and through that sharing come to put them aside.

For more reading on relationship anarchy:

This article was written by Flow