Relationship Anarchy: Change and Acceptance Practices

In life and love, what’s to keep and what’s to lose?

Relationship Anarchism makes major pronouncements on the various types and threads of connections between people. These connections are the relationship between self and self, self and other, other and other, and other and itself. I think in the reality of implementing Relationship Anarchism we frequently come up with preconditioned beliefs, thoughts, and feelings about how we should or shouldn’t feel about the various relationships listed above. Under the cis hetero patriarchy styled monogamous relationships there are expected to be controls, or behavioral change on relationships of self and other as well as restrictions, interpretations, or judgments particularly on relationships of other to other.

I think there are two kinds of responses to the various interpersonal conflicts and joys. Namely I think there is a response to practice nonattachment, empathetic joy and reinforcing the value of autonomy, and there is a response of attempting to exercise change or control over an aspect. For example, exercising restraint or control over the relationship of the self to itself might be something we do volitionally in relationship to self improvement such as when we seek to exercise behavioral change when one of our behaviors generates suffering for ourselves and or others.

Relationship Anarchism broadly advocates that when it comes to relationships of other to other, or other to itself we should endeavor to practice non-attachment, empathetic joy and allowing of the various permutations, expressions and engagements of relationships to flourish. Meaning we should seek to create the greatest amount of autonomy when it comes to the relationships we have with ourselves and how we perceive the relationship others have with themselves and to others. In the interest of giving everyone the greatest control over that which directly affects them Relationship Anarchism advocates an open and directly communicative management of the relationship of self to other. Meaning that in practice we endeavor to allow others to most genuinely accept, engage, and change who they are, that we allow ourselves to be most genuinely who we are remaining honest with ourselves, refusing to change who we are for the total benefit of others unless it also aligns with our own goals, and we allow others to engage with others to their fullest and most desired extent.

Now I’m gonna address the cop that’s sitting in your head yelling at you. I think because we live in a patriarchal monogamous society people are essentially taught values of ownership, and under this value of ownership people are encouraged or taught that they should have the ability to change, control and remix that which is in their ownership. Therefore meaning that because none of us are immune to propaganda there must be an intentional and ongoing practice of nonattachment, cultivating autonomy for others as well as cultivating emotional honesty and clarity within ourselves to better actualize our own autonomy given to us by those in our lives and the autonomy we have taken for ourselves.

So when we find ourselves having reactions and thoughts to various strings of relationship in our life, we can ask the question directly. Is this about the relationship between me to myself, the relationship between myself and others, the relationship between others to their selves, or about the relationship between others? We might then derive from what type of relationship this is what our reaction ought to be in respect to the cultivation of our most deeply held values.

When it comes to the relationship of self to self we are to cultivate emotional and behavioral honesty. Being genuine with ourselves about what we care about, what we do, and who we are in the moment. That can mean noticing directly when we’re seeking to change ourselves solely for the benefit of others, especially in ways that might violate, denigrate, or invalidate our deeply held personal values. Relationship Anarchy to ourselves means a seizing of autonomy, personal responsibility, and internalized honesty. It means not compromising on our values solely for social benefit.

When it comes to the relationship of self to other under Relationship Anarchism we are to endeavor to build a relationship on a principle of mutual aid. Seeking to have direct, clear and honest communication with those we are involved in. Seeking to cultivate a relationship that both allows us and others their autonomy, while at the same time cultivating deep and caring relationships that bring us together as humans and living beings. It means refusing to see anyone other as greater, lesser or equal to another in our life. It means allowing people to stand genuinely on their own terms, in their own context, without compartmentalization.

When it comes to the relationships of other to other, or other to itself, we are to endeavor to practice nonattachment and empathetic joy. With the direct aim of cultivating autonomy in terms of our own behavior being independent and rooted within ourselves, and not seeking to control or manage the behaviors and relationships of others. It means explicitly renouncing that we have a right over who others engage with or what they do. Relationship Anarchism means renouncing domination over those we care about, it means the people we care about should be allowed to genuinely be themselves and not who we want them to be, or who we think they should be. In reality, sometimes that means loss, or not getting what you want in the moment, and if we endeavor to realize autonomy in our practical lives, it means recognizing and validating those emotional experiences, and then deciding that those feelings don’t actually have to control what you say and do and think in the long term.

It’s important to think about emotions often as patterns we’ve learned as reactions to various stimuli. Emotions serve to inform us as to our perceptions, our interpretations and motivate behavior. It’s perhaps even more important to remember that our emotional responses are deeply influenced by, if not directly dictated by, the societies under which we live. What we find brings us joy, fear, or arousal are all deeply rooted in both evolutionary biology and the sociological culture under which we live. Then, it is understood that the actualization of autonomy is to look genuinely and honestly within ourselves (cultivating autonomy in our self to self relationship) and then judge the various societies and cultures in which we are enmeshed by the measuring stick of our own values. And implementing that autonomy is recognizing and calling out the values that have been instilled in us through society that are actually bullshit while fortifying the values we believe in.

The actualization of Relationship Anarchism is an ongoing process that involves the centering of the value of autonomy, for ourselves and for those connected to us.