8 Points on Relationship Anarchy
By Andie Nordgren (translation by Leo Nordwall and Elli Åhlvik)
You can love a lot of people - each relationship is unique
Relationship Anarchy (RA) questions the idea that love is a special, limited feeling which is real only when kept between two people at any given moment. It is possible to love more than one person - your relationship to one doesn't diminish your relationships to the others. Don't value and compare – appreciate each other! No one needs to be highlighted as a partner to make a relationship "real". Every relationship stands on it's own, a meeting between independent equals.
Love and Respect is to have no demands
Refraining from demands as a basis of a relationship is to show respect towards other peoples independency and capability of making decisions on their own. You having feelings for others or a history together doesn't give you the right to set rules or make demands. Try instead to explore how you can develop a relationship without disregarding each others essential values and opinions. Rather than compromising in every situation, make it possible to make different choices without letting that cause a crisis in the relationship. Demandlessness is the only way to be completely sure that everyone in a relationship is there of their own free will. It's not “real love” to adjust to each other according to an existing template.
Give yourself a solid point of view
How do you want others to treat you? And I mean everyone. What are your premises and how do you define your boundaries? What kind of people do you want to have around and how do you want your relationships to be? Find such a core point of view and work with all your relationships according to it. Don't make any exception to the rules or 'special cases' for different people to prove that you really care for someone specific.
Remember the heterosexual norm but don't be afraid
Remember that there is an incredibly powerful set of normative beliefs telling you how life and real love should be. People will wonder and question your relationships. Talk with loved ones to find escapes and tricks to avoid norms and rules that cause problems. But remember to create positive alternatives and fight for something, not just against the norm. Don't allow your relationships to be driven by fear of societal norms.
Spontaneity instead of duty
To be able to be spontaneous – to act without the fear of being punished and without obligations – is what makes radical relationships come to life. Spontaneity is above all else the opposite to duty. You would want a relationship where you spend time with each other just because you want to, not out of a sense of duty. Spontaneity is not about never planning ahead or thinking before acting, it's about building relationships without duties and demands. Organize your relationships in a way so that they enable spontaneousness!
Fake it 'til you make it
Sometimes it might sound like you have to be some kind of übermensch to "stand life" as a relationship anarchist. It's not true. Try using the trick “fake it 'til you make it”, which means that you imagine how you would have done in various difficult situations if you were as strong and cool as you'd like. Make these thoughts simple guidelines you use in situations where you feel too weak. Talk to other people about how they handle things and never blame yourself!
Trust is better than being suspicious
Assume that everyone near you wants you to be happy. The common idea that egoism is the sole power driving human behaviour is bullshit. You and others around you want to acknowledge and communicate with each other but sometimes there is so much to be dealt with in life that you don't have the energy to take care of anyone but yourself. The better the relationships and environments you can create for yourself and others, the more time and energy you can spend on others and acknowledge one another. Give people lots of opportunities to discuss with, explain, care for you and take responsibility for the relationship but remember to take care of yourself. Remember your personal boundaries.
Change through communication
Whenever people do something together there is a norm on how to act and what to do – a norm on how a the situation should turn out. If you and people around you won't talk about the whats, hows and whys, everything will turn out as the norm dictates. Communication, common action and a will to change is the only way to break free from the norms. Radical relationships must have open discussions as their main component, not as a state of emergency. Remember that trust is your most important tool. We are so used to people never quite saying what they actually mean, that we have to search for and try to interpret what they're really after. These assumptions are always based on societal norms or your previous experiences, which isn't necessarily true in your relationship. Talk to each other!
Andie Nordgren is a genderqueer relationship hacker and a key voice behind the Relationship Anarchy movement, which originated in Sweden but is now gaining international interest. Please see Andie's Log for more information.