Originally Posted by hyperskeptic
Do 'polyamory' and 'relationship anarchy' really come to the same thing? Or is 'relationship anarchy' - as I suspect it might be - more radical than 'polyamory' is generally conceived to be, questioning assumptions even those committed to polyamory often still make?
One glaring difference between someone who strives to have relationships styled to foster independence, and the more traditional model of committing to a partner, setting up rules, and having varying degrees of control over one another is the expectation of longevity.
Marriage, as the most extreme example, is a contract which (among other things) makes abolishing the association a legal issue.
A person who identifies the reality that people change over time, in various directions, and at different speeds, necessarily must agree that relationships between these ever changing people must be allowed to be equally fluid. This is not to say that a relationship anarchist would not value long term relationships, of course they would, but to allow an association to change in the way it needs to precludes the members from setting arbitrary guarantees or making altering the association a painful legal action or emotional explosion.
Of course one doesn't need to be married to assume that a relationship must last a certain period of time. That much is obvious when we look at how strongly most people seem to react to ending a relationship. Instead of being disappointed and needing some time to "mourn" the change in their association, people become vindictive and irrationally destructive to one another. The "how dare you break up with me" and "I can't believe I wasted 2 years of my life with you" fights come bursting onto the scene. Suddenly all of the good will built over the life of the relationship counts for nothing and it is a race to see who can be a bigger asshole.
Why? Isn't it obvious that the relationship should change or be dissolved entirely? I am of the opinion that at least part of this visceral reaction is due to the expectation of longevity. Most folks have an arbitrary timeline associated with a relationship and feel dejected and betrayed if their partner decides they need to go a different direction before the appointed time (usually the time frame involves one of them dying).
One of my hopes is to be able to relate to people without the assumption of longevity and to enjoy people when I have access to them and not allow myself to dwell on the loss when our association changes.