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  #11  
Old 11-25-2013, 01:56 AM
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Originally Posted by InsaneMystic View Post
One of the things I keep saying a lot is "all healthy relationships are some form of friendship, some of these with (some kind of) benefits".
Yeah, this pretty much sums it up. The label - relationship anarchy, relationship-queer, or whatever - doesn't add a lot to that.

(I suddenly find myself thinking it all comes back around to Aristotle's idea of philia - friendship and/or affection.)
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  #12  
Old 11-25-2013, 02:36 AM
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Originally Posted by wildflowers View Post
You should take a look for Marcus' posts, since he definitely believes in the anarchy model.
LMFAO! I was reading along thinking "Man-this thread is totally a Marcus topic".
Then I saw this and started laughing.
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  #13  
Old 11-25-2013, 02:46 AM
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I tend to think it's different. Compatible for some. Not compatible for others.

My current configuration is definitely NOT RA. Primarily because Maca would lose his marbles with RA.

But-my prior relationships were very much so. All of my lovers are friends and always have been. Also-many of my friends have been lovers. All of my ex-lovers are friends.
The only distinguishing feature is that sometimes we decide we aren't compatible for some specific activity or another. I can't even say sexually-because in some cases, it was only SPECIFIC sexual activities we weren't compatible in-and therefor stopped.
But there were no 'lines in the sand'.

However-part of having romantic entanglements, is respecting the needs of both parties.
I didn't NEED that lifestyle.
Maca does need a more defined lifestyle. So I gave it up in sexual arenas and I am comfortable with that.

But-it exists in "friend or family" dynamics all through my life. My in-laws were here this week, and my mother in law is a newer wife. She doesn't know me very well and they live far away. She was a bit startled at the number of people identified as "just part of the family" with no legal or biological ties. Not offended, just startled.
My social group is very fluid in terms of how we operate our relationships. We say I love you to each other and it's not pertinent to who is sexually or romantically involved.
Yesterday we did Thanksgiving and a "friend" by most people's definitions was over. I was curled up in her lap as we talked. We were both comfortable. We aren't sexually involved. Never have been, she's mono and married and unlikely we ever will be. But we are comfortable with each other and we hug or cuddle as we wish without regards to other people's "social norms".
This behavior is the "normal" of my social group. I think it is related to RA. Whilst I no longer cross the boundaries of physical sex with anyone outside of Maca and I's agreement; I do flirt, talk about sex, cuddle, hug, hold hands etc with whoever, whenever. These "friends" are family and we operate as we feel comfortable.
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Old 11-25-2013, 05:27 AM
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Default Anarchy is for Lovers

Anarchy is a tricky subject to discuss. As you can imagine, most people who identify with the concept of anarchy are hesitant to be the first jack-ass to assign any firm guidelines to the idea. So what we are left with is the vague waxing of 18th century philosophers, late 19th and early 20th century radical anti-government "direct action" anarchists, and modern day pissed off 14 year olds who are just flailing to be accepted. I expect they are all a little correct, and a little incorrect.

The core concept which most people agree on is to exist without the burden of external rule; all other discussions usually build from that foundation. The hope is to live a genuine existence, to develop ones own values and traditions based on how they see the world. Relationship anarchy, as with anarchy as a "political stance", should be approached as a guiding principle more than something to actually attain. Many anarchists dream to have a community in which the members (regardless of the size) reach a natural equilibrium; agreement by non-coercive consensus. They can theoretically live out their lives without putting much thought into it, yet from the outside looking in they seem to be acting out a well choreographed dance where the needs and abilities of each dancer supports and encourages the other without ever applying any pressure or correcting their natural rhythm.

In more direct terms, my view of relationship anarchy is much like the manifesto linked in my sig and in this thread. As long as I strive to let people be who they are, live by my own values, do no harm, and respect the fact that my fellows should be enjoyed - not controlled, I think I'm doing alright. I tirelessly question the values I follow and allow them to either stand or fall, according to their validity, all in an effort to be who I am and find a place of peace within the world.

In practice, I am still a new player in relating this way. I have very recently come into some difficulty and realized, again, that I have quite some growing to do before I will be able to smoothly and effortlessly relate the way I want to. Who knows if I'll ever get there, I've got quite a bit of baggage to unload, but we'll see.
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Old 11-25-2013, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by hyperskeptic View Post
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.
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Last edited by Marcus; 11-25-2013 at 05:49 AM. Reason: Changed Quote
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  #16  
Old 11-25-2013, 07:02 AM
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I can't see that it is any different from a more liberal form of poly. More liberal meaning polyamory without rules and restrictions about who and how one can love outside of their primary relationship. To me, some of the ideas listed as being central to RA are ideas that have to be present in an ethically non monogamous relationship for it to be polyamorous. I don't believe that understanding you do not need to be desperately in love with one another or reach a certain level of romantic commitment before you decide to co parent or co habit is unique to RA. Many poly people live and co parent together because it was a logical step given everyone's circumstances and desires.

As I said, the only time I see a clear difference is when it goes wrong and you have situations where RA is used as an excuse to be a shitty partner or friend. Otherwise, I don't see how it's any different to an egalitarian, liberal form of polyamory.

Last edited by london; 11-25-2013 at 08:49 AM.
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  #17  
Old 11-25-2013, 01:08 PM
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Default The Uses of Concepts

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Originally Posted by london View Post
I can't see . . . I don't see . . .
Okay.

It wasn't my aim in starting this thread to push the idea of RA on anyone, even on myself. I'm really only trying to see if the idea does any useful work for me as I continue to develop an unconventional way of relating to other people.

If it doesn't do useful work for you, well, that's all right.

Last night, I was starting to think of 'polyamory' and 'relationship anarchy' as defining an overlapping conceptual space, the kind of thing you could represent with a Venn diagram.

After reading Marcus' posts - for which thank you very much, Marcus - I'm not so sure. The concepts themselves don't really overlap, though someone might make use of one or the other in making sense of their own relationships in practice.

I've written in this thread that I'm basically a pragmatist, and I mean that in a fairly technical, philosophical sense. One aspect of pragmatism is a kind of theoretical or conceptual pluralism: rather than insisting on a single correct theory or concept or outlook or whatever, pragmatism leaves room to experiment, to try on various conceptual frameworks in order to see which ones are useful in particular contexts.

It seems to me, then, that 'polyamory' is one conceptual framework that includes a number of assumptions about what human beings are and how the world works and what our aims should be; 'relationship anarchy' is a very different conceptual framework that includes some different assumptions about what human beings are and how the world works and what our aims should be.

To use one framework is to pick out certain features of the world as important, while other features recede from awareness; the framework connects and makes sense of those features in a particular way.

So, for example, polyamory frames the world of intimate relationships along a one-many axis.

Switch to the other framework, and what was in the foreground may slip to the background, and vice versa; the other framework identifies different aspects of the world as significant, and connects them together in different ways.

So, for example, relationship anarchy - if I'm understanding it - frames the world of intimate relationships along an external-internal axis, in terms of the locus of control over the form and expectations of relationships.

In practice, one is a hammer, the other is a spanner: they serve different functions and you should reach for the one that will be useful for the purpose at hand.

I mean, you can drive nails with a spanner, but why would you?

And, yes, you can get up to all kinds of mischief with a spanner, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use when you really need to fix the plumbing.

Besides, you can get up to all sorts of mischief with a hammer, too.

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 11-25-2013 at 01:10 PM.
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  #18  
Old 11-25-2013, 01:33 PM
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I know you're not trying to push RA on me or anyone else. I'm answering the way I am because I actually looked into this a little while ago for some of the same reasons you seem to be. You see, for me, once one agrees to a polyamorous relationship, they are also agreeing to let go of some mono normative ideas about sex and relationships. They have to. If they dont, neither they or their partner will be able to have healthy relationships with other people. Lots of people who identify as poly don't seem to let go of these ideals though, not entirely, and although they aren't monogamous they construct their relationships and have expectations that are in line with mono normative thinking. I see a big correlation in how much they let go of these ideals and the achievement rate of all people (who want to) in their network having successful relationships with other people.

Losing mono normative thinking means understanding that someone might have a friend who is just a friend that they have sex with and will probably be the only person they'd co parent with. It means understanding that someone's most "serious" relationship might be a person that lives far away and they only see twice a year although they live with two other romantic partners who they describe as "casual". It's understanding that someone you was once married to, might end up as a person you fuck when you're going through a dry spell. It's understanding that a person you meet and fuck in a club might end up your wife, or they might never see you again. Anything is possible and nothing that is harmless is wrong.

So basically, I think the people that have the most successful polyamorous relationships in my view, have the qualities and general ethos that RA promotes. If you like, that's twue poly.

Last edited by london; 11-25-2013 at 01:36 PM.
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  #19  
Old 11-25-2013, 01:44 PM
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I see. Thanks for clarifying.

I'm not sure I'd go the direction of labeling poly+RA as "true poly" . . . that seems a little heavy-handed to me, a little too much about ideological purity for my taste.

But it seems we're just using the concepts differently. Again, that's all right.

I would quibble with one point, though it would be a topic for a different thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by london View Post
. . . nothing that is harmless is wrong.
It's a related point about concepts and frameworks as tools, but there's more to responsible conduct than avoiding harm: there are also matters of consent to be considered, which draw on a very different conception of value.

But, as I say, that's a topic for another thread.

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 11-25-2013 at 01:57 PM.
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  #20  
Old 11-25-2013, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Eponine View Post
I'm glad that you're interested in RA and made a separate thread for it.

I think RA is more radical than poly. Someone who is RA is probably poly, but I don't think many polys are RA. First, hierarchical poly is incompatible with the RA philosophy, which is against entitlement and arbitrary rules. Second, even many non-hierarchical poly people draw a clear line between "just friends" and "romantic partners", whereas RA aims at dissolving the rigid relationship categories. This blog post did a pretty good job of explaining the differences between poly and RA.


I agree. One of my SOs has said that RA means a "bottom-up" approach to do relationships: Forget about all the pre-set categories and what a relationship is "supposed" to look like; instead, just work out the terms and conditions of each individual relationship based on the participants' unique needs. Hence the "customized commitment" idea in the RA manifesto.
I liked that blog post. It didn't make me feel differently about RA just being how poly "should be done" but it gave me a clearer indication of why someone would prefer that label. However, this confused me:

Quote:
Joe has a romantic friendship with another man named Paul who he loves just as much as Taylor. Joe and Paulís relationship looks very similar to Joe and Taylorís relationship, but itís a little different simply because Paul isnít interested in dating or having sex with Joe in the first place. Paulís straight.
It might be "my literal" but if Paul is straight, isn't interested in dating or having sex with Joe, how can they have a "romantic friendship"? I mean, if Paul describes it as that too, sure, but if not, surely it's a friendship. Even if Paul did call it that I would wonder what aspects they consider "romantic". I think non sexual affection is within the realms of friendship if the people want it to be. Affection doesn't necessarily constitute romance, nor does sex. It's friendship which is absolutely as important as a relationship.
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