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Old 01-05-2015, 05:15 AM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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Default Relationship Anarchy

It's been awhile since I've inhabited the forum. Ive been sorting myself out so to speak.

Quick synopsis: I was part of a very short term triad with a couple (philosopher and his now ex-wife) turned vee, which quickly dissolved (I won't bore you with the details.) a year after I left, their marriage failed. The Philosopher and I began to pick up the pieces. That was two years ago.

We both had a lot of healing to do, but during this time, we found we could not define our relationship based on what it had been; we have both gone through a number of changes. Lots of conversation regarding how we now we view relationships, marriage, what we want in our relationship(s) etc. As the discussion continued, we continually threw out more and more rules, seeing too many rules as a way to insure failure, and our trust in each other and ourselves grew deeper. Basically, it became: I love you, I trust you, I want you to be happy. There are no rules.

It was only later we found there was a name for this concept: relationship anarchy.

My question is this: how many others here self identify as relationship anarchists? (I know Marcus does.)

Also? Despite having been in polyamorous relationships most of my adult life, I found it a challenge to move away from the default societal norm of coupledom or in my cases tripledom (I have always been in polyfi trios) - that programming that states "real relationships" have certain characteristics including a couple or group shared identity, cohabitation, entangled finances, etc., as opposed to operating as an autonomous individual, which may cohabit and entangle finances or may not. Now that I have grasped it, I find it a particularly secure model and very freeing. But the few open-minded I've tried to describe it to can't quite understand it - although they are trying. Any suggestions?
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Old 01-05-2015, 09:40 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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I tend to avoid identifying myself as anything - particularly as anything that includes the word anarchist. Simply because people hear that word and immediately think of chaos, lack of order and folk doing whatever they want, whenever they want.

Nevertheless, I do strongly identify with anarchism. For me, it can be defined as the belief that social groups work better if people are able to work together collectively as equals to organise them. I'm in a number of different social and work groups that I would describe as anarchistic and which work well.

I see this working well in many parts of my life and I think that it very much applies to romantic relationships as well. I don't see the need for a group identity shared between those in relationships together. My assumption tends to be that I operate as an individual within any group I am part of - including any romantic group.

For me, being part of a group wider than a romantic group, implies some responsibilities and care. If I choose to be in what I would call a romantic relationship - and I do right now - and it looks to others like a romantic relationship - which it does, then I feel that I wish to avoid that relationship being sexually open.

I struggle with the ethics of romantic couples having open relationships. I think it is very hard to do open relationships ethically while being in a couple. I don't think it's impossible but I see it as very hard.

That is why while I identify strongly with anarchism, I maintain monogamous romantic relationships. If I am not romantically entangled, I would feel happy about being open to sexual relationships with a number of friends.

Anarchism is, I think, a bit of a trigger word and can act as a barrier to people listening. Maybe describing what you are doing and how you see relationships without using the A word might be easier for other folks?

IP
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Old 01-05-2015, 01:28 PM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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Astute observation about the word anarchy. I, too, had that reaction initially. I had seen the terminology, and had not bothered to look it up because of a negative emotional reaction.

The problem I am finding about any descriptor - open relationship, polyamory, much less relationship anarchy, is that most people, especially those who are uninitiated make assumptions about the meaning, rather than asking. Not so much of an issue if you meet someone and the relationship has a chance to grow organically over time. But the times that someone asks me for date without really knowing me, I don't want to mislead them and have searched for an accurate way to let them know, I'm not going to be their one and only.
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Old 01-05-2015, 03:27 PM
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There is another thread here on the topic, with some very thoughtful discussion on it. It was started by HyperSkeptic, if you do a search.
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Old 01-05-2015, 04:36 PM
icesong icesong is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InfinitePossibility View Post
I struggle with the ethics of romantic couples having open relationships. I think it is very hard to do open relationships ethically while being in a couple. I don't think it's impossible but I see it as very hard.
Would it be possible for you to elaborate on that? I'm just curious as to what you see the ethical... pitfalls, for lack of a better word, are.
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Old 01-05-2015, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
There is another thread here on the topic, with some very thoughtful discussion on it. It was started by HyperSkeptic, if you do a search.
I'll make it easy for you: the thread is here, for whatever it may be worth.

It was, for me, one of the more interesting and enlightening exchanges I've had on this board. That is to say, I learned a lot from others' contributions.
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Old 01-05-2015, 06:10 PM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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Thanks nyecindie and hyperskeptic! Going to check out the other thread.
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-Intellectual Elf, 27, female, the Philosopher's LDR
-Polkadot, 36, dating the Philosopher
-Wiseman, 68, male, solo-poly, my budding LDR
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Old 01-05-2015, 08:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by icesong View Post
Would it be possible for you to elaborate on that? I'm just curious as to what you see the ethical... pitfalls, for lack of a better word, are.
I am also curious to know more about this statement.
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Old 01-05-2015, 08:36 PM
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I assumed they meant that 'couples privilege' comes into play, even if subconsciously.
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Old 01-06-2015, 06:50 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by icesong View Post
Would it be possible for you to elaborate on that? I'm just curious as to what you see the ethical... pitfalls, for lack of a better word, are.
Sure.

Couples wanting to remain couples while practising poly is tricky. The theory of it works well. Polyamory is about abundant love, lots of it, plenty to go around. So it seems utterly fine to remain a couple while loving others - together or separately. In theory, it is fine and in theory, it is ethical.

The difficulty comes when that moves from a theoretical discussion into practise. In practise, it seems to me that there are a number of things that happen often that lead to unethical behaviour.

1. Obvious one - the new people are not treated with the sort of respect that it is reasonable to expect when starting a new romantic relationship. They find that dates are cancelled or moved because one half of the couple is struggling. Or they find that they may not have sex in particular ways (or at all) with their new partner because one half of the couple is struggling.

I think that this comes from the ethical behaviour of those involved trying to help the person who is struggling. That is ethical. Limiting somebody else's sex life or treating time with them as something that can be cancelled at short notice for non-emergencies is NOT ethical - even if it happens for good reasons and even if the person being treated badly says they are fine with it.

The person being treated badly might be fine with it but that doesn't make it okay behaviour. To me, it's not good stuff to practise at all. I suspect it's an easy trap to fall into and would be easy to justify to myself if I was in that position - which is one of the reasons that I don't want to be in that position.

2. The flip side of number 1 is that the new person is treated very well. Better, in fact, than the existing partner. People are here regularly writing about how they have a new partner and now they don't want to have sex with their existing partner or about how their existing partner seems more boring or about how the flaws in their relationship are now magnified and they think they may leave their existing partner. The partners write too sometimes about how sad they are that their existing, previously happy relationship is no longer that way.

They get told that it's to do with NRE, that body chemicals are causing the unwanted feelings and behaviour. That's true but it doesn't make it ethical to effectively abandon an existing partner for a new one. It is particularly unethical if this abandoning comes after a long period of assuring the partner that things won't change, that love is abundant, that there is no need to worry etc etc.

I don't want to behave in that way and I think that I might do if I were in NRE - it seems to me that lots of people do and I don't see why I would be different. The chemical changes associated with NRE would, I suspect, make it difficult to see poor choices for what they are and easy to justify treating an existing partner badly.

3. Last main thing. In theory, if I had my partner and started dating a new person who was up front with me that they ultimately want a wife and child, we could deal with that. They could find a single woman who was okay with them dating others but who wanted to have a child. Or we could go ahead on the understanding that when they found somebody I would back off. In theory, that is all fine.

In practise, it seems not to work out that way so well. For a start, the coupled people I see in those situations, don't want the person they started dating and have now fallen in love with to stop seeing them. So when it comes up, they become distressed, they will often start negotiating with their love - offering an extra day a week or something else to keep the partner in that relationship. I very much understand why and in the same situation would probably do exactly the same thing. For all that, it isn't ethical to hold somebody else in a relationship that isn't at all in the form they seek.

I don't think that suggesting they seek their wife and mother of their children from among people who are happy with poly helps (unless that is something they would do anyway). That's a small pool of people and chances of success are much, much lower.

So the poly person continues having their marriage relationship while at the same time making it very unlikely that somebody they love will be able to have the same thing as them. That is absolutely not okay to me.



Does that help to clarify? I hope I've been clear that I'm not trying to berate people or suggest that they are being deliberately unethical or suggest that I am in any way superior. I don't think any of those things.

What I think is that I am as thoughtful, kind and caring as most of the people who write here. When I see those thoughtful, kind and caring people behaving unethically toward loved ones, I think I could very easily do the same thing. I see the safest way to avoiding these pitfalls is to not practise poly unless I am unattached and committed to staying that way so that I don't have the needs and wants of any partner to deal with.

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