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Curious Fox Social: Relationship Anarchy

Relationship Anarchy (RA) is probably the most elusive topic we’ve tackled at Curious Fox to date. As always, we were so fortunate to have an incredible set of panelists to share their stories, experience, and ideas as we delved into the murky waters of RA.

Learning from Experience
We were thrilled to have three diverse panelists who helped us understand the tenants behind RA, as well as how they have applied this perspective into their lives.

Amir always questioned the constructs of marriage, relationship hierarchy, and monogamy. However, with no alternatives role modeled for him, Amir found himself in a monogamous marriage and recognizing – even without the language or proper direction – that this was not the right fit. Through years of exploration, both personal and within the world of consensual non-monogamy (CNM), he now applies the principles found in the RA manifesto with all of his interpersonal connections.

Growing up as a squatter during the punk scene, and now a practicing Buddhist, Windy has leveraged the principles of both to influence how she defines and shows up in her relationships. With a desire to remove the labels and barriers from all relationships, and focus instead on being fully present to the needs and dynamics of each interaction, Windy practices RA to create equity and inclusivity in her relationships.

One of nine children in an environment which role modeled conditional love based on ranking, talent, and individual effort, Concetta longed to redefine love and relationship. After marrying at a young age, she and her husband evolved their relationship into a non-hierarchical structure that incorporates the tenants of RA. Now, Concetta says, she has room for all times of connections in her life and does not rank those that she loves based on how long they have been in her life or their level of intimacy.

Delving into RA
Relationship Anarchy has underpinnings in political ideology of anarchy. One thing we can definitely say about this ideology is that it’s misunderstood. Most of us conjure up images of violence, chaos and apocalyptic disarray when we hear the word. When we hear it next to a word like “relationship” – so close to home – most of us clutch our hearts in anticipation of break and ache and shake our heads in confusion and dismay. It’s hard to imagine it can really be a model for healthy relationships.

This was highlighted by one of the audience at this month’s Social through her story of discovering RA for the first time at another Curious Fox event. Coincidentally, Amir was the first person she heard as identifying as RA. She shared that just hearing the phrase “relationship anarchy” negatively impacted her impression of Amir; she had imagined him to be a cruel and uncaring person. Now, hearing Amir explain what RA means for him, she completely changed her impression of him and relationship anarchy.

This common misconception dismisses all of the lessons that the relationship anarchy can teach us. When we looked closer at the belief system of anarchy, we found that the tenants closely align with non-violent ideologies, such as Buddhism. Windy, shared the overlap in how RA emphasizes being fully present to those you are with, being mindful of what is happening in your mind and body, and demonstrating trust and kindness within all relationships.

At its core, anarchy is about autonomy and absence of hierarchy. It advocates for self-governance over authority. It denounces concepts like capitalism, the state and democracy through elected officials. It has been described as radical. This rejection of hierarchy, emphasis on autonomy, and denouncement of societally prescribed rules on relationships, are at the heart of RA. Or as Concetta described it, for her RA is about radical love.

When researching RA, the first name one comes across is Andie Nordgren who coined the term relationship anarchy and penned “The short instructional manifesto for relationship anarchy.” She speaks to the abundant love, respect, and uniqueness of relationships, operating from a core set of values, rejecting the burden of the normatively and shoulds as well as a coming from a place of trust and assuming the best of intentions, handling change through communication and being intentional about your commitments.

Relationship Anarchy is not for everyone for sure but there are take aways for everyone in any type of relationship: honoring your and your partner(s)’ autonomy, addressing any type of power dynamics within the relationship, and the intention design of what you want to create in the world.

Curious Fox Socials are not and will never be the final word on any topic. We solely aim to encourage curiosity and provide a space for exploration through connection and story.

Listen to the podcast of the panel discussion via Curious Fox Podcast, on Apple, Spotify, and Google Play and wherever you listen to podcast. Listen with an open and curious mind, and let us know what takeaways you receive from the discussion.

Enjoy the episode!