Relationship anarchy (sometimes abbreviated RA) is the application of anarchist principles to intimate relationships. Some especially important values include autonomy, anti-hierarchical practices, lack of state control, anti-normativity, and community interdependence. RA can be considered a type of non-monogamy, but moreso is explicitly anti-monogamy. This anti-monogamy is distinct from polyamory, solo poly, and other forms of “dating” due to their reproduction of many of the same oppressive structures found within monogamy (amatonormativity, pedestalization of sex, reinforcement of hierarchies of intimacy, autonomy-limiting rules, etc.).
RA is not a type of polyamory, “free love,” or an infinitely customizable relationship style. Some people mistakenly believe that “anarchy” means everyone does whatever they want, leading them to misconstrue RA as a model for relationships where anything and everything is okay, as long as everyone involved is in mutual agreement, which is a description of free love. RA asserts such a movement only reproduces the same patterns of oppression (rules-based relating, state-sanctioned marriage contracts, amatonormativity, etc.) as polyamory and monogamy, so cannot be considered a liberatory practice.
In actuality, RA is the application of a belief system that resists all forms of ownership- and rules-based relating. This includes opposing and destroying categories of intimate relationships according to the Relationship Escalator (“friend” vs. “romantic/sexual interest” vs. “partner” vs. “spouse” as distinct levels in a hierarchy of intimacy), third-party consent (needing a “partner” to approve or consent to another person’s activities/relationships), marriage (state-sanctioned contractual relating, in which neither party can leave at will and each of two people become increasingly legally, socially, and financially bonded), and all other forms of oppression and hierarchy (racism, sexism, desirability politics, citizenship/nationality issues, capitalism, homo/trans/queerphobia, etc.). It is NOT consistent with RA, to “choose” marriage or to prioritize some intimate relationships with the title of “partner/boyfriend/girlfriend” or “primary/secondary.” These actions support harmful social norms and are ultimately destructive towards the goal of anti-oppressive relationships in community.
The term relationship anarchy was coined by Andie Nordgren in her 2006 essay "The short instructional manifesto for relationship anarchy" (translated by her from the original Swedish “Relationsanarki i 8 punkter”). Related themes have also been explored in Swedish masters and bachelor theses by Jacob Strandell and Ida Midnattssol.
Strategies and facilitation
- Open discussion groups
- Community values discussions
- Queer desire party: A safe, sober space for queer, transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, and non-binary folks to play, flirt, scene, snuggle, chat, and NOT be the only one in the room.
- Divorce/Break-up parties
- Conflict fishbowl
- Co-Housing visioning and execution
- Custom clothes, art, signs/posters
- Anarchism and issues related to love and sex
- Free love within Anarchism
- Queer anarchism
- De las Heras Gómez, Roma (2018-12-20). "Thinking Relationship Anarchy from a Queer Feminist Approach". Sociological Research Online. SAGE Publications. 24 (4): 644–660. doi:10.1177/1360780418811965. ISSN 1360-7804.
- Foxtale, R. “Relationship Anarchy Is Not Post-Polyamory.” Emotional Mutation, 26 June 2017.
- Nordgren, Andie. "The short instructional manifesto for relationship anarchy", Andie's Log, July 6, 2012.
- Strandell, Jacob (Spring 2012). On the Possibilities and Impossibilities of Love: Mapping the discursive field of love-relationships, its components, conflicts and challenges (PDF) (Masters). Halmstad University, School of Social and Health Sciences.
- Midnattssol, Ida (January 1, 2013). "Ett relationsanarkistiskt ställningstagande - en undersökning av subjektspositionering inom relationsanarki" – via umu.diva-portal.org.
This section has an unclear citation style.January 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)(
- Denkinson, Grant. "UK Poly Mailing List Demographic Survey Results", Polytical.org, September 5, 2012
- Asexual, The Thinking. “Relationship Anarchy Is Not About Sex or Polyamory.” The Thinking Aro, 21 July 2016.
- Sarkisian, Natalia, and Naomi Gerstel. “Does Singlehood Isolate or Integrate? Examining the Link between Marital Status and Ties to Kin, Friends, and Neighbors.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, vol. 33, no. 3, 2015, pp. 361–384., doi:10.1177/0265407515597564.
- Mariah, Juno. “Marriage: An Invasive Political Regime.” Medium, 7 June 2019.
- Queers, Anonymous. “Queers Read This.” Queer Resources Directory, June 1990.
- Seidman, Steven. The Social Construction of Sexuality. W.W. Norton & Company, 2015.
- Reports from the RAD 2019 Unconference. Relationship Anarchy Discussions (RAD), 2019. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5bfe9674f407b4d59f22145a/t/5e4abee2a4a90257d8e4c122/1581956845482/RAD2019Zine+Updated+02.17.20.pdf
- "The short instructional manifesto for relationship anarchy". theanarchistlibrary.org. Retrieved 2020-02-18.
- "Communities Not Couples". radunconference.com. Retrieved 2020-01-01.
- "Relationship Libertarianism". kalasutra.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2020-02-18.