Lots of people are exploring polyamory as a different way of doing relationships. This has led to the birth of Relationship Anarchy and Solo Polyamory, which are different forms of polyamory that people have come up with to fit their own needs and preferences. Even though they have some similarities, they also have some key differences.
Relationship Anarchy and Solo Polyamory provide freedom in creating connections with partners, whether they are intimate or sexual. In Relationship Anarchy, partners define their relationship terms together, leading to unique and fluid dynamics. Solo Polyamory allows individuals to explore intimacy and build connections, without prioritizing cohabitation. Both options offer flexibility to form connections according to individual preferences and ideas of relationships, without traditional monogamous relationship norms. Let’s explore these types of polyamorous relationships further.
Relationship Anarchy and the Relationship Anarchy Manifesto
Relationship Anarchy (RA) is a cool philosophy that says each relationship is unique, and love is everywhere! It’s all about trust, autonomy, and respect, not rules and social norms. RA is all about breaking down barriers between sexual, platonic, and romantic relationships. Andie Nordgren, who created the Swedish manifesto, has some core tenets, but really it’s about finding your own path based on your values. Don’t listen to society’s expectations, do you! RA also encourages honest and direct communication in your relationships with people in your life. So go forth and love freely!
In most large cities, it’s easy to find RA groups to discuss how to strive towards more anarchist relationships. Usually anyone can join in these groups, even if you aren’t actively participating in an RA lifestyle. Most people could learn quite a bit about autonomy, consent, and communication from participating in these discussions.
The relationship anarchy manifesto is a set of guidelines or principles that help people in anarchist relationship structures build healthy, successful relationships based on trust and mutual respect. This manifesto focuses on interpersonal skills, communication, consent, and autonomy. It is meant to be flexible, as each individual’s needs are unique. The manifesto encourages individuals in RA relationships to strive for self-development and personal growth through these kinds of relationships and interactions with other people. RA is the ultimate “build your own adventure” style of relationship, almost anything is possible, if you both agree to it.
Solo Polyamory and Relationship Hierarchy Structures
Solo Polyamory tends to be less of a philosophy and more of a descriptor of the way one logistically exists in their romantic or sexual relationships, either due to their values or due to their circumstances. Often, solo polyamorous people do not live with or entangle finances with other partners. They don’t tend to strongly identify as being part of a couple or other type of relationship structure, even if they are in a relationship with others. They might say they are their own primary partner. Just because they don’t live with romantic partners doesn’t mean they don’t live with other people or engage in forms of hierarchies with sexual partners they might have. In fact, one of the key differences between Solo Polyamory and Relationship Anarchy is that SP is open to hierarchies and agreements in intimate relationships, depending on what is needed or built.
This isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok!
Some people aren’t fans of an anarchy style of relationship. They say it’s like “relationship libertarianism” in the wrong hands. Basically, some people might use it as an excuse to only take care of themselves and not others. This can potentially show up as someone misconstruing RA to justify poor behavior and communication, and act like fuck-boys. But not all RA folks are like that, not even most! Solo Poly people get accused of being commitment-phobic too, but that’s not always the case either. RA and SP are just tools people use to express their ideas about relationships. Not everyone uses them, and that’s cool. But for those who do, it can help them figure out what works best for them.
The philosophies of Relationship Anarchy and Solo Polyamory extend beyond the principles mentioned above. RA encourages individuals to explore the connections between them and other people, while SP focuses on self-exploration. As neither philosophy is prescriptive, it’s important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another; everyone is different and must find their own balance of freedom and intimacy.
Any tool and ideology can be used for good, neutral, or evil, depending on the person using them. People fall on a spectrum from independent to relational, with healthy variation in the middle and pathological ends. But, it’s totally possible to be a relationship anarchist or solo poly anywhere on this spectrum. Sometimes, people try to be RA or solo to balance out codependent tendencies in themselves. It’s important to think about why you choose your relationship style and if you’re reacting emotionally to a tendency you hate or if it aligns with your core values.