Cheers Sexy People!
My last post about forgiveness and moving forward after infidelity got some lively conversations going, both here in the comments section and in Facebook forums as well. I received the following comment from a Facebook friend:
You talk a lot about trust – the question is, trust that your partner will do what? Do what s/he wants to do? Or trust that s/he will not do something out of co-dependency?
…The trust that I am speaking of is trusting that my boyfriend wants to and will honor his word, his own integrity and our agreements / boundaries (thus not cheat or lie) moving forward, even if we have to amend our agreements so that they work for both of us. He has said that he WANTS to be in a relationship with me, and wants to work through issues, as well as seek outside help for deciphering why he chose to cheat, lie and break our agreements that he had previously happily agreed to (We both are aware that he may have old wounds from his PAST – that partly lead him to lie and cheat in the PRESENT). I was perfectly ready to let him go, and move on with my life and not be in a relationship with him any longer if we could not come to a place of common ground on this issue, respecting each other’s views and feelings. After all, it is perfectly normal for two people that once used to be compatible to now not be compatible as we all grow, change and evolve. But based on many heartfelt conversations, we have both decided to stay and work through this (and do our best to have fun, rebuild our trust and enjoy each other’s company in the process. Because FUN is a great healing element as well as needed element for any healthy relationship! Let’s not forget that!).
In terms of co-dependency, I also recommended an excellent article I shared here called Letting Go of Attachments that I personally like to refer to often. It is worth the time to read it (and maybe print it out and keep it somewhere handy! Great stuff!). I agree that co-dependency is a bad and an unhealthy habit. This article has helped me not only in terms of romantic relationships, but also in terms of the loss of a loved one through death. It’s important to remember that everything in life is transient – though some days, that is a hard pill to swallow. It is also a great reminder to live in the present moment, cherishing everything about it, and the joy that we can find there.
My Facebook friend also asked me to consider Relationship Anarchy and shared with me the following link:
Here is an excerpt:
Relationship Anarchy… dismisses any preconceived ideas about relationship structures, drawing clear lines of separation between “friendship” and “romantic-sexual relationships,” relationship hierarchy, or categorizing relationships according to their behavioral and/or emotional qualities. Relationship anarchy rejects monogamy and the idea of love being finite or limited, in the same way that polyamory rejects that paradigm. Relationship anarchy, however, seeks to dissolve rigid emotional distinctions between sexual and nonsexual relationships, romantic love and friendship, in a way that polyamory usually does not. Relationship anarchy rejects emotional hierarchies of relationships: both the ranking of one romantic-sexual relationship over another and the ranking of romantic-sexual relationships over nonsexual and/or nonromantic relationships.
[Relationship Anarchy] is an open and evolving process of negotiation, so I often check in to make sure everyone is happy with where the relationship is. I think everyone can practice this as relationship anarchy is about treating others ethically and with respect and acceptance…
To me, my coming to relationship anarchy has to do with my romantic orientation, which makes it difficult for me to distinguish between different kinds of affection. However, I also consider it an excellent model for ethical relationships in general, and I encourage all people to take these principles to heart whether or not they choose to identify as a relationship anarchist. To me it’s more about what you do, and the most important thing to do is respect others and their boundaries.
For me personally, I do not identify as a relationship anarchist. I identify as polyamorous. Why? Well, first because it is my choice to do so, as it yours as well. But also, because though I do see some overlap between relationship anarchists and polyamorists (in the context of infinite love, ethics and respecting boundaries), I do not personally subscribe to the rejecting of emotional hierarchies of relationships as well as categories. From a young age, I always knew that I would like to be in a satisfying relationship and preferably get married to a man that I deeply loved. I found that man in my husband, and we chose to get married. Therefore, I am proud to call him my husband (a category / label). And I’m pretty sure he would not be fond of the idea of me deciding one day that I no longer wanted to refer to him as my husband, and treat him and introduce him that way to my family, friends and society. We have put in alot of work, love and legalities and financial maneuvers to be husband and wife together. The same goes for my boyfriend, in the sense that it has taken alot of time, devotion to each other, diligent work on communication and identifying as polyamorous (both privately and publicly) to be able to have my boyfriend in my life, proudly introduce him as such and enjoy that relationship structure. On another part of the spectrum, though I deeply love my platonic friends and the specialness of those relationships, to me they are in a different, non-romantic category and the love that I express there feels different to me, and gets expressed differently (though still profoundly and awesomely). The same goes for familial love, at least in my world. I love my sister to the moon and back, but in a different way compared to say, my husband.
Also, I am happy to see the words “ethics”, and “respecting boundaries” as well as each other described above in Relationship Anarchy. And if this relationship structure and self-identification works for you, then by all means, enjoy the hell out of it! I think that is absolutely wonderful! Live and let live. Love and let love. Be happy, find joy, and I hope lots of giggles, smiles and big bear hugs while you are at it too!
What about you? What are your thoughts on any of this, such as co-dependency or relationship anarchy as it compares to polyamory? How are you most comfortable self-identifying? Caring is sharing (and we all learn in the process).
Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)
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Thank you for explaining relationship anarchy. It still seems like polyamory to me. There are so many different varieties of poly & this is just one more version. It is all just more labels.
You are most welcome! My pleasure. There is certainly a big overlap between the two, given this definition. I guess being an organized person, I like categories. LOL And I don’t care for the word “anarchy” that much – partly because in my mind, it circles the drain of “chaos.”
This is why I prefer the term anarcho-amory (or anarcho-amorous) over relationship anarchy. It emphasizes the connection to the anarchist tradition, which has nothing at all to do with chaos.
Interesting! I’ve never heard of the term “anarcho-amory”. I’ll have to check out more about that. Thanks for sharing! As I said, I personally dislike chaos.
Seems like polyamory to me as well – but without the “orderly” distinctions we put in place so we can keep things straight in our minds… but anarchy is the lack of order and first cousin to chaos (if I remember correctly) so, on paper, it might make sense to not prioritize such things so that it all gets wrapped up in one nice package… but human egos might “automatically” seek to sort things out because someone will almost always think that you love “Paul” more than you love “Rick” and because “Paul” is a lover and “Rick” is only on the friends list.
The thing that caught my attention is that those of us who embrace polyamory and disses the rigidity of monogamy still use some of those rigid tenets; we expect our poly partners to adhere to the same rules of honesty and fidelity we expect a monogamous partner to stay true to. I think some folks see poly as relationships without rules… and that’s never the case unless you are a relationship anarchist.
Isn’t that odd? I think so… but we need this to make that distinction between a lover and a friend and, I think, to keep that sense of belonging to someone and they’re about us and no one else… well, not without permission so to speak – but that depends on whether the poly relationship is open or closed – it begs the question if someone can really cheat in an open poly relationship.
Trust them to do… what? A good question and if you ask me – and you didn’t – I’d say that I would trust my partner(s) to do the best they can to maintain the integrity of the relationship we have; we cannot (and maybe should not) expect them to do something that they may not be able to do, like remain faithful; even this could be beyond one’s ability to control. Our pasts could greatly contribute to a failure here but it’s the situations we can’t see coming that can make shit happen and, yes, despite what we want to believe, it can happen to the best and most honest of us.
So, keeping this in mind, I trust them to do their best for the greater good – in essence, I want them to be monogamous in a polyamorous situation! If we cannot and do not fully realize that we and our partners are human and prone to failure, trust, as we’ve come to understand it, will always take a beating. Yes, you want someone to be a person of honor and all that good stuff, that they will keep their word, hold true to their commitments but I question whether it’s realistic to expect perfection from anyone in this – and we do and when we do, we get emotionally hurt more often than not and our trust – in that person or in anyone else – becomes a scarce commodity. To me, it makes more sense to want them to do their best to maintain the integrity of the relationship than it does to expect them to do something that circumstances may not allow them to do – then be ready to deal with whatever might happen. I know that they’re just as human as I am – and I know I can make mistakes so if I can, they can, too.
Finally – and I apologize for the lengthy comment – trust should always be seen as fleeting and simply because anyone at any time can change their minds about any relationship – and I don’t think we really take this into consideration when it comes to trust as a thing that has to be done.
Hi kdaddy23, I can always count on you for a thorough and thought provoking response to my posts. Thank you for that! You rock! It always helps further the conversation in such an awesome way.
Yes, I tend to be very organized. So also, my brain just doesn’t care for the word “anarchy” as an additional reason that I would not subscribe to that relationship style personally. Kinda funny.
Actually I don’t expect my polyamorous partners to adhere to the same rules as monogamy.
Monogamy = have sex and intimacy with only me exclusively
Polyamory = have sex and intimacy with more than one – just be open / honest with me about it.
That’s it! At least for me in how we practice polyamory.
As far as cheating in an open relationship, to me cheating in monogamy vs. polyamory is EXACTLY the same. Here it is: We made an agreement with each other. And one person chose to break the agreement (without discussing it ahead of time). That’s it! It’s that simple! It’s the same for both! I actually don’t really understand why that general concept seems so confusing to a lot of people. It all comes down to agreements. I agree to do this – you agree to do that. And if we decide those agreements no longer work, we agree that we will talk about it!
Trust them to do what? …. Why honor their agreements! If you can’t honor it, then DON’T MAKE THE AGREEMENT IN THE FIRST PLACE! Also, perfection is an illusion. It’s just silly – trying to be a perfectionist or expect it from others. That’s partly why my boyfriend and I agreed to OPEN APPROVAL. So that for us means: Have sex with a new person if you so choose, just tell me at your earliest opportunity (meaning within a day or a week or so). There is ALOT of leeway in our version of polyamory for sex with others, “mistakes,” as long as there is lots of communication after, partly to protect everyone’s physical health in terms of STDs. We all (our polycule) need to know what the dealio is, and who is having sex with whom (and then when they were last tested, etc). It’s partly a safety issue.
Also, if someone literally can’t control themselves in regards to sex, that is not polyamory – that is SEXUAL ADDICTION, and should be treated by a therapist of some kind. Lack of control over one’s physical body and choices is an illness, not an excuse to “cheat”.
I agree that expectations kill life, as I mentioned in an earlier post. But also, we all have free will to behave and act how we choose. Honesty is a choice. Cheating is a choice. We all have the capacity to learn, heal, grow and ultimately CHOOSE how we want to behave in the world, to each other, and in our relationships. The only exception I would say is if someone has mental illness that takes away that ability to choose. I can also CHOOSE not to be in a relationship with someone who lies, cheats, and acts out of their own integrity. So that’s less about expectations, and more about my own self respect and what type of behavior I will tolerate in my life and my relationships. After all, the people we choose to let into our life ARE part of what makes up our life, right? Does that make sense? Forgiveness for ourselves and others is awesome, and we all make mistakes. But again, we can all learn, grow and commit to hopefully becoming wonderful, positive contributors to society if we want to. And for me, that includes honoring your word that you say to someone else that you choose to have in your life, if at all possible – as well as apologizing when that cannot happen for whatever reason. Hey, sh*t happens, sometimes, right? I get that.
Lastly, if someone in my world assumes truth is fleeting (thus lying is their normal behavior), they won’t last long in my life. I don’t ever want to become accustomed to being lied to (besides the polite lies of “your hair looks OK” when it looks like crap. Hahaha)
Thanks again for your thorough comment, and for keeping the conversation going. This is great!
Polyamory and RA are compatible with each other. I identify as both. I tend to look at polyamory as a practice or intention (of having multiple loving relationship) and RA as a philosophy that there are no rules to relationships, and that your relationship can be whatever the people involved want it to be. It does sound, though, like RA isn’t for you. Here is a really good article about the difference between RA and certain forms of polyamory: https://thethinkingasexual.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/relationship-anarchy-vs-nonhierarchical-polyamory/
As far as I am concerned the polyamory definitions given at the link you listed are incorrect. They refer to romantic and sexual relationships, whereas that is not what poly is about. Poly is about LOVE, romance and sex are secondary to that. Always has been, and always will be. Polyamory equals MULTIPLE LOVES, not multiple romantic partners, and not multiple sex partners. I do not understand why some people have to try to change existing definitions, and attempt to reinvent the wheel.
What would you say is the difference between love and romance? I certainly agree that love and sex are different spectra (one can be asexual and romantic, or aromantic and sexual, etc.), but I don’t think I understand the distinction you’re trying to make here.
True romance is doing something special or unexpected for someone you love, even though you don’t have to. Romance isn’t a greeting card, it isn’t Valentine’s Day, it isn’t a box of chocolates, and it certainly isn’t a dozen roses (unless you like that sort of thing). Real romance is not what modern society has been taught to think it is. Real romance isn’t manufactured. It is completely individual. Romance is for showing the person you love that you’re thinking about them. It shouldn’t feel forced. There are no limits to romance; it can be shown by a handwritten note, by going for a walk, or even by making someone a sandwich. Romance is something simple and sweet that reminds your partner why they fell in love with you in the first place
Beautifully stated. Thank you for your contribution. I love how you describe and define romance. It is a great reminder for all of us. And such a great insight and reminder that it should never feel forced. One of my fondest memories of my boyfriend that I cherish was a sweet gift of purple lights that he lovingly got and placed in our back yard as a surprise. I was just looking at them last night – and smiled (instead of cried) at the memory and that gift that I am still enjoying. And he did indeed make me ALOT of sandwiches. No one can ever take that away, including me!
Okay. I still don’t understand how your definition of romance is incompatible with polyamory, anarcho-amory, or any other open relationship structure.
Romance is not at all incompatible. It is just not what polyamory is based on, as is stated in the erroneous definitions mentioned.