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Relationship Anarchy

By Bellesa Team

Relationship anarchy (sometimes written as RA) is a non-hierarchical approach to relationships and how they are structured. 

As a term and concept, Relationship Anarchy was first coined by Andie Nordgen in her essay “The short instructional manifesto for relationship anarchy” translated from the original Swedish  "Relationsanarki i 8 punkter” and published on Tumblr in 2012.

Love is a Limitless Resource

Relationship Anarchy challenges the notion that love is limited and scarce, offering instead that it is limitless and abundant. This relationship philosophy acknowledges that people have the capacity to love multiple people simultaneously, that love for one does not take away from any other, that love can take on different forms (sexual, romantic, platonic, queerplatonic) 

It considers all intimate relationships important, from close friendships to romantic and sexual connections, and that all forms of love are important without taking precedence over the others.

Relationship Anarchy as a Non-Hierarchical System

This structure tends to be non-hierarchical, in that a primary partnership does not take priority over any others. All partnerships or relationships are considered important in their own right.  Precedence is not assigned to sexual, romantic, or traditionally primary relationships over others, the way that it is in an amatonormative society (i.e. a system that centres monogamous romantic relationships and/or marriage). 

The rules and expectations of conventional relationship models are not observed or outright rejected, favoring instead the mindful establishment of personal value systems and a customized structure for one’s network of relationships. Personal autonomy is emphasized throughout.

Emphasis on the Individual 

The individual is empowered to assess and address their personal value system and find empowerment in this practice. 

One must be clear about their boundaries and expectations and not sacrifice them simply to comply with convention. With this clarity, one can engage in more authentic connections and better communicate these expectations to and with any partners, current and future.

If relationship anarchy prioritizes anything it is personal autonomy within any relationship, including the relationship with oneself.

Freedom to Customize

Relationship anarchy encourages people to approach every new relationship as a blank canvas, without filling any blanks with prescribed expectations before you begin. In her essay, Andie stressed that it’s about “designing your own commitments with the people around you” rather than falling into steam with any societal expectations. Under relationship anarchy, all relationships should be built in real time, together, based on the current and evolving needs, desires, and expectations of the people involved in it.

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