Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"Relationship Anarchy"

Several months ago, I heard a term called "relationship anarchy". At the time, I understood it to mean a different way of looking at relationships than "boyfriend", "husband", "best friend", "sister", "fwb" and so on. Instead, you have a relationship with everyone you know, and each relationship is unique with its own properties and levels of physical and emotional intimacy and committment don't necessarily map to one another in the 'traditional' sense.

Here's a couple of examples of the other sorts of relationships you might have:
  • Someone who you sometimes kiss
  • Someone you share all of your deepest, darkest secrets and ask for advice all the time, but have no physical relationship with.
  • Someone you're in love with, never kiss, but sometimes go to bed with when you're both tipsy
I'm sure these are pretty poor examples - but the idea, at least as I understood it (and I may be understanding it wrongly), is that each relationship is a seperate entity and the standards for one do not affect the standards for the other, and labels like "boyfriend" have no meaning.

It's an interesting attitude to take when entering a new relationship - I asked my new squeeze, Mr Wonderful, out, and in response he said he didn't feel comfortable dating me but would be happy to be my FWB. We exchanged more information/ideas/impressions/expectations and realised that we both wanted the same things from one another, only I wanted to call it a romantic relationship and he wanted to call it an FWB arrangement. Neither term really described it adequately, so at the moment we're just not labelling it at all.

At the moment, the FWB label seems to fit better of the two but only marginally, and I'm convinced this is because our relationship is very physical at the moment because it's still such early days. Things with Mr Wonderful definitely feel different than things with 3. I think in the future other labels will get closer to describing it, and who knows, maybe one will stick.

But for now, there's not really any good way to describe our relationship other than Facebook's "It's Complicated".

This is really cool. It's really freeing.


  1. Why not use your numbering scale?

  2. I've been thinking about the importance of labels recently too. It makes it easier when discussing something with other people, but really they just complicate things. With labels come expectations, and sometimes it's just best to avoid them.

    1. Well said, Bec!

      And my numbering scale really doesn't work because all it does is indicate I've had sex with a guy, not how we feel about each other.

    2. yes I know, but it would be an anonymous way of referring to them?

    3. The point of language is a system of communication with others. There's going to be some simplification when you describe a particular emotion or relationship inevitably.