Relationship Anarchy is not a synonym for Polyamory

Violet Beau
4 min readJun 12, 2023


Polyamorists may say:

“I will not kiss your boyfriend. I will not steal him. I am poly but I respect your relationship rules and commitments. I am not a threat to your mono life.”

Whereas a Relationship Anarchist may say:

“I will not steal your boyfriend because I do not believe that he is yours. I will not be complicit in supporting coercive mechanisms of control in other relationships.”

Conflict avoidance is apolitical

Relationship Anarchy comes more from the political anarchy movement than from relationship theory. What is anarchy? Some may think of blowing up government buildings and destroying systems. And yes, there could be an element of that in there but anarchy is also deciding for yourself what systems you will be a part of. One does not have to destroy capitalism to be anarchistic — one could choose to not be a part of it. To choose to design one’s life without it.

Relationship Anarchy isn’t “non-hierarchical polyamory”

I had a conversation with a friend lately who said that non-hierarchy to him means that one person does not get control or the right to dictate over the other relations. Not that one doesn’t get preferential treatment or that the love or affection has to be equal. I think that this is often misunderstood. I think it can also be a super scary thought to some.

Here is an example of having a condom rule. Person one may communicate to person two that if they do not use condoms with others then they will feel less safe and will be unlikely to comfortably fluid bond with them. This leaves person two with a choice. They can choose to use condoms and then fluid bond with person one or to not use condoms and possibly person one then does not want to engage like that.

To go on a date with a new person and to hear:

“I would prefer to use a condom for now because I would like to be fluid bonded to my partner”

is different from:

“My partner and I have a rule that you and I have to use a condom”

The difference is subtle but it is there.

I have read some things about hierarchy, particularly hierarchical language, in relationships limiting how close some people can get but I am not so clear on this yet.

“Relationship Anarchy is a politic and, as both politic and practice, it’s actively anti-monogamy, anti-marriage, and anti-contracts/rules/policing. In a certain way, Relationship Anarchy is exactly what the Poly Movement has spent the last couple of decades trying to convince people it’s NOT.”

I’ve gone from being fine and supportive of mono to being pissed and more loudly against it.

I drove a colleague home from work one day. I tried mostly to keep myself to myself knowing that my hobbies and lifestyle required a lot of explanation and often inspired judgement. I told him casually that I had a date at the weekend.

“I thought your boyfriend didn’t live in this city”

Ah shit. I explained to him that yes, my boyfriend does live in another city but this was my first date with a new woman and that I am polyamorous. He interrogated me long past arriving at his front door. His questions were pointed, layered with judgement and aggressive in tone.

“Don’t you want to be loved? Don’t you want a normal relationship?”

With my hands gripping the steering wheel I waited for him to stop. I tried to indicate that he should leave the car and that this conversation was over. If I had the courage that I have today the conversation would have gone a lot differently. After he had finished telling me that my life and my love was incorrect he made a pass at me. Suggesting that we go upstairs and fuck in the bed he shared with his fiance.

Why do I have to be respectful of your relationship style when not only are you not respectful of mine in return but you do not even practise what you preach.

By agreeing to a mono relationship I feel you are complicit to an outdated idea of love which is inherently rooted in ownership and sexism.


Whether I like it or not a lot of my decisions are based on my emotions. Being aware of this I know that there might be a time when I fall for some mono person and forget my values. At least I have this now in writing to remind myself even when I am blind in love. It is not impossible to conceive of. I have done worse things for love. I have crossed crazier boundaries.

I will be hosting two Poly Speed Dating events through the Venice Project this summer in Berlin. I would love to see you there!

Friday 21 July 1900–2200 Eventbrite