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Compromise and What's Expected

There are a number of social conventions that are broadly undermined by polyamorous relating but especially so by non-hierarchical relationships and relationships that are informed by a relationship anarchist philosophy. One of these is the notion that our relationships should be largely composed of compromises. The relationship anarchist manifesto goes so far as to say "Love is not more real when people compromise for each other because it's part of what is expected" and "Rather than looking for compromises in every situation, let loved ones choose paths that keep their integrity intact, without letting this mean a crisis for the relationship." This runs totally counter to conventional wisdom about how every relationship will mean compromise, how you won't find exactly what you look for in a partner, you need to meet people where they are, etc.

I want us to talk for a moment about how these aren't mutually exclusive, but compromise is not the only solution to a lack of perfect alignment.A compromise leaves us in a position where no one has exactly what they want from the situation - everyone is "giving" a bit, but hopefully not too much in the long run. For some people, it may be the right choice.

For those of us who are heavily autonomy focused, instead building the relationship in the places we can sincerely connect within each of our boundaries - inside the overlap of the Venn diagram where we can meet without compromise; and acknowledging that as different people sometimes our partners' choices are different than ours and change the shape of those relationships - can be difficult sometimes but really valuable and an alternative framework to those compromises. We have different challenges that feel more "worth it" to us.

These quotes about compromise in the Manifesto are located beneath the heading about not approaching our relationships from a place of entitlement, "Love and Respect Instead of Entitlement," and follow the idea that "your history together does not make you entitled to command and control a partner to comply with what is considered normal in a relationship. Explore how you can engage without stepping over boundaries and personal beliefs." Even if you aren't expressly engaging from a relationship anarchist point of view, I think many polyamorous folks are trying to deconstruct these normative ideals and can gain a lot from examining whether they’re exploring the relationship between the partners’ boundaries.


join me and Ro Moed of Unapolygetically for class on Sunday 2/4 tickets here, to discuss this and more!

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