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The Relationship Anarchy Smorgasbord

Have you heard of the Relationship Anarchy Smorgasbord? It's a graphic/worksheet that you can download here, for talking about some of the more common options you might want to implement in relationships. Just like all tools or activities for building relationships, it's just a jumping off point, and the conversations you have with your partner(s) are the most important thing you'll get out of this experience.

The Smorgasbord has as its concept the idea that every relationship you have with another person is like a plate that the two of you are filling from this buffet of many options. It has blanks to fill in your own options in almost every category, because relationship anarchist philosophy allows for uniqueness of circumstances and no graphic could include everything, and the text with instructions suggests indicating whether certain categories and activities are "Yes, Maybe, Maybe in the future, No," or color-coding your answers about whether or how often you want to include them in a given relationship. I've never used this exact graphic in my own relationships (the latest version was created after my romantic relationship started) but the subjects listed are definitely some of the things that get brought up in discussing with play partners what a partnership looks like to us and what activities are involved - though there's a lot of "jumping off" from the relevant categories. I'd suggest this as a tool, much like a Yes/No/Maybe list, for folks who want a place to start with these conversations.

Some of the categories included in the RA Smorgasbord include Communication Frequency & Method; Emotional Intimacy; Physical Intimacy; Public Displays of Affection; Romance; Domestic Routines; Power Exchange / Kink; and Partnership. Some sections that we don't think of in polyam circles very often but that get to the heart of this being an RA document intended for all relationships include Hierarchy/Power Differences (this category includes being Boss and Employee, or Mentor and Mentee); Collaboration; and the Labels section includes being Chosen Family and literal familial labels as well as colleagues and various possible romantic labels. The document notes "remember you can't sneak anything into this without the other knowing or there will be conflict and disappointment later" as well as that expectations and agreements can always be changed by mutual agreement. Like any tool it has limits and is mostly a good starting point for the discussions you really need to have about what you want a particular relationship to be. But it is a pretty good indicator of the flexibility of relationship anarchist philosophy to customized relationships, and a useful tool.

If you want to learn more about relationship anarchy and the RA Manifesto's instruction to "customize your commitments," I'm teaching Relationship Anarchy Applied on February 22, 2022 at 8pm ET. You can find tickets here, and the ticket comes with a recording of the class after the fact.

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