Hi, I’m Kale. Today I wanted to talk about when relationships transition.
In traditional relationships, the trajectory is set – date, move in, get married, have kids. Or possibly at some point along that path, break up. Then meet new person to date and start the cycle over again.
So what happens when you don’t ‘date’ people? If you have relationships that looks like this vin diagram, and are involved with people based around the things that the two of you want to do together, what happens when that middle part changes?
When the last person I was living with moved out, everyone wanted to know ‘Did you break up?’. I didn’t really know what to tell them. Our relationship was still similar to what it had been when we were living together. In fact, it was much better because living together hadn’t been working for us.
When we realized that the living together part of our relationship wasn’t working, we changed it. One we removed the stressors cause by cohabitating, our relationship transitioned into something new.
Saying ‘We broke up’ didn’t fit at all. We weren’t breaking anything, we were making it better. A break up sounds like a demotion, but we still cared about each other, were invested in each other’s happiness.
To be honest, I think what people actually wanted to know is ‘Did you stop having sex?’. Because that is how we measure the importance of a relationship. So many questions really boil down to this.
Are you dating? Are you just friends? Are you friends with benefits? Did you stop seeing him? All of these questions are really asking ‘So, tell me about your sex life.’
As a relationship anarchists, I don’t value certain relationships more because I’m having sex with a person. So at some point, I just started refusing to answer these kinds of questions.
It’s not easy, when people want a specific answer. They ask Are you together or not? They don’t want to hear you respond with What do you mean by together?
What difference does it make if we’re having sex or not?
If we lived together but stopped having sex, is that a break up?
What do you mean by dating, exactly?
You can’t immediately categorize someone if you can’t ask them if they are dating. You can’t fit them into this space if your brain that says They go here.
In some ways, this has been really hard for me. Once I started living alone, people saw that relationship as over, or less important. Our families certainly did, no more invites to come along when they are in town.
If felt like they were saying, ‘Okay, on to the next person. Anyone new we can meet?’
How do you answer? ‘Well, this person is still important to me, we just don’t live together anymore’. Or ‘Well, I actually have another person that’s been around for years, we’ve just made a decision never to cohabitate’.
Either way, unless you have a very understanding family who is open to meeting anyone you wish to introduce them to, (in which case, yay!), you’ll probably bump into this.
It’s something that poly people have had to deal with for ages. It’s just a little different for relationship anarchists, because on top of having multiple simultaneous relationships, we might have relationships that are always in flux, and hard to define.
Back to the question of if RAs can have break ups. I think the word break up might not necessarily apply, but of course there are still reasons to cut ties with someone completely.
If they are abusive, or the relationship has become toxic and is beyond repair. In those cases, it makes complete sense to step away and make a conscious choice to end that relationship.
But if there are still good parts to the relationship, if that middle section of the vin diagram still exists, it has just shifted, then I don’t see a need to ‘break up’ or stop seeing a person.
Relationship anarchy gives people the space to be themselves, and make their own choices. If the two of you find that some parts of your relationship aren’t working, like living together or sleeping together, change that.
It can be hard, because people may feel that they are being relegated to a less important space in your life.. It might take work on both your parts to manage the new dynamic.
But if you communicate that this is the best way you see to keep them in your life, hopefully they will understand and your relationship will be better for it.
How do you feel about break ups? If you are an RA, do you still break up with people? Let me know in the comments, or join our Facebook group, both which you’ll find down below. And follow me on Twitter and subscribe to my channel to get future videos.