The Difference Between Relationship Anarchy and Non-Hierarchical Polyamory

Hi, I’m Kale. Today I want to talk about the differences between relationship anarchy and non-hierarchical polyamory.

First, I should give a quick explanation of what hierarchical polyamory is.

Hierarchical Polyamory

Polyamory (or poly for short) is the practice of having multiple, simultaneous, consensual relationships.

Hierarchical poly is when there is a ranking system among sexual relationships. At the top is a person’s primary. Primaries often live together and share resources, make decisions together, spend the most amount of time together.

Secondaries are what they sound like, secondary relationships. A secondary partner will get less time and resources, and often have less say in what their relationship with someone else’s primary looks like.

Sometimes a primary will maintain the right to veto power, which means they can demand their primary partner end a secondary relationship.

Veto power is the ultimate display of holding power over a secondary. It means that the person with veto power can end a relationship they are not even a part of.

It pretty much goes against everything I believe as a relationship anarchist. 

Non-Hierarchical Polyamory

Non-hierarchical polyamory grew out of polyamory, as a way to practice multiple simultaneous relationships without imposing hierarchies.

This means that there is no ranking system of primary and secondary. It means no person has extra influence over a person’s relationships. It means there is no veto power.

It means that certain people don’t get more privilege because you live together or have been together longer. All important people get a seat at the table, they get to have a voice.

While non-hierarchical poly people do not have hierarchies within their romantic and sexual relationships, they do still have them in their overall social network.

Relationship Anarchy

Relationship anarchists reject all hierarchies. They reject them in all their social relationships, including their romantic, sexual and platonic relationships.

Part of rejecting social hierarchies means not separating partners from friends. It means not saving intimacy or romance just for people they have sex with.

It also means rejecting hegemony, or predominant influence exercised over another person. It is about living free and independently.

Relationship anarchy came out of a political philosophy, as a way to apply anarchistic principles to interpersonal relationships.

Relationship anarchy is a way to live in accordance with these principles, such as rejection of authority and entitlement, and respect for autonomy and personal choices.

It’s about valuing relationships as you choose to, not based on imposed structures.

It’s not about everything always being equal, it’s about each person following their own path, and coming together based on mutual desires, not duty and obligation.

Relationship anarchists are looking at their relationship dynamics in a totally different way. They are actively working against hetero and mono normativity, and societal structures.

They are building from the ground up, rather than renovating.

So here are the key differences between non-hierarchical poly and relationship anarchy.

Non-hierarchical poly

  • Is a form of polyamory
  • Only removes romantic and sexual hierarchies
  • A way of structuring romantic relationships

Relationship anarchy

  • Came from anarchistic political philosophy
  • Rejects ALL hierarchies and is anti-hegemonic
  • Is a philosophy based on autonomy, non-governance and non-oppression

I did make another video called Relationship Anarchy and Social Hierarchy, so check that out for a more detailed look of what it means not to have hierarchies within social networks. Thanks for watching, bye!

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