Hi I’m Kale!
And I’m Victor! Today we want to talk about the relationship escalator: what that is, and how it impacts our relationships. How would you describe the relationship escalator?
I would say the relationship escalator is basically the way society thinks a relationship is ‘supposed’ to go, the default. Picture an escalator. It’s always moving upward and forward. That is how we know a relationship is going the ‘right’ way.
Exactly. It’s the script we are told to follow. There are steps, and there is an ultimate goal. It is moving towards a destination.
It is such a common narrative, that most people won’t even think twice if that is how their relationship is structured.
On offescalator.com, Aggie Sez describes eight steps of the relationship escalator, including stages like ‘Making Contact’ – think flirting, dates, sex, etc; ‘Claiming and Defining’ – think choosing labels like boyfriend / girlfriend; and ‘Legacy’ – think buying a home and raising children.
If you want to learn more, check out the book, Stepping Off the Relationship Escalator, which we will link down below.
The stages will probably sound very familiar to you, and they are the most common way that media suggests relationships play out in our lives.
That’s right. But as most of us probably know, that’s only one of many, many ways to have a relationship. For some, the escalator works great, and we aren’t here to judge. But we also want to recognize that it’s not for everyone.
We should explore some of the ways that people can step off the escalator.
Non-monogamy is probably the most obvious here. The expectation of society is that you are going to have one long term partner.
Which ought to look like being sexually exclusive with one person.
Another way you can step off is hierarchy. The relationship escalator is inherently hierarchical, and places one relationship above all other relationships.
So just by practicing relationship anarchy, you are stepping off the escalator.
We are off the escalator!
We are so far off the escalator!
Instead of relying on one person to exclusively meet all our needs for intimacy, love, and sex, relationship anarchy frees us up to explore each other to the point that is functional, healthy, and enjoyable for all parties.
You don’t have to end a relationship because the escalator is not progressing. You don’t need to push people into places they aren’t comfortable with.
There are definitely a lot of benefits, but there can be a lot of challenges and social consequences. Many practicing relationship anarchists probably know, it’s not for the faint of heart.
One of the concerns with getting rid of the relationship escalator though, is that it can be challenging to find milestones that indicate meaning, significance, or importance.
Sometimes we lose the little things like rituals, privileges, and courtesies that remind us how special we are to our lovers.
I think that’s a whole other video!
For sure. Let’s make our next video about relationship milestones in RA configurations.
Perfect, let’s do it.
If you want, you can join the RA Facebook group, or follow Kale or myself on Twitter, all which you’ll find down below.
We are working on making more videos, so if you have a comment or question, feel free to post those down in the comment section.