Uploaded by Dorothea Ladynegg

Polyamory for pan

Dorothea Ledinek
About me
Polyamorous relationship anarchist
Pansexual (humans!)
Radically slutty
Sex positive feminist
Universalist and individualist
(New) Atheist and secular humanist
PhD researcher in engineering physics at UU, thin
film solar cells
• Greek poly (many) + Latin amor (love)
– Multiple loving relationships at the same time by
mutual agreement and honesty
– Includes:
• all polyfidelity (group of people that excludes romantic or
sexual relationships with people outside the group)
• some open relationships (the ones where love is allowed)
• some BDSM play
• some D/s non-monogamy
• some don‘t ask don‘t tell relationships
• some poly-mono relationships
Closed vs open relationships
Fenced vs unfenced (JJ Roberts)
• Closed/fenced relationships: exclude the possibility of sexual or
romantic connections with people outside the primary/core
relationship(s): monogamy, polyfidelity (closed polygons)
• Open/unfenced relationships: include the possibility of sexual
connections, some include even romantic connections: open
polygons, open marriage, open primary relationships
• Possibility =/= practice: one can be monogamous in an open
relationship; closed-polygons are non-monogamous, but not open
• Only open/unfenced relationships agree with my core values,
because the closing of a relationship is a rule.
Relationship practice and identity
• People can be polyamorous (identity), but be in a
monogamous relationship (practice) or be single.
• Compare: People can be pansexual (identity), but
only have same-sex or different sex relationships
or be single (practice).
• Relationships between a poly and a mono person
can be polyamorous or monogamous, depending
on their mutual agreement. Even a poly-poly
relationship can be practically monogamous.
Franklin Veaux Non-Monogamy Chart
Breaking norms grounded in
Assumption that sex is inherently bad. Society sanctions which sexual practices between
which sets of adults are acceptable/wanted.
Tvåsamhetsnormen/couple privilege (mostly used in the solopoly and non-hierarchical
The presumption that socially sanctioned pair-bond relationships involving only two people are
inherently more important, “real” and valid than other types of intimate, romantic or sexual
relationships. Even in many non-monogamous communities, primary-style couples are widely
considered to be the only type of relationship worth significant effort or “saving.” They warrant
more recognition and support than other types of intimate relationships. (Aggie Sez)
Amatonormativity (mostly used in the aromantic community)
– A central, exclusive, life-long romantic relationship is the social goal of ones life and should be
preferred to other relationship types
– Prioritizes romantic relationships automatically over platonic or sexual relationships
– Prioritizes the romantic partner(s) over oneself (codependency, abuse)
– Friendships are not even seen as relationships.
– Friends are left for romantic partners.
– Intimacy, sex and sensuality are linked with romance.
Beyond polyamory
• Non-hierarchical polyamory
– Against tvåsamhetsnormen/couple privilege
– Against hierarchies
• (A poly hierarchy exists when at least one person holds more power over a partner's
other relationships than is held by the people within those relationships.)
• Solopolyamory
– Against tvåsamhetsnormen/couple privilege
– Puts the relationship with oneself over all other relationships
• Relationship anarchism
– Against tvåsamhetsnormen/couple privilege
– Puts the uniqueness and individuality of people and their connection to each
other at the center and thereby puts all relationships (sexual, romantic,
platonic) on inherently equal footing.
For the discussion round afterwards
Do you agree?
Monogamous marriage – sexually open couple relationships – hierarchical polyamory – nonhierarchical polyamory – solopolyamory – relationship anarchism
Decrease in rules
Increase in autonomy and authenticity
Increase of questioning of social norms
Less inherent hierarchy
My path to polyamory and relationship
• I had a life crisis: the people I loved most were afraid of me
• I read lots of books and blogs about
Controlling behaviour
Abusive behaviour
Radical acceptance
Emotionally focused (couple) therapy
Non-vioent communication
Attachment theory, attachment parenting
My path to polyamory and relationship
The books had a huge diversity of perspectives, did not agree on everything and
never talked about polyamory.
A few messages became clear and I re-examined every inch of my life philosophy
and changed deeply.
I enjoyed „casually“ dating multiple people at the same time without every having
heard poyamory or relationship anarchy.
A date was dating a relationship anarchist.
I read the relationship anarchist manifesto by Annie Nordgren and could not agree
I came to the RA-/polyfika in Uppsala the next day.
Later I heard and read about rules and hierarchies.
Value based relationships
My values
Which values?
Self-determination: both my partners
and me determine our own lives
Authenticity and integrity: we can truly
be who we are in our relationships (no
rules and promises!) and our
relationships can develop authentically
Acceptance: we accept incompability,
diversity, feelings and not being perfect
as realities and do not take them
Abundance: love is abundant and even
people compatible for customized,
authentic relationships are
Flexibility and growth: we do not
blame each other and ourselves now,
when we can not realize what we
intended to do some time ago.
An existing couple wants to open up
their relationship
Preserve the old relationship
Fear, jealousy
For further sexual connections (not
For further romantic connections
Relationship agreements
Veto power
Prescriptive hierarchy
Lots of „poly problems“ have nothing at
all to do with polyamory, but with a
possessive, controling and co-dependent
Self-centeredness, selfishness and
• To be the center of one‘s own life is not selfish, but
• To try to make oneself the center of another person‘s
life is selfish.
• Own your shit. Do not try to own another persons shit.
• Owning one‘s shit is hard. Have empathy with yourself
and others.
Core values, needs, preferences,
boundaries and compability
• Know who you are (core values), what you need (needs) and what you
want (preferences) and the difference between those.
• Know what you you cannot live with (boundaries) and what you do not
want to live with (preferences).
• If your boundaries do not fit, you are not compatible.
• Do not battle about the incompability, but adjust the form of your
relationship accordingly.
• Choose battles about preferences wisely.
• You can be in love with a person, but totally incompatible within a certain
relationship model.
• Compability is about who you are, i.e. your and the other person‘s
• Incompability is not about being more or less ethical.
• There is no moral high ground in incompability.
Boundary conflicts and consent
The conflict is about a persons body or
Example: you want to go out with your
partner but they don‘t or the other way
You do not have any right over their body
or mind. You can ask, you can talk about
your feelings, but you can never demand
consent from a person.
This conflict is never on equal terms.
Just apply the principle of consensual sex
on the whole person.
Do not compromise on your mental and
bodily autonomy and integrity!
Preference conflicts
• The conflict is not about a
person‘s mind or body.
• Example: you do not agree
which set of cuttlery to buy.
• You are on equal terms.
• Negotiate.
• Compromises are possible.
• Are about oneself
– „If I have penile-vaginal sex
without condoms with you, I
want to stay informed about
your safer sex practices with
your other partners. You are
free to do whatever you want
with other partners, but you
have to inform me and I will
change my behaviour
– „I do not have relationships
with people who confine a
free development of our
relationship with rules
between them and a third
• Are about the other person
– „You are not allowed to have
penile-vaginal sex without
condoms with another
person. If you do, you have
cheated on me.“
– „You are not allowed to go on
a date in our favourite coffee
– „You are not allowed to have
rules with your other partners
that have an impact on me“.
The specific situation can be
discussed and a solution be found.
To not keep your partner informed
is a consent violation!
There might be incompabilty.
– I am just not compatible with people
who have relationship rules.
– To acknowledge incompability can be
painful, but nobody has done anthing
– Incompabilty can arise during a
relationship as people change. This
does not mean that anybody has
done anything wrong, as long as they
have always been honest.
There is no moral high ground. Your
partners does not do anything
wrong, as long as there is informed
consent (i.e. they tell you that one
of your boundaries is in danger).
Are unneccessary as long as everybody
Create a lose-lose situation when
disagreement arises:
If your partner breaks the rule,
they will experience unnecessary
You will be hurt, because they did
something you do not like
You will be unnessary hurt because they
broke the rule and your trust.
If your partner does not break the rule
they are giving up their autonomy are
forced into being unauthentic.
Are unflexible and hinder change and
Create a debate about the rule instead
of the specific situation.
Create a moral high ground and
entitlement. The person who wants to
renegotiate the rule has a disadvantage.
Casual love (Carsie Blanton)
Romantic love is a feeling.
We do not have to act on our feelings. Acting on our feelings is a choice.
We have so many options:
Doing nothing, platonic relationship, dating, marriage, cuddling, sailing around the world, double suicide, dancing, …
Just like sex, we can explore love outside the boundaries of a central, exclusive, life-long romantic relationship.
Love is not a sufficient reason to commit to another person (compability, mutality and availablity are necessary).
Love does not need to be life-changing or a major life event.
Love does not justify abuse and neglect and lies and bickering and frustration and mutually-assured destruction.
We do not need to put expectations on the beloved, just because we love them.
Love without expectations does not feel like an attack, and more like a gift.
It would not be longer uncomfortable to be loved without loving back. We would not have to fight against being
loved and to get distant. We are not averse to love, or to the lover but the attachment and expectations.
If love was casual, we could take it as a high compliment, say “thanks!” and be compassionate.
Casual love does not feel so personal. If it’s not mutual, so what? If it doesn’t turn into a relationship, so what?
I have feelings and desires all the time that go unsatisfied. Sometimes I want Chef’s Perfect Chocolate ice cream,
but Creole Creamery closes at 10pm. Do I panic? Do I call Creole Creamery and leave a series of desperate
messages? Do I curl into a ball and lament that without Chef’s Perfect Chocolate, I am a broken person who is not
worthy of ice cream?
And here’s my favorite part: if love is casual - not something rare and dramatic and potentially painful, but
something common and easy and mutually enjoyable - we all get to feel more love, and share more love.
• “I love you. It’s no big deal. It doesn’t mean
you’re The One, or even one of the ones. It
doesn’t mean you have to love me back. It
doesn’t mean we have to date, or marry, or
even cuddle. It doesn’t mean we have to part
ways dramatically in a flurry of tears and
broken dishes. It doesn’t mean I’ll love you
until I die, or that I’ll still love you next year, or
tomorrow.” (Carise Blanton)
Self-determination, integrity and
• None of my partners is bound by rules or promises,
neither am I. I meet/date people freely, but return if I
want to. They do the same.
• I can be sure that they are with me because they want
to and I can be sure that I am with them because I
want to.
• Self-determination leads to authenticity.
• I know who they really are and they know who I really
Manifesto for relationship anarchy
• „Don’t rank and compare people and relationships — cherish the
individual and your connection to them. (…) Each relationship is
independent, and a relationship between autonomous individuals.”
• „Explore how you can engage without stepping over boundaries and
personal beliefs. 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. Staying away from entitlement and
demands is the only way to be sure that you are in a relationship that is
truly mutual. Love is not more “real” when people compromise for each
other because it’s part of what’s expected.”
• “Being free to be spontaneous — to express oneself without fear of
punishments or a sense of burdened “shoulds” — is what gives life to
relationships based on relationship anarchy. Organize based on a wish to
meet and explore each other — not on duties and demands and
disappointment when they are not met.” Andie Nordgren
The common ground for LGBT and
• I do not see any substantial difference
between the aims of the LGBT community and
the polyamorous/RA community.
• Our aim: Self-determined and authentic
people and relationships.
Thank you for listening!
Discussion questions.
What do you think about the difference between boundaries and rules? Is it just
Which overlap of ideas do you see between relationship anarchism/polyamory and
Why do so many couples that open their relationship use rules to limit the
interaction with the new persons? Can rules be justified?
Do you see your romantic relationships automatically as more important
compared to your purely sexual or your platonic relationships? Do you for example
ask your friends before you move to another city? Do you „forget“ about your
friends when you just have falled in love?
I assume that you appreciate your friends in different ways for the unique people
they are. Can you imagine doing the same with your romantic or sexual partners?
Why? Why not?
Should the polyamorous community become a part of the LGBT movement?
Should we coin a new term, for doing consensual relationships and sex in an
authentic and self-determined way, instead of putting more and more letters to
• Is a secondary emotion.
• The primary emotion is often the fear of being left due to being „not good
• If you experience jealousy at the very moment:
Stop and breath
Curiously examine the emotion
What is the cause of the primary emotion?
Let the jealousy go.
• Talk to your partner about the cause of the primary emotion:
What kind of assurance do you need?
Do you need that they just listen to you?
Do you want advice?
Do you want that they just acknowledge that jealousy can be hard?
• Never ever create rules to tackle your jealousy, but tackle your feeling