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Is monogamy incompatible with anarchy?

+3 votes
What I'm asking is: do you, anarchist, view monogamy as incompatible with living a life that's in conflict with systems of control, coercion, and the stifling of the individual (through co-dependence)

I don't think this is the case. If two people want to be monogamous then I think that's just dandy. But I'm curious what other anarchists think on the issue.

If you have any critiques of polyamory I'd love to hear them as well.
asked Sep 19, 2014 by flip (3,980 points)
in my thought about this, I've concluded that our socialization and acculturation that have made open polyamory almost impossible :/ we just make to many false distinctions on a daily basis and this will always end up offending someone
I've known people in polyamorous relationships that 'worked' as well as if not better than most monogamous ones.

I put WORKED in passive quotes because i believe all of our relationships are somewhat dysfunctional and have toxic elements to them due to the 'socialization and acculturation' you point out.

By 'toxic' I mean where all parties involved voluntarily bring/allow behaviors to the table that hurt each other.

3 Answers

+2 votes
No. My wife and I both consider ourselves anarchists. We've been together for over two decades, and have come to the idea of anarchy as a couple over the years together. Although we both feel deep down we've always rejected hierarchy and domination, now it's a more conscious choice that we seek to live more fully, and walking together in conflict with the dominant narrative in society gives us strength and allows us to explore more ways we can live and think differently than we likely would alone. Our relationship seems more free of control, coercion, and judgment than any other I've been involved in, past or present. If I couldn't have that in my most personal relationship, I don't know how I'd expect to find it elsewhere.

I like this question because my impression is there aren't many monogamous couples who are anarchists, and I was wondering the same thing myself.

A couple of years ago we were looking for intentional communities and ended up contacting one that was polyamorous (it wasn't entirely obvious from the outset), and they weren't interested in us visiting because they thought we'd always side with one another over the concerns/needs of the group, despite the fact they apparently used consensus decision making. Anyway, we had no problems with the fact it was polyamorous and wanted to at least check it out, but to no avail. The folks I dealt with via email were very friendly and thoughtful, however.

I think the view many people have (that poly group for example, and perhaps some anarchists and non-anarchists alike) is that marriage or monogamy automatically constitutes some form of control, or co-dependence, or lack of freedom. For us personally, our relationship has expanded our sense of self, of freedom, our ability to live creatively, and it's a living work in progress of mutual aid and acceptance without hierarchy. It seems a natural desire to me to extend that type of relationship with other people besides each other - the difference being our level of intimacy in certain ways (some obvious, others not so), but that doesn't mean we don't have or want high levels of mutual aid and intimacy with others in varying ways and to varying degrees. To the contrary, it feeds our desire to find more of it.

EDITED: to change the short answer from "yes" to "no"! I was thinking the question was phrased in the affirmative. If my answer were yes, it would invalidate me. :)
answered Sep 19, 2014 by bornagainanarchist (8,350 points)
edited Sep 19, 2014 by bornagainanarchist
+3 votes
no relationship model in and of itself is incompatible with anarchy. the question that relationships raise is how much our desires are molded *and* constrained by social expectations.
and how and how much and in what parts of our lives we are fighting what we are told.

i think it's quite easy for people to go into poly with the attitude that no one is particularly important, that relationships are easily replaceable.
perhaps connected to that, non monogamy is also standard operating procedure for the normal model of male sexuality.

just to give a plug though, to the extent that we consider anarchy a state of chaos, poly is the closest thing to chaos in relationships that i have experienced (at least, poly that i recognize as such).
just sayin'.
answered Sep 20, 2014 by dot (50,790 points)
+3 votes
i agree with dot, there is no relationship orientation that is inherently incompatible with anarchy, and also none that is inherently anarchistic.

i am in a long term relationship with another anarchist. neither of us is monogamous, although i was earlier in my life. this partner has been openly poly for a long time, and has in fact been in involved in more than one loving and complex poly triad. we have been hanging out for almost 13 years, and in that entire time, neither of us has actually gotten fully romatically/sexually involved with anyone else (there have been some close calls for both of us). now, we both happen to be very selective, and as we are both well into our 50s, sex alone is no longer really of much interest to either of us. plus our physical relationship is still incredibly exciting and fulfilling. we have long desired one or more others to be a part of our relationship, but those others would have to be pretty fucking special. in many ways.

another interesting example. i know an anarchist "couple" that have been together, explicitly monogamous, since early high school (both in their 40s now). these are some of the more free-thinking, freedom loving folks i know, and they are happy (to the best of my knowledge) in a monogamous relationship.

i wish i had been aware of polyamory (as a way of relating, not simply as a way to have sex with lots of different people) earlier in my life. i think one of my closest early adult relationships might have evolved into a beautiful polyamorous triad. but instead, deceit and pain prevailed.

polyamory makes a shitload of sense to me. but that's just me. the practical reality is made so much more difficult by all the socialization we have all been subjected to. jealousy, possessiveness, morality.... these are difficult mindsets to break from. monogamy is awesome, when two individuals are able to find fulfillment within the context of that kind of relationship. unfortunately, far too often that context includes insane concepts like "forever".

i guess that would be my primary critique of monogamy: too often, it seems like an attempt to make static (reify?) a relationship, as well as (to some extent) the individuals in it. people change, not always together or in the same ways, and sometimes that includes falling out of love (or lust). most monogamous relationships i have been around do not easily allow for the natural transitions that individuals continually go through in life. that is of course made ever more complicated by the addition of children into the equation.
answered Sep 27, 2014 by funkyanarchy (11,350 points)
I really enjoyed this answer. I'm not 'poly,' but I'm not 'mono' either. I don't identify with either, though, I *do* 'mono,' given my past, my temperament, so it simply describes what I do and how better than any word, I guess.