Relationship Anarchy: No Labels, No Hierarchy

· May 8, 2018

Relationship anarchy is a school of thought that advocates for relationship without labels or set hierarchies. This kind of anarchy aims to disconnect intimate relationships from conventional ideas, commitments, and traditions. The goal of relationship anarchy is freedom from anything that society dictates or institutes. 

The idea here is to have relationships that break out of established categories. Mutual agreement is the only foundation of the relationship. Relationship anarchists live a lifestyle very far removed from any kind of imposed doctrine or standard. But is this actually viable? How do these anarchists understand love and relationships?

Anarchist relationships

Followers of relationship anarchy don’t distinguish between romantic relationships and other relationships. Instead of labeling them, they prefer to use the framework of “mutual agreement” for them all.

They believe that the basis for all relationships must be trustThere can only be free and unattached relationships if there is assurance that the people involved have no intention of doing harm.

The relationship is only satisfactory if they can reach that sweet spot of intimacy and freedom. Consequently, if suspicion, doubt, and mistrust poison the relationship, it ruins everything.

Communication, then, is the key to making this type of relationship work. These days, people do tend to talk about their feelings when they have a problem. Those who practice relationship anarchy, however, encourage constant communication. It helps improve the level of trust.

relationship anarchy

Unlimited love, free of labels

Relationship anarchists believe that love is infinite. As a result, they don’t limit themselves to just one person or just one type of love. Each person is open to being with as many people as they like, without favoring one over the other.


Relationship anarchists believe that it’s important to appreciate each relationship independently of each other. They don’t make comparisons and there is no ranking. They wouldn’t even think about using common phrases like “friends with benefits,” “just friends,” or “we are in an open relationship.”

“Love is abundant, and every relationship is unique.”

-Andi Nordgren-

Commitment based on mutual agreement

Relationship anarchy isn’t anti-commitment. On the contrary. It advocates for it, as long as participants have a mutual agreement. In the pact, both people work together to set the level and type of commitment that they want to have. They decide based on their feelings.

Participants have to base this arrangement on their values. Naturalness, consensus, communication, and a sincere desire to love the other person should be at the front of their mind. That’s why attachment, hierarchy, and external norms have no place. They don’t allow outside influences or social conditions. The connections and relationships have to be natural and spontaneous.

relationships without labels

Breaking up with the establishment

Relationship anarchy posits that today’s society imposes how to love and who to love. Through laws and guidelines, society dictates what to do and how citizens should behave at all times. Relationship anarchy does away with the idea that people have rights over their significant others.

For example, if one person decides to go out with their friends and gets home late, relationship anarchists say it’s not appropriate to demand explanations. They can’t say “I have the right to know where you spend the night.” Respect and independence are untouchable.

Moreover, relationship anarchy criticizes how society equates “normality” with heterosexuality. Consequently, proponents of these ideas also believe in free love, regardless of sex, gender, culture, or beliefs.

Relationship anarchy or polyamory?

These two ways of understanding and practicing relationships are easily confused. That’s because they both support emotional and sexual relationships with multiple people. That being said, relationship anarchy and polyamory are different, though subtly.

Relationship anarchy doesn’t categorize, pigeon-hole, or classify. Each relationship is unique, independent from other relationships, and unrepeatable. In this case, love doesn’t need labels for someone to express it or feel it.

That is not the case with polyamory. In fact, the most common form of polyamory is to define the relationships. One is primary (usually the marriage). The rest are considered secondary.

Relationship anarchy versus monogamy

Those who practice relationship anarchy consider it a lifestyle. They define themselves as people who practice free love. They are free of the structures and conditions that society and culture impose. They use their imagination to create their own ideal of relationships. To sum up, they create them as they see fit.