On Depression, and Grieving.

When my alarm goes off in the morning, I’m stunned. I wonder if I even slept. I must have, because I remember the dreams. I remember imagery representing conflict and struggle, my subconscious throwing uncomfortable situations I cannot escape from and spectres of real people that my brain has made up for me to confront, or wrangle myself away from. I dream of emotional violence, and physical transgressions: subtly escalating conundrums that I allow to unfold until I can’t anymore because they’re too fucked up and I can’t tolerate them. I have to get out. I wake when I reach the point of needing to get out. My voice doesn’t exist in these dreams. It is when I say “no”, or scream, or throw a flurry of protesting language about what is happening to me that I awaken.

I never get to say my piece.

Getting out of bed every day is like trying to chip away at cement that holds me in place, under the pile of blankets. I lay in bed for as long as I possibly can without being late, letting my alarm go off repeatedly, and usually end up late anyway as a result of staring in the mirror or standing in the shower thinking too long.

I suppose I’ll shower. I can’t remember whether I’m supposed to wash my hair today or tomorrow, so I’ll do it now I guess. Putting on some eyeliner is a good idea, right? Maybe it will help me not look so tired. Or look like I tried.

Eating is work, but I get hungry so I do it. I better drink a coffee so I don’t get a headache later, but if I don’t it doesn’t really matter. Headaches are fine. I try to drink as much water as I can over the course of the day, because I think maybe that is helpful, I don’t know. I rely on a routine to tell me whether I’ve taken care of myself or not; a mental check-list of the things I seem to remember wanting to do every day to help me function.

I go to do whatever i’m supposed to be doing, working or some other thing, putting one foot in front of the other because that’s how walking happens, and that’s how I get there. I think while I walk; I try to convince myself that I can get through the day, as a kind of mantra as I pick my way through busier areas littered with pedestrians or quieter side streets. When I interact with strangers, I try to plaster a smile on my face that is, by some feat of inner strength, is reaching my eyes. I succeed sometimes, and know I do when people don’t ask if I’m okay.

I don’t want to answer them. I’m bad at lying.

I try to make sure I don’t cancel too many of my plans to see friends, because I know I need to be with people socially in order to get energy. I seem to remember that working, before.

Making keystrokes is like moving through mud, my fingers struggling to form the words across my laptop screen. The swirling thoughts in my head have to go somewhere else, though. The list of unwritten projects has grown to the point where I may never run out of ideas.

I experience relief that I love to write, because if every one of these thoughts had to stay inside my head, I might die.

Sometimes I wish I could draw. The things that spring into existence in my head might better be served with a physical representation, but I, for whatever reason, haven’t put time into learning how to accurately represent imagery. Words do okay, though. They have to.

If I could draw what the last several months has been like, I would draw a vast post-apocalyptic wasteland. The sun barely cuts through the smog, casting a red-brown hue on every shape, forming elongated shadows across barren terrain dotted with structural ruin. Dumpster fires, piles of garbage, abandoned shells of what used to be homes and gardens. The land here is scorched from some sort of war. Burnt soil, scattered with large burlap sacks full of salt to make sure that once the earth has stopped burning, there’s salt to put down.

Nothing grows here. The salt is to make sure of it.

I’m sitting on a pile of broken bricks in the middle of all this wreckage. My hair is thin, falling out, the pieces of it that hit the ground turn into ashes. My fingers are stained with soot from sifting around the dirt to try to put out the fires. My nails are cracking. My shoulders are hunched over, a bit shaky. It’s hard to sit up straight when there’s nothing inside me to hold my form up. The colour has escaped my eyes, and in them is nothing. Vacancy. I’ve lost the ability to look up; I have the sense that if I could just look at the horizon, I might see something that feels like light or hope. My neck simply won’t allow my eyes to lift enough to look. I’m staring down at the ground in front of me, at my own hands, barely able to keep my eyes from squinting shut and just not looking at anything at all but the blackness on the inside of my eyelids. I smell burning. Rubber, paper, oil, all the burning smells are on the air like a chorus of voices. Breathing is shallow and laboured. I can see wisps of my tiny little breaths curl out of my nose with my exhales after i’ve taken a tiny little breath, off the edges of my lips. The tendrils of air disappear quickly, barely real. I cannot even tell if I still need to breathe. Do my lungs want to? Do I need oxygen? Is there any? It is very cold here, which is unexpected because there are fires everywhere.

Everything is burning.

Get the salt ready.

My fingers are curled around a small spade, and there’s a bag of salt sitting next to me. My hands vibrate from the strain as I shove my little tool into the sack, barely able to lift and shake the salt on the ground around me. I haven’t cried about any of it of weeks, which is surprising because normally i’m quite prone to tears. I blink, and somehow a few more of my tears collect in the waterline, waiting to go in the bag of salt, with the rest of them.

Those were the last ones. They are all gone. I’ve been crying into bags and sitting here, waiting for the tears to turn into the salt that I’ve been spreading around, making sure nothing grows anymore.

Off on the horizon is the monster that Ruined Everything. It is a projection, a shade. I can’t see what it looks like, only that the whole place looks like this because of it. I can feel it; It is angry at me for letting it exist. It is laughing at me for allowing it to do such a phenomenal job of destroying everything. It can’t believe I’ve allowed this to happen, and at the same time, it is shaming me because of course I did.

It knew I would.

I can feel its smoke-like claws rest on the back of my neck, scratching around the edges of my throat. If I move, it pokes me a little. Somehow it is far in the distance breaking things, but also right here, on me, making sure I don’t fight.

It is my worst enemy, my bully, my critic, my oppressor, the shackles that hold me down and back. It hates everything I do; It tells me I’m bad at writing, that I shouldn’t bother, no one cares. It tells me I will lose everything I’ve worked towards because I deserve to, and because I’m a failure. I’m not good enough. It promises me that soon, my business will fail because I’m not that good at my job anyway. It tells me the people that love me will soon see what’s wrong with me, and leave. It tells me that people who don’t meet me where I’m at are better off, and I’’m to be blamed for that. It tells me I’m not worth it. It whispers terrible judgements and accusations about my heart, my priorities, my intelligence, my appearance, my intentions, and as I write these words down It is chastising me, asking me what the point of writing this is. It’s asking me why I think anyone would ever want to read it. It scoffs at my attempts at catharsis, at relief. It tells me I am wasting my time if I think any of this will do any good, or serve anyone, including me.

It’s me.

The shade is me; it speaks to me the way I speak to myself.

I am familiar with it; my brain, for the purpose of this description, assumes it’s a part of me. I am, after all, creating this reality with every keystroke. The letters form the words that spring this projection into existence. I’m choosing them, and choosing the perspective.

Everything is different from what it was six months ago. I have a new house with new cohabitants, I have new plans, new projects. I am curating spaces that are important to me. I have welcomed some people closer to my heart, and distanced myself from others. I have seen beautiful art, eaten delicious food, drank a fair amount of scotch. I laughed about things, cried about them, made jokes, enjoyed company, argued, discussed, worked, played, slept, had amazing sex, fallen in love, fallen further in love anew, stood up for myself, stood up for things that I think are important, been devastated at the world news, marched, supported people, received support. I have felt treasured, betrayed, advocated for, totally abandoned, understood, judged, free, trapped, heard, ignored, appreciated, taken for granted, seen, underestimated, humanized and objectified.

I have felt profound, passionate, soul-shattering love.

The representation of time during which amazing things have happened as dystopian, in this case, is the shade. It has to be. I can’t be the shadow of myself as I feel I have become.

I have to still be in here.

There is something resting on my neck, though. It has one talon-like set of fingers grazing me, sharp some moments and fading away into whispers the next. The other is wrapped tightly around my heart.

Dating Tips for Men* from a Sex Positive, Queer Woman.

Nice to see you here. Please make yourself comfortable. This is going to be a bit rambling, but also sharp; probably a little pointy and niggling in the parts of you that feel self-important or sure. It is probably going to be helpful, but also a bit cringe-worthy during the moments we both know are complete truth-bombs. I hope there is something in here for everyone, even though I am addressing it mostly to men*. I used the word “dating” in the title of this piece and throughout because that is what is universally understood as engaging with another person with a romantic and/or sexual slant or aspiration injected into the interaction. I typically don’t really like the word because I find it to be loaded full of expectations of some sort of escalation of seriousness after a certain amount of time. I am a huge advocate for casual love, and feel that not all romance or sexual relationship need exhibit continuity to be fulfilling, or meaningful, or downright soul-quaking. But, since I have now explained that, I will use the word “dating” to describe that engagement or interaction of a romantic and/or sexual nature.

I have an actual laundry list of things that have happened in my life that I have learned from when it comes to dating. I am going to offer up some of these understandings, as a gift, so the world can be full of happier, healthier, sexually and emotionally sated people. I have a lot of theories about emotional and sexual depravity and the impact it has on our capitalistic, very comfortable North American existence. Suffice it to say that I think if a lot more people were sexually and emotionally fulfilled and free, they might not be such assholes to one another.

I will start by telling you a little about myself as your “consultant”.

I am in my mid-thirties. I identify as queer, bisexual/pansexual, cis female/femme, sex positive and non-monogamous. I am coming at this as a person who is literally down to hang out with, and maybe consensually try to sex at, any human anywhere on the gender spectrum, just because it might be fun, provided they meet some (of what I consider to be) light requirements. I am in several relationships of varying length and seriousness, all over the romantic/sexual/neither spectrum. My friendships and my romantic partnerships have equal significance potential for me. I think and talk about this a lot, to the chagrin (I suspect) of some people; I identify as something of a love nerd. I think about my politics and how I inject them into my interpersonal relationships. I am not a dating/relationship expert; this is an opinion piece. Expert status is for people who have done their homework; I have done some homework, but not all of it.

Homework is lifelong.

I’m white; I have a lot of privilege because of this despite being female and queer. I try to think about that and be inclusive, and am actively attempting to learn how to be better every single day.

Now, a little bit of information about you (or what I assume about anyone reading this).

You are most likely here and reading because you saw the title of the essay and thought to yourself, “you know, I would totally like to date a sex positive queer woman. That seems like a pretty good idea”. Or maybe you were like, “actually, I think a sex positive queer woman would have a thing or two to tell me about what dating people is about, and how to do it without being a jerk”. Further, you might also be reading this out of spite: “what the fuck could a sex positive queer woman possibly have to say that speaks to my already extensive knowledge of people and how to date them. I am, after all, a totally hot commodity so like, I bet I could teach her a thing or two”.

If the latter is you, I’m so sorry to hear of your complete lack of self awareness, or alternatively your closed mind. There are a metric ton of great therapists in this city and probably also in yours.

Go see one.

Seriously, go to a therapist. Get your shit together.

To the rest of you: If you’d be so kind as to actually listen to me. I’m speaking from a place of ample experience attempting to date people just like you, or just not like you and like someone completely different, and everything in between. I have come to some conclusions about what might help you be more “successful”. That being said, I am going to define “successful” in this instance as “not having treated someone like shit, or been a shithead to someone”. This can also be defined as leaving people better off than when you found them.

I don’t support anyone being a shithead, or taking away from people for personal gain. To quote a dear friend in a particularly thorough outline of how to love more than one person at a time, “Don’t treat people like things”.

I am going to write this in reference to the phases a typical dating scenario goes, and what I think about it.

To start, we meet.

Oh hey; we’ve now met and you’ve established that you think I’m attractive. Thank you, I appreciate that, but not in the ways that you might think.

This first contact is not the be all, end all to your interaction with me. Stop with the “first impressions mean everything” trope. It’s old, and I am not an idiot. I know you’re a dynamic, multifaceted person that cannot be summed up in the first 5 minutes. In fact, I suspect that whatever I am first impressed with about you is more about me and my interpretations of people than about you. So, let this go and do not worry. I hope you’ll be able to do the same. Any assumptions you’ve made about me based on what you have seen in the first five minutes are probably more about you than they are about me.

Once mutual attraction has been realized, usually through clearly confirming with your words (use your words; they’re magical tools when used clearly), we can talk about what sort of interaction is mutually desired, or what we want to do together.

This is actually where things can crossroad to positive or negative. This is the turning point.

Right here.

Telling me that you think I’m hot/cute/pretty/whatever way you want to compliment my physicality isn’t going to help you out of the gate. In fact, any kind of basic flattery is going to provoke me to think that that is what you think is important about me, which is not what I think at all. I am also a dynamic, multifaceted person that cannot be summed up based on my physical presentation. Further, I have medium self-esteem issues, which I think is pretty common but not talked about enough as a systemic problem with the ways that femme-presenting women are viewed. Your compliments are going to fall a bit flat and I will, in some weird way, think you’re lying in the back of my mind.

This will put me on guard.

It gives me the impression that you want something from me, and don’t know how to ask for it, so you’re going to try to get me to like you by flattering me. Stop trying to manipulate the outcome of our interactions and just interact with me. Be yourself.

Oh my goodness, just please be yourself.

It’s 2017. Women are woke, and we see you. We see your attempts to cloud our perception. We see right through any sort of mask you are wearing. We hear our inner voices, and they’re telling us you’re putting it on. If I think you’re being at all disingenuous, we’re not going to get anywhere. Guardedness does not foster trust the way that vulnerability and authenticity does. We have learned through years of our own experiences, and those of our mothers, those of our grandmothers. Their experiences are imbedded in our genes, much like our own will be imbedded in those of our daughters. The voice in our gut telling us something isn’t safe is bang on every time.

Every. Fucking. Time.

We’re not talking ourselves out of our intuition anymore. That time has past.

I feel, sometimes, the impulse to apologize for that passing, but I will not. I am grateful for it. I’m glad that I get to be a part of a revolution in which women are using the tools we’ve been socialized to have for our own greater good, our own personal wellbeing. The benefit to us is hugely redeeming in light of what has been historically true: we needed these skills to mitigate the harm done to us. We needed to do this in covert, in shadows, subtly. We used to be emotional ninjas; now we are loud. We respond quickly to our own alarm systems.

We are battle-crying warriors.

I will not be sorry for my strength and learning how to wield it.

Now, since this is likely to happen, I’ll outline what is to be expected if I decide that this thing we’re doing together isn’t working for me.

The inevitability factor isn’t because I don’t think you’re a perfectly lovely person, or something, but more because the end of a relationship is certain unless we stay connected until one or both of us dies, and that just simply isn’t that likely. The other thing that is relatively unlikely is your coming to the conclusion that you’re not interested in seeing me anymore and doing something about it directly before I do.

I mean, if I had data to support this as more likely, I’d reflect that here.

But I don’t. You’ll probably ghost if anything, and I don’t judge you for that. It’s fine.

Because I might even ghost too, if I’m too tired to do anything else.

If you think the reason i am not continuing to be interested in seeing you is because of the thing I told you about, you’re right. I probably said something a while ago, maybe even twice, and didn’t get a response or attention paid to the thing that gave me reassurance that you care about my wellbeing within your treatment of me. So the thing that changed my mind and caused me to withdraw could have been tiny, but only because that was the straw. The rest of the things were subtle, ongoing, and didn’t seem worth mentioning until there were too many and i was done. Sometimes straws are a lack of gratitude, or not asking me a thing that shows interest in my lived experience, or some offhand comment like “i wish those women had come forward sooner” that shows me something about you, and your lack of thought process about people’s experiences besides your own lived one, and especially your perspective on those with less privilege than yours.

That is a sticking point for me.

The privilege one.

Because herein lies the final thing for this particular document.

You probably don’t see me.

You probably see someone who is nice (they say), conventionally attractive (I’m told), and have no actual idea who I am because you haven’t asked.

Ask. Be willing to learn about me. Look at me, witness, integrate what you see and understand, ask more questions, be willing to rewrite your narratives.

See me. I am dynamic. I change.

Keep up.

This, alongside some basic self-maintenance: having seen the inside of a counsellor’s office because you care about your mental health.

I need you to be thinking about what you say, why you’re about to say it, before you say it. Self-awareness is hot.

Being curious and open to learn, is all I actually need. I will probably never want to stop knowing you, or talking to you, if you can meet me with these few requirements.

The sexiest thing is a sense of responsibility for yourself in an encounter with me.

That is total panty-remover, as it were, if a sexual situation is mutually sought. Love potion, if the romantic is our reciprocal cup of tea.

Flowers are boring and probably unethically sourced, anyway.

*When I use the term “men” in this context, I am referring to people socialized as men, and are still wading through the weight and complications of what that means.

Relationship Anarchy Discussion: November Edition

Kale of Relationship Anarchy and I have been hosting a discussion group in Vancouver in conjunction with some Facebook group-based community (Relationship Anarchy, Relationship Anarchy Vancouver). This group was on the smaller side, but the conversation was very in-depth, and rewarding. I included some links that touch on some of our conversation. Since the conversation was flowing so naturally, the last section of notes is more random than usual but I felt the ideas shared were wonderful. Here are the general notes on what was covered.

What is RA?

~ the individual is more important than the system or structure
~ https://mic.com/articles/126346/what-s-your-true-sexual-orientation-the-purple-red-scale-is-here-to-help-you-find-out#.EQbIdpLHO
~ what does romance even mean? romanticism could be fallacy in some forms of connection; why do we call connections “romantic”?
~ “How Romanticism Ruined Love
~ familiarity can lead to unintentional attachment; proximity to people develops connections sometimes without them being on anything really tangible
~ poly can prioritize romantic/sexual connections, and a lot of them at once
~ placing value on the time we spend with people as indicative of care: still a choice we’re making to show we care that way, or accept care that way


~ can be a blanket term for other bad feelings
~ entitlement is very wrapped up in the idea of jealousy; we feel entitled to possess something, and wronged that it is being expressed elsewhere, or not ours
~ we are ultimately responsible for our own emotional reactions ourselves. others can help us with them, but they are ours. “I can hug you while you think about this”
~ thorough discourse about emotional abuse, gas-lighting, power dynamics
~ people are messy, and every relationship is different because of that
~ giving people the space and empowering them to change and grow is facilitating their autonomy


~ comfort with taking risks within non-monogamy comes with having done so, survived, and learned from mistakes
~ change is scary; we are okay with children growing in changing, up to a point, and then we expect them to stop and be something static, which is pretty ludicrous
~ why would you want someone you love/care about to stay in a relationship or situation that is not empowering them, or helping them grow?
~ short relationships and interactions can have as much impact as things that last for long periods of time
~ treating relationships like stolen cars: drive them as hard as you can and see where they go
~ can we engage with people less experienced in non-monogamy: is that a power dynamic that is unbalanced when people aren’t dealing well with their emotional processes around non-monogamy?
~ mental health and relationships: how are we sensitive to people’s particular neurological status or sexuality/queer status?
~ When Your Partner Has Anxiety: A Meltdown Guide
~ cognizance around the space we have available for relationships to take the forms they are naturally inclined to take is important
~ good boundaries are very important to not ending up in a relationship that we didn’t consent to.
~ banding together to support people who need more support for periods of time is a great benefit about non-hierarchal and anarchistic relationships
~ social fallacies of polyamory and other forms of non-monogamy are not unlike the 5 geek social fallacies.

The discussion groups occur once a month on the first Tuesday at the Tipper Restaurant and Review Room.


The restaurant was so dark I could barely see him, backlit by some dim lanterns that kept the place moody, warmly toned, but technically visible. There were dark corners where booths held people, in pairs, speaking to each other intimately over the soft piano music. Cutlery clinked against glass or porcelain, subtle. I appreciated that the music wasn’t too loud, since this was the sort of place where people talk about intimate things over their meals; it surprises me to no end how many eating or drinking establishments miss that point. I was taking in everything: the small sounds, the slight taste of wine in my mouth from my last sip. The tablecloth was silky smooth under my fingers as i traced the edge of it for something to hold on to and tried to look him directly in the eye as he spoke, holding his gaze. I wanted to look anywhere else. The walls had beautiful art on them I wanted to study. It was a strange geometrical modernist sort of imagery within which you can see virtually whatever you want. The texture of the carpets was suddenly something I wanted to inspect and find the pattern in. I imagined looking at the ceiling. I wondered if it was interesting, speckled or peaked, if it had an inset to it. My lap, shrouded in black as usual and containing my other hand, the one not tugging on the edge of the tablecloth, but I did not look down. I am sure my nails are fine and do not need my attention, but I want to check. Ignoring these impulses became my secondary focus while my primary was to listen to him. It was considered attentive to look someone in the eyes when they are speaking from the heart, wasn’t it? He seemed to mean what he was saying. I wanted to believe his intentions were good. I think he did. I took note of my own skittish brain. Why can’t you just listen, why are you so easily distracted? What are you doing, mind?

I had been going into any romantic or sexual connection for the last few months with a pretty clear caveat that I was not well-equipped to be relied upon for emotional care or labour until further notice. I was recovering from some relationship implosion trauma and the well I had of emotional energy with which to deal with the feelings of others was very slowly refilling. There was about an inch in the bottom. That is nothing when the image in my head of this well sizes it comparable to a wheat silo.

He was explaining to me, on our second date, that he was in love with me.

He said that he felt empowered by the fact that I was so open and accepting, that he felt safe expressing the feelings he had because he knew I wouldn’t judge him. He also said that he didn’t expect me to respond in kind, that he was just happy to be in my life in a meaningful way.

He said this to me the second time we spent time together in person.

I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I inhaled, and knew, logically, that oxygen should get to my brain, but felt a bit like it would not survive the journey for some reason. Something was constricting in my chest. The air passing through my lungs just wasn’t enough.

I ignored that feeling.

I smiled and thanked him for his sentiment and his kind words. I might have reached out and taken his hand as some gesture of affection, or something to indicate that it was okay. My brain flooded with emotions. I was flattered, but I immediately felt guilty for not telling him I loved him back. I felt some shame. It was happening again. I did not know that the guilt would eat at me until I said it to him a short time later, maybe a couple of weeks. I don’t think I meant it in the way he thought I did, I also do not think I was influenced by him alone. That influence did not just come from the fact that he had said it first, or anything.

It came from everywhere.

Everything I understood about wanting to make people happy by giving them what they want, about the supposed fragility of the male ego not being able to cope with rejection and therefore to reject even a little was an act that could lead to my abuse, or about there being value in loving with an open heart and that the meaning of the word didn’t have to be what is traditionally assigned to it. About gratitude, bravery, honesty, and that love conquers all, or that it is enough. About this being a warning sign.

About ignoring warning signs.

The list went on.

There is a flavour to the “I love you” that follows the one that was too soon to be real. It doesn’t quite taste the same in your mouth as you form the words with lips round over the o’s and teeth coming together with lips over the vee. there’s a sense of the words being pulled from your lips without you quite being okay with it. The feelings accompanying it are trepidation, uncertainty, nerves. As opposed to having freely given them, or that the momentum of them leaving your throat was coming from something deeper inside of you. Something probably like your own agency. Empowerment. Safety.

Sometimes people do things, say things, to garner some sort of response. We don’t even know we’re doing it. I have done this. I have acted particularly in order to get through to an understanding by the other person, based on what I thought they would understand. I am not happy or proud that I have acted in this way. In fact, I’m committed now to speaking as clearly and as from the heart as I can so that people can have the sort of reactions they want to have, and making space for them to do that. But prior to my better understanding of myself and how I communicate, I would do and say things based on a set of information I had that suggested “people” (generally) act a way in response to the act. If i was being critical, I would call my own behaviour manipulative. If I am being kind, I call it influential.

The words are practically synonymous, but I bet a different feeling manifested when you read them each. I had a different feeling typing them. I searched through thesaurus to find words that more accurately portrayed what I meant. I glided over calculation, persuasion, conviction… none of them seemed to quite be so close and yet quite so juxtaposed.

A set of dominos begin to fall with love-bombing. The person who is professing their love might feel a set of emotions based on the fact that they have just revealed themselves in a vulnerable way. Maybe they feel a sense of relief, something akin to an exhale after holding one’s breath for a little while because they are going through a tunnel: a superstitious thing people do. Maybe there is an increasing sort of tension as they wait for the other person to respond to their disclosure. It may have taken every ounce of courage within them to admit it. Perhaps this was the first time they had ever thrown caution to the wind and just, you know, spoke their truth.

Maybe this was their equivalent of standing on the edge of the giant precipice of the unknown, uncharted waters, terrified.

Maybe this is just how they fall in love. Quick, hard, abrupt.

Maybe this is what they do to get the other person to act similarly. Maybe this has “worked” for them a million times.

Maybe they have actually never felt like this before.

Maybe they want me to react.

The person on the receiving end has to wrangle through their own feelings about “love” as a concept: what it means, what the word represents for them, but also how this has happened. Maybe they start to replay through the short exchange of interactions with the other person to scan them for some sense of how this came to pass, and are juggling that along with trying to figure out how they feel, if they feel similarly, whether that’s reasonable, whether it is safe to say out loud in response, but mostly how to react.

Maybe they’ve never had anyone say that to them before.

Maybe they don’t know how they feel about the person, but they don’t want to outright reject them.

Maybe they are used to people falling in love with them as it happens every day, so this is normal.

Maybe they’re terrified of their own feelings, have now been asked to deal with those of someone else, and it’s too much.

My cued reaction, now, is to respond with “what do you mean?”

Relationship Anarchy Discussion: October Edition

Kale of Relationship Anarchy and I have been hosting a discussion group in Vancouver in conjunction with some Facebook group-based community (Relationship Anarchy, Relationship Anarchy Vancouver). Our sixth (!!!) discussion was wonderful; we touched a lot on creating a supportive space in future discussion groups. Here are the general notes on what was covered.

Label Use

~ the more we try to come to common ground about what the labels mean, the more we feel restricted by them
~ with the rejection of labels seems to come in-fighting and disagreement in groups
~ touched on the BDSM community’s handling of starting to let go of labels to define kinks
~ labels can help us find “our people”, in some situations
~ an intentional rejection of the implications that come along with the labels is important activism
~ prefixing any description of yourself with “I think” in order to broaden the definitions and take ownership of your perspective
~ using labels to describe our people can be a consent issue; agreement on the words used to describe someone is important
~ does this even matter if it’s really none of their business?
~ small talk is hard to navigate when you don’t want to do the emotional labor of explaining

Support Systems for Practicing RA

~ opposite time: how do we as individuals feel supported in group setting discussing our relationship choices?
~ talking about how great everyone is doing at the thing is alienating
~ sharing ways to work around the system and make sure that the people you’re involved with are taken care of/managing to circumvent the laws in place
~ self-compassion and solidarity with others who are struggling with how to go about this
~ we have a desire for more diverse relationship models in normative media
~ talking about our non-romantic/non-sexual relationships in discussion groups as much or more than the romantic/sexual ones
~ personal anecdote: finding time with loved ones: schedule chicken sucks and no one wants to do it.

Intimate Relationships

~ aren’t necessary for someone to do relationship anarchy
~ terms of intimacy should be negotiated
~ commitment vs: exclusivity: commitment is adherence to a cause or activity while exclusion is restrictive


~ flow vs. termination
~ how do we navigate changes in our relationships with compassion and care?
~ more communication about expectations means less surprise means transitions move more easily. everyone is informed
~ taking away the “bomb” of a “breakup” can be a relinquishment of control over whether the person is in your life or not
~ the concept of failure within relationships is hard to deal with, and scary
~ what are things we are doing by default that we want to change in specific relationships?

The discussion groups occur once a month on the first Tuesday at the Tipper Restaurant and Review Room.