This time we explored the theme of relationship diversity, that is the range of different styles of relationships that exist. People often think about diversity when it comes to sexuality – and increasingly gender – but assume there’s only one or two ways of doing diversity.
We could see relationship diversity on a number of different dimensions. For example, there’s diversity in terms of where we’re at on a spectrum from monogamy to non-monogamy, and there’s diversity in terms of whether we prioritise certain kinds of relationships over others (like romantic ones) or whether we see diverse kinds of relationships as equally important in our lives.
It’s also important to remember that there’s just as much diversity under the umbrella of monogamy as there is under non-monogamy. For example, under monogamy comes serial and lifelong monogamy, monogamish relationships. Under non-monogamy come open relationships, polyamory of various forms, and secret infidelities. We might put dating, hook-ups, and friends-with-benefit arrangements somewhere between monogamy and non-monogamy.
All forms of relationship diversity are equally legitimate – like all forms of sexual and gender diversity – if they are done consensually. When we’re discussing our relationship styles it’s really important not to try to claim that ours is morally superior on the basis that it is more normative, for example, or more ‘right on’. Different things work for different people, and so long is it is consensual – and not being imposed on others – any style is legit.
If you’re in different places to another person around your relationship diversity a good starting point is mutual respect and the assumption that both your ways are equally legitimate. Then you can work to find a way forward together. What are the possibilities that meet both people’s needs?
To explore this more check out our zine, make your own relationship user guide.
You could also check out some of our other podcasts and blogs about this.
Hierarchies – here’s one about the different kinds of hierarchies that we might encounter in relationships
Changing relationship agreements – how to go about making changes from one relationships style to another
© Meg-John Barker & Justin Hancock, 2018