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Changing How We Relate

In 2016, I started relating sexually and romantically with someone. I somehow knew that the relationship was going to require me to face myself and make some choices. They seemed focused on their own life, self-sustaining, independent. They also had an extraordinary ability to listen, express and co-create cooperatively.

I'd been studying Skills for Change since 2004, and had committed my own life to my autonomy, values, and preferences. I called myself a confirmed bachelor, and was certain I never wanted to live with anyone again.

And, I also wanted a lot of things that were cultural norms. I wanted a monogamous long-term committed relationship with someone I could build with, and I wanted to feel loved, supported and chosen.

As I related with this person, I started to question everything. My values and desires seemed to be in conflict. Could I accept that someone loved me and also loved others? Could I accept that someone might not want to spend every free moment with me, even though I didn't want to spend every free moment with them? (They should *want* all my free time, and also be okay with not getting it!)

I realized I needed to study, and started picking up books on polyamory and open relating. In More Than Two, they mention Relationship Anarchy. Just the name seemed interesting. I mentioned it to my friend and said it might be  a style of relating that would work for them.

As they explored and reported resonance with Relationship Anarchy, I began reading as well. Pretty quickly, I discovered Andie Nordgren's Relationship Anarchy Manifesto. In the Manifesto, Nordgren articulated values, beliefs and an approach to relating that was directly aligned with the values of my coaching lineage, Skills for Change and Radical Therapy. I started reading and learning more deeply, joined the online community, and began to identify as a Relationship Anarchist.

At first, RA seemed to confirm everything I valued and believed in. I started sharing my approach to relating in response to people who were sharing their stories, and the Skills for Change and Cooperative Communication tools and resources were welcomed and useful to people.

Then Relationship Anarchy started to change me. I realized I was aromantic. From the asexual spectrum, aromanticism means that people don't experience romantic desire, they don't know what romance is, and some aromantic people feel romance repulsed. As I explored what this label meant for myself and my history, I began to connect more deeply with my bi/pansexual identity. I realized I needed to reach out and express what I wanted, because people couldn't feel any desire in me - how could they if I didn't feel it myself!

My exploration is continuing to this day. I realized recently that I don't feel much desire for friendship either. I want friendships, and need my friends, and I don't *feel* desire for them. It's so interesting and stimulating to keep learning new things about myself!

Email me to be added to the waiting list for a future interactive webinar version of Changing How We Relate.

If we want to change the way we relate, we must first establish our power as individuals. 

  • Our empowered boundaries protect our ability to cooperate by establishing our independence. 
  • Once we have sufficient power to trust others, then we can begin to develop the skills of co-existence and co-creation. 
  • Mutuality creates the possibility for extraordinary transformation.
  • How amatonormativity over focuses our attention on the activities of romance and sex.
  • What we can do to deal with jealousy and the monogamy hangover.
  • Tools for Cooperative Communication.
  • Ways to reframe differences in desire, and determine whether someone's desire level is below our minimum or above our maximum.
  • A model that will help us exit the Rescue Dynamic, and shift our relating to Autonomous Cooperation.

  • How we relate shapes our experience from perception to outcome. When we change how we relate, we change what's possible.

This course obviously can't answer all the questions in two 90-minute sessions, it's more of a map to help you find your way through the difficult and rewarding process of dismantling oppressive normative relating models and replace them with new, life affirming ways of relating.

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