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The Relationship Anarchy Smorgasbord: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Cain Parish

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Relationship anarchy is all about picking and choosing what you want from your relationships. You need a menu to select from. Enter, the relationship anarchy smorgasbord. By picking and choosing your boundaries, wants and needs, your relationships start to look exactly the way you want them. This is your guide to the smorgasbord itself.

Two human-like characters divided into multiple segments to represent complicated needs in relationship anarchy smorgasbord style

Introduction to Relationship Anarchy

Relationship Anarchy (RA) is a philosophy that challenges the societal norms of how relationships should be structured and defined. Unlike traditional relationship models, RA emphasizes autonomy, freedom, and the uniqueness of each bond. What is Relationship Anarchy? delves into this concept further, but for now, think of it as a move away from hierarchies and towards individual choice.

If you’ve ever been confused, surprised or annoyed by some of the rigid principles of societally conventional relationships, a look at the smorgasbord of relationship anarchy and what it can offer your relationships might be good for you.

Foundational Concepts of Relationship Anarchy

To explain a little behind the concept of relationship anarchy, here are a few things that this system of governing your relationships prioritises.

  • Autonomy and Agency: At the heart of RA is the belief that every individual has the right to make decisions for themselves without external pressures.
  • No Hierarchies: Unlike traditional relationship models that may prioritize romantic partnerships over friendships, RA views all relationships as potentially having equal value.
  • Consent and Communication: Open and honest communication is vital in RA, ensuring that all parties involved are on the same page.
  • Fluidity: Relationships are ever-evolving. RA acknowledges and embraces this fluidity, allowing relationships to grow and change without constraints.

The Smorgasbord of Choices

Much like a smorgasbord offers a variety of dishes to choose from, Relationship Anarchy presents a plethora of choices when it comes to forming and defining relationships. Whether it’s forming deep platonic bonds, engaging in multiple romantic relationships, or even forming connections that defy categorization, the options are vast and varied.

To understand what I’m talking about, take a look at this image.

There are a number of boxes that all make up the fundamental parts and principles of a relationship. To participate in relationship anarchy, all you have to do is understand that each of your relationships are open to adjustment and individual choice. Your friendships can involve things that might not be traditional, and your romantic relationships don’t have to play by the rules.

It’s called a smorgasbord because it’s like the namesake kind of restaurant. You can pick and choose from the bits that suit you, and take as much or as little as you want. Any dishes you don’t like, you get to reject like a five year old and say they taste yucky. By looking at relationships this way, we get to understand that we have freedom to choose what things we like and don’t like, and structure our relationships in a way that gives us more of what we want and less of what we don’t.

Additionally, if there’s stuff in the smorgasbord that doesn’t make sense or that you don’t care about, ignore it. You don’t have to give a shit. That’s part of your freedom.

Interpreting the Smorgasbord

To make sense of this vast array of choices, one needs to understand their own desires, boundaries, and values. It’s essential to approach the smorgasbord with an open mind, free from societal pressures and expectations. Remember, it’s about what feels right for you, not what others think should be right for you. Taking a deep dive into open relationships and polyamory can also provide insights into the varied dynamics at play.

Many people that want to adjust the boundaries in their relationships are queer or engage in some kind of non-monogamy. That doesn’t have to be the case. Even if you’re just looking to draw some lines in your friendships, or create a more natural fit for your monogamous romance, the most important thing is to understand all the different components that you have a choice in.

I cannot emphasise enough just how much choice you’re offered when you think about your relationships in this way. Think of any conflict or portion of a relationship you’ve disliked in the past. Chances are there’s an option within the smorgasbord that would have improved that negative aspect.

Get creative. Push some boundaries. Experiment with things you like and dislike. As long as you’re aware of what you’re doing, reflecting on your choices and not hurting anyone, the more you get to learn, the better.

Making Choices for Your Relationships

When going about determining boundaries and choices under the guise of relationship anarchy, there are a couple notes to consider. Think of this as a flowchart of things you want to do every so often, like a service to your car that keeps it topped up and running smooth.

  1. Self-Reflection: Understand what you want out of your relationships. This involves acknowledging and respecting your feelings and desires.
  2. Open Communication: Discuss your feelings, boundaries, and desires with potential or existing partners. This ensures everyone is on the same page.
  3. Regular Check-ins: Relationships evolve. Regularly check in with yourself and your partners to ensure the relationship remains healthy and fulfilling.
  4. Respect and Consent: Always ensure that all relationships are consensual and that boundaries are respected.

For every component on the smorgasbord, run through this flowchart. Consult your partner. See if you can come to a healthy conclusion full of personal choice and compromise. Once you’ve built the habit, it’s easy to keep up regular communication. Starting can be the tough part.


Relationship Anarchy offers a refreshing perspective on relationships, challenging societal norms, and emphasizing individual autonomy. By understanding and embracing the foundational concepts of RA, individuals can approach the relationship smorgasbord with confidence, making choices that align with their desires and values. Remember, it’s all about crafting relationships that are meaningful and fulfilling for you. So, explore the smorgasbord, savour the choices, and carve out relationships that resonate with your true self.

I hope this article provides a comprehensive understanding of Relationship Anarchy and its smorgasbord of choices. Remember, relationships are deeply personal, and RA offers the freedom to define them on your terms. Stay curious, stay open, and embrace the journey of crafting meaningful bonds.


What is the Relationship Anarchy Smorgasbord?

The Relationship Anarchy Smorgasbord is just a fancy name for the process of picking and choosing what you want in your relationship. The image above is one example, where you get the option of picking from different boundaries, wants and needs. It needs to be consensual and clearly communicated, but otherwise, go nuts. That’s the beauty of relationship anarchy.

How do I start with the Relationship Anarchy Smorgasbord?

It starts with clear communication – has your partner heard of relationship anarchy? Do they know what it means? Can they verbalise what they want out of your relationship? Can you? Once you know what you want and can explain the concept to your partner, you’re well on your way to having the conversation that starts you down the path to relationship anarchy.

Why does the smorgasbord work better than normal relationships?

Sometimes, it doesn’t. But for a lot of people, typical relationships contain elements they might not be totally happy with. The point of relationship anarchy isn’t to turn your whole relationship upside down, it’s to take things you’re unhappy with and fix them until you’re fully satisfied. That’s why it’s called a smorgasbord.

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Cain Parish

Cain Parish is the owner of A prolific writer, educator and relationship coach since 2019, he specializes in dating, relationships, emotional intelligence and social skills. He is also the author and creator of the world’s largest and most comprehensive database for dating and relationship advice, which can be found on his website. His first book, I’m Sorry I Egged Your House, is due to be published in 2024.

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