[essay] Relationship Anarchy and Disabledness
Content notes: internalised ableism mention, food mention
I've been thinking, recently, about relationship anarchy and Disabledness.
Thinking about what relationships could look like when we toss all the rules for what they should look like out of the window.
Thinking about society's expectation that we must be closer with our romantic partners than with our friends. Relationship anarchy rejects the idea that this is a necessary part of life, and instead enables us to choose the type of relationship that we and our friends or partners are comfortable with.
Usually, what we mean by this is that friends can be as close and valued as romantic partners typically are. Could it mean more casual romantic relationships, too?
“I can only spend 5 minutes a day on you, at the very most. Less if I have to wash my hair.” Does that have to imply a casual relationship, or can that be thrown out along with “relationships have to involve sex” and “you can only love one person at a time”?
How am I supposed to know, when there's only one allowed mould for relationships and that mould was built by and for abled people?
Thinking about what relationships could look like when we build them from the ground up specifically around our own Disabled wants and needs.
What would a relationship built around my wants and needs as a person who has very few spoons for socialising look like?
Thinking about asynchronous communication, or communication without the need for an immediate response. Letters, emails, and various social media to varying degrees, for example.
What might asynchronous dating look like?
Imagine getting biscuits specially tailored to your food intolerances in the post, and lying down to eat them and read your datemate's latest email and think about all of the things you love about them, and knowing that they don't expect you to reply until you're ready.
Imagine writing down the list you made in your head, of all the things you love about them, and sending snippets to them throughout the day.
Imagine reading a book together, in little 5 minute segments, and sending them texts filled with exclamation marks a week later.
Imagine a game of chess. One move every day, accompanied by flirtatiously taunting messages. Do abled people's dates go on for months? Do they know they're missing out?
I suppose what I'm trying to say here is that I've been undoing the threads of internalised ableism that tell me it's impossible for someone like me to be a desirable partner. Imagining a future that I want. And I'll be honest, I'm still not sure what that might look like. But I want to find out.