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165. Relationship Anarchist: August Wolff

Nicole: Welcome to Modern Anarchy, the podcast exploring sex, relationships, and liberation. I'm your host, Nicole. On today's episode, we have August Wolfe, Join us for a relationship anarchy research interview. Together, we talk about finding the magic pill of security for my anxious heart, relationship anarchy's connection to kinky play, and trying to fit relationship anarchy on. onto a bumper sticker. Hello, dear listener, and welcome back to Modern Anarchy.

I am so delighted to have all of you pleasure activists from around the world tuning in for another episode each Wednesday. My name is Nicole, I am a sex and relationship psychotherapist with training in psychedelic integration therapy, and I'm also the founder of The Pleasure Practice, supporting individuals in crafting expansive sex lives and intimate relationships.

Dear listener, you know that I am Loving having these conversations about relationship anarchy. It is such a joy to learn from all of you listeners who have answered the research questions, who have come onto the podcast. Relationship anarchy is all about community. It is about Understanding that sure, we are an individual, but we also exist in a wider ecology, a constellation, a wider community that we are all connected to.

And so holding that understanding, I just want to express my gratitude for all of you. I am so honored to be in this space, to be learning with you, and to be a part of the movement. And if you practice relationship anarchy, this invite is for you. I would love to have a conversation with you, to hear your response to these questions.

It is a joy to be in community with you and to learn from you. So check out the link below to answer the questions, to join the movement. There are two options. You can answer the written format and you can opt in for the opportunity to come onto the show and have that one on one dialogue with me where we have a collaborative, playful exploration of relationship anarchy.

So all of that is linked in the show notes below, and I look forward to growing and learning with you, dear listener, in this space. Alright, if you are ready to liberate your pleasure, you can check out my resources and offerings at modernanarchypodcast. com, linked in the show notes below. And I want to say the biggest thank you to all of my Patreon supporters.

You are supporting the long term sustainability of the show, keeping this content free and accessible for all people. So thank you. If you want to join the Patreon community, get exclusive access to my research, to my personal content, and support the long term sustainability of the show, then you can head on over to patreon.

com slash modern anarchy podcast linked in the show notes below. And with that, dear listener, please know that I am sending you all of my love and let's tune into today's episode. So then the first question I like to ask each guest is, how would you introduce yourself to the listeners?

August: Okay. Uh, my name's August Wolfe.

I use it and they pronouns. And I currently live on Wadawurrung country, which is also known as Ballarat in Australia, so called Australia. It's about an hour and a half west of Melbourne. And I'm a therapist, an artist. I also teach workshops.

Yeah, that's how I'd introduce myself.

Nicole: Great. Well, I'm really happy to have you here, and I love getting to talk about relationship anarchy, so I know we're going to have a good conversation.

August: Yeah, I'm excited.

Nicole: Well, the first question, big question, what is relationship anarchy?

August: I mean, I'm sure that you've got such an ideal and maybe more official definition of RA, but I think for myself, when I get that question from other people in my life, I always start with hierarchies and challenging. Kind of dominant hierarchies thinking about relationships in a kind of living document, like living agreement, what's real in the moment, what are we co creating kind of way rather than as a, we have this title on our relationship and therefore we follow prescriptive norms and expectations.

And then I usually explain what the relationship escalator is. Right. Yeah. Awesome. Classic. So I think it's an approach to relationships that is cognizant of oppressive power structures that exist and seeks to challenge those. So, I think, for me, it's different to something like non monogamy in general, um, although it often is non monogamous in that it's far more political.

Nicole: Mm hmm. Yeah. Great answer. Yeah, it's different to each person, right? Anarchy is often seemingly defined by what it's not, right? So, it's kind of hard to get that ideal answer for it all, but definitely, like you said, those examinations of the power structures, the relationship escalator, and how can we allow each relationship to unfold to its own, you know, beauty and its own path.

And I see relationship anarchy is almost outside of this binary of monogamy or non monogamy, which is a way of relating to the world of looking at it through a question of, do I, you know, have sex with multiple people or not? And obviously, you know, there are polyamorous people who practice, you know, asexuality and all these other things.

And so it's not inherently that binary, but generally, right, when we're asking that question of, Monogamy or non monogamy, culturally, we're talking to a practice of, do you have sex with multiple people or not, right? And, and I really like that relationship anarchy kind of like gets out of that, even that question of the binary to think of a different world of what if we stopped looking at all of our relationships through this, this question of this or that to a, what about each individual relationship?

That kind of gets me excited to get beyond that binary.

August: Yeah. For sure. Same. And also to get away from that focus on sex, because I think even just like having that as the assumed focus when talking about this kind of comes from that perspective that like sexual and romantic relationships are the most important.

Yeah. And so when I, when I talk about people in my life that I care about, I just use the word beloved for all of them, um, as. Someone I have love for, which can be confusing for people, which is often how I end up being asked about what relationship anarchy is. Sure. But certainly I think most people just assume relationship anarchy means not having any rules or boundaries, which, you know, that's its own complicated thing that I guess is more to do with the perception of RA and anarchy in general.

Nicole: Right. Which I'm sure we'll get into, because Yeah. You know, the next question is, how do you practice this? How do you practice relationship anarchy?

August: Hmm. Um, yeah, so definitely by being mindful of my language, I think that was a really important shift for me when I first discovered RA and that I was RA, which to me feels like a deep part of my life.

kind of identity in my sense of self. It's less like a conscious choice I made. But yeah, definitely understanding what it was through hearing about it and then realizing, oh yeah, that's me. Um, I shifted my language and that felt very freeing, although it was a bit of a challenging transition into that.

Nicole: Still is for me. I don't know about you. Every day learning new things.

August: Yeah, totally. Yeah. Totally. Yeah. Apart from language, how I practice. I mean, I am not monogamous and for me that comes as part of that, but I don't think it like it's not the biggest thing for me about that. It's more to do with a commitment to kind of noticing what's alive for me in connection with myself and with other people.

And then aiming through often like a lot of courage to be really honest with the people. In my life around how I'm feeling at the time and what I might want from, you know, that smorgasbord of things that we can have and do. That's some of how I practice RA.

Nicole: Yeah.

August: I think it requires a lot of honesty and transparency.

Nicole: Yeah, certainly. When you have multiple people in any sort of constellation and you're trying to do this, there's so much communication that has to go on because The relationship escalator is internalized like other systems. Right. And so depending on who you're talking to, if you don't talk about that, they might start to, you might start to connect with them, explore different areas of intimacy and connection, and they might start to see your relationship going on an escalator that you didn't sign up for.

Right. And so just the amount of conversation you have to have to kind of like, Check in with where the paradigm is at with who you're talking to, because I've, I've tried to, uh, maybe, yeah, you're nodding. Maybe this is something that resonates for you of connecting with people who don't practice relationship anarchy and the amount of conversations and slowing down and paradigm checking that you have to do to make sure you're on the same page is a lot.

August: Yeah. Yeah, it can be exhausting. Um, because most people I connect with are not RA. Um, and then there's been people I've connected with who identify as RA, but then their way of practicing that is completely different to mine. So it doesn't even mean that much if someone says they're RA. Right. Yeah. I've definitely found myself in situations where we might be including things in our relationship that leave people to have a sense of, Oh, this is kind of what I'd expect from a relationship that has these things.

It feels escalatory to them, but because my mind isn't even In that place. Like, I just don't, I don't really work like that. Yeah. In terms of how I conceptualize relationships for me, it's just coincidental. It's like, Oh, we just happened to be like, maybe following some of those steps. But now I don't want those things for the time being, or now I'm over here.

And then it can come as a massive shock to the other person. And they're like, but I thought we were following this trajectory. Right. And I'm like, what are you talking about? I mean, I know what they're talking about, but it's usually like, Oh, okay. I clearly wasn't, um, understood necessarily when I explained what I meant with RA and how that is for me.

I think it's something that's hard for people to grasp if they're not RA or they don't know about RA. It's sometimes hard to understand through words what I mean. Um, it's often in the doing that people like. Oh, okay. This is what you mean.

Nicole: Yeah. Now that we're attached, now we got to figure it out. Right.

I'm curious if you have any examples to speak to, to maybe like clue me and the listeners into like a lived experience with that.

August: Sure. So for example, connecting with someone in both the sexual and, uh, I mean, romantic is, I feel like there's not always good definitions of that, but in a sexual and romantic way, um, where maybe we've met through a dating app and then we've hung out a few times and we've gone from not having sexual contact to building intimacy and having some touch and then having sex.

And so, um, You know, those things are kind of following what even monogamous people think of as having when they date, quote, unquote. Um, although in this case, Neither of us are monogamous, but yeah, then getting to a point maybe like a year or two later where I'm like, Oh, I'm still really happy to just only see you once a month or not have sex for six months at a time or, you know, like I'm very fluid around that.

And then the other person perhaps being like, Oh, well, but I feel like we're not progressing, or I feel like that means you don't like me as much. Um, I want this intensity. Yeah. Those types of things. Or the other kind of example, which would be like, Oh, well, we've only been platonic for, um, So many years.

And so I don't think I want to suddenly do these other things, even though I had considered it in the beginning. It's like that sense of people putting things into categories and then it being quite challenging to fluidly come out of that once expectations have been built. Yeah. Or that perhaps if we haven't had sex in a year, that that means we need to break up and not be in each other's lives anymore, uh, as opposed to just with people who love each other, but we haven't had sex, you know.

Nicole: Yeah.

August: Meet each other as often or something like that. I think there's so many examples I can think of, but those are some clear patterns I see.

Nicole: Mm hmm. Yeah. It sounds like the praxis of what does it mean to examine the relationship escalator, right? And examine the ways that that is so important. So deeply internalized.

And I say that as someone who like, God damn it. Like I'm on this path. And then there are just like these moments of like wanting to go into it or wanting to do that. And then obviously the, the space of like, you know, we have the ability to follow the relationship escalator if it feels right. Like if it feels right, that's good.

Go for it. There, there's nothing about relationship anarchy that says you can't. follow that. It's about the question of choice and consciousness, right? And intentionality behind it rather than the presumption that this is the only way to have a meaningful relationship. And so for me, that stuff is so like deeply internalized.

You know, my partner and I go for a couple of months without having sex and I'm like panicking. Like, are we okay? Are we secure? Are we okay? Because Everything I've been taught is that that's how you feel secure in a quote unquote romantic again. However, we define that relationship, right? So it's like as much as we are in this with the value systems, it's so hard because of the systems, right?

And that's where that acknowledgement of the power comes because frequently in this journey, I can often come against my value systems and the internalization of systems of power and having to kind of like sit in that discomfort and ride those storms out really.

August: Yeah, for sure. And then it can get quite complicated where like, you know, I totally acknowledge that someone that I'm connecting with may feel insecure or threatened or want to have certain, I don't know if it's milestones or whatever it is like to be getting certain things from their connection with me.

That's all really valid and real, whether or not that's coming from Like something they've internalized that they actually want to program out of themselves or like question in themselves or whether that's coming from other things or a bit of both. It's often more than one thing. I think regardless, it's valid.

But it can be, I guess, particularly challenging if people aren't really willing to have those conversations around like where that need is coming from. Yeah. That's where it gets complicated, I guess.

Nicole: Right. Absolutely. Right. Absolutely. I'm, I want the ring because it's going to provide me security, right?

Not because of maybe the, the meaning of a vow and what that would mean. Right. And like, and can you sit with that to be able to like, think about those things critically? I mean, it's great questions about free will. Like, there's lots of fun questions tied up in that one. And I'm curious, you know, um, Moving to the next question too, why do you practice relationship anarchy, given what we're talking about, both you and I, wow, this is so, quote unquote, complicated, right?

Like, why, why do we do this?

August: Hmm, I think in some ways. It's, it's not really a choice for me, which in some ways makes it easier for me in that like it actually feels real. Like it's this co creation between me and the world. What doesn't feel simple is that I am quite aware of all of these things that exist like those.

Structures and norms and all of that, so I know they exist and I kind of understand them theoretically, but I don't really understand them in like a lived experience sort of way. Yeah, so I guess that's why I'm alright, because it just. Feels innate in some way. Like it just makes the most sense and it always has.

Nicole: Sure. Yeah. And I'm sure you found so much joy in your connections through the liberation of the freedom to connect on an individual basis, right? And to live that out. I'd love to hear more of like, yeah, the joy that it's brought for you.

August: Yeah. I think, um, a lot of that joy As much as that definitely has been interrelational joy with the, my biggest sense of joy is with myself and my sense of self in relation to the world broadly.

Uh, like I feel far safer just knowing that this is a way that I can exist in the world. And it's interesting because I think a lot of people feel quite threatened at the concept of RA and feel like. There isn't anything to ground and anchor them and it feels unsafe, but for me it just feels like this sense of liberation and there's ongoing consent.

Like it feels like the most kind of consent heavy and respectful way of relating with the world. And for me it really centers a sense of personal responsibility. To really know myself, and I think that brings me a lot of joy and certainly, you know, there's lots of gorgeous times that I've had with people where we've been able to kind of connect in a typical ways.

And that also brings me joy for sure.

Nicole: Yeah. I'd love to hear more about the security and that sense within yourself and finding that.

August: Yeah. Um, yeah. Is that something? I mean, I'm answering you with a question, but is that something that you experience? Does that? I wonder if that actually makes sense as I say that.

Nicole: Yeah, when I think about finding security in relationship anarchy for myself, it, wow, when you have, Everyone has multiple relationships, of course, right? But the reality is of when you're in a world of monogamy focus and even polyamory focus, there's this idea of like, I'm finding security in these select people and these people right here and these people right here, right here, right here.

Right. Stable, you know, and versus this, wow, I have this wide community that I find security in. Through that sort of deep intentional investment that often gets put into like one, two, you know, three, depending on the problem anatomy, right. Where I'm like, okay, I'm spreading this across multiple people. And so at the end of the day, the, the center point is me as I'm, I'm, I'm moving through these multiple relationships and finding security.

And so for me, I, I do feel this sense of security in myself to say, okay, I'm going to navigate this. this and I'm going to do my best to be as conscious as possible of all the needs of the people that I'm connecting with and moving through and, and not all of them know each other in terms of my wide net.

And so what does it mean when I pull them all together, you know, and then it's me at that center. I mean, I do find a lot of security in the interdependence of my multiple relationships that are pretty wide that have me at the center.

August: Yeah, that makes sense. Like different people are also meeting different needs.

Yes. Yeah. Yeah. As you were speaking, I was reminded of like the years that I did practice monogamy before I discovered RA. And, you know, when I was younger, although I was RA in myself, I wasn't, I was practicing monogamy. My experience of that was Like, I think there was a sense of comfort and things were simple in the sense that I didn't have to think very much, but having that kind of enmeshment, at least that's what it was for me in my experience, felt like I lost who I was very easily.

Like I became still obviously myself. But you know, that idea of like two halves making a whole, like, I think my connection to myself was nowhere near as strong. I think when we, when we're in that position, which of course is not everyone's experience in monogamy, but it was mine. Like if, if we're in that position, I think it's very easy like to just have everything crumble, right?

Like if I lose that connection, Which can often happen. Unfortunately, that connection is actually not healthy or, you know, if there are kind of like dangerous elements or kind of, um, toxic dynamics at play, then I think it's really easy to get into a space of being not well and being very isolated. If we depend on this other person to meet so many of our needs and then what if that connection isn't healthy, then what do we do?

Right? And often that's when we go back to platonic connections, which is so important. There's that in terms of like feeling safer in having that community that you described.

Nicole: Yeah.

August: But also just even in a connection with another being, I feel safer because there's this awareness and understanding that it's okay to say.

Here's how I'm feeling now. And hey, can we do this now? And that flexibility, I think is, it makes us so much more resilient, right? Like I think of a tree. And if a tree is able to bend with the wind, then they grow far stronger than if they have all these stakes put in place that keep them rigid. And then if you suddenly take that away and there's a gust of wind, the tree just snaps.

Um, so I really don't want. The security and health of my relationship with someone to come from like rules or external expectations and structures. I want it to be this authentic living, breathing thing that grows with us as we grow as beings, because People change.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. That's a beautiful metaphor.

And I'm, you know, very much so in alignment in the, in the space of what does it mean to give all of our People in our world freedom, right? The freedom to explore the freedom to live out any of their wildest dreams in terms of relating, which means you have to be kind of conscious of who you're connecting to, because if you're connecting to someone who's new to this world and they get wrapped up into NRE and then they're just like gone, you're like, cool, love your freedom, but oh, that really hurts.

We have to be really careful when we have that abundance of freedom to make sure we're connecting with good people that, like, believe in, you know, what it means to be interconnected and have attachments and have commitments. So it's like, you know, just pointing back to that point you were talking about earlier of the no commitments.

Relationship anarchists have that. commitments. We have beautiful ones, but it's in this dynamic that embraces change and fluidity and the ability to restructure and reconfigure as we go. Right. So yeah, there's so much beauty in that. I love, you know, knowing that my people in my world have an abundance of freedom to do anything that they want and they choose to spend their very limited time and energy with me.

August: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And also that because everyone can be themselves, I feel like it's such an honor to get to know people for who they actually are, and to love them, knowing that I'm loving this actual person, not just who I think they are, who they're being because of me. Three years ago, they said they would do these things and that's why they're still doing those things.

But deep down, they'd actually rather be doing this other thing, but they haven't told me because that would be hurtful. And, you know, I don't want to be living a lie. I see often happen when people, for example, get married and then have affairs and things. Yeah. I'd much rather know who the person is and then know whether I love them or not.

Nicole: Totally. Which I think means a lot of upfront work in the relationship, right? Like we're, at least for me in my worlds, like it's a lot of conversations to feel secure in this level of freedom is intense. And so that means I'm doing a lot of like front loading in these relationships to like make sure we're on the same page with that and lots of check ins because yeah, there's so much.

Quote unquote security through a paradigm, like you said of the, uh, the pillars to the tree, right. Of this is where we're growing what we're doing. Right. But then, yeah, the second the tree wants to go the other way, we try to take it out on the wind, you know, like, so like to be able to grow the roots now to sustain the wind, it's taken so much time and conversations, but I don't know about you, but every time I go into one of those conversations with the people in my world, it's almost like a ripple effect.

Repeated experience of cool. Like we're embracing change. We don't know exactly where it's going right now. We know where we're at. We feel good right here and I'm closer to you.

August: Yeah.

Nicole: Like just this embrace of the continual unknown, but like we're closer in that. And for right now we're seeing eye to eye of where we're moving.

August: Yeah. I think it takes a lot of trust to kind of say. We're good now. And I trust you to tell me if something's not good. And I, I've had people not tell me when things aren't good. And you know, that's the whole thing. It's also really relaxing to know, Oh, this person will tell me. And therefore I don't have to sit there stressing.

Are we good? Are we not good? Because if we're not good, they'll tell me. And if they don't. Don't tell me then obviously, you know that happens and there's like a deeper issue at play. Yeah, I appreciate having that level of trust that feels freeing for sure

Nicole: Absolutely, and if they have their life force activated with erotic desire for another person They have you know, we've created space for that.

It's not something that has to be repressed It's not something that then months later. We're gonna find out that Find out, you know, like all, you know, so it feels so nice to know that like, ah, they're going to tell me when it happens and how exciting I'll be rooting for them and their joy. Right. Like there's so much, uh, beauty in that

August: for sure.

Yeah. Um, and knowing that like someone else is having all of this amazing time with other people and also they still want to hang out with me. Is great. It's like, okay, awesome. There's still something here that you value just because someone else is also spending time with you doesn't mean that you suddenly.

don't still love me as well.

Nicole: God, if I could just like capture that in a bottle and give that to my attachment, like, oof, you know, it is what I remind myself. And if I could look back on my journey of a couple of years ago of starting this, like if I could just like condense that into a pill form and being like, here you go, gentle, anxious attachment heart.

This is, that's it right there. Like that, that piece right there. Wow. They have all the freedom and they're choosing me. Like how can we simmer in that and the beauty of that and. Oh, yeah. So much there. And I know we're already kind of hitting on it, but the next question is, uh, how does relationship anarchy impact your practice of intimacy?

I feel like we're hitting on that right there of the security, but I'm curious if there's more you'd want to add to that.

August: Yeah. I mean, my first thought goes to emotional intimacy. I think of all of those conversations that we're touching on and that deep sense of connectedness that can come from and through doing that work with someone.

Yeah. And that trust. I think there's just this deep sense of intimate connecting that can come from that. What flows from that is other ways of connecting intimately that I think just feel intimate because of that emotional intimacy, right? Because I mean, I can have sex with someone and have it not be particularly intimate.

If there isn't this emotional connection there and those things aren't on the table. Yeah. Is there something more specific you're thinking of with that question? I feel like my mind just went really broad.

Nicole: They're all really broad. And I love that. Right. I think I always like to hear how each relationship anarchist takes up that question.

Right. I've had some people talk about like kink and what it means to like apply relationship anarchy to kink and examining power structures and that sort of dynamic. there or yeah, the beauty of what we're talking about here. I mean, it's, it's really an open question. All of these are, and I, and I love getting to have conversations like this because I know at least for myself, if I would have found this sort of conversation years ago when I first started.

started, right? It would have been transformational to feel so seen that someone else is moving through the world with the same values and the same experience. So I don't think there's any right or wrong answer, particularly with something like anarchy, right? Um, but yeah, I mean what you're saying to are really important pieces of the equation.

August: Yeah. I guess also I do consider myself demisexual, although I've had loads of sex where it wasn't because I was sexually attracted to the person as a result of emotional intimacy, and that's, I guess, like a whole nother discussion, but certainly, especially at this point in my life, What I prefer to have physical intimacy that comes from a place or with a foundation of emotional intimacy, just because I find that more exciting and more rewarding, I guess, taking a moment to like, breathe into that question of intimacy.

And I think what I keep coming back to in this conversation is my connection with myself.

I think it's so often like an afterthought. In conversations around anything to do with relationships and the topic of relationship anarchy. I feel like connection to self is like, Oh yeah. And my connection to myself, but that just feels really strongly alive for me in this moment, like in my body and my chest, I feel that all those parts of me being like, Hey, I'm here too.

And so I think it's like, um, A reminder for myself and maybe people listening as well to kind of have that self dialoguing. I work with internal family systems a lot. And so I do like have literal conversations with those parts of myself and you know, it could be like, This part that's feeling anxious and this part that's feeling grounded and wise, or it could be like a more inner child self or a fearful self, whatever it is.

Right. Um, and I, I think of that as like the most important foundation to, to be. Cultivating as secure and connected and from that, when that feels solid, not to say that there aren't sticky or crunchy parts, but just that that that kind of dialogue is there and that trust is there. With that, I feel like intimacy in the outer world with nature, with non human animals, with other humans, I feel like that is possible in a way that feels secure and connected and truly intimate.

But if I kind of neglect my inner landscape, the outer connections really suffer and start to feel isolated. Way less secure and crumbly.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. Which I mean, I'm hearing for you. It's found in the balance of multiplicity, right? Instead of, you know, there's a lot of different ways to practice relationship anarchy, right?

There's people who do practice, you know, sexual fidelity and monogamy. I'm starting to play with my hands. Listen, I'm like, uh, I think about orbits. of like our constellation of how, how close do we want people orbiting? There have been times in my life where I've orbited with like two people really, really close.

Right. And then I find my identity, of course, myself here, but through those two, like close and of course the whole thing, the whole thing. But the reality is when we spend our days and time looking into the mirrors of two closely orbiting. people. That's kind of where you're at. And then monogamy, right?

One closely orbiting person for those emotional pieces. Like you're looking into one mirror, right? Hence the, maybe I was losing myself. I wasn't looking into other mirrors or purely just alone time, right? Actually looking in like just a real physical mirror, you know, but it's, I I'm hearing for you that this, uh, beauty of, of taking space for your time and self and maybe having more like wider orbits that kind of all mirror different parts of you so that you can see yourself rather than looking in one really close mirror.

August: Yeah. I mean, I think that is how it is internally. Like there are many things orbiting on the inside, but in terms of externally, yes, there's kind of many, many connections. Um, particularly at the moment in my life, like I, I've recently moved to my current location. And so I have connections where I used to live, but before that I lived elsewhere and growing up, like I moved continents seven times before the age of 11.

And I think through that kind of upbringing that was quite nomadic, I'm very used to diving in deep with people somewhere. And then. Diving in deep with people somewhere else. And so I do have a lot of threads that connect sometimes great distances. There's certainly been times in my life where that's narrowed more.

And, uh, yeah, I've had perhaps like still those types of comments on the outside and then one or two or three close people. Yeah, really close. And you know, there's definitely like people that I'm closer with and people I'm less close with at the moment, but I do feel very connected to like a broad sense of community.

Nicole: Yeah. I've loved using the word like orbits, comets, the constellation, like, uh, like I just love the, uh, language of, yeah, astronomy and all of that as a way to understand, you know, Part of what we're doing here, it helps me to conceptualize. And when I'm working with clients, it helps me to conceptualize too.

And they can kind of like paint their system for me to kind of see. Yeah. And I know we talked a little bit at the beginning about some of the difficulties, but the next question is, What are the difficulties of relationship anarchy? So I'm thinking maybe we could take a little bit of a turn there to talk about some of the hard parts you've experienced.

August: There's two things that come to mind. Mm-Hmm. just straight away. The first, I kind of touched on when I spoke about practicing monogamy and so definitely the, the first biggest challenge for me was being an RA person, but not realizing that. Uh, not having the language around it and, you know, maybe you, maybe others can relate to that, like not knowing it's a possibility and feeling like what's wrong with me?

Why is this so hard? Yeah. So certainly that has been a challenge in the past, although. That's not my current challenge. Yeah. I really feel for anyone who's still in that place where they're like, Oh, I'm trying to figure this out. And I don't know what to do. Um, I think it's a really tough place to be in.

And I'm really grateful for like more education like this, so that people maybe spend less time in that hard place. The other hard part about being RA I found is, um, the fact that Most people aren't consciously, um, it gets me all the time because it's great. Like realizing I'm RA and doing all the learning I can and communicating, blah, blah, blah.

That's fantastic. But I have no control over other people.

It, you know, it's hard because obviously we're talking about challenging like dominant systems that exist in the world and I don't know how to overthrow capitalism overnight, for example. I can't do anything about, you know, like a lack of marriage equality for people with disabilities that still exist.

And, and also for people of different sexual orientations in so many countries and just like all of this stuff, the institution of marriage in general, living as my authentic self every day is doing my piece in that. Right. But in reality, most people that I relate with in this world don't understand what RA is.

I'm not RA and therefore it sometimes feels hard to be met in relationship. There are not that many people who are willing to have such a kind of mindful co collaborative high communication connection with someone. Uh, and it is often quite, I don't know, unsettling for people. People will often say oh, I don't feel secure in this.

If you call everyone a beloved, how do I know I'm more important to you than these other people are to you? Uh, how do I feel secure in your love for me if this and this and Yeah, as much as I really empathize with that or although I wouldn't say I empathize in the sense that I relate to those feelings I definitely like feel for that.

Yeah Yeah, like have a sense of the pain that can come with that. I also feel my own kind of Um, sense of isolation around coming across that constantly.

Nicole: Yeah. It's definitely like the repeated answer I heard in my dissertation research, right? Is the isolation, the isolation. People don't get it. People don't understand.

People don't know. Right? I get it. Yeah. Totally. So that makes sense to feel that way. And I think that's some of the beauty of like, Hey, look at us connecting from across the world. Being like, we're on the same page. We're believing in the same vision. And then we're happy. We're trying to build this. And I can have so much empathy for that space of like, how do I feel secure?

Because that's like totally me, you know, like it has been in the past in terms of like connecting with someone who is a relationship anarchist and was very thoughtful and clear and secure in terms of, you know, Hey, I want to spend time with you once a week. How does that sound? Right. But, you know, me, younger me being like, but why not every day?

Like, why, why not every day? You know, like what? And then, and then this, this frame of even, you know, going back even further, like, how am I supposed to feel secure if you're having sex with multiple people? That, that's what makes me feel secure. Like I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm the only one. I'm the only one. And that's what makes me feel good.

Right. And so there have been so many times of deconstructing and deconstructing to sit where I'm at now. And I'm still deconstructing stuff. Don't get me wrong. But like, when I look back on that, I'm like, No, I actually feel good on those things. I feel good on that now. I feel secure here and at least for me where I'm at now, it comes to the space of like, I don't, I don't care who you're having sex with.

I don't care about these other pieces. Do you give me your time and energy? Like that is limited.

August: Yeah.

Nicole: Do I have your time and energy? And then feeling into like what amount of that feels good for you and I, and, and what amount of that for all the other people and balancing, but like these days I don't, I don't really care what you're doing as long as you come home to me, like in some relative sense of whatever home means in our limited 24 hours of a day, you know, and days of a week and a year and a lifetime.

August: Yeah. Yeah, like, is that person present with you in your connection? Yeah. Do you feel like, uh, RA has been really helpful in helping heal some of those anxious attachments? Sticky parts.

Nicole: Totally, like a high dose of acid is, you know, like, like, yeah, through those like difficult times, you're like, Whoa, where's my ego anymore?

I don't know. Like, I'm just on the floor here. Please help someone, you know, so that level of like, kind of like going through it, you know, these moments. I. Yeah. I would say that like, you know, it's, it's a beautiful journey and there've been so many highlights. Wow. But damn, has it not been easy to go through that process?

And I think, you know, I'm so thankful for the beautiful community that held me in those moments and continues to hold me in these moments because, you know, I felt like I had Some security and all of it. And then there was a new, like, you know, a new person coming in that kind of like changed the whole balance of everything and having to process that.

And so there's just continual points on this of like holding, I'm, I'm again, the listeners can't see, but I'm putting my hands out to kind of suggest of like this large community that holds me and all of these moments of like. going through these waves that, um, really remind me of like high dose experiences of psychedelics where you're just kind of like, um, where is reality?

I, I, I'm not really sure anymore. Can someone hold my hand? You know? Yeah.

August: That sounds really intense.

Nicole: It has been, I don't know. It has been for me. And so, but damn, do I come out stronger on the other side. Man, when I look back, I'm like, whoa, okay. Like, yeah, my anxious attachment, you know, is still present.

I'm not going to say it's not, but like I, uh, I recorded with Jessica Fern's, um, Life partner, uh, co parent, David Cooley, and I had said, like, I feel like, um, I, I, I'm securely attached with an anxious leaning, you know? Like, I'm flying now. I'm flying really well, but like, if there is a slip, it goes to anxious mode, not avoidant.

August: Mm hmm.

Nicole: Yeah.

August: Yeah. Yeah, makes sense.

Nicole: Mm hmm.

August: Amazing. I love hearing that and I love, I love hearing that there's just also been this community holding you and that, I think that's really precious.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. What about you? What has it been like for you? Is it like, healed is an interesting word, right? But do you feel like you've grown in the strength of your attachment dynamics?

August: I think for me, it was probably more of like, uh, moving from. Um, more likely to like go towards that blue, like avoidant tendency, although also, you know, just like everyone kind of visiting different realms at different points for sure. Um, but yeah, I think starting off probably more avoidant and then this sense of earned secure attachment.

Which I think RA definitely has been a part of. I think if I'd stayed with practicing monogamy, that kind of sense of avoidance, it would have just gotten worse, you know? Yeah, whereas now I feel like, I don't know, I can just dive into intimacy. Uh, in ways that feel safe and that feel really beautiful and connected and close, obviously providing that I have people in my life who also want to do that with me and I want to do that with them.

Yeah, it's definitely been part of it for sure. But I think perhaps like maybe it's been less like I can imagine coming from like a, a more anxious. Attachment place and then R. A. perhaps being more challenging or harder to kind of go through that than coming from an avoidant perspective. Yeah. Totally.

Nicole: Yep. Yep. That makes sense. Right? Yeah, for sure. Absolutely. And I come from very, like, Puritan, purity culture backgrounds and, uh, you know, All of that, like, I couldn't talk to someone, you know, who was, you know, at the time, this is in certain paradigms of perspectives, but of the opposite gender, because that'd be too dangerous.

So, so like, there was just such a restricted view and security and control and rah, rah, rah. So like, Get out and figure out my queerness and stepping into nominogamy and really like hopping straight from that world into relationship anarchy in my research. There was some people, you know, and even one of the, you know, uh, partners in my world.

Uh, he had kind of gone through like, you know, the primary partner, the, Oh, maybe we shouldn't do primary partner. Oh, you know, and like expanding out from there where I never got that journey. I kind of, you know, read the, Read the stuff, you know, and then heard of Relationship Anarchy and said, wow, this is where my value systems are.

Met him, met other Relationship Anarchists, and hopped myself into this boat right here without doing all the like, non monogamy exploration by yourself, you know, in a secure partner. Fuck, that was intense. So like, I don't know, that's probably why for me, it was like, it was almost as if I had never done psychedelics.

And then my first time was like the high dose five besides like people, um, compared to people who like start at the one gram and then go to two, like that makes a lot more sense. Sometimes, you know, I like knew the words of what I was doing, but I don't feel like I was fully practicing it until I met others.

Who were yeah, because otherwise I'm just kind of fumbling of like, this is my value system and totally like monogamous folks, Polly folks. And I'm like, this is what I'm trying to do. And they're like, not doing that.

August: So, yeah, it's impossible.

Nicole: Yeah, you know?

August: Yeah. Yeah. I was very fortunate. I, um, so I, I mean, like I said, I feel like I've always been all right, but I, you know, I finally kind of discovered the, the concept and the manifesto, um, nine or 10 years ago.

And also like alongside someone who was very compatible with that in many ways, I was blessed in that regard. Um, so I guess it's been quite a long time. And also I had someone from that jumping point who was really open minded and encouraging. And I mean, they didn't identify as RA, but it was. certainly like following those principles.

But having said that since then, it's been like a, a bit of a tumble down of like, I mean, not that that was amazing and everything else has been shit, but like a bit of a reality check of like realizing that, you know, It's actually rare to find people who do practice relationships in that way. And yeah, it's really hard to practice RA when you don't have other people to practice RA with, like it's by definition relational.

And I can certainly be RA with myself and all my parts. But there's only so far that that goes. Right.

Nicole: Exactly. You can, you can do that deep dive on the theory. I've been there. I read the books. You can read the blogs. You can listen to the podcast. And then once you're actually in it, it's different.

August: And. I don't know about you, but sometimes, like, it can feel like you're going crazy if every single person around you is like, oh yeah, I'm non monogamous, oh yeah, I'm down for that, and then their version of whatever that is is actually completely not R.

A. Totally. It's like, hang on, am I? Like, what is happening here?

Nicole: Am I speaking English? Is this not, like, what is happening?

August: Absolutely. Am I from another planet? Like, why, why do all these platonic connections just disappear as soon as they enter a romantic relationship? Oh, the pain, you know? Yes. Yeah. Like, why does this person no longer want to hang out because I don't want to, I don't know, see them every day of the week and sleep over every night and just like all of those classic things.

Nicole: Right. I don't want to have sex with them anymore and they just disappear. We're like, dammit, I thought we talked about this. I thought we said it'd be cool if we did it.

August: I thought you liked me for more than just having sex. I guess not. Right.

Nicole: Right. Hate. Exactly, and holding space for the reality of course people can change their minds, etc.

But like, god damn it's so hard when yeah, you feel like you're on the same page and, and the inevitability of it not being that and, and, and then I, I don't know if this resonates with you, but then the amount of hours you can spend with people just being like, so I'm using this word. Like what, What does that word mean to you?

Like, are we on the same, like you could spend hours and like, we do get closer every time, but I'm like, shit, we got to live the relationship too. We can't just be like high level processing all the time, you know?

August: Yeah. Sometimes like if you spend so much time in that like meta communication space, it's almost like.

That becomes the relationship and then it's like, Oh no, this isn't it either.

Nicole: Let's just go, let's just go watch a movie together, something, get us out of this, get us out.

August: Go to the park or something.

Nicole: Yes. Some action. No talking. Right. Totally. Yeah. And I know we talked a little bit about the difficulties and I'm curious if you'd want to share any of the joys.

August: Mm hmm. It's interesting that like the difficulties, it was this instant answer. I know. And then the joys, it's like, oh damn, like let me sit with that for a moment. Ah, classic like negativity, bias. Yeah. That's saying something. I think it's so easy for the joys to just come and be lived and then to move on and I also, my memory is not the greatest.

And so if something bad is happening, I'll file it away and then work on it and try to figure it out. But if something beautiful happens, I savor it and then I live my life and I don't, I don't file it away perhaps as I should to, to recall later. So that's a note to self. I think one of the joys is like, I'm thinking now specifically to like, Kink parties.

Sure. I mean, kink in general is such a joy. Um, but just like witnessing people that either people I adore and love and sometimes even like strangers and just seeing them across the room having really wacky fun times with other people in a way that feels so Contrary to what the over culture wants us to be and do, you know, particularly in a way, but to me really feels like it channels like childlike play in this adult way.

I think that feels very RA to me. It's like reclaiming these parts of us that we're told we shouldn't be. And really just kind of saying like, hang on. I am a sovereign being and I can be silly and play and do things that society says are taboo and gross and not okay. And certainly like play parties and kink parties.

There's just examples where there's so many layers of that, right? Like there's things I've seen or done that's like, this is queer. Yeah. This is, like challenging dominant power dynamics. This is non monogamous. Um, this is like body positive. This is disability inclusive, like all of these things all together are really exciting to me.

And almost like sometimes I think witnessing it gives me more joy just thinking about it now, because I'm actually able to comprehend all of that and savor it. Whereas if I'm doing it, I'm getting all kinds of joy, but I'm so wrapped up in, you know, the pleasure of the moment that I'm not necessarily feeling that same joy.

It's a different joy. Totally. I'm not pausing to be like, oh, wow, this is so revolutionary. I'm just like, oh my God, this feels so good. Right. Yeah.

Yeah. So those things. Optimized.

Nicole: Yeah, it reminds me of the psychedelic, uh, assisted psychotherapy work I do, and we talk about integration, right? You have this great experience at that king party, you're living it, the pleasure, the joy, woohoo, right?

And what does it mean in this moment to be integrating with me, right? We're having this conversation and you, I could tell in your body, the smiles and the, you know, the joy that was overcoming you, right, of like, you're integrating it now, Yeah. Yeah. Sitting in it, simmering in the gratitude of that moment.

And so I think, you know, whether it's on psychedelics or not, like that's something that we all can think about of these beautiful life experiences we have and what does it mean to actually pause and take a moment and think about those and feel those in our body and actually be present with those rather than just running to the next thing and the next thing.

And. Yeah, I can see how deeply relationship anarchy is connected to kink, right? Particularly when we say that kink is non normative, you know, erotic play, right? So again, non normative, oh, power structures, boom, right there, right? So like, when we're talking about relating in ways that deconstruct power structures, it's almost like inherently kink is a part of that conversation and relationship anarchy.

And so, yeah, the, The beautiful relationships we create with the people that we play. I mean, play is so healing. Oh my God. And just to tap into our body. And so I guess now I'm speaking for myself, just the joys of being able to bring that erotic, playful energy into my life overflowing in abundance to flow that out and have the ability to express that with so many different people at a party.

Wow. I mean. That life force energy is right there. Something that in the past I had to clamp down. And if I did, it meant I didn't love other, you know, just, Oh, so to be able to be so free with that life force is truly radical and, and absolutely a pioneering movement that I hope in the same way that the queer movement has brought me to where I'm at, where I can claim that identity and be proud of being queer in all senses of the word, right?

I hope that these conversations about relationship anarchy will also stand for future generations who are hearing about this and can be like, Oh, I, I can do that. Hell yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You can. Right.

August: Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah.

August: Yeah, for sure. And to have it be witnessed as well. Like, there's been so many joyful times one on one with people, which feels so sacred.

But there's something that feels really revolutionary about people coming together in a space and witnessing each other in that. And that really, to me, says like, This is okay. Like it's okay to do that. You don't have to hide from others, like behind closed doors, like we're all here just celebrating you and holding space for you.

And then, like you said, I mean, you're talking about kink and RA and just thinking about all the agreements and communication involved in successful kink. That feels so key. Yeah.

Nicole: I wouldn't be the relationship anarchist I am without kink and the community.

August: Yeah, same for sure. For sure. And even if I'm not playing with anyone, just, I always carry those containers and those boundary conversations and, you know, the traffic light system, all of that.

I carry that with me. Anywhere I go. Yep. Good. You need more of that.

Nicole: We need more of that in the world because as I look at you I think we both understand that that power dynamic is inherent in so many ways outside of kink play It is prevalent in all of our dynamics And so that consciousness once you've seen that to sit back you see it much more in other areas and and thank God, right?

August: Yeah, absolutely Yeah, I think about it a lot with my work as well with clients where, um, I think so often when people and myself included have seen therapists, there's obviously a power dynamic, but then, you know, There are so many times where psychologists or counselors will not only not acknowledge it, but kind of like lean into that in a way that doesn't feel healthy and not necessarily practice consent during the sessions and checking in like, Hey, is this where you want to go with your time?

You're paying me for this time. It's your time. We can go here. We don't have to talk about this. Like, yeah, I think it's super important just taking some time to think about like, where do I hold power and how can I be responsible with that? Yep. And where do I have privilege? And what can I do with my privilege?

Nicole: I have many of those conversations on the podcast. It's something I think about every day. Something I think about every time we diagnose someone is something every single moment. And so I'm glad that you're there too. And I hope that I know a lot of therapists listen to this, this space there. There's a deep crossover between therapist and non monogamy and relationship anarchy.

And I wonder why, you know, like fascinating. Um, but yeah, one of my mentors, um, Dr. Geoff Bathje and I have talked about writing a book on, um, anarchist psychotherapy and like what would it mean to apply the theory of anarchy to psychology, right? So I'm, I'll be really curious. I know I'm like, I'm ready Geoff

when are we, when are we writing? What are we doing? Yeah, let's do it. Yeah. And I'll be having, um, I don't know when this will be releasing in conjunction to yours because the relationship anarchy release schedule is a little bit different than the general podcast but um, I'm recording with this one project called uh, mandatory reporting is not Neutral.

Yeah. Even stuff like that, right? I don't, I don't know how it is in, in your country, but in my country, I have to report mandatory things. And so then, you know, even that's okay, great. So yeah. Or, or bad, right? Uh, you know, complicated. But so yeah, like what does it mean to look at that power structure and all of that?

So I mean, it's definitely something I'll continue to explore in this podcast. So you gotta. Yeah. Stay tuned.

August: I love that. I'm so excited for all of that. And I'm so like heartened to know that this is what you're doing and even that you're bringing RA into like an academic space too. I was so excited to get your email about that and yeah.

Really looking forward to reading your research. Thank you. And I'm, and I'm also like slightly jealous about how much you get to talk to people about RA and how much you must be learning from people, just having conversations with people all over the world about it. It's great.

Nicole: It's really fun. It's really fun.

I'm excited to release them and to be, yeah, like you said, learning from you and learning from everybody in the movement. And so it's, it's been a joy. Absolutely. Yeah. I want to ask you the last question too, which is, what do you wish other people knew about relationship anarchy?

August: You know, I wish people just knew what it was.

I wish people knew that it wasn't the opposite of what it actually is. Right. I wish people knew that it can be a space of really being heard and feeling safe rather than a space of having other people just trample all over you. Not to say that that doesn't happen. Under the guise of RA, but, you know, in terms of what it actually is and what it means to practice that, yeah, I wish people knew that it was about being in conversation with yourself and the world around you, uh, and challenging those oppressive power structures.

And what that actually looks like in practice. So, I'm unsurprised that most people don't know because it isn't a simple thing. It doesn't fit on a bumper sticker. Right. Next time, and I'm learning every day still. But I think that's also what's beautiful about it.

Nicole: Absolutely, absolutely. You have taken a big step towards changing that paradigm, right?

By being willing to trust me to come on the space, to hold that for both of us. And, you know, these conversations have ripples, right? The people who are tuning in, the people who hear us and, and your perspective and your lens on it, it ripples out. So again, so many people have answered that question in the same way of, I just, I just wish people knew.

I just wish people knew and not these misconceptions, but the possibilities of what it could be. And again, Isn't that very similar to anarchy in general, just generally, right? Politically. Oh, is it chaos? It's this no, we're dreaming of utopias. Like we are dreaming and actively working towards getting out of these systems.

And that's an active process. So we're going to mess up in the complexity and the humanness of what it means to get there. But that doesn't discredit the dream of what we do see. And, and again, I, I just hold this deep knowing of the inevitability of our death. And, and when we look Back to other people, Emma Goldman, all these other anarchists, right.

That like stood at their moments of time to kind of have these conversations that we stand on. I'm like, oof, I it's not going to happen in our lifetime, but I have so much hope for humanity of, of where we can go, given that you and I can freely have this conversation and not be arrested, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, which not even a hundred years ago, at least in America, you couldn't talk about contraception, let alone kink and rah, rah.

So like, I believe. I have hope that, yeah, maybe not in our lifetime, but certainly in the future to come for humanity.

August: Yeah, I love that. And for me, it brings up thoughts around climate justice. I know. I was thinking it too. I know, I know, I know. Yeah. But I think like, all those systems are so interconnected.

So this is part of that too. It is. Um, yeah.

Nicole: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Well, it has been such a pleasure to have you on the podcast. I always like to take a deep breath towards the end and then see if there's anything left on your heart that you wanted to share with the listeners. Otherwise I can guide us towards a closing question.

August: No, just gratitude.

Nicole: Well, I'll guide us towards the closing question then if it feels good to you. Okay. Yeah. So the last question that I ask everyone on the podcast is what is one thing that you wish other people knew was more normal?

August: I wish other people knew that God, so many things, but I'll choose one.

Nicole: I know.

August: I wish other people knew that it was really normal to desire sexual intimacy that is not only penis and vagina.

Nicole: Oh yeah.

August: I really wish people knew that.

Nicole: I know. So much play that they're missing out on, isn't it? Yeah. Heartbreaking when you think about it.

August: But also like so many inclusive ways of being, right?

Like I wish people knew that disabled people have sex, queer people have sex, um, sometimes asexual people have sex and that that doesn't have to look one way. Yeah, I wish people knew that because they're missing out. Yeah, I've literally cried about this

Nicole: You know just when you think just think about it about how much suffering is going on in the world I don't like rape culture, right?

But like yeah in this other space of just like feeling like something's wrong with me feeling like there's no free fun and like, Oh my God. Oh my God. Like there's just, I, I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life trying to do just that. Like, how can we see more expansive ways of play and intimacy or broadly, right?

Broadly, like there's so much life force there for people to tap into. So I, yes. Big yes to your your choice here of the one thing you had to pay. Yeah Well, it's been so lovely to have you on the podcast today I really want to thank you for trusting me and all of the listeners. Thanks for having me. It's been so lovely Yeah, I'm curious where would you want to plug it for listeners that are connecting with you and want to learn more about your work

August: so my counseling website is Uh, www. thisisaugustwolff. com and wolf is the animal wolf, but with two Fs. So that's probably the main place. Yes.

Nicole: Lovely. I'll have that linked in the show notes for all of the listeners. And again, just want to say a big thank you to you for coming on today. Thank you. If you enjoyed today's episode, then leave us a five star review wherever you listen to your podcast and head on over to modernanarchypodcast.

com to get resources and learn more about all the things we talked about on today's episode. I want to thank you for tuning in and I will see you all next week.


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