PQ 13.6 — In what ways am I empowered in my relationships? What things help me to feel empowered?

a statue of a carnival strong man in a yellow toga-like body suit and sandals hoisting a large block over his head
Image by H.L.I.T. / CC BY

PQ 13.6 — In what ways am I empowered in my relationships? What things help me to feel empowered?

The Power and Responsibility of a Blank Check

I absolutely love my current agreements. I have carte blanche with my anchor partner Justin (the artist formerly known as Skyspook). Carte blanche is French for “white card.” In English, we might call it writing a blank check.  Justin and I are essentially free agents, despite appearing to most to be a traditionally heterosexual couple. (Even though I’m not straight. I’m homoflexible and hypersexual and my body reads Justin as a woman, despite that not being how he identifies).

We reached a point where we both declared that his judgement is as good as mine (and vice versa) and took a bold move: Decriminalizing cheating. Nothing is really off-limits. We trust each other completely. Now, there are risks he could take that I would find acceptable to assume by proxy. But he has a good sense of what those are and what the consequences of those things would be. And his doing so wouldn’t be cheating or violating our relationship agreement — I’d just be extremely unimpressed.

Care-Based Carte Blanche

That said, it’s definitely a care-based carte blanche. What this means in practice is that while Justin and I are both empowered to make our own decisions re: how we navigate the sexual and romantic world, we really do give some thought to how the other might feel about it. And while we aren’t required to check in about things, we typically do. It works pretty well in practice — folks who have dated one or both of us have commented that we do any consultation well. And rather than feeling like an outsider when Justin and I consult about the trickier issues, our other partners have reported that it’s reassuring to see that we touch base with one another, because they know that someday that could be them and that they, too, would find it helpful to have certain things to be run by them.

It’s the best of both worlds: Much of the autonomy of relationship anarchy or solo poly — but you know, I have a wonderful person in my life who is around quite a bit, and we help each other be our best selves.

Custom Agreements that Work Towards Progressively More Autonomy and Trust

My girlfriend Ro and I also are very autonomous. Since it’s a newer relationship, we have a great deal more gray area and check in before anything novel. But for the most part, our concerns surrounding new relationships or sexual encounters are quite similar. That’s my general process with newer partners. We create custom agreements while we get to know and establish trust with one another that change as time goes on, hopefully moving towards towards less restrictive, more autonomous agreements.

So yeah, I definitely feel empowered. And it’s wonderful to be able to date others in a way that empowers them.

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This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions and answers, please see this indexed list.

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