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Egalitarian relationships are about partners having an equal ability to effectively advocate for themselves within their own relationships. Also, partners have a reasonable expectation that their self-advocacy will be met with consideration and negotiation, not “my way or the highway”. True empowerment typically involves more than a Hobson’s choice of the freedom to leave.

Of course, egalitarianism doesn’t mean that every partner always gets everything they want, or that every conflict must be resolved through compromise, or that no one is allowed to have priorities or hard limits. It just means that all partners are equally empowered to speak up, that they can expect to be heard and considered, and that third parties cannot override the decisions partners make about their relationship.

Much like making a new friend or having a new child, in egalitarian relationship networks, newer or less-entwined relationships are honored as having intrinsic value and a right to exist and grow. No person or relationship trumps or precludes others by default. Each relationship gets to discover its own natural level and rhythm. Networks adapt to accommodate evolving, emerging and waning relationships.