Considering that a Journal of Sex Research study found a drastic rise in non-monogamous themed search terms over a decade-long research period, there’s a good chance that no matter your personal sexual preferences or identification, you’ve Googled terms like “open relationship“, “polyamory,” “monogam-ish,” or “non-monogamous.” And that’s great—it’s often case that earnest curiosity breeds genuine understanding that gives way to widespread normalization.
But, what this data doesn’t provide, though, is answers to specific, practical-leaning questions like, “how can I do non-monogamy, exactly?” If you’re curious about how to open your relationship into a polyamorous one, great resources exist to educate you on just that. Below find eight books about polyamory and open relationships that likely address the specific questions you have, in addition to questions you never even thought to ask.
Scroll down for 8 books about polyamory to add to your reading list
1. A Happy Life In An Open Relationship, by Susan Wenzel, $13
If you’ve always thought of yourself as monogamous, but your partner has proposed the idea of opening your relationship, this book is for you. Through a combination of personal and clinical experience, sex and relationship therapist Susan Wenzel (whose husband proposed the idea of opening up after a year of marriage) offers an accessible guide to opening your relationship.
In addition to the basic definitions of important terms, you’ll find worksheets within the book that help to unpack tough emotions and sensations, like jealousy and a fear of abandonment, that can affect your ability to live in healthy, happy, consensual non-monogamous relationship. There is also no shortage of personal anecdotes or tips for maintaining a fulfilling relationship with your primary partner (if you have one).
2. The Ethical Slut, by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton, $17
Of all books about polyamory, this one should top the list of selections everyone should read. In addition to challenging the notion that “slut” is “bad,” The Ethical Slut features guidelines on creating a culture of consent, which are two issues of which all people should be abreast.
It’s also a great pick for folks who are looking to transition their monogamous relationship into one that is open. “It addresses the emotions that might come up when opening a previously monogamous relationship,” says sex educator Sarah Sloane. “And it gives you pointers on how to deal with new relationship energy.”
3. Building Open Relationships, by Liz Powell, PsyD, $25
One of the most interactive books about polyamory, swinging, and beyond, LGBTQ+ therapist Liz Powell, PsyD, offers communication prompts, exercises, and worksheets on topics such as jealousy, romantic and sexual desire, slut shaming, navigating social media while non-monogamous, long-distant non-monogamous relationships, and more. “It’s comprehensive as f**k,” says Sloane.
My recommendation is to purchase the e-book version so you can easily type your answers right into the worksheets or download them as fillable PDFs.
4. The Polyamory Breakup Book, by Kathy Labriola, $20
Here, counselor and nurse Kathy Labriola draws on her personal experiences to offer advice on how to navigate breakups in polyamorous relationships—because if you’re not careful, some partners can sneakily go, only to come back and then go again. It’s worth mentioning that the bulk of this book is anecdotal, meaning it may not be the ideal selection for those who love to lean on scientific research.
5. Love’s Not Colorblind, by Kevin Patterson, $14
PSA: Ethical non-monogamy is not just for white people, though media and even your city’s polyamorous community might have you believing otherwise. Patterson breaks Love’s Not Colorblind into two sections—“For White Folks” and “For People Of Color”—to put forth a framework for understanding, identifying, and confronting racism within polyamorous communities. “It’s important for all white polyamorous folks to read,” says Sloane.
6. Sex at Dawn, by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha, $13
Christian Ryan asks and then answers big-picture questions like, “What is our true and innate sexual nature?” He draws on evolutionary research as well as biology to dispel the standard narrative that monogamy is natural. In fact, he argues that humans are innately non-monogamous.
7. Opening Up: A Guide To Creating & Sustaining Open Relationships, by Tristan Taormino, $14
Sex eduator Tristan Taormino created this guide that starts with a history on non-monogamy, then explores the potential perks of non-monogamy, explains different types of non-monogamy (including: solo polyamory, swinging, and polyfidelity).Then, she addresses questions like, “How do I move beyond jealousy of my partner’s other partners?” “How do I talk to my kiddos about this?” And “how the hell am I going to make time for another lover?”
“What I love about Taormino’s book is that touches on how to do sexual non-monogamy ethically as opposed to emotional non-monogamy ethically,” notes Sloane.
8. Rewriting The Rules, by Meg-John Barker, $22
If you find the self-help section of the book store cringe-worthy this book by prolific LGBTQ+ writer Meg-John Barker is for you. Barker offers new ways of understanding commitment and relationships, breakups, gender, sex, and more by asking over and over again “what do you want?” and then helping you work through the answer.
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