Many of my clients are in open relationships or come to sessions hoping to explore polyamory as an option. Expanding your partnership horizons to develop more abundant relationship networks can be fulfilling. However, there are very few models for relationships outside the traditional monogamous vanillaheterosexual partnership -not that there is anything wrong with vanilla! Finding the right books on non-monogamy can be a great way to get the tools you need to navigate a different relationship model than many are used to.
If you are considering opening your relationship I highly recommend working with a professional coach or counselor as you and your sweetheart get clear about what you want and how to make polyamory work for you. However not every couples counselor or sex therapist understands and appreciates open relationships. It is critical you work with someone who knows what they are talking about. For a list of other providers try theOpen List or Polychomatic Poly-aware Professionals for others who specialize in this work or contact me.
Books on Non-Monogamy
In addition to to talking with your partner it is important you have some basic information about the options and models that are available. I recommend couples read the following four books to get clear about your intentions and start creating a vision for your open relationship’s future.
Considered a classic read in polyamorous circles, The Ethical Slut was around well before many of the others. Dossie Easton focuses mainly on your individual perspective as you navigating complex relationships with integrity. Even if you are not in a defined relationship, this book can help you date and sleep with multiple people with greater ease, confidence, and honesty.
“The real test of love is when a person—including you—can know your weaknesses, your stupidities and your smallnesses, and still love you.”
― Dossie Easton
If you, like so many of my clients, are asking if polyamory is “normal” this is the book for you! The authors take a scientific and anthropological approach to look at some of the history of coupling and marriage in society as well as the behavior of our animal cousins to better understand our own coupled nature. This book will tip your definition of partnership on its side!
“Marriage,” “mating,” and “love” are socially constructed phenomena that have little or no transferable meaning outside any given culture. The examples we’ve noted of rampant ritualized group sex, mate-swapping, unrestrained casual affairs, and socially sanctioned sequential sex were all reported in cultures that anthropologists insist are monogamous simply because they’ve determined that something they call “marriage” takes place there. No wonder so many insist that marriage, monogamy, and the nuclear family are human universals. With such all-encompassing interpretations of the concepts, even the prairie vole, who “sleeps with anyone,” would qualify.”
― Christopher Ryan
This is my #1 recommendation for couples when opening their relationships. The book gives clear examples and options all while empowering the two (or three, or four…) of you to do what is right for you. One of the most validating experiences my non-monogamous couples often have is reading the different case studies presented as options for open relationships. In addition to the book, the website offers help, resources, and trainings for providers and clients who want to learn more about open relationships.
“Nonmonogamous folks are constantly engaged in their relationships: they negotiate and establish boundaries, respect them, test them, and, yes, even violate them. But the limits are not assumed or set by society; they are consciously chosen.”
― Tristan Taormino
Okay, so this book is NOT in any way about open relationships or polyamory but it is essential just the same. Marshall Rosenberg developed Nonviolent Communication as a way for people to connect with themselves and those around them with authenticity and kindness. I recommend this book to monogamous couples as well, but for my non-monogamous clients it provides a helpful framework for the ongoing conversations they have about trust, intentions, and expectations.
“To practice the process of conflict resolution, we must completely abandon the goal of getting people to do what we want.”
― Marshall B. Rosenberg
In addition to the book hundreds of individuals around the world have become Nonviolent Communication (NVC) or Compassionate Communication trainers based on Marshall’s work. Sign up to receive updates about my upcoming Compassionate Communication trainings to learn more.
She can help you:
- rediscover passion in long-term relationships
- repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
- move past jealousy, insecurity or codependent patterns
- open your relationship or practice polyamory with care
- resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
- break unhealthy communication patterns in your relationship
Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.