I love books. I am a reader. I always have been. I can easily sit for hours and lose myself in fiction. I read on the bus, on the balcony, in my bed, on a plane, when I go someplace that might even have a little bit of a wait, there is always a book queued up on my Kindle. You get the idea. I read. Books are a thing for me!
When I started to explore the idea of open relationships and polyamory, it’s no surprise that I turned to books to help me learn more. I’ve traditionally struggled to read non-fiction, but this topic was something I knew I needed to know more about. A topic I wanted to understand as deeply as possible, helping me to figure out my own feelings, boundaries, etc. So my Kindle bookshelf grew.
I’d like to share those books that helped me come to my understanding of ethical non-monogamy and shaped my own practice of polyamory. (I will include their links to Amazon for easy reference. I am not an Amazon Affiliate so I am not making any money if you click and buy.)
1- When Someone You Love Is Polyamorous: Understanding Poly People and Relationships, by Elisabeth Sheff
This is more of a long-pamphlet than a book, but it was the first thing I read that explained, what it meant to be polyamorous. I had an idea in my head about having more than one partner, each meeting different needs in my life, but I really didn’t have a word for it. One day a friend suggested ‘Polyamory.’ But since I had never heard the word before, off I went in search of more info. This booklet was very helpful setting up the basics for me.
2- The Ethical Slut, Third Edition: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love, by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton
Many people consider this book one of the primary cannons of Ethical Non-Monogamy. It opens one up to the idea of ways to conduct relationships, sexual and emotional, that are outside of our traditional monogamous ideals. As a single person exploring these ideas, I did find it frustrating that most of the ideas come from the perspective of a couple opening up a primary relationship, but that is pretty much all the poly resources I have found. It was especially helpful in exploring ideas of jealousy and open communication.
3- Designer Relationships: A Guide to Happy Monogamy, Positive Polyamory, and Optimistic Open Relationships– by Mark A. Michaels, Lyssa Browne, et al.
I especially liked this book because it focused less on one relationship style and instead floats the idea that anyone can design their relationship the way they want. Creating together what works for all partners involved. That idea really resonates with me. It’s something DJDM and I talk about frequently. There is no one “right way” to practice Ethical Non-Monogamy. Open communication is key.
I love the Multiamory Podcast, so when I saw that one of the hosts, Dedeker, had a book out, I picked it up. Its a fast read and provides a lot of good solid information. I have to admit, by the time I picked this up, I had been practicing my polyamory for a while and I had read a lot of other books, so it felt a bit basic for where I was in my journey. I definitely recommend it for someone who is just starting their journey!
5- Many Love: A Memoir of Polyamory and Finding Love(s)- by Sophie Lucido Johnson
This was a fun read because it’s part memoir, part graphic novel. It’s not a how-to book, it’s the story of the author’s journey to polyamory and her non-traditional relationship structures.
6- Mating in Captivity– by Esther Perel
This is definitely not a book about ethical non-monogamy. However, it did give me insight into sexual and erotic relationships. She talks about how sex changes when you are in a committed relationship and some of the reasons for that. She also explores things we can do to keep the fires burning.
In all of these books, one key theme came across for me. Open and honest communication is the only way these relationships can work. I remember reading some of these ideas and wondering why people in monogamous relationships don’t talk about these things. Why did I not learn these concepts growing up? In my mind, many of these ideas, boundaries, communication etc. are keys to strong relationships no matter what your relationship orientation. That should not have been mind-blowing, but it was!
What are some of the books you have read that have given you insight and understanding into your own relationship style? Can you recommend them to us?
**PS You will notice I left off “More Than Two- with Franklin Veaux, even though it has also been considered a polyamory biggie. I read a few books by him and Eve Rickart, and while they were influential and helped me learn more about polyamory, since then, some unethical and abusive practices by Franklin have come to light that made me choose to leave them off this list. You can easily search Google and Medium to learn more if you’d like.**
If you want to know more about how I practice my Polyamory, either of these posts is a good place to start!
Evolution of a Polycule-2019 Wrap-Up (Another Polycule update coming soon! Stay Tuned!)