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!
***This post contains affiliate links- supporting local bookshops and my coffee habit by linking through Bookshop.org!***
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.
4- The Smart Girl’s Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know About Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Alternative Love, by Dedeker Wilson
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!
I’m Solo-Poly: No Relationship Escalator for Me
Evolution of a Polycule-2019 Wrap-Up (Another Polycule update coming soon! Stay Tuned!)
13 Replies to “6 Books That Changed My View on Relationships and Sex”
I really wish communication was talked about as much in monogamous and non-kinky circles as it is in polyam and kinky ones. It’s key for literally any relationship and yes it does seem to be that it’s not unless you choose a non-traditional relationship/sex life you start to really get educated about it.
So weird right? I mean anyone in a relationship is usually there because they want it to be healthy and long-lasting.. and communication and boundaries, etc are key facets to a well-rounded relationship. I started talking about communication and some of the ways I communicate with DJDM to my nieces when I was visiting over Christmas- hoping some of it would rub off on them!
This is great, E.L. You’ve inspired me to go back and reread Mating in Captivity. I read it toward the end of my marriage, so I never bothered to read the part about how to keep the fires burning. 🙂
Is there somewhere where you introduce DJDM and/or tell us why that’s his name?
Yes- I enjoy most thing Esther Perel and I feel like it was helpful- especially talking about fantasy. I might have to read it again now that I’m living with DJDM.
I’m not sure where I did his into- but I let all my people pick their own names- and he’s had “Don Juan De Marco” as a moniker since he was a teen- so he chose that! LOL I don’t feel like writing it out every time so… 🤦🏼♀️😂
Communication is key to all relationship types, non sexual included. We seem to just not do the best with that even though it’s important. Admittedly, I haven’t really read up on the topic of poly even though I tend to identity the relationships I like as such. Great set of researches here
Communication- keeps coming up eh? Well if you read any of these books it could give you some additional insight! Hi!!!
This is a great list. I have the ethical slut but still need to read it. I have heard a lot about the Esther Perel book but never actually bought it. I might have to add it to my wish list
I really enjoy her style and insight. I listen to her Podcast “Where Should We Begin”- where she does one-off couples counseling and you can hear the sessions. It’s super interesting and I have gained a lot of insight into my own relationships almost every time I listen! LOL
I have the Ethical Slut but I haven’t read it yet (it’s packed away in a box WAITING for the move to be over)! I may add the Esther Perel book to my Amazon wish list, too. 🙂
I enjoyed the Ethical Slut- it was the second one I read on this journey. I find most literature from Poly resources is written with a couple opening up as the focus- so for many people it is a great perspective. It might not be revolutionary for someone, like you, who is already familiar with the basic premises and concurs, but there are so many good nuggets!
This is an excellent reading list for people new to poly, or more experienced people who want to deepen their understanding of it. The Ethical Slut is especially brilliant – it really transformed the way I think about love and sex.
It was definitely a game-changer! When I read it, so many light bulbs were going off in my head!