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Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships
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Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  1,592 ratings  ·  152 reviews
Relationship expert and bestselling author Tristan Taormino offers a bold new strategy for creating loving, lasting relationships. Drawing on in-depth interviews with over a hundred women and men, Opening Up explores the real-life benefits and challenges of all styles of open relationships — from partnered non-monogamy to solo polyamory. With her refreshingly down-to-earth ...more
Paperback, 346 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by Cleis Press (first published May 1st 2007)
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More Than Two by Franklin VeauxThe Ethical Slut by Dossie EastonOpening Up by Tristan TaorminoSex at Dawn by Christopher  RyanStranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
Best Books for Polyamory
3rd out of 57 books — 116 voters
Opening Up by Tristan TaorminoThe Ethical Slut by Dossie EastonGuide to Getting It On! by Paul JoannidesSex at Dawn by Christopher  RyanThe Good Vibrations Guide to Sex by Cathy Winks
Best Nonfiction Sex Books Ever!
1st out of 126 books — 60 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Winston Scarlett
May I start this review off with a somewhat snarky anecdote?

My friend Jenny and I were on the train and she started to read The Subterraneans by Jack Kerouac for about 2 minutes before she got frustrated and switched over to reading her NYS driver's instruction manual. We lamented over having a mutual distaste for the Beats and I joked: "At least that book will get you on the road".

Which is sort of how I feel about The Ethical Slut in comparison to Opening Up. The former was a great entry point
Cecily Walker
Taormino provides a much-needed update to the subject. Unlike other authors who have tackled the subject of open relationships, Taormino makes the argument that polyamory can be non-sexual, and such relationships are as valid and important as those with a sexual component.

Clearly written without being dogmatic, instructive without being preachy, Taormino's book could possibly topple "The Ethical Slut" from its place as the definitive book on open relationships. Read it if you're curious, curren
Elevate Difference
I’ve been waiting for this book for a decade!

I read The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt in 1998, but found the information they provided rather basic. I’ve waited ten years to read something even more enlightening and instructive. Tristan Taormino has made my wish come true with Opening Up.

Foremost, I appreciate the writing style that Taormino choose for this book. Her writing is clear and incisive, not coy or sensational, and never obscene or vulgar. Her goal is clearly to
Basically the Strunk and White of polyamory. One of the best, most comprehensive guides to the topic, from all angles. Extraordinarily great advice, filled with real world experience, and extremely easy to read.
Rambles Corbeau
I listened to this in audiobook format with my partner. It was a great experience and a great medium for discussion. Every time anything came up that sparked either of our interests, we would pause it and discuss the topic. This made for a pretty lengthy process but it was a very illuminating and beneficial experience for our relationship. We both identify as polyamourous and have since we began our relationship. It was great to see where our ideas of poly lined up, where they diverged and where ...more
I recommend this book to anyone thinking of starting an open relationship or anyone that has been doing open relationships for years. It's interesting, to the point, and covers all kinds of relationships while encouraging the reader to find their boundaries and choose the kind of relationship that is right for them. This is not propaganda for polyamory!

This is the first book on open relationships I've read. (I couldn't get myself to read something titled "The Ethical Slut"!) I've been in open re
Dawn Serra
This book is for anyone looking for ways to make their relationships stronger.

Yes, the book is about open relationships, non monogamy, polyamory, etc. But, throughout the book Taormino has so many powerful suggestions and insights into navigating any kind of relationship - whether it's monogamous, non monogamous, or something else.

At several points throughout the book, Taormino does validate monogamy, as long as it's a conscious choice made by both parties in the relationship. That said, the bo
Working in the counseling profession, I wanted to learn/educate myself on the topic of open relationships (something I knew hardly anything about), so I decided to read this book. While it was challenging for me to wrap my head around some of the complex issues connected to the subject of open relationships, I found this book to be articulately well-written and informative. I learned quite a bit and it challenged me to examine negative assumptions (based on my ignorance) I previously held about ...more
If you're interested in starting an open relationship or simply want to know more about the subject this book is an excellent and exhaustive resource. I read The Ethical Slut a while back and found myself somewhat disappointed. That book has excellent commentary on what works for a small group of people. It talks about the pitfalls of compulsory monogamy and the right to chose an alternative style of relationship. However, it focuses entirely on polyamory and doesn't consider the wide range of e ...more
Hand down this is the best book out there on open relationships. It contains none of the arrogance of The Ethical Slut and none of the useless (to me) tantric and self-help babble of Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits. I don't want to define it by what it doesn't have, though, as the book is full of people telling their own stories about how they have made their relationships work. Tristan makes room for all sorts of relationship configurations, passing no judgment on any of them. She provid ...more
duck reads
Tristan Taormino is one of the most readable sexuality education authors out there, so this book fairly flew by. It's a pretty straightforward introduction to some of the variety of nonmonogamy that exists, with practical tips and strategies for navigating it. The sexual health chapter feels tossed-off, which is really surprising given Taormino's experience in the field, and there's some creeping ciscentrism in the categorisation, but overall it seems quite a useful guide.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in ethical non-monogamy, polyamory, LGBTQ marriage equality, or who may serve any of these groups in a professional capacity. As a social worker, a significant amount of my education revolves around child welfare and human relationships, but does not specifically address alternative relationships outside of monogamous dyads. Even if you are not interested in a non-monogamous relationship, this book calls into question the validity of accep ...more
O hay, book I wish I had read several months before I finally got around to it. A lot of good insight in here for anyone who thinks monogamy might not be the thing for him or her. This book, unlike many others on the subject, gives a fairly balanced perspective on various types of arrangements, and is also notably GLBT inclusive.
An intelligent, research-based, nuanced, and common-sense book on non-monogamy and polyamory?? Amazing. It reminds me of some of my favorite teaching resources - simultaneously acknowledges that there are no "right answers" AND that there are concrete skills and lessons that can support the success of the endeavor.
What a relief! Every kind of love is real. This book was like being pet on the head by an understanding grown-up who says, yes, it's ok to want what you want, now let's talk about how to make it work. Thanks, Tristan. So relaxing!
Misty Kaye
Ask anyone in an open relationship to recommend a book on nonmonogamy and 9 times out of 10 you’ll get the same answer: The Ethical Slut. Since it’s publication in 1997, The Ethical Slut has been widely adopted as the poly bible. But now there’s a new challenger for that title. Bestselling author, sex educator, and feminist pornographer Tristan Taormino tackles the wide-ranging and often misunderstood world of open relationships in her 2008 book, Opening Up: A Guide to Creating And Sustaining Op ...more
Our fairy tales and our Hollywood films both tell us the same thing: We're all looking for The One. Each of us wants to find the individual who will fulfill all our desires and our needs, who will match us completely and satisfy us perpetually, 'til death do us part. We're led to believe that they're out there, and that once we find them, we're destined to lead contented lives with them and them alone.

Not so, says Tristan Taormino. Drawing on a decade of experience as a sex educator, feminist po
Nov 26, 2011 Maria rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nonmonogamy noobs
Shelves: how-to-be-human
This book spends enough time and energy talking about BDSM that I wouldn't be comfortable giving it to my parents. Which is too bad, because it's otherwise a pretty balanced discussion of how different nonmonogamous relationships function. (If you flip to the stats in the back you'll discover that about 60% of her interview sample self-identified as kinky, so it's not surprising that it keeps coming up. I guess that's one of the problems with snowball sampling.)

Also, be careful in the safer sex
Tristan Taormino presents a very un-biased book on the many forms open relationships may take. The book has a gentle approach, providing terminology and ideas without being overly shocking or in your face. Ms. Taormino has also managed to avoid coming across as more evolved or better than others.

A few of the examples / case study relationships in the book made me roll my eyes a bit. (paraphrasing here) Bob and Sue have agreed that if the other starts an argument before going out, they should no
Fantastic resource on the subject. Written well and very clearly. I like that Taormino included stories from actual couples who are in open relationships. Covers an array of topics including boundaries, types of open relationships, reasons why one would participate in open relationships, safety, etc--all without sounding preachy. At no point, does she pressure the reader to enter an open relationship. The biggest highlight of this book is the number of times Taormino encourages communication bet ...more
Having read The Ethical Slut many times over, Tristan Taormino's fairly comparable text covered relatively little ground for me. But I by far preferred the format and writing style of the latter over the former. For those looking for absolute answers, you won't find very many here--and rightfully so; however, many worthwhile topics for consideration and discussion are presented with a variety of possible options and real-life examples. Definitely a valuable read for those wishing to explore the ...more
Zenobia Frost
This was an invaluable resource to my partner and I, starting out with poly four years ago.
This is a good "open relationships for dummies" book, it goes over the general issues one is going to want to think about and work through should on be thinking of pursuing open relationships. While it pays lip service to the idea that monogamy is a fine choice for those so inclined, it also devotes an entire chapter to addressing the "myths" of monogamy. Beyond that it has a nice overview of the various broad categories open relationships tend to fall into and how to hash out the details of wha ...more
Nick Luchsinger
Ignore the slightly sappy cover for a second. This book is a good, comprehensive overview of open relationships, non-monogamy, polyamory, etc. The other popular book in this area, The Ethical Slut, looked too much like a manifesto to me (I only read a couple chapters, but other friends have corroborated this), whereas the author of Opening Up comes off as significantly less prescriptive. She doesn't paint non-monogamy as superior or polyamory as some sort of pinnacle of human relationships--she ...more
Jan 20, 2011 Red rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: queer
wow! this book is fabulous. part workbook, part support, part sociological review - it's friendly, very approachable, and exceptionally clear. this is the one book I'd suggest to anyone considering open relationships, polyamory, or even just to folks who are looking to build relationships on their own terms. the clarity and organization of Taormino's prose carry a reader steadily through a wide range of ideas, suggestions, and considerations. it's useful as a whole book or in chunks.
Beverly Diehl
Recommended to me by people in the know, this book examines the many different shapes a non-traditional sexual or romantic relationship can take, from an open marriage where both partners have outside lovers, to swinging relationships, to closed triads or quads, and more arrangements that I never even heard of.

How are boundaries set, when, seemingly, there ARE no boundaries? What makes people happy in these relationships, and what kinds of issues arise?

Fascinating, provocative, packed with nugge
Eire Boudicca
A friend of mine recommended this book after I said I was interested in solo polyamory, and wanted to learn more about polyamory in general. It was a really good read! I have a lot of friends who are polyamorous, so I already knew a moderate amount, but this book really filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge. It also dispelled some assumptions that I still had - for instance, my assumption that polyamorous people who do it right just never get jealous. The author went over the specific styles o ...more
Heta Rae
I have mixed feelings about this one. I read _The Ethical Slut_ which provides such a wonderfully fun and personal tone to a lot of the same information. By contrast, Opening Up seemed textbookish and hard to get into, particularly the first few chapters which go into statistics and such. I will admit though that it provides a much more broad and balanced view of the topic, and that its explanatory tones make it easier for people not already familiar with polyamory to discuss and consider the to ...more
The best book on polyamory and how to do it that I've read so far. My only fault would be that I would have liked more on relationship transitions, break-up kind of stuff. Otherwise totally excellent!
Very good book, allot of good information about relationships. Even monogamous people should find many useful tools. I found this to be a much better book then “The Ethical Slut”.
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Poly Book Club: [August/September] Opening Up - Taormino 3 17 Jan 15, 2012 06:21PM  
Poly Book Club: August/September Selection 1 7 Aug 11, 2011 07:29PM  
  • Redefining Our Relationships: Guidelines for Responsible Open Relationships
  • The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities
  • One Big Happy Family: 18 Writers Talk About Polyamory, Open Adoption, Mixed Marriage, Househusbandry, Single Motherhood, and Other Realities of Truly Modern Love
  • Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage
  • Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits : Secrets of Sustainable Intimate Relationships
  • The New Topping Book
  • Pagan Polyamory: Becoming a Tribe of Hearts
  • The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People
  • More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory
  • Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture
  • SM 101: A Realistic Introduction
  • Two Knotty Boys Showing You the Ropes: A Step-by-Step, Illustrated Guide for Tying Sensual and Decorative Rope Bondage
  • Urban Tantra: Sacred Sex for the Twenty-First Century
  • Polyamory in the 21st Century: Love and Intimacy with Multiple Partners
  • Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex
  • The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex: The Most Complete Sex Manual Ever Written
  • Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving
  • The Mistress Manual: The Good Girl's Guide to Female Dominance
Tristan Taormino is an award-winning writer, sex educator, speaker, filmmaker, and radio host. She is the editor of 25 anthologies and author of seven books, including her latest, The Feminist Porn Book, 50 Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM, The Secrets of Great G-Spot Orgasms and Female Ejaculation, The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge and Take Me There: Trans and ...more
More about Tristan Taormino...
The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch Femme Erotica

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“Nonmonogamous folks recognize that during a lifetime you can and will be attracted to other people even if you are in a wonderful, fulfilling relationship; they make room in their relationship for these attractions rather than allow them to cause anxiety, jealousy, and unreasonable expectations.” 6 likes
“Open marriage thus can be defined as a relationship in which the partners are committed to their own and to each other's growth. It is an honest and open relationship of intimacy and self-disclosure based on the equal freedom and identity of both partners.” 5 likes
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