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The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,431 Ratings  ·  630 Reviews
The essential guide for singles and couples who want to explore polyamory in ways that are ethically and emotionally sustainable.

For anyone who has ever dreamed of love, sex, and companionship beyond the limits of traditional monogamy, this groundbreaking guide navigates the infinite possibilities that open relationships can offer. Experienced ethical sluts Dossie Easton a
Paperback, 279 pages
Published July 23rd 2004 by Greenery Press (first published 1997)
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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!
2nd out of 135 books — 72 voters
Domination & Submission by Michael MakaiSM 101 by Jay WisemanScrew the Roses, Send Me the Thorns by Philip MillerThe Ethical Slut by Dossie EastonDifferent Loving by Gloria G. Brame
Helpful BDSM Non-Fiction
4th out of 121 books — 45 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Teresa Jusino
Aug 12, 2007 Teresa Jusino rated it liked it
This book should've been called "How To Be a Human Being." :) Everything it talks about has to do with how to have effective and enriching relationships in all their forms. Own your feelings, be honest, be open about what you want, be willing to compromise, talk to each other, listen to each other... I was particularly interested in what it had to say about owning one's feelings - that no one can make you feel anything. That idea goes a long way in making strong emotions more manageable. Also, I ...more
Rita Brinkerhoff
Jan 30, 2008 Rita Brinkerhoff rated it liked it
I feel like it is written for/by pagan couples in their fifties who go to the Renaissance Faire, i.e. not bisexual ladies in their twenties. It's a good introduction to these concepts, though. Interesting stuff like your hippie parent would tell you about, without having to listen to said parent talk.
Before I write my review, I want to say something. I don't normally read psycho-babble self-help relationship-help type books.

Maybe it's because I've been in therapy for bipolar since I was 13, maybe it's because I regularly read psychology and medical texts, maybe it's because I have an immediately visceral and negative reaction to the idea of trying to change another person. This is probably due to the fact that people have been trying to "change" me for so long, convince me that bipolar is a
Oct 30, 2007 Angela rated it did not like it
Let me preface this by saying that I am non-monogamous and do not have a problem with the relationship structure the authors are advocating. But I do not like being talked down to, and I do not like assumptions that people who need or want monogamy are unevolved or unloving or unfair. There is plenty of all of that in this book. I read it during a time when I was trying to get okay with non-monogamy, and it actually set that process back for me because I was so insulted and felt so much like I'd ...more
Jul 18, 2007 Jess rated it really liked it
This book helped me deconstruct the way I have been programmed to think about love, relationships, and how important it is to take care of yourself. Even If you don;t plan on becoming a floozie anytime soon, this book is a really great read.
Feb 19, 2008 Mk rated it it was ok
Shelves: queer, i-own-it
So I realize that I probably lose radical queer points for not being that into this book, but so goes it. Though it contains some practical tips for polyamory, the tone of much of it rubs me the wrong way. The idea that sex solves everything is clearly oversimplified. No joke, at one point they come quite close to saying that if people had just been having more sex with more people the Holocaust wouldn't have happened.
Mickey Schulz
Jul 22, 2014 Mickey Schulz rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is lauded as a sort of "Poly Bible." I don't know how I feel about that. It's a little twee in parts, but includes a whole lot of good information about how to communicate that can be used by everyone, not just people looking to practice open or polyamorous relationships.

I do have a couple of bones to pick, though. I don't agree that "anyone" can do poly or open relationships. Some people just don't have the psychological wherewithal, and THAT'S OK. And the book does actually say that
Apr 27, 2008 Nicola rated it liked it
Firstly: make no mistake, this is a self-help book. Be wary if you are someone who dislikes endless cheerleading on why you should respect and love yourself! and others! and the birdies and the treeeeees! -- okay, I'm exaggerating, but people who find self-help jargon grating should proceed with caution. There's a LOT of "learning to love yourself" stuff in here -- much of it not relating to polyamory at all.

However, beneath the cheerleading, there is also practical advice, along with some charm
Jan 19, 2014 Darren rated it really liked it
I see labels... and am glad to see some of the women stigmatized by the norms of patriarchal attitudes turned the negative to positive.
I know I tend to sound like a broken record with this observation but it is tragic that so many things are still dictated by an ignorant notion that women are property.
This of course is obvious in the double standard that men can be studs yet women should be chaste. I think that the example shown by those of same gender preference is the best way to deal with
Jan 15, 2012 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an absolute must-read for anyone planning on interacting with other people in any kind of sexual or romantic context, regardless of whether or not they are considering non-monogamy. It has a lot of good lessons on communication, unlearning jealousy, and talking frankly about your sexual needs and limits. There were definitely some paragraphs which made me stop and go: "Oh!" - I learned a lot about things I'd thought myself fairly well-versed in already, and came to some big new real ...more
Jan 18, 2009 Paul rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: The young and dumb
I would really rate this 3-1/2 stars but I'm not allowed. It's funny that so many books about this stuff are so posi, I guess cuz you wouldn't bother writing a book about all of your failed experiments and the ragged pain and confusion and all that bullshit - maybe all those people just wrote fiction, or weren't writers. Not that I don't think it's worthwhile, but maybe that it's like how desert cookbooks don't talk about hypoglycemia or obesity or anything like that.
Keely Hyslop
Nov 02, 2007 Keely Hyslop rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, feminist
When my friend recommended this book to me I looked it up on Amazon and found that there were two types of reviews for it. Half the people who read it said it was life altering and that everyone should read it and the other half said it was dangerous and ought to be burned. As a result I had to read it. Sexuality, in particular sexual ethics, is one of those topics about which our society's opinions are particularly schizophrenic. The media tells us that we should be obsessively desirous and dee ...more
Joey Comeau
Dec 23, 2011 Joey Comeau rated it liked it
I wish someone could write a book about having multiple sexual or romantic partners without sounding like a god damn flake hippy.
Rosa Ramôa
Jun 05, 2014 Rosa Ramôa rated it really liked it
...ninguém é de ninguém...
Jun 07, 2010 Ashley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-s-studies
To be honest, I went into this book with a bad attitude. I read it as part of a book club. It's not so much that I'm pro-monogamy or anti-sex. I felt like the book is oddly dated, and that for all the moral panic about "hook up culture" if there is anything it's done (for women especially) it's separate sex and relationships.

Perhaps it's a generational thing. The two authors spend A LOT of time talking about how you can be sexual in different ways with different people at different times and I
May 31, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing
There are so many incredible quotes in this book, I can’t even begin to list them all. You’ll have to read it for yourself to get all the good ones! Both as a human being and as a therapist who specializes in women’s issues and sexuality, I believe that this book is a must-read for us all. Every one of us is a sexual being, after all!

The concept of sexual exploration is profoundly feminist and it requires a careful deconstruciton of the messages and limitations dictated to us by a patriarchal s
Julie Bozza
The title says it all, really: You say ‘polyamorous’, society says ‘slut’. How do you live ethically in the tensions of that situation? If you want to explore the notion, then this is a good place to start.

Society is (always?) in transition and is certainly freeing up about some aspects of sexuality and relationships. However, polyamory is still on the Forbidden Fruit List for most, I feel. Which makes it difficult to even talk about living as a polyamorous person, or be open about it beyond you
Kenya Wright
May 21, 2014 Kenya Wright rated it it was amazing
It just can't get better than this when a book is discussing how to just be a good and loving person. . .while being a SLUT!!
Rhonda Anderberg
Mar 30, 2014 Rhonda Anderberg rated it it was amazing
I have had this book for several years, 2010 to be exact. I bought it when my then husband of 10 years and his (still) married girlfriend were trying to tell me that "WE" were in a polyamorous relationship (I had no idea what that meant), I wasn't asked, I was told. Just as I was told if I wanted to continue to remain a part of my husbands life I must learn to get with the program and play by their ever changing rule book, I bought this book to help me navigate this unknown world. Things unravel ...more
Heather Derussy
Jan 03, 2013 Heather Derussy rated it it was amazing
This book isn't simply a "how to have sex with alot of people" book. It is a guide to healthy relationships overall, whether you are monogamous or not. Included are tools for conflict resolution, fair fighting, deepening sexual experiences, reducing jealousy, and a very good rant about unethical sluts. I especially like the additional resources listed in this book. I read this based on my therapist's recommendation and was quite skeptical at first. While the overall lifestyles discussed in this ...more
Jan 12, 2008 Tera rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: non monogamists
i love that i came away from this book with a whole new vocabulary and a way to talk about ethical non monogamy. it's a bit too rosy at times, but overall provides some good guidelines for couples thinking about poly
Dec 12, 2009 Laurie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for research I was doing on a paper in my English class regarding the potential sociomoral ramifications of polyamory.

This was my least favorite of the books I read on polyamory. It was neither insightful nor enjoyable. Easton and Hardy’s approach to defining polyamory is unreservedly direct, albeit abrasive. They ineffectively attempt to provide modern definitions to words generally deemed as crude or crass in polite society. Most of the words they proudly exploit,“not as insults,"
Aug 20, 2007 Anna rated it it was amazing
This book had some useful nuggets of information on jealousy, communication, and ways to encourage people to get what they need from their relationships (romantic or otherwise) that I think are applicable to everyone, not just people in poly situations. Given my age and educational background, some of the stuff that was supposed to blow my mind, didn't. I also agree with some of the other reviews that have described the book at a bit too cheerful and "let's all love each other" but I'm glad peop ...more
Jan 11, 2008 Tate rated it it was ok
Totally the epitome of the "It was ok" rating. I think the only people who read this book and really really love it are people who are looking for some validation ("it's in a book - it's gotta be legit!") for polyamory. I think polyamory is pretty valid, but the authors seem self-righteous at times, and that really turned me off to this one.
F. A.R.
Jan 12, 2009 F. A.R. rated it really liked it
What did I learn from this book? It didn't have anything that blew my mind or made me reevaluate my life, but the authors do set out a number of ideas to which I'm sympathetic, and they do so in a clear, engaging way that's as ethical as the title promises. For me, a "slut" is by definition a person who's irresponsibly promiscuous, so I avoided this book for a long time because of the title. The book is all about responsibility, though, and includes some great advice for people who are tired of ...more
Oct 05, 2010 Sophia rated it really liked it
Even if you have no desire whatsoever to assume the title role, The Ethical Slut: A guide to infinite sexual possibilities is a valuable and informative read. 'Slut' is used here in a reclaimed sense, to mean someone "who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you. Authors Dossie Easton and Catherine Liszt do an admirable job discussing the world view and possible lifestyle choices of an ethical slut, but their greatest accompl ...more
Jun 04, 2012 Dorothea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was very happy to have read Oglaf (totally NSFW webcomic) before The Ethical Slut, because of the extremely amusing mental images I now get when the authors talk about the behaviors of sluts!

To be serious ... I think The Ethical Slut is an extremely well-done book. Pretty much all of the advice here you can now get elsewhere, especially online, but it's really useful to have it all in one place.

I think I would recommend The Ethical Slut for people in monogamous relationships too, because it ha
Mark Desrosiers
Jan 13, 2008 Mark Desrosiers rated it liked it
Recommended to Mark by: Jenna
Shelves: psycho-sociology
Although it's often too mushy and anecdotal for my manly-rational tastes, this book does circumscribe a sensible Utopian worldview, one that pitches the false dream of monogamy out the window and allows for maximum personal freedom. A liberating and very self-possessed vision. It's also aimed primarily at women, often evoking the same comforting radicalized tone of Inga Muscio's Cunt, which takes back the C-word much as this takes back the S-word.

There are lots of fun practical tips on termino
Kater Cheek
Oct 29, 2012 Kater Cheek rated it liked it
This book was recommended to me by a friend as being the only book out there that talked sensibly about polyamory. It's geared as a how-to guide, for the most part, and also as 'there are a lot of us out here' manifesto.

Not surprisingly, the book reads like it was written by and for and about hippies. The authors are long-time lovers who also have had relationships and marriages with other people. I consider myself not easily shocked or offended, but the descriptions of, say, the social etiquett
Aug 25, 2008 Sarah rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Pagan Witch Love Hippies
I learned that I should actually read about the subject matter on the back of the book, before I start picking up titles in the sex section.

If you are looking for open relationships, multiple sex goddess references and atypical views on multiple partners then this is the book for you. I have a hard enough time with one person, thank you very much.
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“The real test of love is when a person—including you—can know your weaknesses, your stupidities and your smallnesses, and still love you.” 39 likes
“One remedy for the fear of not being loved is to remember how good it feels to love someone. If you're feeling unloved and you want to feel better, go love someone, and see what happens.” 27 likes
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