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Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships

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4.10  ·  Rating details ·  2,734 ratings  ·  225 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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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  2,734 ratings  ·  225 reviews


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Win Scarlett
Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Cecily
May 20, 2008 rated it liked it
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
...more
Elevate Difference
Feb 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
...more
Eric
Dec 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dawn Serra
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Maria
Nov 26, 2011 rated it liked it
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 th
...more
Neilina 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
cizi
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, diversity
Although polyamory isn’t a lifestyle I’d pursue, I found this book very useful in outlining frameworks and tools and resources for people to navigate and design personal relationships that are bespoke to them, to truly feel fulfilled. This is especially important when it comes to co-parenting—ensuring that you provide a positive experience for your children despite not being in a nuclear family unit.

One of my long-term goals is to be a better human and an important part to making pro
...more
Jessica
My first introduction to ethical non-monogamy was via the Han and Matt Know It All podcast, which unfortunately is no longer active, and I now also listen to Multiamory, which provides research-based relationship advice that mostly applies to both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships. Both podcasts, when they bring up polyamory, focus almost entirely on the emotional aspects of loving multiple people, so I was a bit thrown for a loop with how much this book focuses on sex. In retrospect, I should not b ...more
Tiko
Jul 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 bee
...more
Katie
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Kaila
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 2016, sex
I read most of this book before I was poly and it helped set some guidelines and asked questions that I thought I knew all the answers to.

After my recent breakup (of my primary/anchor relationship, to use the parlance), I decided to start over and read the book again, with an eye for Shit I Want to Get Right Next Time. There was a lot of Shit, lemme tell ya. This book is not about changing your life philosophy, it's not hippy dippy or a soft touch. It kind of assumes you've already d
...more
Gabe
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 provides practica ...more
duck reads
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfic
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.
Zyriel
Ultimately, this book is dated. Polyamory, as a general relationship model has progressed and an ethical foundation has been defined that is being adopted. This book is sort of training-wheel mode and I think could teach bad turns of thinking when applied to romantic relationships, rather than just erotic ones.

At the time of its publishing, this book was more current and, in my opinion, provided a better tone than Ethical Slut, even though the content of the two are very similar. How
...more
Erin
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such a fascinating look at alternative lifestyles. I can barely handle one partner but the concept that one person doesn't have to be your everything is an interesting concept. Glad this book crossed my path.
Malte
Feb 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Admittedly, this review is quite possibly too too unfair. It just felt like the most fitting thing to do. So the thing is: There is something at once relieving and disappointing about books on polyamory. The relieving part is to come into contact with something else than the depressing realities of serial monogamy, to read stories of people who tried to be sincere with each, to read stories of many different ways of loving each other really (this is the strength of the book, it shows diversity a ...more
Jennie
Mar 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Red
Nov 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Carin C
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love this book that is full of real life stories of people in open relationships, and the different ways they handle them. It's not always pretty, but no relationship is always pretty, and I appreciate the work these people do to have more love in their lives.

It is a top recommendation to people who are curious about this lifestyle. The Ethical Slut is still a humungously viable bible, but it no longer stands alone.
Curtis
Sep 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Daphna
Dec 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
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!
Catherine
Apr 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
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!
Zenobia Frost
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was an invaluable resource to my partner and I, starting out with poly four years ago.
Ann
Feb 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Not just for open relationships. Good general information to help you communicate with people you love. (but also a great diversity of stories from alternative relationships)
Gary Castaldo
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”.
Darcy
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was on a self-help kick this past year for topics that were considered a bit "alternative." I don't have much of a current "practical" interest in the presented lifestyles, just a curiosity of how people make it work.Opening Up covers all the different possibilities for open relationships, some of which are more romantic and emotional rather than sexual by nature. I listened to the audio book version, narrated by what sounded like your surprisingly chill and nonjudgmental grandmother - which was pretty amuswork.Opening ...more
Josephine (biblioseph)
Feb 17, 2018 marked it as tbr-why
Shelves: z-added-2012
This is a great review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Generally, beware that this book has aged since 2007 and that the authors makes some basic errors. But some of this content is very valuable.
Amyiw
I've skimmed through The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures and Polyamory in the 21st Century: Love and Intimacy with Multiple Partners, along with other readings over the years, and recently went back to them. Along with them I noticed that this got great reviews and one from a Good Reads friend or followed, which means I usually like and respect their reviews. I decided to buy it and ended up deciding on the audio version. I reasoned that I had the other 2 in ...more
HeavyReader
Aug 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I am reading this book so I can write a review for the Feminist Review blog. Once I have written that review, I will post it here.

Finally...Here's the review:

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 Openi
...more
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Poly Book Club: [August/September] Opening Up - Taormino 3 20 Jan 15, 2012 06:21PM  
Poly Book Club: August/September Selection 1 9 Aug 11, 2011 07:29PM  

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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
“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.” 9 likes
“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.” 7 likes
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