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Designer Relationships: A Guide to Happy Monogamy, Positive Polyamory, and Optimistic Open Relationships

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  238 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Contemporary relationships are in a state of rapid evolution. These changes can and should empower people with the opportunity to develop partnerships based on their own sexualities, understandings, and agreements. This makes it possible to create what Kenneth Haslam, founder of the Kinsey Institute’s Polyamory Archive, has called “designer relationships.”

Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Cleis Press
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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 ·  238 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Jacki Yovanoff
Nov 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
There are more and more books all the time on relationship styles, polyamory, open relationships, etc. What sets this book apart is the authors are not endorsing one "style" over others. This book encourages us to go mindfully into whatever relationship we would like to have. They give us the tools to design our own relationships. What if we weren't told what kind of relationships we *should* have? It's a good way to spark some introspection.

This is a great smaller book. It is not ov
Sarah Arlen
Nov 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: polyamorousart
I love that this book is really inclusive and helpful to the entire spectrum of relationship models, and offers experience-based wisdom to figuring out how to create the loving life that's right for you. It's accessible and practical, with action-oriented ideas. And the basis of the book is that we can collaborate creatively with our partner(s) while fully embracing ourselves. Refreshing, quick read that addresses elements of polyamory and relationships rarely discussed all in one book.
Crys Jackson
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A lovely little book that made me think a bit.
Elizabeth Wood
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Designer Relationships is an excellent handbook for anyone seeking to create intimate relationships that are mutually fulfilling, loving, and full of passion. Michaels and Johnson have created exactly what they set out to create: an accessible, quick-reading guide that works for just about any kind combination of partners regardless of number, gender, or sexual proclivity. It’s not a guide for polyamorists, or a guide for same sex couples, or a guide for kinksters. Its a guide for lovers of all sorts who wan ...more
Maya Reid
Oct 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Not much in this book felt "new" after having read a handful of the books they list in their "other resources" guide in the back, but in the authors' introduction, they said they wanted this to be the kind of book you could pick up in an airport and read during the flight and come away having learned something, and I think they succeeded in that effort.
Louisa Leontiades
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: polyamory-books
(Star rating 3.75)

There is little else more fun than being the author of your own life and whilst I adore Tolkien, he reserved his authorship for elves, hobbits and wizards. As much of a stupendous achievement Lord of the Rings is, I’ve gotta admit; I want to live that magical life… not just write about it.

The buzz around The Law of Attraction proves that people have a deep desire to truly design their own lives. And last week riding gracefully on the back of this popular concept an
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
This book does a really great job talking about the conscious ways relationships can be structured around monogamy/nonmonogamy and the many facets that includes. I really appreciate how it breaks down some different kinds of monogamy and acknowledges that these are also valid options for relationships.

The book doesn't do as much to talk about all the other areas where people can design relationships to suit them, like choices about sex, marriage, children, and cohabitation. I've been
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was a bit underwhelmed with this book. It has some good information in it, and I'm sure it will be helpful to a lot of people out there, but there's nothing in it that to me makes it stand out more than other books on similar topics available on the market right now.

There were times when it felt like the subject jumped very quickly, and sometimes even seemed incoherent, with quotes in places that didn't seem to have anything to do with the content of the rest of the book around it.

Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book reads like a very brief cheerleading session for open relationships. While the last two chapters had some good advice and a few good questions to discuss in any kind of relationship, most of the book was spent defending open or non-traditional relationships from misconceptions which could be plucked from a Fox News talking head. I think most people who pick up this book they will be beyond that already. I felt the book mostly passed over the difficulty inherent in non-traditional relat ...more
Kelly Hogan
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very good read. They aren't advocating any particular relationship style, but the idea of mindfully choosing what works for you and those you love. Although they don't completely avoid their own biases, they do a good job of addressing many different perspectives without judgement, and with respect.
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You’ve probably heard of the saying, “We need to learn how to love ourselves before we can love another.” The real question is what is love? Once we know the real answer to that question, we can begin to understand how to truly love, and what to do when love shows up in different shapes and shades.

designer_relationshipsThe book Designer Relationships: A Guide to Happy Monogamy, Positive Polyamory, and Optimistic Open Relationships begins by explaining that there is a sexual revolutio
Andrea Goldston
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book, as many of these books do, spends a lot of time talking about outsider stereotypes of what the authors call "Designer Relationships" and other nontraditional relationships look like, but don't, to my taste, spend nearly enough time discussing the positive and negative elements that are unique to these relationships. Perhaps this is always the problem of reading work designed to introduce outsiders into a realm of thought.

The writers are clearly smart, and may do great work,
Annie Frazier
Jan 14, 2016 rated it liked it
I would recommend this book to people that are in monogamous relationships, and are thinking about opening up (or are thinking about staying monogamous, honestly). Other than that, it's a little too broad for folks already in open relationships (which, to be fair, they make pretty clear at the beginning). I did like the beginning section on monogamy (funny enough), because I thought it was a great relational point to demonstrate that every relationship has both monogamous and nonmonogamous aspec ...more
Justin Gayle
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
By the time I finished this book I realized it was the future. Designer Relationships releases the tension around the taboo that is polyamory through the scientific leans and offers a realization in ones view of what a faithful or meaningful relationship is or can be. It has enabled and simplified a seemingly difficult conversation, and, is possibly one of the best guides for relationships today, in my opinion. Everyone should read it regardless of their preferential relationship. And especially ...more
Sylvia Simioni
Jun 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Three stars well deserved. Both the title and the chapter on relationship skills for everyone, whatever their color or stripe, are on their own worth five stars. Would recommend to anyone interested in thinking critically of our more common relationship models, including but not limited to monogamy. Would recommend to lovers, friends, strangers, and anyone interested in cultivating their capacity for profound interest. Go read the damn thing.
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Michaels & Johnson have penned a non-judgmental, accessible booklet for that friend couple in your life who blushes when you mention "The Ethical Slut" but wants to explore something beyond monogamy. This little book shares a little bit about a lot of options while also validating coupledom and acknowledging it as a dominant paradigm among a variety of also valid relationship structures.

Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Michaels' book (which I received through a Goodreads Giveaway) stands out as a simple and understandable guide to the gray world of relationships beyond the monochrome dichotomy of single/monogamous. Although it's not a read for everyone, those who dare read will learn a little more about the complexities of the human condition.
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a great introductory novel to these topics, especially for someone like myself who is looking to learn more as I expand my perception and experiences with relationships. Really refreshing to read about these subjects in a normalized, empathetic voice.
Lisa Butterworth
Sep 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: brain-books
I have lots of clients interested in opening their relationships, and this is a good basic primer, it's quick and easy to read, they take pains to be open about a variety of choices and preferences. lots of good basic info.
Jul 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is probably a very helpful book for someone. I found this very 101 and lacking in practical applications, nuance, and deep theoretical discussion. A good airport read to get someone thinking about this subject matter who hasn't yet before.
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pretty amazing- overall. Very 'matter of fact' in the way that we relate, and how there is so much more than we allow ourselves to feel about each other!
Winter Arcane
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a fairly good book for those who want to take a more conscious approach to building relationships rather than doing the common thing of coasting by on inconsistent societal assumptions and just letting relationships happen without thought. While it didn't tell me much that I hadn't already learned through a quarter century of exploring non-traditional relationship styles, I find this to be a solid packaging of valuable advice for those towards the beginning of their own explorations. The ...more
Kara Sabbagh
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really love and associate with this books discussion of empathy vs. compassion, the right and wrong times to be honest in a relationship, and ways to examine if your honesty is productive of not. The “relationship skills for everyone” chapter is amazing, even if you just read the sections where they highlight certain tips in boxes. I love the discussions about sense of self as well as intimacy. I find the bit about emphasizing verbal communication less and focusing more on nonverbal, such as b ...more
Amber Sparks
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very useful overview of the different relationship modalities and terminology. Some helpful entry-level advice when it comes to monogamous relationships, primarily centred around opening up, exploring sexually, and navigating moving through more non-traditional changes. The book does use a lot of personal experience from the writers as evidence for some of its statements, either because they haven't done research on the topic or because the research simply hasn't been done by anyone yet, which ...more
Nov 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
rhetoric is way too oppressive. if you're a poor (by that, i mean you don't read often, don't have significant background in critical analysis, or just plain hate literature of any kind) reader or lack extensive exposure to persuasive writing, you'll be easily swayed by this and heavily corrupted by a mindset that could be potentially damaging to you and your relationships. they have an obnoxious habit of using what they express as proper and accurate facts and figures to push their point when i ...more
Jay V
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great introduction to non-standard relating

I liked that this book is very inclusive of the relationship styles it discusses - even monogamous relationahips, which is often left out in guides on non-monogamy. I feel that it is a wonderful introduction to non-conventional relationship styles and gives a taste of the wide variety of possible relationship agreements without delving too much into the intricacies of each. This book is a great introduction for someone brand new to non-standard relatio
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish that I had read this about a year ago. There are several things about. creating a "relationship action plan" that defines boundaries and what each partner wants in a relationship that might have helped in my life. I spent more time thinking that I wanted to stay together rather than focusing on HOW to be happier together. The result was that I felt so much abandonment jealously and grief that I was being left behind. (Yes, this book gave me new vocabulary to understand my emotions.)
Breonna Charrell
Aug 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Though I relatively liked the book, I just didn't find that I got as much out of it as I hoped. Most of it was stories on how alternate relationships are viewed instead diving into the relationships. For what I was looking to get out of this book, I found that the jealousy workbook was way more helpful in addressing being mindful in a relationship and working to create the relationship you desire.
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Made me think a lot, and also put into words some things I was having trouble piecing together on my own. Good read for sure.
Sergey Antopolskiy
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good companion piece for More Than Two
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“There is no single solution, but there’s a lot more to being in a relationship than resignation.” 1 likes
“Recognizing that open relationships work for some doesn't threaten anyone else's relationship; it won't discourage anyone from choosing to be exclusive or from forming pair-bonds. We expect the majority will do just that and that dyadic and exclusive relationships will remain the predominant model. While we'd like to see people in those dyadic and exclusive relationships thinking their decisions through more carefully than they often do, we're not encouraging them to do anything that feels wrong. The simple answer to those who object to nonmonogamy is "Then be monogamous.” 0 likes
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