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Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  539 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Jenny Block is your average girl next door, a suburban wife and mother for whom married life never felt quite right. She operates from the assumption that most couples who are curious about or engaged in open marriages are in fact more like hernormal people who question whether monogamy is right for them; good people who love their spouses but want variation; capable paren ...more
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Seal Press
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Kater Cheek
Sep 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Dan Savage had an interesting article the other day about monogamy, speaking out against it, actually, saying (to paraphrase) that insisting on monogamy is basically dooming people to an impossible, unnatural, and not really pleasurable state. Jenny Block has done more than talk the talk, she's walked the walk, and in this memoir, she talks about why she is in an open marriage, how she came to decide that that was the best path to take, and what it's done for her relationship with her husband.

Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book, but I have to get something off my chest - SOMETHING WAS NOT RIGHT with whoever edited the book. I don't know if it was just the version I had from the library or what, but every time it should have said "matter" (as in, "It didn't help the matter" or "It didn't seem to matter to her") it said "Timer" instead (yes, as in, "It didn't help the Timer" or "It didn't seem to Timer to her"). Unless this is some word that I've never heard in this context, something was up with the ...more
Jan 31, 2012 rated it did not like it
I thought this might be an interesting memoir about an alternative lifestyle, maybe one that is funny and/or thought provoking. What I got was pages and pages... and pages and PAGES... of navel gazing pontification about sex and marriage and culture and some weird blame thrown on Disney moves and blah blah blah flimsy feminist arguments sprinkled in for no apparent reason other than to seem academic. There was an intro about her childhood and her parents' marriage that was entirely too long and ...more
Ashley E
Mar 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
2020 ETA: Much has changed since I wrote this review, including the ways I identify, but I can still clearly state, bitch, this ain't it. I know and claim as dear friends some polyam people, and would consider it myself, to be quite honest. But the way that Ms. Block presents polyamory in this book is not healthy, imho.


First, let me start off this review with a disclaimer: I am a young, heterosexual female, a virgin, and could be happily described as a "romantic". Take what preconceptions you w
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Reading this book was an interesting experience because I too was an English major and a women's studies minor. I also have a vested interest in all things related to nonmonogamy. I have read almost every single book and article that Block references and I've gone down many of the same intellectual paths she explores in her memoir. And yet - while I am so glad to hear someone else speak up on this topic, this book reads too much like a long experiential essay written for WST 101. Gender is a per ...more
Vanessa Fox
May 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: human-behavior
I agree with many of the other reviewers that the book brought in a lot of interesting stats and info, but seemed a bit superficial. The book was ostensibly about the author's own journey, but she didn't talk much about the details, and this seemed to be because she was a bit defensive about how those outside perceived her decision to be in an open marriage.

The details she left out seemed to be the ones around any less-than-positive emotions, potentially because she didn't want to give the naysa
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people without boundaries
Thank you, thank you, thank you Jenny! Unlike another infamous married and questioning Jenny (for all you L Word fans), this Jenny has her head on straight, though her heart may not be so....well....straight. Or narrow. She is a breath of fresh air for anyone who has ever thought, "I really love my partner....but I really want more, more, more!" And it is OK to want more. We are human! We are mammals! We can find love and lust and interest and friendship and desire in so many ways. And through J ...more
Sehar Moughal
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I cannot thank Jenny enough for writing this book. It is beautifully written and challenges our society's ideas about monogamous relationships. Cheating vs open relationship is discussed and I am smitten with her arguments against the former and for the latter. I loved the initial chapters since it talks about the 'mix signals' women receive from the media, parents, men and SOCIETY. Today, more than ever before, books (and discussions) are needed to question long held beliefs about love, sex and ...more
Jun 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a really interesting read. The reason I ended up with this book was it was on uber-sale (kindle version) on amazon and looked interesting. I wasn't disappointed.

Now I am 100% monogamous, and heterosexual. The author is in an open marriage with her husband and her girlfriend. We obviously have very different lifestyles, and yet I found her arguments for the benefits of her arrangement were sound - statistics show as many of 80% of people cheat on their partners. Her argument is that mono
Sondra Santos
Nov 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
“It is estimated that 50-65% of husbands and 40-45% of wives cheat.”

Open relationships do not always start out that way, as Jenny Block explains. I first read Jenny’s article on Your Tango and discovered that she’s the author of Open, her memoir which focuses on the evolution of her open marriage and includes extensive research and resources regarding the history of marriage, extra-marital affairs and divorce.

“I began to think it was unfair – ludicrous, really – to expect my husband to fulfill
Arja Salafranca
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read Jenny Block’s memoir of polyamory, called Open, and it really opened up my eyes to the motivations and reasons as to why someone would choose this type of lifestyle. Born in 1971, Block married in her late twenties, had a daughter, and yet felt stifled and unhappy in her monogamous marriage. Yet she loved her husband, they were compatible, and were good parents to their child. His sex drive just didn’t match hers; sex was an occasional need for Christopher, while Jenny wanted more and wan ...more
Laura Wallace
I enjoyed this book, but I wanted more memoir and less polemic. Yeah, yeah, humans aren't monogamous, marriage oppresses women, our preconceived notions of the relationship between sex and love are whack.... Jenny's the preacher, I'm the choir. But what about the sordid goings-on in her Stepfordesque planned community? And on a more sober note, more detail would flesh out the practical details of the arrangement, although we've got other books for that. For example, Block often makes oblique ref ...more
Mark Farley
Deftly organised and tenderly respectful in its execution, this intimate and honest portrait of Jenny's own marriage and past relationships, along with her experiences and changing conflictions with monogamy is truly beautiful and easy in its reading. What Block achieves where 'The Ethical Slut' the bible of non-monogamy had its only criticisms is that it's feels like its not preaching to you like the former did at times. Neither is it a hotch-potch of ramblings and almost aggressive interviews ...more
Dec 31, 2010 rated it it was ok
I had a love/hate reaction to Open. Jenny Block's writing style was infuriating and the book often read like a long Cosmo article and the early chapters were infuriating, where she was determined to establish the ways in which she is totally average and normal in every way, from her lace a bows childhood, to her first boyfriend who taught her to acknowledge and communicate her sexual desires. The first half of the book I couldn't relate to, but the detailed description of the evolution of her ma ...more
Sep 29, 2011 rated it liked it
This is basically a memoir of Ms. Block starting from a monogamous marriage to an open marriage. She defies the conventionality of what a "normal" relationship is supposed to be, but she doesn't go full-blown polyamory either. She doesn't really consider herself polyamorus, but simply says that she's "open" when it comes to relationships.

It's a page-turner and it's a fascinating look on her life, but I kept asking myself, "why are you saying this?" What I mean is is she trying to offer advice t
May 30, 2008 rated it liked it
This was an interesting read. I wondered many times how the author would have felt if either of her lovers took another lover. I would think that she might not feel as comfortable with that. I also find her husband's comment about her body to be disgusting. She carried his child and when she did not regain her perfect figure, he blamed that for his lack of sexual interest. And send her running for the plastic surgeon. That is not a healthy marriage. ...more
Erika Nerdypants
Part memoir, part essay on open marriage/relationships, based on the premise that monogamy is not natural to humans. Much of her point of view is based on feminist theory, which I appreciate, because too often women are told that others happiness should come before their own. Thought provoking for certain, although I'm not sure that I could personally live this kind of relationship style, but then the author readily admits that it is not for everyone. ...more
Jun 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
Possibly more useful for women who are not already in open relationships but are curious about how they work than for couples in established open relationships. I also couldn't shake the feeling that I was reading a collection of blog posts. ...more
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was really good and eye opening. I appreciate her honesty and discussion around love, sex, relationships, etc. Regardless of whether open marriage is for you, I think everyone can learn about love, partnership, and above all, HONESTY, by reading this book.
Nov 26, 2008 marked it as to-read
Shelves: nonfiction, love
Seriously thoughtful woman. See an excerpt here:
Apr 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
kind of badly written, but had some interesting points. Got bored with the didactic parts, but enjoyed it as a memoir. She probably should have picked one direction or the other.
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fic
I really enjoyed reading this book. The author made the topic interesting and not dry like many books can be. I appreciate that she referenced and cited other books/authors and had a bibliography at the end of the book, as well as a list of other resources for those interested in learning more about open relationships and polyamory.

I really loved the following quotes:

"I would actually argue that people find it more acceptable to wind up in a relationship with a married person "by accident"-- ev
The Center for Sexual Pleasure & Health
In a society where the comfort and security of a monogamous relationship reigns, the thought of an open marriage intimidates many people due to the confusion and hurt that they assume would be inherently part of such a relationship. Thus, these individuals continue to shame and pass judgment on those who engage in such behaviors in both conscious and subconscious ways. However, in this book, we meet Jenny Block. An author, essayist, and advocate for open marriages, Block writes for a variety of ...more
I have quite a lot to say about this book. Despite enjoying it, I found it somewhat problematic. First, some of her methodology was way off; statistics about infidelity are notoriously unpredictable but using statistics from an online poll given at a website catered towards women who fear/know their partner is cheating to illustrate shockingly high rates of cheating is a pretty big misstep in her methodology.

Also, if I had to read another sentence about humans not being "biologically programmed
Jul 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Before reading this book I knew very little about open relationships. And my view of it was mostly one of disbelief, because how could you let your partner have relationships based on sexual attraction, even love, in addition to your relationship with them?? I honestly have never been able to wrap my head around the concept of an open relationship. After reading Block's book, though, I find that I respect open relationships - even open marriages - as just as valid as anyone's monogamous relation ...more
Rosalyn Dischiavo
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book “Open: Love, Sex & Life in an Open Marriage,” by Jenny Block. It is one woman’s account of how she journeyed from monogamy to polyamory. Block manages to investigate multiple angles of societies’ views on monogamy, sex, marriage, and commitment via her own struggles with attempting to remain monogamous despite her non-monogamous yearnings. As a feminist, she elucidates liberation perspectives not generally explored. She courageously and relentlessly catalogs her own doubts and ...more
Mar 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book surprised me. It made me question my own judgmental nature without judging me in return or calling me a bigot or anything like that. In other words, it approaches the topic relatively gently. Some readers may not agree, but that's just because many people will feel persecuted or otherwise annoyed ANYTIME they read something with which they disagree. Mrs. Block could've done much worse -- hitting the reader over the head with the subject or being excessively explicit. Instead she was ne ...more
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A well-written and fascinating look at open (heterosexual) marriage. Part memior, part instruction manual, and part manifesto, this book looks at Block's life and marriage with sharp and almost uncomfortable clarity. She manages to succeed in this piece by truly making the personal political and blending scientific studies with her own feelings and experiences. Her writing style is accessible, quick, and fun to read.

As someone who is in an open relationship, she did an accurate job of portrayin
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a fairly interesting memoir from someone who is in an open marriage. She did a good job of explaining how [her] open relationship worked while acknowledging it was just one of many paths and didn't mean that monogamous relationships couldn't work or even that all open relationships did work, or looked like hers.

I've always wondered why we seem to be OK living in a culture where people cheat, yet there is such vehement opposition to open relationships. The author wrote, "...alt
Jan 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: curious norms and polyamorists alike
Liked this a lot (a lot, lot) except for some bio-essentialist bits--even if you're saying that women aren't innately programmed to want monogamy, you're still saying that women are innately programmed, so no points awarded. Where are my intersectionality moon-sisters?* She addresses every point of contention I've encountered against my open relationships and has a nice thorough answer to each. Hooray!

The Ethical Slut - People Who Believe That Crystals Can Heal = Open by Jenny Block.

*pizza hut,
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Jenny Block writes for a variety of regional and national publications as well as for various anthologies. The inspiration for her new book, "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage" stems from her piece, “Portrait of an Open Marriage” which ran in Tango, and was reprinted by Cosmopolitan Germany and The Huffington Post.

Jenny holds both her Bachelor’s and her Master’s in English from Virgin

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