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The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love
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The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  11,493 ratings  ·  1,095 reviews
The classic guide to love, sex, and intimacy beyond the limits of conventional monogamy has been fully updated to reflect today's modern attitudes and the latest information on nontraditional relationships.

For 20 years The Ethical Slut has dispelled myths and showed curious readers how to maintain a successful polyamorous lifestyle through open communication, emotional
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Kindle Edition, Third Edition, 322 pages
Published August 15th 2017 by Ten Speed Press (first published 1997)
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Pierce Delahunt I think this book works great as an introduction for outsiders. I see the book's audience as primarily people who do not "get" polyamory but want to…moreI think this book works great as an introduction for outsiders. I see the book's audience as primarily people who do not "get" polyamory but want to understand.(less)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  11,493 ratings  ·  1,095 reviews


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Start your review of The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love
Teresa Jusino
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
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.
Mephistia
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 since I was a teen, 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 mental health issues are
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Mk
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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Joey Comeau
I wish someone could write a book about having multiple sexual or romantic partners without sounding like a god damn flake hippy.
Jess
Jul 18, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
N
Apr 27, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Tate
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Paul
Jan 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Darren
Nov 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Amanda
Dec 22, 2011 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 ...more
Keely Hyslop
Oct 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Rhonda Anderberg
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 ...more
Amanda
Oct 21, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books
A great reference book on sexuality and polyamory if you treat it as such. Entire chapters were skippable to me but could be useful to someone in another situation. This isn't a book I felt the need to read cover-to-cover and once I realized that I enjoyed it much more!
Ashley
Jun 06, 2010 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
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Sarah
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
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Jeannie
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was helpful in many aspects of my life. It teaches and reminds us that we are responsible for our emotions and reactions, no matter the situation. I loved that one of the authors is a clinical psychologist, and that certainly comes through. It's a caring and understanding book that will give you a firm foundation for exploring life and relationships in their many forms.
Laurie
Dec 12, 2009 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,"
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Kenya Wright
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!!
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
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Heather Derussy
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Skyellen
Jul 16, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Christopher Tang
Aug 19, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a book to read if you are interested in alternative ethics. This is a book to read if you are interested in the poly amorous lifestyle and want a primer before you start.

The book does not convincingly lay out respect for monogamy. While "sexually liberated monogamy" is listed as respectable in a perfunctory way, the authors come across as quite condescending to the monogamous. I respect many of the core tenets of the book but I think part of the problem lies in the authors being in a
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Anna
Aug 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jami
Aug 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the very least, I would classify myself as a theoretical non-monogamist, so I guess I could only avoid reading this book for so long. In polyamory circles, I see it recommended more than any other text, so I felt obligated to finally borrow a copy from the library. My verdict is a half-hearted shrug.

There are good parts worth mentioning. Know yourself, love yourself, communicate, be honest, set boundaries, process jealousy, practice safer sex, shed prudish societal conventions that no longer
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F. A.R.
Jan 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ellen Andromeda
Sep 03, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I found the book really simplistic, and way too optimistic about basically anyone working out a poly relationship. They all but say that a poly relationship will not end because it's poly, that if it ends it has to be some other reason. I have to say that they're wrong. Not everyone's cut out for or even wants polyamory, and while they play lip service to that, it's clear that they feel that polyamory is best and the reader must agree. They believe that you're a better person if you can be happy ...more
Bibliovoracious
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 This book is 20 years old now. It doesn't seem much has changed, as far as societal judgement of those who know monogamy is not for them or choose to have multiple partners. BDSM has entered mainstream consciousness (with a debatable level of understanding), and slut-shaming is a word now, yay! But as far as celebrating the diversity of possible sexual unions and expressions? Pfft. LONG ways to go, there, society.

This book is as advertised. It is a practical guide to sorting out ones
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Sarah
Jul 19, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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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