My Top 10 Favorite Books on Polyamory, Open Relationships and Ethical Non-Monogamy

It’s an understatement to say that navigating multiple open relationships can be challenging. Writing a book about it is even harder. Since I am currently launching a fun new bookSex-At-Dawn called Polyamory Pearls: Invaluable wisdom on Open Relationships, Jealousy, Group Sex and Other Spiritual Pursuits, I thought it would be helpful to recommend some of my favorite books on the subject. This is a shout out to some other authors who have helped me and my lovers create an extraordinary sex and love life. So I went to my bookshelf and these are the top 10 books that I typically recommend when someone needs relationship help. It’s exciting to think that my new book will be in such good company on the bookshelf.

Here’s a list of my top 10 favorite books on the topic of free love, polyamory, open relationships and ethical non-monogamy:

10 Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality*, by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá (HarperCollins, June 2010). From Wikipedia: In opposition to what the authors see as the ‘standard narrative’ of human sexual evolution, they contend having multiple sexual partners was common and accepted in the environment of evolutionary adaptedness. Mobile self-contained groups of hunter gatherers are posited as the human norm before agriculture led to high population density. According to the authors, before agriculture, sex was relatively promiscuous, and paternity was not a concern, in a similar way to the mating system of Bonobos. According to the book, sexual interactions strengthened the bond of trust in the groups; far from causing jealousy, social equilibrium and reciprocal obligation was strengthened by playful sexual interactions.

9. The Ethical Slut, Second Edition; A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures, by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy (Ten Speed Press, March 2009). 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 and Janet W. Hardy dispel myths and cover all the skills necessary to maintain a successful and responsible polyamorous lifestyle–from self-reflection and honest communication to practicing safe sex and raising a family. Individuals and their partners will learn how to discuss and honor boundaries, resolve conflicts, and to define relationships on their own terms.

8. Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships, by Tristan Taormino (Cleis Press, May 2008). 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 style and sharp wit, Taormino offers solutions for making an open relationship work, including tips on dealing with jealousy, negotiating boundaries, finding community, parenting and time management. Opening Up will change the way you think about intimacy.

7. The Polyamory Handbook: A User’s Guide, by Peter J. Benson (Author House, March 2008). You’ve probably heard of polyamory-expanded loving relationships, done openly and honestly. Maybe you’ve had caring feelings for someone else even though you love your spouse or partner as deeply as always. Maybe you’re single; you want a committed relationship with someone; but you don’t want to give up the freedom to date others with integrity. Maybe you and your spouse or partner already live a polyamorous lifestyle-but sometimes you aren’t sure how to proceed. Maybe the two of you would like to bring a third partner, or more, into your hearts and home as a triad, quad, etc., but you aren’t sure how to go about it. Maybe you are already a family of three, four, or more, but the complex interpersonal dynamics threaten to overwhelm you.

Whether you are well experienced with polyamory, or new at it, or curious about it, you’ll find answers here, all conveniently arranged in numbered sections for easy reference. The author has had many decades of experience living various forms of polyamory, including in a multi-adult household, in a polyamorous couple, and as a secondary. He is co-founder of three local polyamory groups and has led workshops at various polyamory conferences.

6.  More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory, by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert (Thorntree Press, Sept. 2, 2014).Can you love more than one person? Have multiple romantic partners, without jealousy or cheating? Absolutely! Polyamorous people have been paving the way, through trial and painful error. Now the new book More Than Two can help you find your own way. With completely new material and a fresh approach, Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert wrote More Than Two to expand on and update the themes and ideas in the wildly popular polyamory website morethantwo.com.

5.  The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families, by Elisabeth Sheff (Rowman & Littlefield, Nov. 2013).The Polyamorists Next Door introduces polyamorous families, in which people are free to pursue emotional, romantic, and sexual relationships with multiple people at the same time, openly and with support from their partners, sometimes forming multi-partner relationships, or other arrangements that allow for emotional and sexual freedom within the family system. In colorful and moving details, this book explores how polyamorous relationships come to be, grow and change, manage the ins and outs of daily family life, and cope with the challenges they face both within their families and from society at large. Using polyamorists’ own words, Dr. Elisabeth Sheff examines polyamorous households and reveals their advantages, disadvantages, and the daily lives of those living in them.

4.The Jealousy Handbook: Exercises and insights for managing open relationships, by Kathy Labriola (Greenery Press, Sept. 2013). A counselor and nurse specializing in polyamorous singles, couples and groupings, Kathy Labriola has spent many years helping people to understand and manage their jealousy. This book is a compendium of the techniques and exercises she has developed, as well as tips and insights from the polyamory community’s top educators, therapists and authors. These accessible, simple techniques are designed to be easily implemented in the event of an intense jealousy crisis. They are even more useful if undertaken over a period of time before a jealousy crisis happens, to build a skill set that will be at hand to help managing jealousy when and if it does occur.

From Poly in the Media: It presents 42 practical exercises, embedded in chapters on determining whether an open relationship is right for you, understanding your jealousy and its roots, determining its triggers, determining whether it may be rational for the situation at hand, and intervention strategies for managing it and addressing common external problems. The book includes chapters on best-practice communication skills for polyfolks and jealousy tips and techniques from other professionals with expertise in open relationships.

3. Polyamory in the 21st Century: Love and Intimacy with Multiple Partners, by Deborah Anapol (Rowman & Littlefield, July 2010).Unlike other books on this topic, Polyamory in the 21st Century weaves together research and facts to provide an informed and impartial analysis of polyamory as a lifestyle and as a movement, and to place it in a psychosocial as well as an historical context. Anecdotes and personal experiences allow the reader to develop a better understanding of polyamory and the people who practice and enjoy it. Anapol addresses the practical, the utopian, and the shadow sides of this intriguing, mysterious, yet often threatening lifestyle. It honestly addresses difficult issues such as the nature of commitment without exclusivity, balancing personal needs with loyalty to a partner, evaluating beliefs about love and relationship, the impact of polyamory on children, and the challenges that arise when one partner wants monogamy and another prefers polyamory. Without judgement, she explores this increasingly common practice, and reveals the true nature of a lifestyle that many do not understand.

2. Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits: Secrets of Sustainable Intimate Relationships, by Deborah Anapol (IntiNet Resource Center, 1997; a revision and expansion of her original Love Without Limits: The Quest for Sustainable Intimate Relationships: Responsible Nonmonogamy, 1992). This book is addressed to the millions of men and women who are “failing” at traditional relationships and who feel guilty,isolated, and ashamed. To the increasing numbers of single people who are sacrificing family for freedom, and thousands of intrepid souls who have matured beyond a blind acceptance of monogamy as the only legitimate from of sexua love and who are pioneering new relationship territory. 

From Poly in the Media: Deborah Anapol’s book was the bible of the early modern poly movement and for some time was practically its only book. She takes a spiritual approach to love and sex that continues to resonate with some people and not others. Introduced seminal insights on jealousy and how to handle it. 

PolyPearls Book Cover 11.  Polyamory Pearls by Kamala Devi (Zendow Press, July 2016) In over a decade of doing media on polyamory, Kamala Devi has mastered the fine art of speaking in soundbites. This book is stuffed with sexy one-liners on everything from threesomes to open marriage. It’s invaluable for anyone in an alternative relationship, especially coaches, writers, public speakers, or players just looking to get laid. Humor and spirituality are irreverently sprinkled throughout the book which is alphabetized by subject and illustrated with original cartoons!

Chew on these examples:

“Love is like liquid. There is an infinite wellspring flowing from within. In order to take form, it needs a container. That is what relationship do: they hold the love. Monogamy is the standard issue container whereas non-monogamy must be custom built.” 

“When we realize that love is not something we give or get from others – but the very essence of ourselves – only then do we stop seeking to monopolize, limit or control it in others.” 

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