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Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships Paperback – May 1, 2008
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"A luscious smorgasbord of non-monogamy as an opportunity for breaking free of one-way models of sex and love. Taormino's discussion is remarkably nuanced and balanced--and encourages readers to proceed with their eyes wide open." -- Jack Morin, PhD, author of The Erotic Mind
"Bold advice for explorers of open relationships. Comprehensive, clear, and grounded in practical realities, this book is one of the best to come along in a long time!" -- Deborah Anapol, Ph.D., author of Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits
"Courageous, stunningly thorough and inspiring. If you need a pathfinding guide for evolving your relationships, this is it." -- Daphne Rose Kingma, author of The Future of Love
"If you are looking for an everyday, run-of-the-mill relationship guide, this introduction to the world of nonmonogamy is probably not for you. Village Voice sex columnist Taormino, who has authored or edited a handful of guides on physical relationships (e.g., The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex For Women), sheds light on the various types of open relations and shares tips on how these relationships can most successfully be maintained. Those put off by the book's premise shouldn't be: this is not so much an espousal of nonmonogamous relationships as it is a comprehensive guide to the phenomenon, offering numerous firsthand accounts from those involved in open relationships. With its modern twist on conventional relationships, her latest title would be best suited for contemporary nonfiction collections."---Carolann Curry, Mercer Univ. Medical Lib., Macon, GA -- Library Journal--July 2008
"Superbly informative, sympathetic and literate." -- Dr. Gloria Brame, author of Different Loving
"Taormino cuts through all the utopian theory and gets down to what people really need: the nuts and bolts of how open relationships work. I want to give Opening Up to everyone I know who asks, 'How do you do it?'" -- Susie Bright, author of Best American Erotica Series
"This is the book you want to read if you're looking for a voice that is balanced, sensitive and sensible when tackling the thorny question of sexual boundaries in love relationships. Opening Up is sure to open up your mind." -- Esther Perel, author of Mating In Captivity: Unlocking Erotica Intelligence
About the Author
Tristan Taormino is an award-winning author, columnist, editor, and sex educator. She is the author of True Lust: Adventures in Sex, Porn and Perversion, Down and Dirty Sex Secrets, The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women and editor of the Lambda Literary Award-winning anthology series Best Lesbian Erotica. Her popular Village Voice column "Pucker Up" is nationally syndicated. She runs her own adult film production company, Smart Ass Productions, and is currently an exclusive director for Vivid Entertainment. Tristan has been featured in over 250 publications including The New York Times, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Entertainment Weekly, Details, New York Magazine, Men's Health, and Playboy. She has appeared on HBO's Real Sex, The Howard Stern Show, Loveline, Ricki Lake, and on CNN, MTV, and The Discovery Channel. She lectures at top colleges and universities, where she speaks on gay and lesbian issues, sexuality and gender, alternative relationships, and feminism. She teaches sex and relationship workshops around the world.
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To be honest, I was half way between fear and weariness in my emotional take on this book. Fear? I was and am monogamous so fear for sure; but weary of judging my two or three friends who were oriented this way with multiple lovers. I felt their honesty and candor and approach to sexual integrity was scoring far better than mine. Not to mention more often! Yes, finding more integrity in their relationships than many of my church friends, some of whom were defending to the death their long dead marriages; lifeless, dry, sexless "relationships".
With Taormino's interviews of 100 plus folks in alternative relationships, a few things stood out for me as a traditional type married and sometimes churchy guy. All of us could learn a good deal from Tristan's book here on the matter of communication and honesty. I've learned from this title what a joy it is, for example, to have permission from a spouse to notice hot ladies in the street or market. And to have talked out before such events just where the jealousy thing begins and ends and to simply be able to feel free as a man to appreciate the life force around me. Yes, feel good.
Relationship with self? Yes, important. I decided to come out erotically with my thoughts yet with the blessing of my monogamous spouse. Communication and honesty! Saying out loud who you are and what you want, what you desire. That's what this book was about for me.
Opening Up will open up a few closed minds. This doesn't have to mean that if you are into traditional marriage that you have to dial down your commitment to monogamy or start groping ladies in elevators. Contrarily, it is an invitation to appreciate how people around us are different and how others approach communication and truth telling, approach honesty with those whom they care deeply.
Another thing that stood out for me with this book is how incredibly mature a couple or an established threesome has to be to have a polyamory-styled relationship that works or seems to work. If anything, the book gave me new faith in why a jealous God just might have designed a more vanilla styled monogamy (dare I say "dumbed down"?) for the rest of us as a matter of course. Let's face it. Most of us just simply are not grown up enough to do this multiple lover thing with the integrity, honesty and full out communication needed for it to work. If it indeed can work over the long haul. But then we high horse church folk must be reminded: just how many of our marriages work or are even long haul these days?
Again, to be honest, Taormino's research and writing is just a fun, voyeuristic read. Like going "people watching" downtown for fun. It's always a kick to see how other folks live. And how sweet to learn of the post WWII "flyboys" that invented polyamory in this country, men who would take on a second woman, a widow, in order to fulfill a dying wish of a comrade in war; that a friend, a war buddy, take care of the woman he loved and must now leave in death. My, my.
Couples should read this together as it is sure to fuel many an interesting conversation between traditional spouses. And it will, as I have said, go a long way towards bringing insights into the monogamy path--like how to get over the thoughts and behaviors around "owning" someone; and how to be better at living in the abandonment and falling part of love. Indeed, how does one let oneself be in love in the moment, holding a beloved's heart gently in an open hand; rather than tightly in a closed and married fist? Interesting question.
Hey, and this, too: we are getting older. So think about it. Is death not the other lover (Eros and Thanatos, ever the pair in literature) who will edge in one day and get his or her way soon enough between the monogamous two of you? Indeed.
So maybe all mortal and traditional marriages are threesomes. Foursomes I suppose, if God is watching and participating, or invited to. Hey, open up!
Yes, traditional folk in happy relationships could gain from reading Tristan Taormino's scary work. But then lovers who care for things to stay hot and edgy must always be brave I think. For one, I'm a romantic and a one woman kind of man. But I loved this book. And, I also confess, I just got brave enough to read Ethical Slut. Now that took courage, learning how to be ethically naughty? Nice.
If you are a complete novice to the concept of anything beyond traditional serial monogamy, I suppose this book could be a useful primer for the different terms and technicalities, but if you are searching for anything deeper, don't bother with this one.
The author seems to stress the importance of two contradictory ideas: each person being responsible for making sure his or her own personal needs are met, and the importance of putting the needs of a relationship above the needs of the individuals in that relationship. How is one expected to get their needs fulfilled and at the same time put those needs aside to grow a relationship? These ideas leave me confused. I feel as though this book reinforces the same "monogamy hangovers" as it encourages its readers to stay away from.
I will continue to look for a book written by an author with a broader understanding of polyamory, open relationships, and their varying forms.
However, whomever was in charge of the Kindle edition of "Opening Up" has my ire - as there seems to be no way to save my place in the work! *growl* Anytime the file closes, I have to page back through to get to where I was, and that is incredibly frustrating.