Although a global pandemic may not seem like an ideal time to open up a relationship, it is an ideal time to figure out if opening up is right for you. Before the first dates, the online dating profiles, or the discussion group meetings, reading up on and researching how ethical non-monogamy works is essential. Since meetups, socials, and in-person dates won't be back to normal for a while, this can be a great time to figure out exactly what you want in a relationship. These 5 books are great resources to begin on that journey.
1) Love's Not Color Blind
Race and representation in polyamorous and other alternative communities
by Kevin A. Patterson
As folks everywhere are starting to wake up to the reality of the ever-present racism in America, “Love’s Not Colorblind” is an incredibly timely and important work focusing on race and representation in polyamorous communities. This book shares stories from Patterson and many other sexuality educators, community group leaders, and ethically non-monogamous people who have been affected by or seen first-hand how racism works in communities that usually pride themselves on being inclusive. He gives suggestions on how polyamorous folks can do better and how communities can work to be safer and more inclusive to people of color. Patterson uses lots of analogies to drive his points home, making the book really digestible and an overall engaging read.
2) Building Open Relationships
Your Hands-on Guide to Swinging, Polyamory, and Beyond!
by Liz Powell
Educational books on polyamory often omit the many mistakes we make while learning how to do all of this. We’re all teenagers again, fumbling around, trying to figure out what works, what really doesn’t, what we want, and how to act right. And, like naive teenagers, we get hurt and hurt a lot of others in the process of finding ourselves. Dr. Liz Powell, psychologist and relationship coach, goes into the nitty gritty of what you need to know before opening up, and recalls their own mistakes, blunders, highlights, love-stories, heartaches, and learning moments they experienced along the way to finding and loving themselves. The book includes many great worksheets and questionnaires to fill in and share with partners, as well as a ton of useful communication topics to discuss with partners.
3) The Ethical Slut
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.
by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy
“The Ethical Slut” has been the go-to primer for ethical non-monogamy for 20 years! It’s a great book for folks who are just starting out in ethical slutitude or for people who have been in the thick of it for decades. Easton and Hardy have a background in kink-based education, and as such this book doesn’t revolve only around polyamorous relationship dynamics, but also the swath of dynamics involved in kink relationships, swinging, group sex, and “slutting around” in all its forms.
4) More Than Two
A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory
By Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert
“More Than Two” is often referred to in polyamorus communities as “The Poly Bible.” It’s incredibly comprehensive, and covers such a great range of subjects that it’s hard to find a topic that the book doesn’t cover. This is great for folks beginning their journeys into ethical non-monogamy and learning how to design the framework that will work for them and their partner(s).
5) Learning Good Consent
Curated by Doris editor Cindy Crabb
This book may not seem like it belongs on a list of go-to ethical non-monogamy reads, but good consent is one of the most important aspects of polyamory and ethical non-monogamy. At only 46 pages, this is a quick but enlightening read. Originally a zine, “Learning Good Consent” is a collection of essays, anecdotes, and more, now bound as a small book that acts as a full consent workshop. As stated in the intro, "Talking about our experiences with consent, our struggles, our mistakes and how we've learned, these are part of a much larger revolutionary struggle,” and it is so important in polyamory/ENM communities for folks to truly understand not merely consent but good consent.