Poly Resources

Here’s my personal annotated resource list of works on the topic of non-monogamy. One star (*) means I’ve flipped through it; two stars (**) means I’ve read it cover to cover. For the rest, I’m going off the book jacket. Hey, I’m a grad student – I have reading assignments coming out my eyeballs. I’ll read all this extra-curricular stuff eventually, but in the meantime I figured you might still want to know they exist. Of course your mileage may vary. Enjoy!

Another, and possibly more complete, poly bibliography has just been published by Alan of Polyinthemedia. His is a little more tightly focused on polyamory proper, though, whereas mine is a bit quirkier in some areas. Still. Now I wanna go read everything on his list too! Sigh.

Non-monogamy and polyamory – general how-to

Redefining Our Relationships: Guidelines for Responsible Open Relationships** by Wendy-O Matik – The writing’s uneven and the structure is a bit wonky, but Wendy’s passionate take on radical love is inspiring, and she has some helpful insights that may speak particularly strongly to younger people.

The Ethical Slut** by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt – Generally considered the primary textbook any poly beginner should read. And re-read. It has a somewhat a talk-down-to-you feel and is centred on a particular form of non-monogamy that’s a lot about sex, but is nonetheless a wonderfully eye-opening read for those new to the concept. (Note that I haven’t yet read the new revised and expanded edition; my two stars are for the original.)

Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits* by Dr. Deborah M. Anapol – While written from a marriage-oriented and slightly older-generation mindset, this book is a classic and has good insights about jealousy, what it means and how to manage it.

Opening Up: Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships** by Tristan Taormino – Very thorough, very well-researched and practical, and full of quotes from real-life people living in poly relationships. However, it’s got a strong and unacknowledged bias toward couple-centred poly that may or may not resonate with you. Read my review here.

The Polyamory Handbook: A User’s Guide by Peter J. Benson – This guy is thorough. The table of contents is four pages long, and the book itself over 350! The book is written from a heterosexual perspective and largely appears to rely on a primary/secondary concept of poly relationships, which may not be your thing. But it’s got a lot to say about good communication and the particular challenges of poly, which could be helpful.

Pagan Polyamory* by Raven Kaldera – A wonderfully articulate trans/intersex queer poly pagan BDSMer, Raven provides a practical, spiritually-informed guide to navigating the challenges of poly relationships.

Love In Abundance: A Counselor’s Advice on Open Relationships by Kathy Labriola – It gets rave reviews from everyone I know who’s read it, but it also doesn’t seem to be shooting to the top of the bestseller lists. Not sure what to make of that, other than maybe insufficient publisher promo? I look forward to taking a gander.

Non-monogamy and polyamory – for dykes!

The Lesbian Polyamory Reader: Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy and Casual Sex** edited by Marcia Munson and Judith P. Stelboum – A bit uneven and random as far as collections go, this anthology nonetheless contains a few real gems and lots of insights specific to dyke (and other sorts of queer) relationships that you won’t find elsewhere. The pieces on confronting one’s biphobia and dealing with how scary lots of love can be are especially good.

Lesbian Polyfidelity: a pleasure guide for all women whose hearts are open to multiple sexualoves – or, how to keep nonmonogamy safe, sane, honest, and laughing, you rogue! by Celeste West – Upbeat, quirky, explicitly feminist, and sprawling in scope, this one’s a mishmash of advice-columns, conceptual musings, practical advice and personal insights. A bit essentialist but full of yummy ideas nonetheless.

Poly and kink

Power Circuits: Polyamory in a Power Dynamic* by Raven Kaldera – I’m biased because I contributed an essay to this collection, but I have to say, it looks really solid, and Raven’s incredibly grounded and practical when it comes to D/s and power dynamics. I am very much looking forward to reading the whole thing.

Swinging and threesomes

The Lifestyle: A Look at the Erotic Rites of Swingers** by Terry Gould – Swinger propaganda extraordinaire, and as such not so politically appealing for the likes of me, but nonetheless very educational about swinger culture.

The Threesome Handbook: A Practical Guide to Sleeping with Three** by Vicki Vantoch – If you’re straight and relatively homophobic but too hip to admit it, or if you’re the self-hating sort of bisexual, this might resonate with you. Reads like a really long magazine article with plenty of sidebars and quick tips. Meh.

Conscious (?) monogamy

Hot Monogamy: Essential Steps to More Passionate, Intimate Lovemaking* by Patricia Love and Jo Robinson – If you decide that this poly thing isn’t for you, this is a good place to start doing conscious monogamy well. Note that the book does presume that monogamy is inherently “better.”

Mating In Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence** by Esther Perel – “Explores the paradoxical union of domesticity and desire, and explains what it takes to bring lust home.” Sounds really hopeful, and it is indeed full of helpful and realistic perspectives. Ultimately, though, it’s so realistic about how difficult long-term monogamous desire can be that it almost reads like an unstated argument for non-monogamy. But maybe that’s just my bias showing. I still liked it a lot and found it insightful.

Never Have the Same Sex Twice by Alison Tyler – This is a blend of 17 how-to suggestions and topic-specific erotica for each one. I’m not sure if it works, but I’ll update this once I’ve read it and let you know. At worst you’ll get some good porn out of the deal, as I know Tyler to be an excellent erotica writer and editor.

Fidelity/infidelity/monogamy/non-monogamy (sociology and other non-how-to books)

A General Theory of Love** by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini and Richard Lannon – Okay, so this technically has nothing to do with poly, but it’s by far the most insightful and beautifully written book I’ve ever read on brain science and how that helps explain our very human relationship foibles – and that ties into poly pretty clearly. I’m sure it’s terribly basic if you’re a scientist, but for the layperson it’s fantastic. Also, despite how this field of research is so often used to further a conservative agenda about how relationships are supposed to work, the book stops short of getting preachy in almost every place it could have gone there, so it didn’t even offend me, which is pretty impressive.

Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha – No, I STILL haven’t read this one, even though it’s been all over the news for, like, eons now. I know everyone loves it. I suspect I’ll have some critiques.

The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People by David P. Barash and Judith Eve Lipton – If you think animal behaviour has anything to do with human behaviour, or conceive of your love affairs as “mating strategies,” this one’s for you.

Lust in Translation: Infidelity from Tokyo to Tennessee by Pamela Druckerman – An American journalist tours the world to learn how people cheat, and how they think about cheating, in various societies. Heteronormative, chatty, and not particularly aware of polyamory, but it looks like a fun read nonetheless.

Plural Loves: Designs for Bi and Poly Living* edited by Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio – A little heavy on the theory, this is great if you’re an intellectual sort and want to find more academic understandings of polyamory as a cultural phenomenon. NOTE: While I haven’t read through the whole thing and can’t confirm this myself, it’s been brought to my attention that Anderlini-D’Onofrio puts forth some pretty dangerous ideas as an HIV/AIDS denialist (not sure if she does so in this book specifically). This stance is seen as highly problematic by many in the poly community who fear the consequences for those who stop having safer sex as a result of AIDS denialism. (HIV risk is of course not the only reason to have safer sex in the first place, but it sure is an important one.) When I’ve had a chance to read it myself I’ll edit this note, but in the meantime, figured it was worth mentioning! I’m not removing the book from this list cuz I know not all the contributors are AIDS denialists (hey, I dated one of them) and I suspect there’s still a lot of useful thinky material in the book. But forewarned is forearmed, ya? So just make sure you strap on your critical thinking hat extra tight when you read this one.

General sound relationship stuff – poly-friendly if not poly-focused

Coping With Your Partner’s Jealousy** by Nina Brown – This is a SUPER helpful book. It has nothing directly to do with poly, but it gives some really insightful perspectives on the psychology behind different types of jealousy as well as their different roots and manifestations. It’s a bit short on actual tips for managing that jealousy, despite the title, but I found it really useful nevertheless. Sometimes understanding the mechanics of something is, itself, helpful even if you don’t know what to do about it.

Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want from Sex and How to Get It** by Marty Klein – Marty rocks, and so does his book. It’s wonderfully down-to-earth, essentially coaching the layperson about practical sex-positivity and how to chill out and just enjoy yourself with sex.

Family redefined

One Big Happy Family: 18 Writers Talk About Polyamory, Open Adoption, Mixed Marriage, Househusbandry, Single Motherhood, and Other Realities of Truly Modern Love** edited by Rebecca Walker – This one’s not about polyamory per se, but poly is included among many types of plural and otherwise non-traditional family formations. It’s a fun collection that’s definitely thought-provoking in its focus on family.

And Baby Makes More: Known Donors, Queer Parents, and Our Unexpected Families** edited by Susan Goldberg and Chloë Brushwood-Rose – Again, not a poly book per se, but a wonderful collection of essays about the many forms queer families take when people decide to have a baby; and necessarily, that includes forging connections well outside the dominant models of family and love. (Note: I’m biased cuz I co-authored one of the essays in it!)

Websites (random grab bag)

What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory: download the PDF here

Polyamory – What, Why, How? (This one’s particularly well written with lots of very insightful observations): http://www.xeromag.com/fvpoly.html

10 Rules for Happy Non-Monogamy (okay, so I’m biased on this one):

Practical tips: practicalpolyamory.blogspot.com

Incisive intellectual / academic essays by Pepper Mint, SF poly activist:

Poly Canada yahoogroup, which among other things posts a monthly Poly FAQ list of active Canadian poly groups: polyamorycanada-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

The site for Tristan Taormino’s non-monogamy book, Opening Up: http://www.openingup.net/

Up-to-date notices of poly topics in the media: http://polyinthemedia.blogspot.com/

Institute for 21st Century Relationships: http://www.lovethatworks.org/

General info: http://www.polyamory.org/

Poly book list and other resources: http://www.polychromatic.com/

22 thoughts on “Poly Resources

  1. Have my printouts, now 1 question.
    Where in Both bay areas can a regular
    red blooded hetro fem luving man get
    get Polyamorous sex?

    You know, the kind without hangups and
    the only emotional ties are through deep
    long lasting relationships minus the jealousy

    at 53 unmarried, traveled some,checkered work
    record and more gentlemen than cromag/neantathol
    caveman. Don’t mind if fem F me and leave without
    chicken soup just that they enjoy the time spent.

    Polyamorous lifestyle may just fit me and have me live
    a little longer than batchelor/married bro/s.

    What do you or any of you think about this especially wymyn?
    (No snide manhate remarks – the truth and if I don’t like it…
    I can always investigate for myself and keep my own council.
    Joe(look me up on myspace.com)

    1. Where in Both bay areas can a regular
      red blooded hetro fem luving man get
      get Polyamorous sex?

      have you tried Craigslist in the NSA category? That’s a good place to find sex with no emotional ties, which is really what you’re looking for.

  2. Nice list of resources! Did you know that Tristan Taormino just came out with a book and website: OpeningUp.net? I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it.

    Joseph, you might try OneTaste — they’ve got a center in SF and NY. From what I hear, it’s great for hetero folks.

  3. Thanks, Jiz. I’m actually one of the people Tristan interviewed for the book, though I have no clue whether my bits made it into the final cut or not. I heard about the launch but haven’t checked it out yet. Thanks for the tip! And hey, nice to have you here. 🙂 If you are who I think you are, I like your work.

  4. Hey there – Thanks so much for including the Practical Polyamory blog in your resource list! Looks like the link isn’t working, though. Just FYI.


    Anita Wagner

  5. I just read Opening Up and found it awesome. It’s my new polyamory bible, one which I think I’ll need to peruse regularly this year, it seems 😉

  6. I have to agree with Opening Up, which I’m in the middle of reading. It’s a fine piece of writing, IMHO, with potential to displace The Ethical Slut, I’d say (I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found the new agey tone of the authors somewhat annoying, despite the content being very good).

  7. just turned on to your blog. fantastic list of poly resources. I’m a huge fan of many of these books and look forward to exploring others. Having been involved in poly relationships for five years now, I am happy to find such a warm spot to cuddle up into with the like-minded and the curios. Thanks a bunch!

    1. Haven’t read it yet! But I promise as soon as I do, I’ll post something here. Likely I’ll write a full review, too. 🙂

  8. Thanks for the resource list. Great website overall! I recommend the book “How to Be an Adult in Relationships” by David Richo be added to the “General sound relationship stuff” section. It’s a terrific book.

  9. I read Love in Abundance and think it is worth contrasting Opening Up: the tone is more personal (and hence maybe more modest?) than OU’s almost academic approach (although not quite as chatty as The Ethical Slut), and I feel like Labriola is more into coping as you go along rather than planning your next relationship with your existing partners, which is probably a good thing. Also, Labriola sets out a simple taxonomy and then focuses on situations that might apply across the taxonomy, whereas Taormino has her whole section of styles, which appeals to my geeky/anthropologist self as well as the part that does OKCupid quizzes, but might not be all that useful in real life. Labriola is the one I’m going to lend to my mum as I try to help her understand what’s up in my life, and it also feels like it would be an excellent first book for someone striking out into nonmonogamy.

    I’d love to see you review it, if you have the time!

  10. I am looking at developing an exit strategy with my partner. Can anyone suggest any resources? I will start with the Slut and have Poly in the 21st Century by Deborah Anapol. Other suggestions would be appreciated.

  11. Newer book that looks like a stellar resource also: More Than Two: a Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory, by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert, copyright 2014.

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