Opening up - book by Cleis Press Inc. - review by KinkyShay

Opening up

Book by Cleis Press Inc.

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Open Relationship, Open Heart

Opening Up is a great primer for someone who is uneducated about relationships outside of monogamy. It's excellent for those who would like to see if it might be a good fit for their lifestyle.
Comprehensive list of open relationship styles. Short stories of couples experiences is heartening.
My only complain is the misinformation regarding the transmission of Herpes types 1 and 2.
Rating by reviewer:
extremely useful review
Tristan Taomino writes a timely, intelligent, in depth book about a topic that is surrounded by misconception and ignorance. Though open relationships are far from rare, the social taboo is strong, so it doesn't tend to be dinner party conversation.

She gives a history of open relationships and defines some terminology for the reader. She discusses swinging, and shows a distinction between recreational and Utopian swingers. She defines open marriage and compares it to multilateral marriage. She mentions sex clubs, and the important term: polyamory. The myths of nonmonogamy are detailed, such as that polyamory is a Mormon practice, that nonmonogamous people are indecisive, or have intimacy issues.

There is a chapter that asks probing questions of the reader to ascertain if one is well suited for an open relationship. Some of the sub-topics the author delves into are: beliefs about monogamy, current relationship status, brutal honesty, certain intimate scenarios, emotional availability, and handling feelings. Taormino discusses some of the reasons people choose open relationships, from sexual diversity to rejection of monogamy.

Taormino details the essential qualities for open relationships to succeed, such as consent and communication, radical honesty, self-awareness, commitment, and boundaries. Several chapters are devoted to different styles of open relationships. There's are chapters on partnered nonmonogamy, swinging, polyamory, solo polyamory, and polyfidelity.

Taormino writes about different combinations within nonmonogamy, including hybrid styles. There are important subtopics on the conflicts that can arise, such as guilt, resentment, and societal stigma. Taormino gives specific examples of couples' struggles in various relationship configurations, allowing the reader to identify with similar people, and providing advice.

Taormino includes a chapter on designing the reader's open relationship, from the outline to the specific details, and a checklist is shown in order to give a basic framework to the reader. Specific information regarding BDSM, safer sex, and sexual activities is shows in a checklist that some may find useful. Taormino writes to get readers to ask themselves the who and what of activities, the frequency of contact, the distance and limits people might want to think about, and how to begin negotiation in an open relationship. There is information on important topics such as prior permission to engage in activities, veto power over new partners, and whether to see new partners as couples or separately. Also important, is discussion about what information is shared about other partners, rules, and interactions between one another's partners.

Jealousy has a chapter all to itself, as it's a hot button for so many people in every style of partnership. Jealousy and envy are shown to be different from each other. Also discussed are insecurity, posessiveness, and feelings of exclusion. Taormino writes about how to deal with feelings of jealousy and abandonment.

Another important chapter is on compersion, or the ability to derive happiness from a partner's happiness with another. The chapter is short, but important, and gets into deeper places, more advanced than someone new to open relationships can expect to reach immediately.

Common challenges are addressed, such as NRE, or new relationship energy, the all-important management of time, and common to all: miscommunications. Taormino also talks about what happens when agreements are violated and when to seek help.

She devotes a chapter on changes in open relationships, and coping when there is loss. She discusses possibilities such as gender changes, new orientation, new loves, and moving from monogamy to nonmonogamy. She also addresses the change of going from a primary relationship to a nonprimary one, and gives suggestion on coping with these changes, showing examples from some people's experiences.

Taormino writes about coming out as being nonmonogamous, and the pitfalls, dangers, benefits. She also shows readers how to find support if they make this decision. There is a chapter on raising children in a nonmonogamous household, the risks, as well as when and how much to explain to children.

Taomino includes a chapter on safer sex in open relationships, discussing networks of sexual partners, use of things like gloves, condoms, and oral sex barriers, and how to negotiate sexual contact with partners. She details STDs and transmission rates and modes of transmission. Taormino makes a very important error when she is discussing HSV, or Herpes. She writes that a person who has cold sores (oral HSV type 1) can, when performing oral sex on a partner, transmit genital HSV type 2 to the partner. This is flat out wrong. What this can transmit is genital HSV type 1. This form of HSV transmission is increasingly common with the popularity of oral sex and how common cold sores are.

Taormino concludes her book by discussing the legal issues of open relationships, mentioning housing laws, property ownership, employment benefits, legal documents, and wills. She writes about the legal issues that can arise in parenting, such as custody and guardianship.
As someone who has lived a polyamorous life for three years, the information in Taormino's book is refreshing to see. Her knowledge of the wide variety of relationship styles is comprehensive and heartening for those of us who tend to be in the minority in society. I appreciate the anecdotes she gives of real life people and their struggles; what helps them along their path.
This product was provided free of charge to the reviewer. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.
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My Opening up tags
  • Who / How / What
    [ ? ]
    Who might this product be best for? How is it best used? What are the best circumstances or situations for using this product?
    • Anyone
    • Couples
    • Group situations
  • Where
    [ ? ]
    Where / what types of places can this product be used?
    • Anywhere
  • Features
    [ ? ]
    What kind of features does this product offer?
    • Travel friendly
  • General
    [ ? ]
    Other tags that are useful and descriptive for this product.
    • Nonmonogamy
    • Polyamory
Do you like this review?
  • Kayla
    I loved "Opening Up" too. I feel like Tristan did a really great job.
  • Airen Wolf
    Tristan Taormino is a woman, hun.
    You are correct that you cannot transmit two different types of viral simplex simply because of the activity. However the symptomology is the same between Herpes Simplex 1 and 2 as is the presentation when you go in for medical treatment. I have actually seen this in practice; a gentleman came in presenting with herpital cluster sores he more than likely received as a result of oral sex. He was given the same treatment regardless and it's not a less virulent outbreak.
    The lesson is don't give oral sex if you have a cold sore. Her information is accurate according to my Doctor as well.
  • KinkyShay
    (Oops. Will have to change the genders in my write-up.) I do know that the symptomology is similar. However, a big difference is that genital hsv type 1 is not as contagious as genital HSV type 2. Many who get type one have no more than one outbreak a year.
  • namelesschaos
    I loved opening up. thanks for the review.
  • Waterfall
    Thanks for the nice review. I would love to read this book to get some new information on this topic.
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