I bought this book after running into several folks over a ten year period that were into polyamory--having more than one lover at a time.
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.