Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships

by Tristan Taormino

reviewed by AlwaysArousedGirl on Sat 14 Jun 2008

At some point in almost every adult’s life, she or he will wonder, “Is monogamy really the thing for me?”

Or does that only happen in my group of pervy friends?

To every person who has questioned monogamy, I’d love to give a copy of Tristan Taormino’s excellent new book Opening Up.  Taormino called upon her decade-long involvement with non-monogamous groups, as well as extensive surveying, to collect the information presented in her book.

In my short experience among the non-monogamous, it seems that many jump into one of the various forms of open relationships without considering the possible ramifications of their actions.  While non-monogamy can be a wonderful thing, ideally it’s entered into after careful consideration and with both partners’ full consent.

Of course the real world is far from ideal; some forgo monogamy after arguments or other relationship crises.  Opening Up wold be a equally informative for those contemplating non-monogamy or for those who have ended up there somewhat unwittingly.

Taormino presents clear descriptions of the various style of open relationships, from swinging to polyamory to polyfidelity to everything in between.  There’s great comfort in being able to put a name on things, and in knowing that you’re not the only one ever to attempt such a relationship.  Opening Up gives neophyte non-monogamists this assurance.

Someone who has never experienced an open relationship might picture nothing but good times and loads of sex, but the reality can be very difficult.   Non-monogamy brings an element of unpredictability into a relationship, which Taormino addresses with calm assurance.

The difficult questions of jealously, legal rights, raising children and relationship renegotiations are covered thoroughly.  She gives solid advice on how to handle the realities of open relationships — advice that should be read, if not jotted down on the forearm, of everyone considering opening a relationship.

But Taormino also addresses the benefits of non-monogamy, including the joy that can be realized in watching a partner love someone else.  It’s called “compersion,” and Taormino devotes a chapter to this pleasure.

Whether a partners’ love for another takes an ethereal or a corporeal form, compersion can be a wonderful skill to learn.  It serves to balance out (and can possily replace) the almost inevitable jealously that comes along with opening a relationship.

Taormino never suggests that non-monogamy is the best or the only choice.  In fact she discourages some from taking on these types of relationship, including those whose monogamous relationships are foundering.

A book as informative and reassuring as this one cannot be allowed to sit on my shelf.  I’m handing it around my circle of non-monogamous friends with strict instructions to read it, learn from it…and then pass it on.

Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino
Available at
256 pages, 8.4 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches