Opening Up by Tristan Taormino [Book Summary – Review]

In your relationship, do you feel frustrated, like something is lacking that you can’t quite explain? Or are you stuck in an adultery cycle against your partners? If so, a monogamous partnership may not accommodate you. 

We are told when we grow into adults that we will find our life partners and live peacefully ever after. This fairy story, however, clearly does not fit reality. Monogamous marriages are impossible to maintain, as divorce rates indicate. 

The reality is, no one individual can satisfy all our wishes and demands. And demanding too much from one partnership will cause the strain to buckle. Opening our relationships allows us room for our needs to be discussed. And, most critically, it helps us to face our feelings of inadequacy and, rather than intimidation and possessiveness, create relationships built on honesty. 

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Chapter 1 – It’s a misconception that all our wishes and demands can be met by one individual.

Many of us grew up trusting in a very convincing fairy story: that we can grow up to find The One, get wed, and live happily ever afterward. 

We have been told that our true love is meant to be everything to us. This amazing person would be able to help us, to respect our political passions and desires, to be our child’s dream co-parent, and even to be our best friend. No doubt so many relationships these days end up in divorce. That’s an incredible level of stress to bring on only one person!

One of the most harmful misconceptions about monogamous relationships is the belief that we will never want someone else until we choose a life partner, that this person will satisfy all of our sexual desires. 

This assumption is harmful because it totally lacks how human sexuality functions. Of course, when we get married, we do not avoid being drawn to other people! And one human can’t always satisfy all of our needs, of course. Our sexual preferences will change, after all. Maybe we’ll grow enthusiasm in getting spanked in our sixties. Or maybe, for a moment, a relapse of depression could destroy our sex drive. 

People begin to feel bad in typical monogamous marriages when they are drawn to other individuals. This means that those emotions are either locked up or they turn to steal. Cheating is popular; half of the 70,000 respondents confessed to being disloyal in their relationships, a poll conducted in 2007 revealed. And cheating is as powerful as ceasing to express your real emotions as a means to undermine a relationship. 

Fortunately, another alternative exists. For yourself and your partner, you should be truthful and agree that, in truth, one person can’t satisfy your every desire. You’ll be drawn to other persons. And sometimes, in your friendship, you can feel disappointed. 

You have choices if you’ve acknowledged that. You can choose monogamy consciously and accept your marriage with reasonable standards, or you can have a discussion about opening up your relationship with other people with your spouse. 

Each way, it would be immensely helpful for your partnership to have reasonable goals. You should understand what you have, rather than dreaming in a fairy story. And even more, the kind of friendship that matches you will start to develop actively. 

Chapter 2 – Non-monogamous relationships come in very different ways.

Assume that your spouse tells you he’s got a foot fetish, and what he likes to do is bite on your toes. Yet you think feet are disgusting and don’t want to engage, the whole idea scares you out. What are you doing? 

One solution that non-monogamous partners take when their sexual appetite standards don’t fit is to open their relationships with other people up to casual sex. That way, your husband will meet someone who understands his fetish and can experience some sex that doesn’t include you without strings attached 

For starters, by attending swingers’ clubs and being romantic with another individual or pair, couples may even discuss casual sex together. Or they can meet up online with people they match. 

Although these sexual encounters may have an emotional component, they are typically not meant to develop into more meaningful relationships. That being said, polyamorous marriages are unique. Being polyamorous implies loving more than one individual. People have numerous loving, dedicated partnerships in these forms of relationships that range beyond casual sex. 

In different ways, polyamorous relationships may be built. A pair, for instance, may classify their partnership as primary and participate on the side in secondary relationships. Other entities may not like to mark their partnerships and classify them in that way. They may tend to have non-hierarchical partnerships with several persons instead. 

Any polyamorists pursue polyfidelity, a multi-partner community in which they shape. The Kerista Commune, a group in San Francisco that lasted from 1971 to 1991, was among the most prominent examples of this. It had 30 members at its peak, with every woman in a romantic and sexual relationship with each man in the community.

Triads or quads-relations between three or four entities are the most typical polyamorous systems. These marriages are “locked” often, meaning that the persons within the association are not permitted to have sex with someone from outside. Others give members room to meet up with whomever they choose. 

The kind of nonmonogamy that you chose is solely based on you. Are you yearning for spontaneous romances? Are you okay with your spouse getting other people’s emotional relationships? Would you want to interact with multiple partners, or would you rather live on your own? 

It will take some thought and consideration to address these issues. And, as we will point out in the next section, it will take self-awareness and some strong communication skills if your partnership is to succeed. 

Chapter 3 – Nonmonogamy only succeeds if the relational skills are extremely strong.

Non-monogamy is considered by some as a free-for-all with limitless sex, swinging, and parties. They will be surprised to find that, most frequently, limits, approval, and who is going to drive the children to school require countless discussions. 

There’s no cookie-cutter framework for nonmonogamous marriages, as we’ve noticed. That can be unbelievably liberating. Although it also suggests that you need to understand how to connect very well, otherwise the entire system is going to fall apart. If you’ve been in a traditionally monogamous pair, before you can even discuss opening up your marriage, you’ll need to have a frank conversation to work out precisely what the basic boundaries are. 

Would you be able to either have casual sex or full-fledged affairs as part of a nonmonogamous couple? Is it permitted for your lovers to come to your home or meet your mates, or is it appropriate to keep them apart from the rest of your life? Such discussions can be painful, but they will be crucial to the new type of your relationship. 

You will need to weigh in again with any change in your relationship, see how your spouses are progressing, and restructure the basic rules if needed. It could mean that a non-monogamous relationship is not for you if this whole conversation looks like a lot of effort. Remember: for any partner in your life, you will need to redo this whole thing!

The great news is that this degree of transparent contact will result in very deep partnerships. Holding a monthly conversation to decide how everyone in the house would share the tasks does not sound sexy or having to keep a Google calendar to plan time together. But this form of direct contact promotes high levels of loyalty and harmony, which are the main ingredients in partnerships for fun and independence.

A major myth about nonmonogamy is that there are fewer devoted polyamorous marriages than monogamous ones. This could be because, since you may only marry one other at a time, there are fewer legitimate options to show engagement. But it doesn’t indicate that there are fewer serious or committed poly partnerships. On the opposite, they carry in tremendous amounts of effort and devotion. And they need everybody affected to build the self-awareness and coping abilities required to overcome the multi-partner relationships’ sometimes-turbulent emotional terrain. 

Chapter 4 – In nonmonogamous marriages, commitments are private. 

Constructing good non-monogamous relationships means having arrangements between all of your partners that are very straightforward. These contracts reflect on what kinds of partnerships are allowed, how much time anyone can share with various partners, and what kinds of safe sex activities inside and beyond the couple or group are permitted. 

Saying that these deals are precious is no joke. All concerned put a lot of work and time into deciding to limits. When they simply communicate what they need and want, people sometimes find themselves insecure. That’s why it may seem as much like a betrayal as adultery in monogamous marriages to break these arrangements. 

Assume that you have a policy that you and your spouse should only have sex with strangers, but then your best friend hooks up with him. Or you figure out that one of the triads has had sex with someone else unprotected and places you both at risk of sickness. Such forms of offense can greatly weaken the confidence of your relationships, which will take time and resources to recover. You’re going to need to find out whether your spouse violated a vow, and whether you should forgive this partner in the future. 

Not all agreement-breaking is deliberate; there’s a real confusion sometimes. People may have different meanings of what forms a date, for instance. You might believe it’s not romantic to take a lover out to lunch, although your wife may differ. That’s why it’s essential to be as clear about what’s allowed in your partnerships as possible.

Contracts can also be violated when one party is caught away by intense, unwanted emotions he can’t manage in the relationship. Your partner may discover, for instance, that he’s fallen in love with the girl he was allegedly having casual sex with. Unexpectedly, the characteristics of the relationship have changed and must be reassessed.

Or you might find that you’ve formed extreme same-sex desires when you thought you were heterosexual, and have to restructure the arrangements in your current relationship to satisfy that. 

Predicting how you’ll feel is not always feasible; opening up your marriage will make it even more complex. Yet you can learn how to handle improvements together if you keep learning about your deals in a friendly manner.

Chapter 5 – You must understand how to cope with envy to succeed in nonmonogamous relationships. 

Imagine being in an old T-shirt on the sofa following a long day at work. With your spouse, you’re tired and craving that cuddles – and then in her saunters, clothed to the nines, with a sparkle in her eye. She is going out with a new lover on a date! You feel left out automatically, and envy shows itself all of a sudden.

In all marriages, envy occurs. In reality, we are trained in monogamous relationships that if our spouses so much as interact with someone else, we should be jealous – it’s a way to prove we care! 

When we start on nonmonogamous marriages, the mentality doesn’t necessarily disappear. 

As much as you may be mentally comfortable with the thought of your wife making out with someone else, odds are, very strong emotions would be triggered by the fact of an open or poly relationship.

The number of sexual partners your wife has may tend to envy you. Or you may be jealous of the strength of the other relationships your partner has. 

A profound sense of unease remains at the center of these envious sentiments. It’s much easier to feel like someone else is endangering you if you suspect your significance or the resilience of your relationship. A strong sense of protectiveness can be fuelled by this vulnerability. If you’re terrified of losing your spouse, trying to hold on as closely as possible is a normal reaction. 

These emotions can be very unpleasant, but they can also strengthen your self-confidence and the intensity of your relationship if you understand how to deal with them. 

Most significantly, you need to let yourself feel everything you feel. Jealousy isn’t logical, it’s true, though. Only notice the feeling and learn to grasp it more, rather than beating yourself up. Do you feel cut out? Or do you feel underappreciated by your spouse? Get to grasp any causes of your own. 

The next move is to obtain help from friends or therapists who are good. They will assist you to get some insight into the problem and have comfort that is much needed. 

You should start worrying about whether there’s a single step you need to take after you’ve experienced the worst. Will you need a self-care procedure? Or have a discussion with your spouse?

Jealousy is a major indicator that points us into our desires and limitations. 

Chapter 6 – The greatest part of non-monogamous marriages is compersion. 

Let’s do another test on feeling. You’re home, you’re back on the sofa, you’re in your beat-up old T-shirt. Your spouse is out on a date that would normally make you crazy with envy. But this time, there’s something else happening when you think about him dancing and making out with his hot date. Really, the idea of them together turns you on and leaves you feeling elated. 

For your spouse, this sense of vicarious pleasure and enthusiasm is called compersion. Rather than seeing his interactions with others as robbing you of something, because they make your spouse happy and enthusiastic, you begin to see them as adding to your life. 

When they consider themselves stimulated by seeing their partners have sex with someone else, certain persons feel sexual compersion, maybe through group sex, or at a swinger club. Then again, certain individuals do not even have to be physically present: they are turned on only by the idea of a spouse being with someone else. 

Compersion can go much further than that, though. The idea that someone else is making your partner’s life more fun will make you feel thankful, too. 

This sort of reasoning doesn’t come easily in our individualistic, aggressive culture. Instead of praising our successes, we’re far more likely to dread what we have to sacrifice. Yet, fortunately, it is possible to learn compersion. 

You will be able to build the room to exercise multiple ways of thinking about your relationship until you have addressed all your acquired habits, such as envy, anxiety, and competition. Although envy is based on fear, love is based on compersion. Perfecting it will encourage you to feel strong and fearless.

The accessibility of their relationships to other individuals has had the effect of strengthening their main partnership, many partners report. They’re instantly more respectful of each other. They attempt to connect with one another and invest time. And they incorporate the renewed passion and self-confidence they have acquired by being a member of the dating game again with their relationships.

Compersion emerges at its heart from a profound sense of gratitude. You offer the luxury of freedom to your partner to express his dreams and fantasies, and to demonstrate that you trust him enough to return to you without being held close. 

Chapter 7 – A lot of prejudice is faced by individuals in nonmonogamous marriages. 

One of the toughest aspects of living in a nonmonogamous relationship can be coming out to friends and relatives. While the community has begun to embrace lesbian and gay relationships, there is still anticipation that as much as feasible these will reflect traditional monogamous structures. 

Somewhat the vagueness of multi-partner relationships often threatens people. And other than what they see on TV about “sister wives” and polygamy, they may have no exposure to inclusive or polyamorous marriages. What’s more, nonmonogamy can contradict their own monogamous beliefs, which can be supported by religious and moral values. 

A strong barrier to coming out as nonmonogamous may be the very real possibility of hostility and prejudice. That could influence the custody plans for the children if a court determines that your marriages are somehow disordered. In a conservative office, if you are outed, you might lose your career. For all of these purposes, many individuals in open or polyamorous relationships may choose to keep them secret. 

But there’s also the price of remaining a secret. It may detach you from your family and friends to stay silent about important relationships and make your partners unreachable to the rest of the world. And your concept of identity can be compromised by creeping about. You might be curious if you’re not embarrassed by what you’re doing, then why are you covering it?

Inevitably, you’ll have to evaluate the possible consequences and make a personal choice about whether it’s worth it to you to step out to a broader audience. 

If you plan to inform other persons, then it is worth spending the time to figure out a plan. Which one would you like to say? And who, first, needs to know? You should start at school or the doctor’s office with the practitioners with which your family communicates. Or maybe you would like to start with the people you’re pretty close to, like your best friend or sister.

Be ready to respond to tough questions, and to be greeted with some worry or even animosity. You can want to remind others in a letter first, based on what you say, so that they can digest the details before you have a conversation. And make sure that you have backing around you in the type of individuals who embrace you and your life entirely! It will help you get past the more stressful discussions.

Chapter 8 – Polyamorous relationships will alter our family systems. 

A common complaint people have about non-monogamy is that the family structure, which is now considered to be an atomic structure composed of two heterosexual parents and their children, will be destroyed. 

This definition of family, though, is very new. For many generations of a family, it used to be even more popular to live under one roof together, sharing domestic duties. This has evolved over the past century, and there is now a lot of responsibility on parents to keep things afloat without any help from other members of the family. 

Polyamorous marriages will offer a means for family structures to expand again. These structures may revolve around a common passion, such as kinky sex or queer politics, or consist of a “tribe” of lovers and their families who, much as an idealized image of an extended family might support each other in emotional and realistic ways.

The thought of children being raised in these multi-partner households horrifies many individuals. Are they not puzzled as to who their parents are? Although if you think about that, the children of today are still accustomed to mixed families. Like too many relationships resulting in divorce, having “bonus” moms and dads for children has become normal. So why is it necessary if all of them happen to be in a relationship with one another? Having additional revenue and support around the house can reduce everyone’s load and make for pleasant, safe home life. 

Sadly, while kids seem to be open-minded and embrace multiple family arrangements, the adults surrounding them are not. This implies that outside the home, your child will face uncomfortable questions and offensive comments. You often engage with institutions like colleges, religious groups, sports leagues, and so on as parents. You’ll need to think a little more about how much you want to tell them about your partnerships. Do you live in a conservative area? Are the children going to have consequences? 

While coming out, even to your children, these are all things to keep in mind. You may opt to hide the specifics of your partnerships from them, depending on the conditions. If you want to speak to them about having multiple spouses, you can try to ensure you provide them with good instructions on who they are supposed to say and also brace them for people they will meet who are unaccepting and hostile.

Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino Book Review

We have all grown older with the idea that it is natural to have monogamous marriages, but nothing could be further from the facts. The high incidence of separation and the adultery pandemic demonstrates that monogamous marriages are under huge pressure, as individuals place too much responsibility on their “soulmate” to meet all their wants and wishes. Non-monogamy exercise helps participants to improve self-awareness and coping skills and allows them the ability to openly discuss facets of their identity that they may have held hidden. 

Arrange your legal relations to protect your family.

Our state agencies, sadly, are not built to help alternative families. In fact, in custody and employment conflicts, the law is often used to differentiate against them. Be sure that if anything happens to you, you protect your families with both a will and a living will. That way, you will be confident that your spouses will be able to make health decisions concerning your treatment and receive your property.

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Savaş Ateş

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