Multiple Loving—also known as Polyamory,
Non-Monogamy, Open Marriage, & Open Relationships—
is NOT swinging, mate-swaping, secret sexual affairs, etc.
Rather Multiple Loving describes several possible patterns
of having more than one open, acknowledged,
committed loving relationship at a time.
following books were selected and reviewed
by James Park.
They are listed in the order of quality, beginning with the best.
Red comments are the opinions and evaluations of this reviewer.
Rustum & Della Roy
(New York: New American Library, 1968) 209 pages
is one of the
that takes a positive attitude toward multiple loving.
The authors describe the "co-marital relationship",
which is an additional loving relationship for someone who is married.
They suggest ways that even Christians can open up their marriages.
& George O'Neill
(New York: M. Evans, 1972) 287 pages
it was published,
this book gave its name to the language.
The authors argue that it is possible for married people
to have additional relationships without harming their marriages.
The New Intimacy:
Open-Ended Marriage and Alternative Lifestyles
(Boston: Beacon Press, 1973) 134 pages
brief but comprehensive
dealing with all dimensions of open relationships:
varieties of non-traditional relationships; changing social expectations;
relatives, colleagues, & friends; children;
sexual and sensual problems; pregnancy and STDs;
jealousy and possessiveness; communication and honesty;
moral and religious problems; homosexual relationships;
ending relationships; divorce and divorce-reform.
This is a book of theory
rather than practice.
The author believed we were about to enter
a new age of "open-ended marriage".
Even tho no major shifts have occurred,
his careful thinking about multiple relationships is still worth reading.
Marcia Munson & Judith
P Stelboum, editors
The Lesbian Polyamory Reader:
Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Casual Sex
(Binghamton, NY: Haworth
Press, 1999) 242 pages
(ISBN: 0-7890-0660-X; hardback)
(Library of Congress call number: HQ75.6.U5L385 1999)
About 25 short
articles and stories
by and about lesbians in non-monogamous relationships.
The authors struggle with the same issues heterosexuals confront:
jealousy, ground rules, living arrangements,
primary and secondary relationships,
sex just for fun, long-term relationships,
should lesbians get married when it become possible?
This collection is a bold and original contribution
to the on-going discussion of multiple loving.
(San Franscisco, CA:
1996) 339 pages
(ISBN: 0-912932-16-3; hardcover)
(ISBN: 0-912932-15-5; paperback)
(Library of Congress call number: HQ75.5W475 1996)
is a strong advocate of lesbians having many lovers
—both emotional and sexual relationships.
She has lived the lesbian polyamorous life-style herself in California.
And she has written a column for lesbian lovers,
which (in part) forms the later portions of this book.
of 500 lesbians found that 20%
were involved in more than one relationship.
And this might be a low number because people do not readily admit
that they have more than one lover.
Monogamy is still something of an 'ideal' in the lesbian community.
The late 20s and early 30s seem to be the years
in which lesbians attempt to be monogamous.
Before and after these years,
multiple partners seems to work better.
She also found that gay men tend to stay with one partner
for longer periods than lesbians.
present lesbians who are good at
having more than one relationship at a time.
Because they were not burdened by the concept of marriage,
they allowed themselves to have whatever relationships
suited those particular phase of their lives.
They had other dimensions to their lives besides their relationships.
And their relationships changed as they grew and changed themselves.
show that multiple mates is common in nature.
Whatever we might think of this comparison,
her philosophical point can still be valid:
Some people can freely choose to have more than one relationship.
"Polyamory" might have been a better word than "polyfidelity"
because many of the relationships described have little commitment.
Some of the connections are just "party-girl" stuff.
What all the subjects have in common is multiple sex-partners.
Only some of this sexual sharing takes place within committed relationships.
Jealousy is a
universal problem in all multiple relationships.
And many people attempt to cope with this problem by lies and secrecy.
But West recommends being as open as possible about all relationships.
Since the truth will probably come out eventually,
it is better to be open and honest from the start.
Certainly you should not attempt to keep your new lover a secret
until the night before you leave on a vacation with your new lover.
to the feelings of one's primary partner
might suggest keeping one-night-stands secret.
Assurance of continued love might be all that is needed.
for handling jealousy
seem to be mostly treating the feelings.
Do constructive things instead of worrying about the rival lover.
Take care of your body, mind, heart, & spirit.
If you are good to yourself,
the pangs of jealousy will not bite as deeply.
West does recognize the difference between
emotional replacement and sexual replacement.
But she does not offer any advice on how to avoid jealousy.
West warns against
whose only purpose is to break-up an established couple
and then move on to the next emotional conquest.
therapists can help lesbians deal with their problems,
but sometimes 'falling in love' with the therapist
causes more problems than it solves.
The basic tone
of this book is that of an advice columnist,
who has been thru the wars that her readers are now suffering.
Thus, the book is not driven by a coherent philosophical perspective,
which might help people to enter multiple loving in a thoughtful way.
Rather, the subjects already find themselves in the midst of
several sexual and romantic relationships.
And they want some help to think thru what is happening to them.
For most people it was not a definite life-style choice,
just a pattern that developed in the lesbian sub-culture.
book seems to come along with advice
on how to clean up after the fire
rather than how to prevent the fire in the first place.
A better-organized approach would begin with
some wise principles for multiple loving,
which could then to applied to specific situations.
People who just stumble into multiple relationships
would probably find themselves outside of the principles,
but at least they could see how to handle their relationships
in order to make multiple loving work better the next time.
This book does
not address heterosexual multiple relationships.
But because the literature is so thin,
this book might also be helpful to some readers who are not lesbian.
A Portrait of Extra-Marital Love in Contemporary America
(New York: New American Library, 1969) 317 pages
people fall in love with others and have sex
—followed by problems and sometimes divorce.
A slice of life in the USA in the 1960s.
Description rather than analysis.
Jennifer Schneider, MD
Back from Betrayal: Recovering from His Affairs
(San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988) 243 pages
Based on interviews
with 'betrayed' wives,
this book explains the behavior of the husbands as 'sex addiction'.
It might be helpful to readers attracted to addiction-model thinking.
A Personal Expedition Through the Sexual Frontier
(New York: Random House, 1977) 290 pages
Based on interviews
with men and woman experimenting
with non-monogamous relationships, mostly married people
having affairs and attempting open relationships.
Most of them were still subject to very strong jealousies,
at least about some forms of non-exclusiveness.
The author also shares her personal experiences.
She eventually returned to exclusiveness.
This book is more an exploration of the problems of multiple loving
than insights into how it might work.
Man Sharing: Choice or Dilemma
(New York: William Morrow, 1986) 116 pages
Based on workshops
of the same name and interviews with women
who have tried to share their men (usually unwillingly),
this small book explores the actual state of multiple relationships,
but it offers few insights into how they might work.
The author divorced her husband
when she found out that he loved another woman.
She could not cope with her jealousy, which she believes is natural.
The context of this book is rather conventional:
women dating, marrying, & coping with men's affairs.
The Extramarital Connection:
Sex, Intimacy, and Identity
(New York: Irvington Pub., 1982) 263 pages
Based on interviews
with women who took lovers
in addition to being married.
The book provides no surprises,
but it is interesting to see a phenomenon more often associated with men.
Some of the women took female lovers.
Having It Both Ways:
Married Women with Lovers
(Briarcliff Manor, NY: Stein & Day, 1981) 239 pages
women having affairs because of problems
in their marriages (some of which ended in divorce)
and because of other personal needs such as:
companionship and communication; ego enhancement;
desire for more and better sex; boredom with mates;
personal crises; changing needs.
They tried their best to keep their affairs secret.
Frequently their husbands were also having affairs.
James Park "Multiple
Open Relationships Beyond Jealousy"
Chapter 6 of New
Ways of Loving: How Authenticity Transforms Relationships.
(Minneapolis, MN: www.existentialbooks.com, 2007—6th edition)
chapter should be read together with the chapter on jealousy,
since multiple loving is disastrous if someone is jealousy.
So the relationships described in this chapter are only for those
who have become Authentic enough
to have transcended the threat of jealousy.
The author explores the problems of exclusive loving relationships,
the prejudices against non-exclusiveness,
and the benefits of multiple loving
for those who are immune to jealousy.
see the first two
pages of this chapter, click this blue title:
"Multiple Loving: Open Relationships Beyond Jealousy ".
This link will also lead you to a synopsis of this chapter on multiple loving.
Click here for the
whole table of contents of New
Ways of Loving
Please suggest additional
books that explore multiple loving.
Send all comments to James Park: e-mail:
Be sure to specify the multiple loving bibliography,
since there are lots of other bibliographies as well,
most notably on jealousy: Best Books on Jealousy .
Return to the LOVE page.
To see lots of other
Best Books—Recommended Reading .
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page for this website:
An Existential Philosopher's Museum.