The best books to help you figure out if polyamory is right for you

Dedeker Winston Author Of The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know about Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Alternative Love
By Dedeker Winston

Who am I?

I have been practicing some flavor of non-monogamy for over a decade now—and how much has changed in the past few years! In my coaching practice, I’ve seen an increase in clients who are trying to evaluate what kind of relationship is best for them. Many people know that the traditional dating game and lifelong monogamy are not for them, but they also feel concerned, intimidated, or confused by exploring non-monogamy. These books have helped many of my clients get perspective on how non-monogamous relationships work in real life. 


I wrote...

The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know about Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Alternative Love

By Dedeker Winston,

Book cover of The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know about Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Alternative Love

What is my book about?

The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory incorporates interviews and real-world advice from women of all ages in nontraditional relationships, as well as exercises for building self-awareness, confidence in communication, and strategies for managing and eliminating jealousy.

The books I picked & why

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Open: An Uncensored Memoir of Love, Liberation, and Non-Monogamy--A Polyamory Memoir

By Rachel Krantz,

Book cover of Open: An Uncensored Memoir of Love, Liberation, and Non-Monogamy--A Polyamory Memoir

Why this book?

People who are non-monogamous often feel pressure to portray their relationships in the most positive light possible in the face of daily stigma, judgment, and pushback. Not so with Rachel Krantz’s Open. Krantz’s memoir takes the reader through the trials and tribulations of her first polyamorous relationship, refusing to leave out the gritty, sexy, and sometimes uncomfortable details. In addition to sharing her story, Krantz also includes relationship wisdom from a wide variety of perspectives—therapists, sex workers, and even a Buddhist monk. This book offers a refreshingly real take on polyamory, including the dark pitfalls as well as moments of unadulterated ecstasy and joy. 


What Love Is: And What It Could Be

By Carrie Jenkins,

Book cover of What Love Is: And What It Could Be

Why this book?

Our society gives us a surprisingly narrow view of what “real” love is. It must be between two people (often heterosexual). It must be long-term and headed toward marriage. It must include sex, co-parenting, and cohabitation. Philosopher Carrie Jenkins cuts through this limited perspective by examining the social, cultural, and even scientific history of how we have chosen to define love. Jenkins highlights the many different forms that socially acceptable love has taken throughout time, and also theorizes about the future of relationships. This is a great read for anyone who loves lofty, philosophical conversations with a partner, looking at the convergence of the abstract and the finite, the ideal and the real. 


Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma and Consensual Nonmonogamy

By Jessica Fern,

Book cover of Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma and Consensual Nonmonogamy

Why this book?

This one should be required reading for anyone with even a passing interest in non-traditional relationships. Therapist Jessica Fern clearly and thoroughly explains attachment theory—the idea that the way in which we form attachments to our parents in early life fundamentally influences our adult relationships. Whatever your relationship practice, even this part of the book alone can help clarify so much about what makes you feel secure or insecure in your romantic relationships. Fern goes on to explain how these foundation principles of attachment intersect with non-monogamy, jealousy, and trauma, as well as offering her unique HEARTS model for building secure attachment. I absolutely loved the practical and actionable HEARTS model—it’s worth the price of the book alone! 


Wide Open: My Adventures in Polyamory, Open Marriage, and Loving on My Own Terms

By Gracie X,

Book cover of Wide Open: My Adventures in Polyamory, Open Marriage, and Loving on My Own Terms

Why this book?

When people hear the word “polyamory,” many think of free love communes or wild sex parties. Not many people think of a suburban mom. Gracie X offers her story of discovering polyamory within the context of the average American family. Most importantly, the author shares her perspective on navigating non-monogamy while also raising children, a perspective that is sometimes neglected in polyamory discourse. If you have kids but also have an interest in non-monogamy, check out this honest take on the benefits and risks of practicing polyamory as a parent. 


Stories from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families

By Elisabeth Sheff, Tikva Wolf (illustrator),

Book cover of Stories from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families

Why this book?

Whenever I’m working with clients who are trying to figure out if polyamory is for them, I always recommend finding a way to connect to real-life polyamorous folks. It’s so important to hear genuine stories from a wide variety of perspectives—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Going to a local meetup group is the best way to do this, but reading this book comes in at a close second. Dr. Eli Sheff, a researcher who has conducted several longitudinal studies on polyamorous families, presents this compilation of personal stories from many different folks in non-monogamous families and networks. These stories span the range from hilarious to heartbreaking. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in polyamory, romantic love, and London?

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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