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

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

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The books I picked & why

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

Dedeker Winston Why did I love 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. 

By Rachel Krantz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Open as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An unprecedented exploration of polyamory and gaslighting, from an award-winning journalist chronicling her first open relationship with unflinching candor as she explores this fast-growing movement

“[A] sincere and curious reckoning with the cultural messaging we all receive about gendered expectations and power dynamics in romantic and sexual relationships.”—NPR

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: PopSugar

Can we have both freedom and love? Comfort and lust? Is a relationship ever equal? And is the pleasure worth the pain?
 
When Rachel Krantz met and fell for Adam, he told her that he was looking for a committed partnership—just one that…


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

Dedeker Winston Why did I love 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. 

By Carrie Jenkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Love Is as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What is love? Aside from being the title of many a popular love song, this is one of life's perennial questions. In What Love Is , philosopher Carrie Jenkins offers a bold new theory on the nature of romantic love that reconciles its humanistic and scientific components. Love can be a social construct (the idea of a perfect fairy tale romance) and a physical manifestation (those anxiety- inducing heart palpitations) we must recognize its complexities and decide for ourselves how to love. Motivated by her own polyamorous relationships, she examines the ways in which our parameters of love have recently…


Book cover of Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma and Consensual Nonmonogamy

Dedeker Winston Why did I love 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! 

By Jessica Fern,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Polysecure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A practical guide to nurturing healthy, loving non-monogamous relationships using attachment theory.

Attachment theory has entered the mainstream, but most discussions focus on how we can cultivate secure monogamous relationships. What if, like many people, you're striving for secure, happy attachments with more than one partner?

Polyamorous psychotherapist Jessica Fern breaks new ground by extending attachment theory into the realm of consensual non-monogamy. Using her nested model of attachment and trauma, she expands our understanding of how emotional experiences can influence our relationships. Then, she sets out six specific strategies to help you move toward secure attachments in your multiple…


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

Dedeker Winston Why did I love 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. 

By Gracie X,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wide Open as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Gracie met her husband Hank at the age of twenty-three, their relationship was based on love, mutual interests, and meeting each other's emotional needs. Because their home was so stable and loving, Gracie was able to overlook the fact that their marriage was sexually unfulfilling. Twenty-five years and two kids later, and still very much out of sync sexually, Gracie found herself unable to ignore what she had been ignoring for so long-the fact that this marriage was not entirely satisfying.

Then she met O. Gracie wasn't looking for another man-she was committed to making her marriage work. But…


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

Dedeker Winston Why did I love 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. 

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A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir

By Victoria Golden, William Walters,

Book cover of A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir

Victoria Golden Author Of A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Story teller Book fav swapper Movie buff A writer’s daughter Escapee from Beverly Hills

Victoria's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Four years old and homeless, William Walters boarded one of the last American Orphan Trains in 1930 and embarked on an astonishing quest through nine decades of U.S. and world history.

For 75 years, the Orphan Trains had transported 250,000 children from the streets and orphanages of the East Coast into homes in the emerging West, sometimes providing loving new families, other times delivering kids into nightmares. Taken by a cruel New Mexico couple, William faced a terrible trial, but his strength and resilience carried him forward into unforgettable adventures.

Whether escaping his abusers, jumping freights as a preteen during…

A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir

By Victoria Golden, William Walters,

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARDS

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HONORABLE MENTION, ERIC HOFFER BOOK AWARDS, E-BOOK NONFICTION

FINALIST, NEXT GENERATION INDIE BOOK AWARDS, E-BOOK NONFICTION

FINALIST, NEXT GENERATION INDIE BOOK AWARDS, MEMOIRS (Overcoming Adversity)

HONORABLE MENTION, READERS' FAVORITE BOOK AWARDS, GENERAL NONFICTION

From 1854 to the early 1930s, the American Orphan Trains transported 250,000 children from the streets and orphanages of the East Coast into homes in the emerging West. Unfortunately, families waiting for the trains weren’t always dreams come true—many times they were nightmares.

William Walters was little more than a…


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Interested in non-monogamy, polyamory, and romantic love?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about non-monogamy, polyamory, and romantic love.

Non-Monogamy Explore 13 books about non-monogamy
Polyamory Explore 32 books about polyamory
Romantic Love Explore 892 books about romantic love