Opening Up by Tristan Taormino

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95out of 100Excellent

This review was not easy for me to write.

More specifically, it wasn’t easy for me to edit because there are so many reasons why I LOVE this book! I wrote about everything I felt was important and would be important to all of you and by the time I was finished, my review was way too long!  The short version is this; “Opening Up” is THE book to read if you’re thinking of opening your relationship in any form or on any level. Even if you’re simply curious about it, you should be reading this book. It is THE source to help you look at your life, your relationship and your inner thoughts to decide if this is something that’s for you. Then if you do decide it’s for you, the information continues to help you both create and sustain a relationship that’s ultimately custom built for you. Now if you want to know the nitty-gritty details of why, I encourage you to read on.

Tristan is candid with her readers.

Even though Tristan is in a non-monogamous relationship; I love that she doesn’t paint a perfect picture of them. She’s not trying to say the grass is greener on the other side. “Opening Up” is not filled with tons of fluff and it doesn’t demean traditional monogamous relationships.  She is truthful about the challenges that exist in creating and sustaining this kind of relationship.  She even goes so far as to share stories and advice on how to close an open relationship, be it for temporary or permanent reasons. She intelligently encourages couples regardless of where they live, what they do for a living or how many kids they have to create a relationship of ANY KIND that works for them.

Honest, compassionate communication is key

Tristan nails this point down throughout the book. Without being able to express yourself honestly without fear of being judged, ridiculed or given tons of grief, a relationship of any kind is doomed for failure or at least unhappiness. She’s realistic about the fact that at some point rules will broken, lines will be crossed, boundaries will be overstepped and feelings will be hurt. However, she explains that the relationship doesn’t have to simply be over, a couple can work it out, tweak things further. The ideas, stories and advice are extraordinary.  I will go so far as to say monogamous couples should read this book too. It really drives home how we need to not just talk to our partners, but listen to what they’re telling us. She encourages us to not scold our partners right away for coming to us on their own when they’ve done something wrong or crossed a line. I think if more couples, monogamous or not, communicated in this way, they’d be happier and less relationships would fall apart.

This book is well put together, making it an easy read.

Each chapter and section builds on the next. Some may be excited to jump in and read this book to enhance, fix or spice up their relationship and others may be nervous, anxious and scared about facing their real feelings and how to move forward. Either way you come into this book, the information given up front is important in understanding what an open relationship is, what it means to be in one, how it can work and if it’s right for you.

There are many subtle levels

Then you move on to Section 2 where you learn all the subtle levels of open relationships, in which Tristan discusses 6 and if I remember correctly, she doesn’t really want to categorize them because each level is so personalized to the couple. So it’s important to understand the variations that are available to you along with some of challenges that each one presents. I found this section to be fascinating.

It’s time to make some rules!

Once you understand the basics of non-monogamy, think it’s the thing to do and understand all the subtle levels that exist, now you’re ready to move on to the nitty gritty of how to negotiate and express your wants, desires, needs, hopes, fears, etc. Chapter 11 will get you started. However, once the relationship is opened, there’s bound to be some slips and unforeseen challenges, be it physically or emotionally and that’s where Chapters 12 thru 14 come in. And once you’ve been riding the happy train for a while, most likely things will change, you’ll both evolve as people and your relationship will need some tweaking. Chapter 15 handles that perfectly, so much so that stories and advice are shared from couples that have closed their relationship until things get resolved. It doesn’t always go that way, but Tristan objectively takes you down all possible paths.

Living in any kind of non-traditional relationship can be tricky.

Do you tell anyone? Do you keep it secret? What if someone finds out? Before opening your relationship, those are all important things to consider. Tristan provides realistic and helpful information on how to come out, how to handle the complexities, challenges and backlashes of it and where to find support and others like you.  We all know how the decisions we make in our lives affect those around us and that goes for our children too. If you have children or eventually want to have children, Chapter 17 is not to be missed.  No matter how little you open your relationship, you’ll have to deal with it and your children at some point. When do you come out to them? Do you come out at all?  The stories and information here is solid and again, encourages you to be true to yourself and what you believe in and what makes you and your partner(s) happy. These are all ideas and strategies; it’s ultimately up to you to put the information together in a way that works for you.

What about safety?

Some people worry about their sexual well being when opening a relationship and this information comes towards the end of the book in Chapter 18, which I feel is well placed. I don’t think you need that information up front because this book serves a guide to help you and your partner decide if you want to open your relationship up at all. You don’t need the in’s and out’s of safe sex, which you should have a general idea already if you’re sexually active, right up front. It clouds the flow and the message. You need to both decide if this is right for you. Then you can learn how to protect yourselves and your partners.

Legalities of it all

We all know that the law frowns upon this kind of nontraditional relationship style and it’s important to understand your rights and how to go about protecting you, your partner(s) and any children. Chapter 19 will help you consider these issues. The U.S.A. doesn’t allow multiple people to get married; however, if you’re spending your life with more than 1, you need to understand how to make the law work for you. Another fascinating and invaluable chapter!

It’s interactive

It’s not just a book you read through. There are various quizzes and sections where you need to be actively involved with the information you’re given. These kinds of pieces are very helpful and keeps you from gaining this insight on a passive level. Maybe you’re not sure of exactly what you want, these quizzes and checklists expose you to different options and scenarios, so you don’t have to create it all on your own upfront, making a book full of information that can be overwhelming easy to digest, understand and put into action.

Tristan, I applaud you!

I said it before and I’ll say it again, “Opening Up” is THE resource for creating a nontraditional relationship that works for you and your partner(s). It offers advice, stories, guidance, ideas and thoughtful passages from how relationships become open to opening up, creating rules, communicating feelings/fears/jealousy/joys to ironing out the rough spots. You hear from couples that it works for and others that ran into difficulties and challenges and had to close things up. It’s not a fantasy book, it doesn’t promise or even hint at success without work. It’s that kind of honesty that always tickles me and I truly appreciate it.

“Opening Up” should not be skimmed. It should be read from cover to cover, all questions and checklists should be thoughtfully considered and then the sections that stick out the most should be read again. You should NOT read this book alone, it should be done with your partner, it should be done together.  All questions should be answered and discussed between the both of you. Each section should be discussed. This book has what it takes to help you to both get to know what each other needs and how to handle the difficulties of hurt feelings or not seeing eye to eye, or concerns or even fueling the fire of excitement for the both of you going on this new journey together. Creating the best relationship for you and your lover takes work, it doesn’t just happen. You both have to be willing and if either one of you find this book to be too overwhelming, too long, too boring or just not necessary; then I honestly don’t feel you have what it takes to really explore this more adventurous, more complex relationship style. “Opening Up” gives you the knowledge, the idea and puts the power in your hands to create the relationship that you want!

  • Author: Tristan Taormino
  • Publisher: Cleis Press
  • # of pages: 346
  • Self-Help or Erotica: Self- Help
  • Easy or Difficult Read: Easy

Where It's Available:

  • Order Opening Up by Tristan Taormino from Powells
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My name is Ann Andriani. Since 1999, I've helped millions of folks sort through their questions and curiosities about all things sex. There are tons of adult products out there and my goal is to help you find the gems and skip the losers.


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