Opening Up Book Summary - Opening Up Book explained in key points
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Opening Up summary

Tristan Taormino

A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships

4.2 (148 ratings)
23 mins

Brief summary

Opening Up by Tristan Taormino is a guidebook for individuals and couples interested in exploring consensual non-monogamy.
It provides practical advice on communication, negotiation, and building strong relationships in ethical non-monogamous communities.

Table of Contents

    Opening Up
    Summary of 8 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 8

    It’s a myth that one person can fulfill all our needs and desires.

    Most of us grow up believing a very compelling fairy tale: that we’ll grow up to meet The One, get married, and then live happily ever.

    We’ve been taught that our soulmate should be all things to us. This magical person will be able to support us, share our political enthusiasms and interests, be the perfect coparent to our children, and even be our best friend. No wonder so many marriages end in divorce these days. That’s a huge amount of pressure to put on just one person!

    The key message here is: It’s a myth that one person can fulfill all our needs and desires.

    One of the most damaging myths about monogamous relationships is the idea that once we find a life partner, we’ll never so much as desire anybody else, because this partner will fulfill all of our sexual needs.

    This belief is damaging because it completely ignores how human sexuality works. Of course we don’t stop being attracted to other people after we get married! And of course one person can’t always fulfill all our desires. After all, our sexual tastes can change. Maybe, in our sixties, we’ll develop an interest in being spanked. Or maybe a bout of depression will kill our sex drive for a while.

    In traditional monogamous relationships, people start feeling guilty when they are attracted to other people. This means that they either bottle up those feelings or they resort to cheating. Cheating is common; a poll conducted in 2007 reported that half of the 70,000 respondents admitted to being unfaithful in their relationships. And cheating is as effective a way to sabotage a relationship as ceasing to share your true feelings.

    Luckily, there is another option. You can be honest with yourself and your partner, and accept that, in fact, one person can’t fulfill your every need. You will be attracted to other people. And sometimes you’ll feel dissatisfied in your relationship.

    Once you’ve accepted that, you have options. You can actively choose monogamy and embrace your relationship with realistic expectations, or you can have a conversation with your partner about opening up your relationship to other people.

    Either way, having realistic expectations will be hugely beneficial for your relationship. Instead of believing in a fairy tale, you can appreciate what you have. And even better, you can start actively building the kind of relationship that suits you.

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    What is Opening Up about?

    Opening Up (2008) demystifies nonmonogamous relationships, and shows that there are many different ways of creating loving partnerships and building alternative families. By opening up their relationships, people can explore hidden desires, have lots of fun, and radically improve their self-awareness and communication skills.

    Opening Up Review

    Opening Up (2008) by Tristan Taormino is an insightful exploration of non-monogamy and its many forms. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Provides a comprehensive understanding of non-traditional relationships, including polyamory, open relationships, and swinging.
    • Offers practical advice and tools for navigating the challenges and complexities of non-monogamous relationships.
    • Presents compelling personal stories and experiences that make the book relatable and engaging, challenging preconceived notions about love and relationships.

    Who should read Opening Up?

    • Open-minded thinkers who want to learn how to improve their relationships
    • Lovers who want to learn to communicate their desires more honestly
    • People exploring their sexuality

    About the Author

    Tristan Taormino is a feminist writer, sex educator, and activist. She’s the author of seven books, including the Firecracker Award–winning The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women. She’s also edited several collections of erotica, and directed and starred in pornographic films.

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    Opening Up FAQs 

    What is the main message of Opening Up?

    The main message of Opening Up is to explore and embrace non-traditional relationships, challenging societal norms.

    How long does it take to read Opening Up?

    The reading time for Opening Up varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Opening Up a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Opening Up is worth reading for its invaluable insights into alternative relationship structures, fostering understanding and personal growth.

    Who is the author of Opening Up?

    Tristan Taormino is the author of Opening Up.

    What to read after Opening Up?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Opening Up, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Truth by Neil Strauss
    • Polysecure by Jessica Fern
    • The Ethical Slut by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton
    • The Moral Animal by Robert Wright
    • The All-or-Nothing Marriage by Eli J. Finkel
    • Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá
    • Daring to Trust by David Richo
    • The State of Affairs by Esther Perel
    • The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma
    • Marriage, a History by Stephanie Coontz