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Opening Up

A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships

By Tristan Taormino
15-minute read
Audio available
Opening Up by Tristan Taormino

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.

  • 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

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

A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships

By Tristan Taormino
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Opening Up by Tristan Taormino
Synopsis

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.

Key idea 1 of 9

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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