The Ethical Slut Book Summary - The Ethical Slut Book explained in key points
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The Ethical Slut summary

Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton

A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love

4 (107 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

The Ethical Slut by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton is a guidebook for non-monogamous relationships. It provides tools to build healthy relationships based on communication, respect, and consent.

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    The Ethical Slut
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    Let go of conservative myths, and embrace sex-positive beliefs.

    Be honest – do you ever feel bad, embarrassed, or guilty about being a slut? You shouldn’t! But it’s understandable if you sometimes do. Western culture tends to criticize relationships that fall outside the strictly monogamous, preferably heterosexual model.

    Many sluts find they need to unlearn harmful, engrained lessons about sex and love before they can completely embrace their new lifestyle. Here are some key cultural myths that might be holding you back:

    Long-term monogamous relationships are the only authentic relationships.

    Humans are the only primates who engage in long-term monogamous relationships, and the concept of such relationships is relatively recent in human history, too. Many people believe they will achieve complete emotional and sexual fulfillment when they find their “other half” – high incidences of infidelity and divorce should be enough to prove this belief demonstrably flawed.

    The only real love is romantic love.

    Spine-tingling, butterflies-in-the-stomach romantic love, the stuff of pop songs and romance novels, does exist – but it’s far from the only type of love that can exist between sexual partners. And it’s hardly a prerequisite for lasting, fulfilling relationships.

    Jealousy is inevitable in nonmonogamous relationships.

    Jealousy is a natural emotion – the prospect of experiencing it or inflicting it shouldn’t keep you in a monogamous relationship that’s not fulfilling your needs. It’s also not inevitable. When you and your partners are open and honest about your sexual adventures, you may be able to take it out of the equation entirely.

    Sex outside a relationship reduces intimacy within it.

    Sleeping with someone outside a relationship doesn’t need to be something you do to your partner; it can be something you do for yourself. When sex and intimacy outside the primary relationship is handled respectfully, there’s no reason it should impact you or your primary partner negatively.

    If you’re still attached to any of these myths, even subconsciously, consider this permission to abandon them entirely. Here are some principles you might consider adopting in their stead:

    Sex is the end – not the means.

    Sex is often framed as a tool – a physical act designed to bolster love, commitment, and monogamy. There’s nothing wrong with having sex in this way. There’s also plenty to celebrate about sex that enhances intimacy and friendship, sex as exploration and adventure, and sex for its own sake.

    You are enough.

    You, on your own, are a fundamental, functional sexual unit. Adding more people into the mix can be a lot of fun – but you don’t need anybody else to complete you.

    Abundance is available.

    When you give love and sex to two or more people instead of to one, you’re not dividing a finite resource between them – you’re multiplying it. Your capacity for love, sex, and intimacy is greater than you might think.

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    What is The Ethical Slut about?

    The Ethical Slut (1997) has long been the trusted handbook for anyone exploring sex, romance, and intimacy outside the constraints of monogamy. An updated 2017 edition combines time-tested strategies for navigating polyamory with advice on how to embrace an even greater diversity of orientations and relationship configurations.

    The Ethical Slut Review

    The Ethical Slut (1997) is a thought-provoking exploration of non-traditional relationships and the concepts of love, sexuality, and ethics. Here's why you should read it:

    • It challenges societal norms and encourages readers to embrace non-monogamous relationships, offering a fearless and open-minded perspective on love and intimacy.
    • The book provides practical advice and tools for navigating ethical non-monogamy, including communication strategies and setting boundaries, making it an invaluable resource for those exploring alternative relationship styles.
    • With its refreshing honesty and relatable stories, the book captivates readers and shatters preconceived notions about love and sexuality, guaranteeing an intriguing and thought-provoking read.

    Who should read The Ethical Slut?

    • Pleasure-seekers who’d like to explore a greater variety of sexual partners
    • Seasoned polyamorists who want to make multiple partnerships really work
    • Anyone who lives – or would like to live – outside the strictures of conventional monogamy

    About the Author

    Janet W. Hardy is a sex educator, the author of more than ten books, and the founder of Greenery Press – a publisher that focused on sexually adventurous literature. 

    Dossie Easton is a marriage and family therapist who specializes in alternative relationships and sexualities. She’s also the author of four other books.

    Both Hardy and Easton are happily polyamorous.

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    The Ethical Slut FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Ethical Slut?

    The main message of The Ethical Slut is embracing consensual non-monogamy and exploring sexuality with honesty and respect.

    How long does it take to read The Ethical Slut?

    The estimated reading time for The Ethical Slut varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Ethical Slut a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Ethical Slut is a thought-provoking read that challenges traditional notions of relationships and offers insights into ethical non-monogamy. It is definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of The Ethical Slut?

    The authors of The Ethical Slut are Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton.

    What to read after The Ethical Slut?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Ethical Slut, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Polysecure by Jessica Fern
    • The Truth by Neil Strauss
    • Opening Up by Tristan Taormino
    • More Than Two by Franklin Veaux & Eve Rickert
    • The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory by Dedeker Winston
    • Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá
    • Existential Kink by Carolyn Elliott
    • How to Be an Adult in Relationships by David Richo
    • Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel
    • How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes