It must be something in the air: The second book in a month to come out on open relationships is Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage by Jenny Block (the first is Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino). While Tristan's is more guide, Jenny's is more memoir--suburban wife, mom, and all around "normal" person realizes monogamy isn't a natural fit for her, and probably humans in general (though we're sure her success with non-monogamy could act as a guide). She blogs regularly about love, sex, and relationships (particularly open ones) for Tango (just like our friend Dan). We asked her the same five questions we asked Tristan. Compare and contrast.
Em & Lo: What's the biggest misconception people have about open relationships?
Jenny Block: That the people in them are promiscuous. Just because you want to be with other people, does not necessarily mean you want to be with all other people. Running a close second is the fact that many people seem to think if you want to open your relationship, you are no longer in love with your husband or wife. Not so. In fact, the strongest, most successful open marriages start with a marriage that was strong and successful in the first place.
Do you think anyone could be in an open relationship with the right attitude, or are some people just hardwired for monogamy and others are hardwired for polyamory?...
I think perhaps some people are more inclined to one or the other. But human beings are not monogamous by nature. So, I think it all boils down to choice. That and social conditioning, naturally. I think many more people would choose open relationships if polyamory was presented as a choice that is just as valid as monogamous, heterosexual marriage.
We have a totally unscientific theory that an open relationship works best with a hetero male and a bisexual female. Thoughts?
Well, I can't say that I disagree with you. I mean, I saw a few men when we first opened our marriage and that seemed to work fine for us. But I've had a girlfriend now for over a year and a half and it really works fabulously. It seems like men are less threatened when their wives want to be with other women as opposed to other men for one. But I'd like to think that that could change if we could change our attitudes about sexual ownership and jealousy. Honestly though, I think that open relationships work best when everyone in them is on the same page.
What advice would you give a couple who were thinking about opening things up for the first time?
Be honest with themselves and each other and talk, talk, talk before they actually do anything. You have to do it for the right reasons. It's not a good way to save a flailing relationship. But it can be an amazing way to deepen a solid one.
Why should people buy your book?
Because ultimately it's about honesty rather than simply about open marriage or polyamory. And honesty is the ultimate foundation for any kind of relationship. My other wish is that people will read it and feel more empowered about following their instincts. Romantic comedies shouldn't define what a "good" relationship looks like. The individuals in those relationships should. No two people are alike so why should every marriage be identical?
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- Sex-related book reviews from Em and Lo at the Daily Bedpost