Tuesday, 12 January 2016

A queer review of 'More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory'

I've been actively polyamorous for about five years, before which I was not having relationships for a couple of years, and before that I was having standard monogamous relationships with men and not so standard…interactions (shall we say) with women. I have had unhealthy monogamous relationships. I have had unhealthy polyamorous relationships.
    If I had to say up front why this book is the one I would recommend to people (literally all people, from queer relationship anarchists living in hippy communes in the Arizona desert with seven partners and three date mates to Ian and Sharon from South Ribble who have been monogamously married for seventeen years) it would be- its barefaced honesty.
   I have educated myself on polyamory a lot. I read articles. I read academic papers. I read books, blogs, listen to podcasts, attend events and obviously have my own relationships. I observe the polyamorous relationships around me. I talk about polyamory to my friends. I discuss polyamory with my partners. From the theoretical to the practical. From the amazing to the awkward. I’m part of several large international groups online where people dicuss polyamory. I’m out at work. I’m out to my family. I launch into social interactions like a pro
   ‘One of my partners works there’ I say smiling and nodding at the embarrassed party guest in front of me. Or maybe I say
   ‘Wow, my boyfriend’s girlfriend bought him this exact model’ and act calm and cheerful all the way through the weird questions, giving them my spiel.

   What I need you to understand, my beloved reader, is that I am not a quitter, fair weather lover, cop out, or polyamory sceptic. I have chosen this ‘lifestyle’ (as my grandma calls it) as the best, most loving option for me and all my ‘friends’ (as my co-worker call them). But that doesn’t mean I am always good at it.
   Yeah, I’ve pushed relationships into primary/secondary hierarchies (ew, I know), I’ve been the trusting service secondary, I’ve been the person who allows crappy people to treat me in a crappy way and yeah, I’ve been the crappy person. We all have. That’s the point. Often polyamory resources are written on the premise that we’re all perfect all the time.
   The reason this resource is good because it doesn’t fall into the trap most other polyamory resources do. It doesn’t pretend that polyamory itself is a way escape the shit you have to own to have successful relationships. It doesn’t presume that all of us are ‘naturally’ polyamorous (whatever that means). It doesn’t divide polyamorous people up into ‘poly gods’ and ‘failures’. It doesn’t make it a competition of who can act the least emotionally invested in the most people.
   Here are some of the things it does do
·        Provide you with a toolkit for communication between yourself and partners
·        Provide you with a good moral and ethical framework for your polyamory
·        Address the (incorrect) idea that polyamory is never coercive or manipulative
·        Advise the reader on how to navigate relationships without coercion or manipulation
·        Guide you through all elements of polyamory with care and sense
·        Discourage the harmful and isolating measures we’re taught to put in place to protect our relationships.
   This book is Polyamory 101 and 201 and it's the text book you come back to in your first week in the job, and after a few years, and then again a few years later. This book is a helping hand on those days when you want to run away to Berlin & get a mullet. If you’re polyamorous you need to read this book (despite how long you’ve been polyamorous). If you’re monogamous you need to read this book. You need to read this book if you’re single. You need to read this book if you are mono-poly. You need to read this book if you are struggling. You need to read this book if everything is going perfectly. You need to read this book if you will never have a romantic or sexual relationship EVER.
   One of the mistakes we make in polyamory is thinking ‘Oh, well my relationships are radical and mutually respectful’. The truth of the matter is- we all have shit we need to address. Yes, you too. My advice is- read this book with your partners, discuss each chapter, ask questions, use the questions in the book. You deserve to have the best relationships possible your partners deserve the best relationships possible because as the book says ‘The people in the relationship are more important than the relationship’. 

 You can find out what others think and decide where to buy it here (including audio-book and kindle options).
You can find the website here
Follow the authors here @everickert and here @franklinveaux 

Good luck. x

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