Undressed Reviews
Tristan Taormino’s “Opening Up”

Tristan Taormino’s “Opening Up”


My romantic relationship with Him actually began as an open relationship because neither one of us was ready to give up our casual, sexual relationships with other people, plus for a few months I lived about a thousand miles away. As friends we had already established trust through a mutual commitment to self-awareness and communication, so it made acknowledging our independent sexual exploits easier to cope with.

We are currently (happily) monogamous, but seeing as how it’s unlikely I’ll wake up one day no longer desiring vagina, we’ll probably negotiate terms for nonmonogamy in the future. I have never really believed that I could be monogamous without lying or cheating, which is unacceptable to me, but I think it’s working for me right now because despite being in a “normal” relationship, we still think about it on very individualistic terms. For example, I do not believe that I can fulfill all of his needs all of the time, nor do we believe we possess each other by virtue of our love.

In sum, we are predisposed to favor a lifestyle that follows self-created standards instead of societal standards. I was really looking forward to reading “Opening Up” by Tristan Taormino.

This book reads similar to a sociological study yet with more frequent use of humor, personal insight, and bias. It’s also much more approachable, which is important considering the nature of the subject. There are moments when Taormino’s obvious preference for nonmonogamy becomes like propaganda to join a special club. (All the cool kids are doing it.) One can overlook these moments, though, because they’re minor in comparison to Taormino’s commitment to helping people live as authentically to themselves as possible.

If you are even a little experienced with nonmonogamy, parts of this book may seem monotonous to you; however, I recommend reading this book in its entirety because Taormino slips in things that are good to remember. In relationships we have a habit of forgetting ourselves and/or the values that made the relationships so great in the first place. It’s good to be reminded of things like this:

“When you don’t honor your feelings and instincts, when you don’t verbalize what you want and need, when you keep silent so you don’t rock the boat, it’s only a matter of time before you feel bad. “

After reading this book, you may find that it can help reinforce/redirect your monogamous relationship because the necessities of nonmonogamy apply to other styles. Communication, personal boundaries, self-awareness, trust – these are all aspects of a healthy partnership.

Aside from the clarity and examples Taormino offers, I really enjoy the practicality she employs, which makes her message truly penetrative. Continually I thought to myself, ‘Yes, that makes sense’. It makes sense to not make promises about the rest of our lives because we don’t know what’s going to happen. It makes sense to embrace other people you love instead of lying about it to yourself and your partner, where it will breed resentment and mistrust. It makes sense to challenge your fears and insecurities by forcing them to the surface.

“Opening Up” is not just about fucking multiple people. This book is about re-thinking what history and culture has brought us, then make a decision for yourself. Are you monogamous because you consciously choose to be or because everyone in your family is monogamous? Would you be happier if you could pursue your interest in the same sex? Can you be the submissive that your primary partner wants? Do you believe that the current family structure is really the best for raising children? These are the kind of questions you’ll ask yourself (and perhaps your partner) while reading this book and probably long after your done. It’s an excellent beginning to an exciting, interesting, and totally relevant subject.


Opening Up is a must read for anyone considering an open relationship for the first time and must skim for those with previous open experience.

The book is very well written and approached from a holistic and qualitative perspective. This gives much of the book an academic feel that can be tricky. You (or at least I did) have to keep reminding yourself “This book is not the result of an extensive sociological study. This book is one woman’s opinion.” Taormino’s opinion is that open relationships are vastly superior to traditional monogamous relationships and that comes through quite clearly in the book. Some aspects are quite heavy handed. Which is fine for a book that is one woman’s opinion, you just have to keep reminding yourself. There is no et al here, it is just Taormino and her personally edited interviews.

Aside from sometimes having a deceivingly decisive feel about it, it is a great book for beginners. It outlines the history of open relationships, the different types and styles (and acknowledges that there is limit to what can be done), some of the problems that are more common in open relationships, and best practices for making relationships work. On that last item, I left out the word open because most of the things that Taormino reccomends for making an open relationship work are really things that are needed to make any relationship work: honesty, respect, time management, consideration of your partner(s) feelings, etc.

Each chapter is smattered with excerpts from interviews that Taormino conducted while researching the book. This gives a healthy “real people” feeling to the book and often puts Taormino’s points in the words of real people living the lifestyle.

Taormino also includes the legal considerations of being in an open relationship as well as different approaches to raising children, coming out to loved ones, living in peace in this society and safer sex practices. The holistic way that the subject is approached in this book is what makes it fantastic and indispensable. Open relationships are a LIFE choice and not just about getting to fuck other people while keeping someone to watch TV on the couch with and Taormino portrays that wonderfully.

As someone with a little experience with open relations and a lot of experience with interpersonal relations, I did find parts of the book to be tedious and painfully simple. But I am not who the book is written for. For someone that is approaching open relationships for the first time, it is gold.

Do more mommies and daddies mean more birthday presents?