I first read The Ethical Slut (first edition) as part of a college course. As an undergrad, I was already well on my way to being a proud slut - I did the usual versions of short-term college dating, hookups, fuck-buddies, threesomes, and the like, with or without a committed partner at various times. It all felt natural and right, but there were invariably awkward moments of poor negotiation, misunderstood communication, and mis-handled jealousy.
When I read The Ethical Slut, I found an amazing wealth of information and suggestions on how I could make my various relationships work better and more smoothly. I wished I'd had this book all along - it would have saved so much trouble! If only I'd known that an agreement to "see other people" wasn't nearly complete enough! The Ethical Slut lays out all the things to think about in having open relationships of various sorts. I've been called a slut since I was 14, but it was this book that gave me the idea that being a slut could be a good thing - and now I couldn't be happier with my fabulous life as a proud slut.
The Ethical Slut is an entertaining, readable, real-life explanation of all the options in relationships. Whether you want to be single or partnered or grouped, poly or monogamous, or whatever else, this book helps you figure out all the possibilities better. It's THE relationship book for anyone who wants more options than a "leave-it-to-beaver" relationship.
If you're just starting to explore open relationships, or you're even just thinking about it, there's no better place to start than with this book. And if you're already immersed in poly life, it's got the "advanced level" information you need. For those who know and love the first edition, the second edition is definitely worth adding to your collection. There's a ton of new information on the really crucial details of how to make all sorts of poly and open relationships work.
The second edition now has exercises exercises, taken from Dossie Easton's work as a therapist with poly folks, that you and/or your partner(s) can work on together. I loved the new section on living as a single slut - which makes the point that sluthood and open loving can be an identity that doesn't require a conventional partnership to secure or ground it. It also offers ideas on how to get one's needs met from a network of friends and lovers - useful information for pretty much anyone. The new segments on handling jealousy and conflict are especially good for those of us who have been involved in poly relationships for some time and need the more detailed info, from the voices of experience, to help through the rough spots. I feel like I'm always learning in poly relationships, and every time I go back to The Ethical Slut, there's some tidbit that helps with the complicated, hard, or unexpected parts of a generally fabulous poly life.
Whether you've read the first edition or not, this is definitely a book you should own. I've read it 3 or 4 times now, and I keep going back to it to check out certain sections that become more relevant as I encounter new poly challenges.
Rather than offering generalities and theories, The Ethical Slut speaks from many people's experience over many decades. It's the real-life information that you need to make all your relationships amazing!!
(and, speaking of making sex and play and relationships amazing, check out some of Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy's other books - The Topping Book, The Bottoming Book, When Someone You Love Is Kinky, and Radical Ecstasy!)
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Kate Folsom, September 7, 2008 (view all comments by Kate Folsom)
A wonderful primer for those of us who want to color outside the sexual lines. It also contains a LOT of good tips for those in monogamous relationships, particularly the chapter on jealousy. Whether you're into the poly thing, or just looking for some great perspective on relationships, this book is very valuable indeed.
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