A Deeper Dive Into Navigating Open Relationships

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Buy on Amazon Buy on BN.com Buy on Bookshop.org
*This page contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add kindle@netgalley.com as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 25 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 31 Oct 2023
Hazel Boydell, Thornapple Press


As polyamory continues to make its way into the mainstream, more and more people are exploring consensual nonmonogamy in the hope of experiencing more love, connection, sex, freedom and support. While for many, the move expands personal horizons, for others, the transition can be challenging, leaving them blindsided and overwhelmed. Beyond the initial transition to nonmonogamy, many struggle with the root issues beneath the symptoms of broken agreements, communication challenges, increased fighting and persistent jealousy. Polyamorous psychotherapist Jessica Fern and restorative justice facilitator David Cooley share the insights they have gained through thousands of hours working with clients in consensually nonmonogamous relationships. Using a grounded theory approach, they explore the underlying challenges that nonmonogamous individuals and partners can experience after their first steps, offering practical strategies for transforming them into opportunities for new levels of clarity and intimacy. Polywise provides both the conceptual framework to better understand the shift from monogamy to nonmonogamy and the tools to navigate the next steps.

As polyamory continues to make its way into the mainstream, more and more people are exploring consensual nonmonogamy in the hope of experiencing more love, connection, sex, freedom and support...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781990869143
PRICE $24.95 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (PDF)
Send to Kindle (PDF)
Download (PDF)

Average rating from 13 members

Featured Reviews

An accessible and in-depth look at the ins-and-outs of opening relationships. A recommended title for most nonfiction collections.

Was this review helpful?

A wonderful sequel to Polysecure. Even if you are not in or considering a non-monogamous relationship the topics covered will only improve your relationship when implemented consistently. My spouse and I buddy read Polysecure and Polywise together. It made our relationship blossom, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for us.

Was this review helpful?

Polywise encourages readers to embark on a journey of personal excavation of entrenched beliefs and default assumptions about themselves, their families, their romantic and sexual relationships, friendships, and hidden emotional tripwires, too.

In addition to a personable back-and-forth (used sparingly) between the author and the contributor, this text offers exercises, questions, and prompts to engage readers to explore and pursue intentional conscious recognition of who they are as individuals, what they need and want, and why, as well as healthy ways to attain them--or let them go if necessary.

Consensual Nonmonogomay (CNM) is the initial hook while tools and strategies for understanding the facets, layers, and impacts of nonmonogamy as orientation and/or lifestyle choice establish a unifying through line.

from the introduction:
Whatever your personal version of polywise may look like, my hope is that this book is a resource for helping you get there.
... So while this book is intended for a CNM audience, a significant amount of what is covered in the following chapters offers helpful material for anyone in any relationship structure.

Polywise also acknowledges that neither monogamy nor CNM works for everyone. It focuses on transitions, relationship fluidity, and relational conflict within the context of experiences occurring along a very broad spectrum.

A foreword, introduction, seven chapters, plus a substantive conclusion, a particularly helpful glossary of terms, references, a list of other relevant books from the publisher, and an index make Polywise a text worth keeping on-hand for future referrals and refreshers on practical, effective reconciliation strategies for preventing and dealing with internal and external conflict.

Was this review helpful?

The cover of this book may suggest that it’s about open relationships, but don’t let that fool you: it is full of useful concepts and tools that will be useful for anyone who wants to improve how they relate to others. Large sections of the book, including the entire chapter on managing conflict, barely mention open relationships and are broadly applicable to any relationship.

I found that starting from an understanding of paradigms and social conditioning was a useful approach that I haven’t encountered quite this way before. This, too, I think is broadly applicable, even outside of personal relationships, and can be helpful in addressing any sort of major life transition.

There are plenty of practical exercises throughout that provide opportunities for writing or discussion. The authors speaking from their own experiences as therapists and as a previously married couple provides both expert and personal perspectives that give the book authority and authenticity. The authors definitely do not sugarcoat things by giving unrealistic expectations; Their advice is honest, and some of it might be hard to hear.

The later chapters of the book draw on the works from the field of psychology and apply them to nonmonogamy. Even without a prior understanding of these works, the discussions are useful, and often still applicable within a monogamous context.

While I'm not sure that Fern presents any new framework like she did with the HEARTS model in Polysecure, this book does apply pre-existing concepts in a way that will help in the development of mature relationships, regardless of their chosen style. It is a worthwhile follow-up to her exceptional debut.

Was this review helpful?

This book hit very close to home. I think Fern and Cooley use both lived experience and conversations with the community to inform their writing, and I really appreciated that. This book definitely encouraged me to look at my own journey with CNM and evaluate where I was at and where I would like to be. I plan to check out Polysecure and the associated workbook now that I've finished this book. I think this book has some valuable insights for any audience, but especially those who are considering CNM, actively participating in CNM or want to understand CNM better. Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Once again Jessica Fern outdoes my expectations. This is a book for every person in any relationship, not just for polyamorists. This is an excellent resource for monogamous and non monogamous relationships and learning how to continuously do better and fill in our lives where we need help. Touches on all sorts of surface level cracks and dives deeper into the roots of where and how our relationships falter.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you NetGalley for the review copy!

After reading Polysecure I got really excited for this second book and it didnt disappoint. Really insightful and educational. Highly recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about themselves and their relationships.

Was this review helpful?

Amazing read that can help anyone in any type of relationship. Provides insights that are extremely helpful.

Was this review helpful?

I discovered Polywise at a time when I was unsure how to tell my nesting partner that I'd like us to try transitioning to a different form of consensual nonmonogamy (CNM). I'm finally convinced I'm poly-identifying, and our current setup's boundaries need to be made clearer than before. However, regardless of how good we are at communicating our feelings and desires, and even though I've been in the same situation where I had to resolve a personal identity crisis, I felt that a guide would completely help me navigate the situation and process my emotions a bit more systematically.

Although I recognize that this is the book I was looking for, I found some of its content to be irrelevant to my personal situation. Probably because I'm not new to CNM and my partner and I have already overcome several challenges. Thus, I believe beginners will benefit greatly from the book, whereas those who have been practicing CNM for years may feel that this is CNM for dummies. But that shouldn't stop them from finishing the book and collecting the gems in each chapter that could improve their CNM relationships.

It's also easy to consider the book as just another self-help book written by white authors, but it isn't. It is very grounded; the suggestions made are supported by theories and frameworks from the fields of Psychology and Sociology, and the authors acknowledge their privileges throughout the chapters. Jessica and David, with their years of polyamory experience and professional work experience in psychology, are among the best people to write a book about this topic. When discussing new concepts, they expertly balanced the mix of personal stories, research perspectives, and client narratives. The book is also queer-affirming and non-ableist, and it recognizes that social class, religion, culture, and political beliefs can all have an impact on the dynamics of CNM relationships.

The book's transition from introducing the need to shift paradigms to the most personal requirement in dealing with polyamory, self-transformation, is designed in such a way that whoever reads it can make new adjustments in their lives while aiming to reach the final chapter. That being the case, finishing this book is totally rewarding. After reading the last chapter, I felt more confident in saying I'm polywise. I'm now more prepared to face various transitions, and I'm more aware of which beliefs prevent me from fully celebrating my poly self. Without this book, my journey to accept myself and the uniqueness of my relationships would be slow, inefficient, and unstructured.

Thanks to NetGalley and Thornapple Press for the digital ARC in exchange for this honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Polywise is THE guide for figuring out and addressing issues in polyamorous relationships. Fern and Cooley discuss everything from problems that often arise when opening a relationship to problems (sometimes the same ones!) found in longtime poly relationships that are changing shape. They discuss not only the reasons for the cracks but many potential ways to go about resolving them, all in a friendly, easy to understand tone.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you NetGalley for the review copy!

The book contains important thoughts and strategies for anyone looking to better their interpersonal relationships. Large sections of the book, including the whole chapter on conflict resolution, rarely address open partnerships and are generalizable to any relationship.
Numerous practical activities throughout the book allow for writing or conversation. The writers' experiences as therapists and as a formerly married couple provide expert and personal viewpoints that provide authority and authenticity to the work. It's really interesting and educational. I suggest it to anyone interested in learning more about themselves and their relationships.

Was this review helpful?

One of the best book of advice for poly people out there! While most (actually all, but it's possible there's some I don't know about) relationship advice books focus on monogamy and treat attraction outside of the primary relationship as failure, Fern and Cooley offer helpful, thoughtful ways to approach poly and mono relationships, with a focus on psychological reasoning. The authors approach poly relationships with personal experience and knowledge about the ways people grow and change in relationships. Thoughtful and thorough, filled with exercises and practical advice, Polywise is an excellent choice for all relationships, while an absolute must for those who are poly.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: