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The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families, by Elisabeth Sheff
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Marriage and monogamy are not what they used to be, and today many couples are opting to start families before getting married, or deciding not to get married at all. At the same time, gay couples in states that recognize same-sex marriage are getting married in droves. Some people prefer non-monogamy and have relationships that include swinging and polyamory. The landscape of American marriage and relationships is changing, and a variety of family systems are developing and becoming more common.
The Polyamorists Next Door introduces polyamorous families, in which people are free to pursue emotional, romantic, and sexual relationships with multiple people at the same time, openly and with support from their partners, sometimes forming multi-partner relationships, or other arrangements that allow for emotional and sexual freedom within the family system. In colorful and moving details, this book explores how polyamorous relationships come to be, grow and change, manage the ins and outs of daily family life, and cope with the challenges they face both within their families and from society at large. Using polyamorists’ own words, Dr. Elisabeth Sheff examines polyamorous households and reveals their advantages, disadvantages, and the daily lives of those living in them.
While polyamorous families are increasingly common, fairly little is known about them outside of their own social circles or of the occasional media sensationalism. This book provides information that will be useful for professionals with polyamorous clients, educators who wish to understand or teach about polyamory, and especially people who wish to better understand polyamory themselves or explain it to their potential partners, adult children, or in-laws.
- Sales Rank: #194178 in Books
- Published on: 2015-07-10
- Released on: 2015-07-10
- Original language: English
- Number of items: 1
- Dimensions: 8.87″ h x .99″ w x 5.81″ l, .0 pounds
- Binding: Paperback
- 324 pages
Having worked with hundreds of people in the polyamorous lifestyle it is refreshing to see a book that so articulately captures the experiences and patterns that I see repeatedly in my clinical practice. The fact that the book is also based on fifteen years of study makes it particularly impressive. What I like best however is that The Polyamorists Next Door lays out the risks of a poly lifestyle along with approaches to avoid the land-mines. (Neil Cannon, Ph.D., LMFT, Certified Sex Therapist & Couples Counselor, Denver, Colorado)
The Polyamorists Next Door is an amazingly comprehensive book that is easy to read and relate to. Poly or Mono, you’ll find successful ways to navigate relationships interspersed in this fascinating read. I particularly loved Elisabeth Sheff’s personal story for its unabashed frankness. (Allena Gabosch, Executive Director of the Center and Foundation for Sex Positive Culture and poly activist, educator and coach)
Elisabeth Sheff’s The Polyamorists Next Door is a clear and articulate treatise on American polyamory. Unlike the many How-To books out there now, The Polyamorists Next Door is more of a survey of polyfolk in America with a focus on the children growing up in these unconventional families. Sheff’s writing is fluid and easily understood.
Sheff’s new book is a must read for anyone with a curiosity about folks who are able to love more than one person at the same time. (Winston Wilde, DHS, LMFT, doctor of human sexuality, licensed marriage & family therapist, certified sex therapist)
Finally! A response to one of the most frequently asked questions about polyamory: Is polyamory harmful to children. Bravo to Dr. Sheff for persevering in her quest to investigate this important issue. (Deborah Anapol, Ph.D. author Polyamory in the 21st Century and The Seven Natural Laws of Love.)
Elisabeth Sheff has dared to go where few researchers and sociologists have gone before: into the diverse private lives of polyamorous families. This book is a rich resource packed with fascinating portraits of people living, loving, and learning in nontraditional relationships. It gives us a window into worlds previously hidden and unknown which is invaluable to both scholars and the general public. (Tristan Taormino, author of Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships)
A fascinating study of polyamory and its adherents, from both a clinical and personal perspective. A superb addition to the ever-expanding library of poly literature. (Vincent M. Wales, novelist and founder of the Polyamory Awareness & Acceptance Ribbon Campaign)
We should all be so lucky as to live next door to polyamorists. Their flexibility and willingness to explore alternatives offer clues as to how all families might become more resilient. Dr. Elisabeth Sheff has made a valuable contribution to our understanding of family life. (Ann Schranz, Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness)
The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families considers the phenomenon of polyamorist families, in which people hold emotional and sexual relationships with multiple people at the same time with the support of their partners, and is a fine discussion of how these relationships work. From managing daily family life and social challenges both at home and in the world to how such households actually function; this is an in-depth survey that provides useful details for those working with such couples, educators, and those involved themselves. There’s relatively little written about polyamorists, much less filled with real-world experience, making this a top pick for any collection strong in relationships. (Midwest Book Review)
This book introduces polyamorous families and explains how they come to be, manage the ins and outs of daily family life, and cope with the challenges they face both within their families and from society at large. Using polyamorists’ own stories, Elisabeth Sheff investigates the polyamorous household and reveals its advantages, its disadvantages, and the daily lives of those living in them.
About the Author
Elisabeth Sheff, PhD, is an educational and legal consultant who specializes in the families of sexual and gender minorities. She is the CEO and Director of Legal Services at the Sheff Consulting Group in Atlanta, a think-tank of experts specializing in unconventional and underserved populations. One of the foremost experts on polyamory and polyamorous families with children, she has presented her work at national and international conferences and has lectured widely on the topic.Sheff’s second book, Stories from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families, is an anthology of work written by polyamorists, with cartoons by Tikva Wolf.
Most helpful customer reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful.
A true view of a commonly misunderstood lifestyle
By Laura Benedict
In writing The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families, Elisabeth Sheff tackles a tough topic with objectivity, sensitivity, and grace. Sheff shows that polyamory is a positive family model. With personal experience and fifteen years of research, Sheff presents all aspects of polyamory through a deeply informed lens.
I like how Sheff addresses the more positive aspects as well as the less positive. It is incredibly important to understand fully any chosen way of life; whether that way of life is a religion, a diet, or a family model. Sheff discusses the difficulties of defining polyamory, and who practices polyamory. She writes about how adults view polyamory, how children within polyamorous families view polyamory, and how neighbors, schools, and Child Protective Services view polyamory.
I especially appreciate her insight into her own experiences with polyamory. It is not easy to transition into or out of a polyamorous relationship, and Sheff opens her life for the reader. This adds validity to her research. Without the personal stories, this would be little more than a long (well written) scholarly review journal article. The personal stories show me that this information is not just a theory rather, a true representation of the lifestyle.
While no book can be the definitive presentation (i.e.: the one to read while ignoring all others), I believe anyone researching polyamory should pick up this one. I find it true to life, authentic, and comprehensive.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful.
A Polyamory Book for Monogamists
There is a lot of fascinating information in The Polyamorists Next Door, and many polyamorists will enjoy reading it to see the results of Dr. Sheff’s studies of polyamory. Poly parents will find interesting (and useful!) information in the sections on children raised in poly families.
However at the end of the day, this book isn’t written for us. Instead, it is the book polyamory has needed for decades. A book written not for people who want to be polyamorous, but for monogamists who want to understand polyamory. You know the question that pops up in every poly forum eventually “What book can I get for my (parents/friends/siblings/friends) to help them understand polyamory?”
The answer is: this one
Brace for Science-Speak
This is not a coffee table book. This is not light reading. This is a book written by a professional researcher. And it shows. Books like this take me so long to read because academics and researchers are really good at writing for other academics and researchers. Unfortunately, the writing style used in academics and research is not what the rest of us are used to. Complex sentences are the norm in this book. Reading it, there were many times when I had to stop and re-read a seemly simple sentence. “I know every word in this sentence, it is perfectly grammatical. Why can I not understand what she is saying?!”
I did, eventually, figure it out.
Let me clear say: this is not a criticism of Dr. Sheff’s writing. This is the norm for popular sciences books (as well as philosophy, and several other fascinating subjects). Some professions just seem to lead to a very complicated writing style. (Bill Bryson has written the only popular science book I could easily read–because he isn’t a scientist, he’s a journalist writing about science. See the difference?)
If you enjoy popular science books written by actual researchers you’ll find The Polyamorists Next Door right up your alley. If this style of writing is new to you, it may take you some time to adjust. Take it slow, and you’ll get through.
Well Worth the Read
This isn’t a book review blog, so I’m not going to give The Polyamorists Next Door any kind of star rating. I will say that it is a very valuable book that the poly community has needed for a long time. I think it is well worth picking up a copy. Read it, then add The Polyamorists Next Door to your personal lending library. Share with friends, family, and anyone else who is willing to learn more about polyamory.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful.
This is an excellent book. This book isn’t just for people who practice polyamory or are interested in polyamory, this book is just interesting for the sake of understanding alternative lifestyles. This book covers what seems like everything. From pros to cons, conflict resolution, even how it can effect the children involved in the household. I highly recommend this book to anyone who finds interest in alternative lifestyles. This is one of the most fascinating books I’ve read in quite some time.
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