Book Review: Designer Relationships

Image description: the book sets facing outward on a shelf full of sexuality books. The cover is white with bright neon colors for the title and subtitle with a simple circle illustration of several neon colors. The text reads Designer Relationships, A guide to happy monogamy, positive polyamory, and optimistic open relationships, How to create what works for you, Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson.

Designer Relationships: A guide to happy monogamy, positivepolyamory, and optimistic open relationships by Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson is a 2015 book published by Cleis Press.

I reviewed an earlier book written by these authors called Partners in Passion, which you can see here. I really liked this book, so I was excited to see another title by these authors.

I love the premise of Designer Relationships. The authors give readers the tools to understand why we engage in the types of relationships we do. Oftentimes, we end up being in a certain type of relationship not because it suits our needs and desires, but because other people, society, or trends dictate they are the “best” types of relationships. The authors assert that every relationship is unique and should be engaged in with conscious focus on what works best for those involved rather than trying to fit into a mold.

Of course, the reasons we try to fit into these molds are because of rampant stereotypes and myths surrounding monogamy or open relationships. A bulk of the book untangles these stereotypes and tackles myths of love and relationships.

There are seven chapters that are broken into subcategories throughout the book which makes navigation very easy. The book is 152 pages long, which makes it a great book if you are just beginning to introduce these ideas into your relationship/s and would like to take time digesting the content.

There is also a fantastic and complete resource guide at the end of the book that is very valuable.

Though the layout is great, I found the flow of the narration could have been a bit clearer at times – I would be reading and have to stop, back up a couple paragraphs and try again. The authors have a very distinct voice, so this quibble is not a deal breaker.

I also thought the section on monogamy was a little rough. Considering there are a ton of other resources that focus on people being in exclusive monogamous relationships, this isn’t necessarily a loss, but I would have liked to see a solid chapter on all angles of the relationships covered in the text.

My favorite chapter was the chapter that discussed misconceptions surrounding ethical non-monogamy. I feel many people want more flexibility and open communication in their monogamous relationships but steer clear of anything that resembles non-monogamy because of these misconceptions. This chapter brings forth much philosophy to soften the harsh reactions many have toward open relationships.

I feel this book bridges some of the divides in the “Monogamy VS Open” debate, showing how these relationship skills and ways of building our relationships can be applied to either philosophy.

Ultimately this is a great tool to have in your toolbox when thinking about relationships – how to build what you want with the reason and purpose that makes the most sense for you and those you care about.

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