Book Review: When Someone You Love is Polyamorous

Image description: the book cover is white with red lettering for the title “When Someone You Love is Polyamorous” and black lettering for the subtitle: “Understanding Poly People and Relationships.” There is an illustration of a branch with green leaves and red berries in the upper right corner. The book rests in a decorative glass bowl.

“When Someone You Love Is Polyamorous: Understanding Poly People and Relationships” by Dr. Elisabeth Sheff is a great little book created for family and friends of people in polyamorous relationships. The book was published in 2016 by Thorntree Press.

When someone comes out as being polyamorous, or in a multi-partner relationship, those close to them are often worried, overwhelmed, and bogged down by a plethora of misconceptions surrounding open relationships. This book aims to soothe these worries, correct harmful stereotypes, and give some concise, compassionate information to make the conversations a little less overwhelming.

The book is 41 pages long and in the text the author refers to the book as a pamphlet. The size of the book does not bother me. I think it is difficult to hand someone who is not personally interested in being in an open relationship a 400 page book about ethical non-monogamy. The condensed nature of this book is a great place to begin a conversation and give friends or family a manageable amount of information to contemplate. With a glossary and resources section at the end, the book is well organized and easy to navigate.

I feel this book gives a very balanced overview of polyamory. While the author definitely focuses on the good things in polyamorous relationships, she also includes reasons people do not continue in polyamorous relationships, why polyamory might not work for some, and highlights the effort needed to make polyamory work well.

The author also states in the beginning of the book that she herself is monogamous, but she has been studying and writing about polyamorous relationships for many years. I think this really makes the book relatable to the target audience and gives everyone – monogamous and open alike – a chance to have a meaningful conversation about different types of relationships.

I would definitely recommend this book to loved ones of those in polyamorous relationships. It is a wonderful supplement to the many conversations I hope people are beginning to have about different kinds of relationships.

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