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Page l of 220 

1997 by Dossie Easton & Catherine A. Liszt 

All rights reserved. Except for brief passages quoted in newspaper, magazine, 
radio or television reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced in any form 
or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording 
or by information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from 
the Publisher. 

Cover illustration by Kai Harper. 

Cover design by Design Tribe San Francisco. 

Published in the United States by Greenery Press, 3739 Balboa Ave. #195, San 
Francisco, CA 94121. E-mail: 
http:/ / -greenery 

ISBN 0-890159-01-8 

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Part I: Within ourselves. 

1. Who Is An Ethical Slut? 

2. Values and Ethics Chapter 

3. Paradigms, Old and New Chapter 

4. The Language in This Book Chapter 

5. Ancestors & Antecedents Chapter 

6. Slut Skills Chapter 

7. Slutstyles Chapter 8. Enjoying Sex 

Part II: between one another. 

1. Boundaries Chapter 

2. Slut Economies Chapter 

3. Jealousy Chapter 

4. Sluts in Love Chapter 

5. Conflict Chapter 

6. Agreements 

Part III: in the world 

1. A Slut's-Eye View Chapter 

2. Health Chapter 

3. Childrearing 

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Part IV: having fun 

1. Finding Partners 

2. Group Sex, Public Sex, Orgies 

Conclusion: A Slut Utopia 
Resources For Sluts 
About Our Other Books 

Page 4 of 220 


Many, many thanks for the information and encouragement we received from: 

Cecelia & Corwin Sunny Knight 
Betty Dodson Adric Petrucelli 
Jaymes Easton Carol Queen 
Francesca Guido Maggi Rubenstein 
Lizzard Henry Ruth & Edward 
Sybil Holiday Doug Stinson 

Ron Hoffman Susan S. Richard Karpinsky Snow White 
Laurie & Chris Tom & Katy 
Deirdre McGrath Joi Wolfwomyn 

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From Dossie to Jim Carver, who made the space for me to learn and Kai Harper, 
my beloved and outrageous partner in love and in life 

From Catherine to Barbara, with love and gratitude and to Jay, my him finally 
and always 

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Many people dream of living an open sexual life- of having all the sex and love 
and friendship they want. Most never try, believing that such a life is 
impossible. Of those who try, many give up, finding the challenges 
insurmountable- or at least too hard for them. A few persist, and discover that 
being openly sexual and intimate with many people is not only possible, but 
can be more rewarding than they ever imagined. 

People have been succeeding at free love for many decades -often quietly, 
without much fanfare. In this book, we will share the techniques, the skills, 
the ideals that have made it work for them. 

So who is an ethical slut? We are. Many, many others are. Maybe you are too. 
If you dream of freedom, if you dream of sex, if you dream of an abundance of 
friends and flirtation and consensual conquest, of following your desires and 
seeing where they take you, you've already taken the first step. 

Why We Chose This Title 

From the moment you saw or heard about this book, you probably guessed 
that some of the terms here may not have the same meanings you're 
accustomed to. 

What kind of person would revel in calling himself a slut? And why would 
he insist on being recognized for his ethics? 

In most of the world, "slut" is a highly offensive term, used to describe a 
woman whose sexuality is voracious, indiscriminate and shameful. It's 
interesting to note that the analogous word "stud," used to describe a highly 
sexual man, is often a term of approval and envy. If you ask about a man's 
morals, you will probably hear about his honesty, loyalty, integrity and high 
principles. When you ask about a woman's morals, you are more likely to hear 

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about who she fucks and under what conditions. We have a problem with this. 

So we are proud to reclaim the word "slut" as a term of approval, even 
endearment. To us, a slut is a person of any gender who has the courage to 
lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is 
good for you. A slut may choose to have sex with herself only, or with the Fifth 
Fleet. He may be heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual, a radical activist or a 
peaceful suburbanite. 

As proud sluts, we believe that sex and sexual love are fundamental forces for 
good- activities with the potential to strengthen intimate bonds, enhance 
lives, create spiritual awareness, even change the world. And, furthermore, we 
believe that all consensual sexual choices have these potentials- that any 
sexual pathway, consciously chosen and mindfully followed, can be a positive, 
creative force in the lives of individuals and their communities. 

A slut shares his sexuality the way a philanthropist shares her money because 
they have a lot of it to share, because it makes them happy to share it, because 
sharing makes the world a better place. Sluts often find that the more sex and 
love they give away, the more they have- a loaves-and-fishes miracle in which 
greed and generosity go hand-in-hand to provide more for everybody. 
Imagine living in sexual abundance! 

Sexual adventurousness 

The world generally views sluts as debased, degraded, promiscuous, 
indiscriminate, jaded, immoral adventurers, destructive, out of control and 
driven by some form of psychopathology that prevents them from entering 
into a healthy monogamous relationship. Oh, yes, and definitely not ethical. 
We see ourselves as people who are committed to finding a place of sanity 
with sex, and to freeing ourselves to enjoy our sexuality and to share it in as 
many ways as may fit for each of us. We may not always know what fits 
without trying it on, so we tend to be curious and adventurous. When we see 
someone who intrigues us, we like to be free to respond, and in exploring our 
own response, discover whatever is special about that person we are turned on 
to. We like relating to people, and tend to be gregarious, enjoying the 

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company of different sorts of folk, and reveling in how our differences expand 
our horizons and offer us new ways to be ourselves. 

Sluts tend to want a lot of things: different forms of sexual expression, 
different people, perhaps men and women both. We are curious: what would 
it be like to combine the energies of four or five people in one incandescent 
sexual encounter? What would it be like to share physical intimacy with that 
person who has been my best friend for ten years? What would it be like with 
this other person who is so very different from me? Some of us express more 
than one identity in intimate encounters with diverse people. Some of us love 
flirtation for its own sake, as an art form, and others make an art form out of 
sex. All of us love adventure. 

When Dossie was a young adult, and not yet aware of herself as a slut, she 
found herself fascinated by people from all the different cultures she could 
find in urban America, and used to describe her sexual curiosity as her own 
idiosyncratic form of cross-cultural anthropology. 

I delighted in finding people who were new and different: I learned an 
enormous amount from people who grew up in cultures that were more 
emotionally and sexually expressive than mine was, or who could see beauty 
in places I had never looked before. I'd grown up in a small mono cultural 
town in New England, very rigid, lily white, Waspish. In the exploration of 
otherness I found answers to many of the dilemmas of my programming, or 
my culture-bound thinking: new ways I could be that worked better for me. 

Dossie certainly took a lot of risks in her reckless exploration of all the 
different sexualities she could find in New York City. For her, it was worth it. 
For some of us, sluttishness is a basic part of our identity, how we know 

One of the most valuable things we can learn from open sexual lifestyles is 
that our programming is changeable. Starting by questioning all the ways we 
have been told our sexuality ought to be, we can begin to edit and rewrite our 
old tapes. So by breaking the rules, we both free and empower ourselves. 

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Catherine remembers learning that there was such a thing as a gay man: 

"I must have been eight or nine, but even then, I understood the subtext of 
what I was hearing— that these men didn't belong in my comfortable 
suburban environment, that they had sex with each other in spite of the fact 
that many people thought it was wrong for them to do so, that they didn't 
necessarily get married and only have sex with one person, that they had 
their own communities where they hung out together and took care of each 
other because regular people didn't want them around. And I immediately 
got this strong sense of "Oh, people like me. " Two decades went by before I 
came out as a slut, and another decade before I came out as bisexual, but 
there was something about the whole idea that I simply understood and 
responded to deep in my gut. 

A slut's eye view 

What does this all look like from the slut's point of view? We see ourselves 
first and foremost as individuals, with virtues and faults and diverse 
differences. We are people who like sex, and who like many diverse kinds of 
people. We are not necessarily sexual athletes although we do tend to train 
more than most. But good sex is not contingent on setting world records. We 
value sex for the pleasure it brings us, and the good times we get to share with 
however many wonderful people. We love adventure. Once again, in some 
contexts the word adventurer is pejorative, suggesting that the adventurous 
person is immature or ungenuine, not really willing to "grow up" and "settle 
down" into a monogamous lifestyle. So what's wrong with having adventures? 
Can we have adventures and still raise children, buy houses and develop our 
careers? You bet we can. Sluts qualify for mortgages just like everybody else. 
We tend to like our lives complicated, with lots of stuff going on to keep us 
interested and engaged. 

We hate boredom. We are people who are greedy to experience all that life has 
to offer, and also generous in sharing what we have to offer to others. We are 
the good times had by all. 

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Sexual diversity 

This book is written for everybody straight, gay, bi, male, female, transsexual, 
pan sexual and more. In writing to include everyone, we will use some 
language in a way that may be new to some readers. We have deliberately 
mixed up our use of male and female pronouns, because we're sick of words 
like "she" and we can't quite wrap our traditionally grammatical minds around 
the singular pronoun "they." We encourage you to change pronouns to fit your 
own situations and relationships: our intention is to celebrate sexual diversity 
wherever we find it. 


Between us, we represent a fairly large slice of the pie that is sexual diversity. 
Dossie has identified first as heterosexual, then as bi, and most recently as 
lesbian for the last sixteen years: no matter what she thought she was doing, 
she has always been a slut. She committed to an open sexual lifestyle twenty- 
seven years ago and has spent about half of that time living single. She is 
currently partnered to a fabulous woman, and makes her living as a therapist 
specializing in relationship issues and alternative sexualities. Catherine lived 
as a teenaged slut in college, but then essayed monogamy in a traditional 
heterosexual marriage for well over a decade. Since then, she has come out as 
bisexual; she currently lives in a committed open relationship with a male 
partner, and maintains a loving live-apart relationship with a girlfriend. She 
writes books (under this name and her other pseudonym "Lady Green"), and 
runs the publishing company that brought you this book. We are both 
mothers of grown or near-grown children. Both of us also maintain intimate 
and sexual connections with one another and with extensive extended families 
of lovers and friends. 

Here are a couple of scenes from our lives, one a moment of pain, one a 
moment of pleasure, which we chose to help you understand why and how we 
live the way we do. 


My lover is late coming home. I hope she is all right- this morning she left in 

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tears. Last night we both cried until very late my eyes still burn. I hope she 
will not be too angry with me, or then again, her anger might be easier to 
bear than if she just hurts. Last night I thought my heart would break from 
feeling her pain. 

And it's my fault, my choice, my responsibility. I am asking my lover to go 
through the fire for reasons most of the rest of the world consider frivolous if 
not downright reprehensible- lam asking my lover to suffer because I hate 

I have hated monogamy for twenty-seven years, since I left my daughter's 
violent father, fighting my way out the door, bruised and pregnant, 
promising anything, promising I would call my parents for money, lying. 
After I escaped Joe he sent me suicide threats, and threatened murder- one 
time he almost found us and set fires around the house he thought we were 
still in. 

Joe was very possessive. Initially I found this attractive, proof positive that 
he really cared about me... My lover is back. She brought me a flower. She 
still doesn't want a hug. She feels her house has been invaded by alien 
energy. I was very careful to clean up, all is very tidy, dinner is ready, 
appeasement and placation, I'll do anything not to feel so horrid. My lover 
doesn't want to go to a movie, she isn't hungry, she guesses she'll take a 

Joe was very possessive. I was perfectly faithful. He would beat me, 
screaming imprecations, "You slut!" when another man looked at me. After I 
left, I decided he was right- lama slut, I want to be a slut, I will never 
promise monogamy again. After all why would anybody care who I fucked? 
I will never be a piece of property again, no matter how valuable that 
property is considered. 

Joe made a feminist of me. A feminist slut. This was in San Francisco in 
1969, so I decided to invent a new lifestyle. I was sick of being valued by my 
success at decorating some man's arm, and I was perfectly terrible at being 
Susie Homemaker. I like winning chess games and talking philosophy. I 
often talk more than I listen. I very very much wanted to be free to simply 
enjoy sex, for whatever reason with whoever came my way that I liked. I 

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also needed to find my strength and my independence from knights in 
shining armor, so I vowed to remain single for five years in order to figure 
out who I am when I am running my own life. I made a life creed out of 

My lover is still petting the dog. Goddess, the vibes are horrible. Why did I 
insist on doing this? I'm in no way perishing from unfulfilled lust. I actually 
wasn't even particularly horny, or salivating for Catherine and Catherine 
only. We have always had a sexual relationship, my co-author and me, that 
is part of how we write books, and how we are the dearest of friends. We 
have been patiently waiting to resume that relationship when my newfound 
and most beloved partner was ready. My lover has already conquered the 
terrors of group sex -tomorrow we will have another couple over for dinner 
and my birthday spanking, which she herself arranged with no egging on 
from me. She never was embarrassed at orgies, much to her own 
amazement. Within the last year she has had more new sexual experiences 
than possibly she had in the previous forty-eight years, and taken to it all 
like a duck to water. Except this. 

Except her lover having a date with one other person. She has trouble 
accepting me having sex that doesn't include her, has trouble feeling left out, 
has trouble that we are doing it in our home this time, not neutral territory. 
Maybe this was a mistake. Maybe I make a lot of mistakes. 

She still won't come near me. The air is heavy with pain, her voice thick 
with anger- how could I hurt her like this? Goddess, I hate this. 

The family had welcomed her with open arms and everything else. When I 
decided to create my new way twenty -five years ago, I figured that I would 
never again take my security from my relationship, particularly not from 
the sexual exclusivity of my relationship. Joe had cheated on me, I knew that, 
it didn't even bother me very much. I sort of expected it. I resented those 
cultural values that said that my sense of security and self-worth were 
contingent on the status of whatever man I managed to attract to me, as if I 
had no status of my own. So I vowed to discover a security in myself, the 
stable ground of my very own being, something to do, I thought, with self- 

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respect and self-acceptance. But what about other people? What about 
support? What about love? 

San Francisco in 1969 was still very much in the communal era , so I figured 
I would get my support from my extended family , my kinship network that 
consisted of everybody that I was connected to, through friendship, 
communal living, co parenting and/or sex. And it worked. Being openly 
open, and loudly unavailable for partnering, created a new kind of 
environment. I introduced my lovers to each other and lots of them liked 
each other. People had new experiences. Male lovers met female lovers, 
dykes met queers, many people made many connections. A couple of other 
single mothers (there were a lot of us after the Summer of Love) joined with 
me -we called our household Liberated Ladies at Large. 

There is still a tendency for loose lovers to form kinship networks from their 
sexual connections, and customs, even sort of a culture, has begun to emerge. 
And so it is customary, in my brand new culture, for one's lovers to welcome 
a new lover as, not competition, but an addition to the community. And a 
very concrete addition at that. 

I remember the first time I partnered with an equally sexually gregarious 
woman, and we hastened to ensure that each of us had the opportunity to 
have sex with each of the other's lovers: welcome to the family. 

My lover is ready to talk now. She is pissed. She is seriously pissed. She 
resents me for every miserable terrified thought she has had today, she is 
furious that I would subject her to the unprotected experience of her own 
feelings, and that's not what she said, that's my interpretation. And that's 
not what I said either- this was no time to get uppity about clean boundaries 
and the importance of owning your own feelings. I listened. This time I 
listened, without interrupting, trying only to let her know that I love her, I 
feel her pain, I am here for her- this is very painful. She is furious with me 
and I am not giving myself permission to defend myself, and I hurt. 

This story has no tidy ending- we talked for hours, or maybe I listened, and I 
heard how difficult it was for her, how she felt invaded, how she felt her 

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home was not safe, how she feared that my other lover would not like her, 
how she felt attacked by her and me both, how very much she feared I was 
abandoning her. We came to no pat little answers that make good stories for 
books -we just poured out anguish, and went to sleep exhausted. We woke up 
the next morning feeling better, but still not over it- the issue resurfaced 
occasionally for the next couple of days. The birthday party helped, a 
subsequent date with Catherine and her girlfriend and my lover and me 
helped, although it was difficult. 

My lover and I are still in love, and still working on it. We are committed to 
this relationship, and to working through our differences with compassion 
for each other and ourselves. I am from time to time terrified that she will 
leave me, just because I hate monogamy. 


I'm in the bedroom right now. My life partner is in the bathroom, 
showering another woman's juices off his skin as he gets ready to go teach 
a class tonight. And how, as the shrinks used to say, does that make me 

Well, I wish he'd get out of the shower and turn off the TV because I'm trying 
to concentrate. And I'm glad that my housemate lover is downstairs talking 
to the other woman so that I dont have to go be sociable when I'd rather 
work. But aside from that, I’m feeling fine, enjoying a quiet moment in which 
to write, and wondering idly about what to serve my teenaged kids for 

For most people, I guess, this would be unthinkable. I'm supposed to be 
feeling rejected and insecure, awash in rage and jealousy. If I were really 
good at this, I'd throw stuff at him, cry, threaten to leave him. So what's 
wrong with me? 

Whatever it is, it's been "wrong” for a long time. The first night I spent with 
my husband-to-be took place because my best friend, who had come to drive 
me to a doctor's appointment the next day, was spending the night with my 
current boyfriend- with my wholehearted approval. During my young 

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adulthood, my friends and I shared lovers as casually and generously as we 
shared munchies. 

And then, somehow, I hit my early 20s and began, without much thought or 
volition, to turn into a "normal” person. We got married in his parents' 
church. We had a couple of kids. We bought a house, then a bigger one. We 
spent long hours at work. I can't remember ever even discussing whether or 
not we wanted to be monogamous -we just were. 

Ten years later, I awoke to find myself a slut stranded in suburbia. I started 
questioning some assumptions that we'd taken for granted. What if I got 
together with others but didn't have intercourse with them? What if I 
brought home a lover for both of us to share? No, no, no. He didn't feel 
comfortable with any of those options. I felt more and more trapped. He felt 
more and more exploited. Finally, with sadness and a sense of inevitability , 
we parted (mostly) friends. 

Suddenly, the world was my candy store. I discovered rapidly that a woman 
who is interested in sex and open to many sexual experiences, but explicitly 
not interested in marriage, tends to become extremely popular extremely 
fast. I had my first female lover, my first three way relationship. Rather 
quickly, I settled into a great circle of "fuck buddies" people I warmly liked, 
who I could call for a movie or a meal or a fuck or a conversation. I 
remember telling a recently divorced colleague -a woman of greater 
conventional beauty, wealth and desirability than I— that since my breakup 
I'd never spent a weekend night alone except by choice. She, miserable in her 
husband-hunting struggles, couldn't believe it. And at the time, I didn't have 
the words to explain to her how attractive happy, guilt-free, noncommittal 
sex could make a person. 

Into the midst of this comfortable menagerie fell my new partner. We were 
passionately in love almost from our first meeting, yet it never even 
occurred to us to discuss the possibility of monogamy: both of us "defaulted" 
to slut hood as easily as my ex and I had "defaulted” to monogamy a decade 
and a half before. I tell people that we were both dating others at the time we 
met, and simply forgot to stop. (He had never been monogamous in his life 

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and had no intention of starting, and I'd had enough monogamy to last me 
several lifetimes.) 

He met all the people I'd been having sex with; some he got along with, some 
he didn't, but he never asked me to change my behavior toward any of them. 
I met his lovers too, and wound up having sex with a few of them myself. 

That was almost seven years ago. We've had lovers who have passed out of 
one of our lives only to become close friends of the other; lovers who have 
become so close that they've joined our household; lovers who have helped us 
publish our books, raise our kids, understand our lives, get our rocks off. 
Separately and together, we've had casual fuck buddy -hoods, intimate 
loving friendships, intense romantic crushes. So far- and I cross my fingers 
as I write this- it's all working out. 

When I meet people who tell me that they are monogamous because other 
relationship styles are "too hard. " I feel puzzled. I've done monogamy and 
I've done slut hood and there's no question in my mind which one is harder 
for me. 

Meanwhile, a little while ago my partner popped out of the shower all clean 
and glowing. (Yes, the TV's off, and I decided on baked beans and hot dogs 
for dinner.) I asked him, "So, did you have a good time?" He grinned and 
nodded. "And did she have a good time?" He grinned wider and nodded 
more emphatically. And that was that. We kissed goodbye, said "I love you, " 
and he went off to work. 

Whatever's wrong with me, I hope it never gets cured. 

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Values: denial vs. fulfillment 

Dossie's bachelor's thesis was entitled "Sex Is Nice And Pleasure Is Good For 
You." That idea is as radical now, in the '90s, as it was back in the '70s when 
Dossie first wrote it. 

Our culture positively worships self-denial- those who unapologetically satisfy 
their desires, whether they be for food, recreation or sex, are vilified as 
immature, disgusting, even sinful. While we'll leave it to other authors to 
speak against anorexia and workaholism, we can certainly say that we see the 
path of sex-negativism and living in sexual deprivation as a harmful one. Self- 
loathing, hatred of one's own body and sexuality, fear and guilt over one's own 
sexual urges are the outcome. 

We see ourselves surrounded by the "walking wounded" by people who have 
been deeply, if not irrevocably, injured by fear, shame and hatred of their own 
sexual selves. We believe that happy connected sex is the cure for these 
wounds, that it is is important, possibly even essential, to most people's sense 
of self-worth, to their belief that life is good. We have never met anyone who 
had low self-esteem at the moment of orgasm. 

Does sex need a "reason"? 

If you walk up to a randomly selected individual and propose that sex is nice 
and pleasure is good for you, you will probably hear a lot of spluttering, 
argument and "yahbuts" _ AIDS, unwanted pregnancies, rape, the Madison 
Avenue commercialization of sexual desire, and so on. None of which change 
the core idea. 

There is nothing in the world so terrific that it can't be abused if you're 
determined to do so: familial connections can be violated, sexual desire can be 
manipulated. Even chocolate can be abused. That doesn't change the basic 
wonderfulness of any of these things: the danger lies in the motivation of the 
abuser, not the nature of the item. 

Page 19 of 220 

Sex gets a bad rap from our an hedonic culture, whose Puritan roots have led 
to a deep distrust of pleasure for its own sake. That distrust often expresses 
itself in concerns like those expressed by our mythical person on the street 
above. If there were no such thing as sexually transmitted disease, if nobody 
got pregnant unless they wanted to, if all sex were consensual and pleasurable, 
how would the world feel about it then? How would you feel? 

If you look deep inside yourself, we bet you can find bits and pieces of sex- 
negativism, often hiding behind judgmental words like "promiscuous," 
"hedonistic," "decadent" and "nonproductive." (The two of us are about as 
slutty as you can get, and we're certainly not immune to this sort of cultural 

Even people who consider themselves sex-positive and sexually liberated often 
fall into a different trap the trap of rationalizing sex. Releasing physical 
tension, relieving menstrual symptoms, maintaining mental health, 
preventing prostate problems, making babies, cementing relationships and so 
on are all admirable goals, and wonderful side benefits of sex. But they are not 
what sex is for. Sex is for pleasure, a complete and worthwhile goal in and of 
itself. People have sex because it feels very good, and then they feel good about 
themselves. The worthiness of pleasure is one of the core values of ethical slut 
hood ethics 

We are ethical people, ethical sluts. It is very important to us to treat people 
well and not hurt anyone. Our ethics come from our own sense of Tightness, 
and from the empathy and love we hold for those around us. It is not okay 
with us to hurt another person because then we hurt too, and we don't feel 
good about ourselves. 

Ethical slutdom is a challenging path: we dont have a polyamorous Miss 
Manners telling us how to do our thing courteously and respectfully, so we 
have to make it up as we go along. However, we're sure you've figured out by 
now that to us, being a slut doesn't mean simply doing whatever you want, 
whenever you want, with whomever you want. 

So in this slightly disorienting world of slut hood in which everything your 
mom, your minister, your spouse and your television ever told you is probably 

Page 20 of 220 

wrong, how do you find your ethical center? 

Most of our criteria for ethics are quite pragmatic. Is anyone being harmed? Is 
there any way to avoid causing that harm? Are there any risks? Is everybody 
involved aware of those risks and doing what can be done to minimize them? 
And, on the positive side: How much fun is it? What is everybody learning 
from it? Is it helping someone to grow? Is it helping make the world a better 

First and foremost, ethical sluts value consent. When we use this word- and 
we will, often, throughout this book- we mean "an active collaboration for the 
benefit, well-being and pleasure of all persons concerned." If someone is being 
coerced, bullied, blackmailed, manipulated, lied to or ignored, what is 
happening is not consensual. And sex which is not consensual is not ethical- 

Ethical sluts are honest- with ourselves and others. We take time with 
ourselves, to figure out our own emotions and motivations, and to untangle 
them for greater clarity when necessary. Then we openly share that 
information with those who need it. We do our best not to let our fears and 
bashfulness be an obstacle to our honesty- we trust that our partners will go 
on respecting and loving us, warts and all. 

Ethical sluts also recognize the ramifications of our sexual choices. We see 
that our emotions, our upbringing and the standards of our culture often 
conflict with our sexual desires. And we make a conscious commitment to 
supporting ourselves and our partners as we deal with those conflicts, 
honestly and honorably. 

We do not allow our sexual choices to have an unnecessary impact on those 
who have not consented to participate. We are respectful of others' feelings, 
and when we aren't sure how someone feels, we ask. 

Ethical sluts recognize the difference between things they can and should 
control, and things they can't. While we sometimes may feel jealous or 
territorial, we own those feelings doing our best not to blame or control, but 
asking for the support we need to help ourselves feel safe and cared for. 

Page 21 of 220 

All of this can be hard, but your authors are here to help. We wrote this book 
to help you become an ethical slut. 

Sex and Relationships 

Our monogamy-centrist culture tends to assume that the purpose and 
ultimate goal of all relationships- and, for that matter, all sex- is lifetime pair- 
bonding, and that any relationship which falls short of that goal has failed. We 

We think sexual pleasure can certainly contribute to love, commitment, and 
long-term stability, if that's what you want. But those are hardly the only good 
reasons for having sex. We believe in valuing relationships for what makes 
them valuable, a seeming tautology which is wiser than it sounds. 

A relationship may be valuable simply because it affords sexual pleasure to 
those involved; there is nothing wrong with sex for sex's sake. Or it might 
involve sex as a pathway to other lovely things -intimacy, connection, 
companionship, even romantic love- which in no way obviates the basic 
goodness of the pleasurable sex. 

A sexual relationship may last for an hour or two. It's still a relationship; the 
participants have related to one another, as sex partners, companions and/or 
lovers, for the duration of their interaction. Longevity is not a good criterion 
by which to judge the success or failure of a relationship: Edna St. Vincent 
Millay wrote: 

After all, my erstwhile dear, My no longer cherished. Need we say it wasn't 
love Just because it perished? 

One-night stands can be intense, life-enhancing and fulfilling; so can lifetime 
love affairs. While ethical sluts may choose to have some kinds of 
relationships and not others, we believe that all relationships have the 
potential to teach us, move us, and above all give us pleasure. 

Our friend Jaymes says, "I believe that every person you connect with on this 
planet has some sort of a message to give you. If you cut yourself off from 
whatever kind of relationship wants to form with that person, you're failing to 

Page 22 of 220 

pick up your messages. 

Or, to put it another way, Dossie remembers an interview with a young flower 
child back in 1967 who made the most succinct statement of ethical slut hood 
we've ever seen: "We believe it's okay to have sex with anybody you love... and 
we believe in loving everybody!" 

See there? You dont need a lot of "thou shalt nots" to be an ethical person. 
Honesty, empathy, foresight, integrity, intelligence and respect will do just 

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We're sure you dont need us to tell you that the world does not, for the most 
part, honor slut hood or think well of those who are sexually explorative. In 
this chapter we'll discuss some of the ideas and assumptions that have helped 
make so many sluts feel bad about themselves. While you read them, you 
might like think about what all these judgments about sluts tell us about our 


This means we enjoy too many sexual partners. This word alone has possibly 
created more unhappy sluts than any other. (We've also been called 
"indiscriminate" in our sexuality, which we resent: we can always tell our 
lovers apart.) 

We do not believe that there is such a thing as too much sex, except perhaps 
on certain happy occasions when our options exceed our abilities, nor do we 
believe that the ethics we are talking about here have anything to do with 
moderation or abstinence. Kinsey once defined a "nymphomaniac" as 
"someone who has more sex than you." 

Is having less sex somehow more virtuous than having more? We think not. 
We measure the ethics of a good slut not by the number of his partners, but 
by the respect and care with which he treats them. 


Our culture also tells us that sluts are evil, uncaring, amoral and destructive- 
jezebel, Casanova, Don Juan. Watch out! The mythological evil slut is 
grasping and manipulative, seeking to steal something -virtue, money, self- 
esteem- from his partners. In some ways, this archetype is based on the idea 

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that sex is a commodity, a coin you trade for something else stability, children, 
a wedding ring and that any other transaction constitutes being cheated and 
betrayed. (Once when Dossie was recovering from a botched abortion a 
friendly nurse tried to comfort her by saying, "I know, honey, they all promise 
to marry you." Dossie managed to keep a straight face- the nurse was friendly 
and supportive, and it seemed cruel to inform her that she wouldn't have 
dreamed of marrying the unethical slut who by this time was conspicuous only 
by his cowardly absence.) 

We have rarely observed any Jezebels or Casanovas in our community, but 
perhaps it is not very satisfying for a thief to steal what is freely given. We do 
not worry about being robbed of our sexual value by the people we share 
pleasure with. 


Some people base their sense of ethics on what God, or their church, or their 
parents, or their culture, considers okay or not okay. They believe that being 
good consists of obedience to laws set down by a power greater than 
themselves. Dossie remembers explaining to some family friends that she had 
left the church she was raised in because she didn't believe a just God would 
punish her aunt for getting a (much justified) divorce. The family friends were 
pretty conservative people, and of an older generation. One of them asked, 
"Well, if you dont believe God will punish you, why dont you just go around 
murdering people?" Dossie explained that she doesn't murder people because 
her internal sense of ethics, her empathy with others, and her desire to feel 
good about herself, all tell her that to harm another person would be a terrible 
thing for her to do. 

To believe that God doesn't like sex is like believing that God doesn't like you: 
we all wind up carrying a secret shame for our own perfectly natural sexual 
desires and fulfillments. We prefer the beliefs of a woman we met who is a 
devoted churchgoer. She told us that when she was about five years old, she 
discovered the joys of masturbation in the back seat of the family car, tucked 
under a warm blanket on a long trip. It felt so wonderful that she concluded 
that the existence of her clitoris was proof positive that God loved her. 

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In the late 19th Century, with the advent of psychological studies of sexual 
behavior, Krafft-Ebing and Freud attempted to preach more tolerance by 
theorizing that sluts are not bad, but sick, suffering from psychopathology that 
is not their fault, since their neurosis derives from having their sexuality 
warped by their parents during their toilet training. So, theoretically, we 
should no longer burn sluts at the stake, but send them to mental hospitals to 
be cured of repression in an atmosphere that permits no sexual expression 

During your authors' childhood and adolescence in the early '60s, it was still 
common practice to certify and incarcerate adolescents for "treatment" of the 
"illness" of being sexual, especially if they were gay or lesbian, or female and 
in danger of damaging their market value as virgins. Heterosexual men were 
virtually never pathologized and incarcerated to prevent them from being 
sexual before they were eighteen. 

Consider the concept of nymphomania, a disease never attributed to men. It is 
woman, enjoying sex with no one in control except herself, who is considered 
dangerous and sick. Dossie notes that in three decades of being a sex radical, 
she has observed only one incidence of a person driven by such indiscriminate 
and constant sexual need that it constituted a destructive force in her life, who 
in Dossie's opinion matched the criteria for nymphomania. But she has clients 
in her therapy practice who describe themselves as nymphomaniacs if they 
masturbate every day. 


More recently we hear about sex addicts and avoidance of intimacy. Sex 
addiction is usually defined as the substitution of sex for nourishment of other 
needs, like to allay anxiety or bolster sagging self-esteem. Such people may 
have compulsive needs to "score," to succeed sexually with a large number of 
partners, or to get validation for their sexual attractiveness over and over, as if 
they need constant reassurance because at the core they do not see themselves 
as attractive and lovable. Sex can be misused as a substitute for connection, 

Page 26 of 220 

emotional relationship or a solid sense of internal security based on knowing 
your own worth. Some sexual abuse survivors become what is called 
"sexualized" in a childhood where the closest approximation to adult 
attention, validation and affection they had was molestation. Such survivors 
may need to expand their options and learn other ways to get their needs met. 
On the other hand, "sex addict" seems to be the latest incarnation of cultural 
judgment about sluts: a good friend of Catherine's once told her, quite 
seriously, that the reason Catherine was so contented was that she was a sex 
addict who had managed to find a way to make a lifestyle out of her addiction. 
If you are working on any of these issues, we suggest that you put some 
thought into how you would like your sexuality to be different in the future. 
Some twelve-step groups and therapists may try to tell you that anything but 
the most conservative of sexual behaviors is wrong, or unhealthy, or "into your 
addiction"; we encourage you to trust your own beliefs and find yourself a 
more supportive environment. If your goal is monogamy, that's fine, and if 
your goal is to stop seeking sex in the place of friendship, or any other 
behavior pattern that you wish to're sculpt that's fine too. We do not believe 
that successfully recovering sex addicts have to be monogamous unless they 
want to be. 


Is there, we wonder, some virtue in being difficult? 

Page 2 7 of 220 


One of the challenges facing the ethical slut is our culture's insistence that, 
simply because "everybody knows" something, it must inevitably be true. A lot 
of these cultural paradigms have become almost invisible; people take them as 
much for granted as the air they breathe or the ground they walk on. 
Questioning what "everybody knows" is sometimes difficult and disorienting, 
but we have found it to be rewarding -questioning is the first step toward 
creating a new paradigm, one that may fit you better. 

We urge you to regard with great skepticism any sentence that begins 
"Everybody knows that..." or "Common sense tells us that..." or "It's common 
knowledge that...." Often, these phrases are signposts for cultural belief 
systems which may be anti sexual monogamy-centrist and/or co dependent. 

Cultural belief systems can be very deeply rooted in literature, law and 
archetype, which means that shaking them from your own personal ethos 
can be difficult. But the first step in exploring them is, of course, recognizing 

Here, then, are some of the pervasive myths that we have heard all our lives, 
and have come to understand are most often untrue and destructive to our 
relationships and our lives. 

Myth #i: long-term monogamous relationships are the 
only real relationships. 

Lifetime monogamy as an ideal is a relatively new concept in human history, 
and makes us unique among primates. There is nothing that can be achieved 
within a long-term monogamous relationship that cannot be achieved without 
one- business partnership, deep romantic attachment, stable parenting, 
personal growth, and care and companionship during the aging process are all 
well within the abilities of the slut. 

People who believe this myth may feel that something is wrong with them if 
they aren't in a committed twosome- if they prefer to remain "free agents," if 

Page 28 of 220 

they discover themselves loving more than one person at a time, if they have 
tried one or more traditional relationships that didn't work out. Instead of 
questioning the myth, they question themselves. Such people often have a very 
romantic view of couple hood that Mr. or Ms. Right will automatically solve all 
their problems, fill all the gaps, make their lives complete. 

One friend of ours points out that if something goes wrong in a monogamous 
marriage, nobody takes that as evidence against the practicality of monogamy- 
but if something goes awry in an open relationship, many folks instantly take 
that as proof that non-monogamy doesn't work. 

A subset of this myth is the belief that if you're really in love, you will 
automatically lose all interest in others, and thus, if you're having sexual or 
romantic feelings toward anyone but your partner, you're not really in love. 
This myth has cost many people a great deal of happiness through the 
centuries, yet is untrue to the point of absurdity; a ring around the finger does 
not cause a nerve block to the genitals. Even happily monogamous couples 
recognize the realities of outside sexual and romantic desire: if Jimmy Carter 
could lust in his heart, so can you. 

Myth #2: sexual desire is a destructive force. 

This one goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, and leads to a lot of 
crazy-making double standards. In this worldview, men are hopelessly 
sexually voracious and predatory, and women are supposed to control and 
civilize them by being pure, asexual and withholding. Thus the openly sexual 
woman destroys civilization. 

Many people also believe that unashamed sexual desire, particularly desire for 
many people, destroys the family yet we suspect that far more families have 
been destroyed by bitter divorces over adultery than have ever been disturbed 
by ethical consensual nonmonogamy. 

Myth #3: loving someone makes it OK to control his behavior. 

This kind of territorial reasoning is designed, we guess, to make people feel 
secure- but we dont believe that anybody has the right, much less the 
obligation, to control the behavior of another functioning adult. Being treated 
according to this myth doesn't make us feel secure, it makes us feel furious. 

Page 29 of 220 

The old "awww, she's jealous- she must really care about me" reasoning, or 
the scene in which the girl falls in love with the boy when he punches out a 
rival suitor, are symptomatic of a very disturbed set of personal boundaries 
which can lead to a great deal of unhappiness. 

This myth also leads to the belief, so often promulgated in Hollywood films 
and popular literature, that fucking someone else is something you do to your 
partner, not for yourself- and is, moreover, the very worst thing you can do to 
someone. (For many years, adultery was the only legally acceptable grounds 
for divorce, leaving those who had unfortunately married batterers or drunks 
in a very difficult position.) People who believe this often believe that 
nonmonogamy must be non consensual in order to protect the sensibilities of 
the "betrayed" partner. 

Myth #4. jealousy is inevitable and impossible to overcome. 

Jealousy is, without a doubt, a very common experience in our culture -so 
much so that a person who doesn't experience jealousy is looked at as a bit 
odd, or in denial. But the fact is that a situation which would cause intense 
jealousy for one person can be no big deal for another. Some people get 
jealous when their honey takes a sip out of someone else's Coke, others 
happily watch their beloved wave bye-bye for a month of amorous sporting 
with a friend at the far end of the country. Jealousy is common, but far from 

Some people also believe that jealousy is such a shattering emotion that they 
have no choice but to succumb to it. On the contrary, we have found that 
jealousy is an emotion like any other: it feels bad (sometimes very bad), but it 
is not intolerable; sometimes the best thing to do with jealousy is simply to 
allow yourself to feel it. We have also found that many of the thinking patterns 
which lead to jealousy can be unlearned, and that unlearning them is often a 
useful process. Later in this book, we will discuss jealousy in much greater 

Page 30 of 220 

Myth #5: outside involvements reduce intimacy in the 
primary relationship and impede problem-solving. 

Most marriage counselors are taught that when a member of an otherwise 
happily married couple has an "affair," this must be a symptom of unresolved 
conflict or unfulfilled needs that should be dealt with in the primary 
relationship. Sometimes this is true, and equally often it is not. The problem is 
that this myth leaves no room for the possibility of growthful and constructive 
open sexual lifestyles. It is cruel and insensitive to interpret an affair as a 
symptom of sickness in the relationship, as it leaves the "cheated-on" partner 
who may already be feeling insecure- to wonder what is wrong with him. 
Meanwhile, the "cheating" partner gets told that she is only "acting out" to get 
back at her primary partner, and she really doesn't want, need or even like her 

Many people have sex outside their primary relationships for reasons that 
have nothing to do with any inadequacy in their partner or in the relationship. 
Perhaps this outside relationship allows a particular kind of intimacy that the 
primary partner doesn't even want, such as fetish behavior or particular 
sexual activities, and thus constitutes a resolution of an otherwise insoluble 
conflict. Or perhaps it meets other needs- such as a need for uncomplicated 
physical sex without the trappings of relationship, or for sex with someone of 
a gender other than one's partner's, or for sex at a time when it is otherwise 
not available (during travel or a partner's illness, for example). Or it may 
simply be a natural extension of an emotional and/or physical attraction to 
someone besides the primary partner. 

An outside involvement does not in any way have to subtract from the 
intimacy you share with your partner unless you let it. And we sincerely hope 
you won't. 

Myth #6: "swept away by love." 

Hollywood tells us that "love means never having to say you're sorry," and we, 
fools that we are, believe it. This myth has it that if you're really in love with 
someone, you never have to argue, disagree, communicate, negotiate or do 
any other kind of work. It also tells us that love means we automatically get 

Page 31 of 220 

turned on by our beloved, and that we never have to do anything to 
deliberately kindle passion. Those who believe this myth may find themselves 
feeling that their love has failed every time they need to schedule a discussion 
or to have a courteous (or not-so-courteous) disagreement. They may also 
believe that any sexual behavior that doesn't fit their criteria for "normal" sex- 
from fantasies to vibrators- is "artificial," and indicates that something is 
lacking in the quality of their love. 


So we just spent a whole section telling you about all the concepts and 
mythologies the world may believe about sluts. Now, we'll tell you our side of 
the story- the way we look at our lives and the lives of the people we know. 

You are already whole 

Jane Austen wrote, "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man 
in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. "3 While we think 
Jane probably had her tongue firmly planted in her cheek, a great many 
people do believe that to be single is to be somehow incomplete, and that they 
need to find their "other half." A lot of the myths we mentioned in the 
previous section are based in that belief. 

We believe, on the other hand, that the fundamental sexual unit is one person; 
adding more people to that unit may be intimate, fun and companionable but 
does not complete anybody. The only thing in this world that you can control 
is yourself- your own reactions, desires and behaviors. Thus, a fundamental 
step in ethical slut hood is to bring your locus of control into yourself- to 
recognize the difference between your "stuff and other people's. When you do 
this, you become able to complete yourself. That's why we call this "integrity." 

You may notice that the parts of this book are based in that idea: in Part I, we 
talk about the ideas and concepts you need to grasp within yourself; in Part II, 
we talk about interactions with other sluts; and in Part III, we discuss 
interactions with the world. (In Part IV, we cover the fun stuff that didn't fit in 
anywhere else.) Similarly, throughout the book, every time we introduce a new 

Page 32 of 220 

idea or concept, we will start by discussing how it works for the individual- 
you need to understand these concepts, and how they apply to you, before you 
can begin communicating your needs and ideas to the other people in your 
life. When you have built a satisfying relationship with yourself, then you have 
something of great worth to share with others. 

Starvation economies 

Many people believe, explicitly or implicitly, that romantic love, intimacy and 
connection are finite capabilities of which there is never enough to go around, 
and that if you give some to one person, you must be taking some away from 

We call this belief a "starvation economy"; we'll talk much more about it in 
Part II. Many of us learn to think this way in childhood, from parents who 
have little intimacy or attention for us, so we learn that there is only a limited 
amount of love in the world and we have to fight for whatever we get often in 
cutthroat competition with our brothers and sisters. 

People who operate from starvation economies can become very possessive 
about the people, things and ideas that matter to them. They are working from 
a paradigm that anything they get comes from a small pool of not-enough, and 
must thus be taken from someone else and, similarly, that anything anyone 
else gets must be taken from them. 

It is important to distinguish between starvation economies and real-world 
limits. Time, for example, is a real-world limit; even the most dedicated slut 
has only twenty-four hours every day. Love is not a real world limit: the 
mother of nine children can love each of them as much as the mother of an 
only child. 

Our belief is that the human capacity for sex and love and intimacy is far 
greater than most people think possibly infinite and that having a lot of 
satisfying connections simply makes it possible for you to have a lot more. 
Imagine what it would feel like to live in an abundance of sex and love, to feel 
that you had all of both that you could possibly want, free of any feelings of 
deprivation or neediness. Imagine how strong you would feel if you got to 
exercise your "love muscles" that much, and how much love you would have to 

Page 33 of 220 


Openness can be the solution, not the problem 

Is sexual adventurousness simply a way to avoid intimacy? Not usually, in our 

While it is certainly possible to use your outside relationships in order to avoid 
problems or intimacy in your primary relationship, we do not agree that this 
pattern is inevitable or even common. Many people, in fact, find that their 
outside relationships can increase their intimacy with their primary partner by 
reducing the pressures on that relationship, and by giving them a safe place to 
express issues that may have them feeling "stuck" in the primary relationship. 

These are our beliefs. You get to have beliefs of your own. What matters to us 
is not that you agree with us, but that you question the prevailing paradigm 
and decide for yourself what you believe. Thousands and thousands of ethical 
sluts are proving every day that the old "everybody knows" myths dont have to 
be true. 

We encourage you to explore your own realities and create your own ethos one 
that spurs you onward in your evolution, that supports you as you grow, and 
that reflects your pride and happiness in your newfound relationships. 

Page 34 of 220 



Toward a sex-positive language 

Most of the language available for us to talk about sex has built-in value 
judgments, just like the word slut" the legacy of our sex-negative history. 
Without language, how are we to communicate with each other, share our 
thoughts and feelings? Without language, we can hardly even think about sex. 
So efforts have been made to develop a language with which to talk dirty... 
whoops, pardon us: to talk about sex in a clean and positive way. Here are 
some terms that we use: 

Sex. You thought you already knew what this meant, didn't you? Well, we're 
not sure that we do. We have had long intense intimate conversations that felt 
deeply sexual to us. On the other hand, we have had intercourse that didn't 
feel terribly sexual. 

Our best definition here is that sex is whatever the people engaging in it think 
it is. For some people, spanking is sex. For others, wearing a garter belt and 
stockings is sex. If you and anybody else involved feel sexual when you eat ice- 
cream sundaes together, that's sex- for you. While this may sound silly now, 
it's a concept that will come in handy later in this book when we discuss 
making agreements about our sexual behaviors. 

Sex-negative. Sex is dangerous. Sexual desire is wrong. Female sexuality is 
destructive and evil. Male sexuality is predatory and uncontrollable. It is the 
task of every civilized human being to confine sexuality within very narrow 
limits. Sex is the work of the devil. God hates sex. Got the picture? 

Sex-positive. The belief that sex is a healthy force in our lives. This phrase 
was created by sex educators at the National Sex Forum in the late '60s. It 
describes a person or group which maintains an optimistic, open-minded, 
nonjudgmental attitude toward all forms of consensual sexuality. 

Nonjudgmental. An attitude which is free of irrational or unjustifiable 

Page 35 of 220 

moralizing. "Nonjudgmental" does not mean all accepting it means being 
willing to judge an activity or relationship on the basis of how well it works for 
the participants and not on some external standard of absolute Tightness or 
wrongness. Sometimes it means getting bigger than your judgments, just for a 
minute, so you can take a good look at them. 

Nonmonogamy. We dont like this term, because it implies that monogamy 
is the norm and that any other way of relating is somehow a deviation from 
that norm. 

Monogamy-centrist. The prevailing attitude in most cultures today: the 
belief that monogamy is the only natural and moral sexual pattern, or the 
normal or highest form of human relationship (often coupled with the terms 
"long-term" or "lifelong"). This concept is so taken for granted that we usually 
dont even notice or question it your authors had to invent a term to describe 

Couple-centrist. Another widely prevailing attitude: the belief that the 
couple is the fundamental human sexual unit, and that any other relationship 
structure must eventually evolve toward couple hood and that you are 
incomplete without a partner, your "other half." We believe that couples, and 
other groupings based on sex and love, are made up of individuals who 
complete themselves, then come together to share. 

Polyamory. A word which has gained a great deal of currency in recent 
years. We like it because, unlike "nonmonogamy," it does not assume 
monogamy as a norm. On the other hand, its meaning is still a bit vague: some 
feel that polyamory includes all forms of sexual relationships other than 
monogamy, others restrict it to committed love relationships (thereby 
excluding swinging, casual sexual contact and other forms of intimacy). 

Polyfidelity. A subset of polyamory, in which more than two people, 
possibly two or more couples, form a sexually exclusive group. Sometimes 
used as a safer sex strategy. 

Polymorphous perverse. Polymorphous means "having many forms," and 

Page 36 of 220 

perverse means "abnormal" or "wrong." Freud used this expression to 
describe the sexual behavior of children under five years of age, who tend to 
be very explorative with no regard whatsoever for boundaries or conventional 
limits until taught otherwise by adults4: if it feels good, young kids will do it. 
Modern sexual explorers sometimes use this term to describe themselves, 
perverting Freud's intention to a more modern reading of pursuing sexual 
pleasure in any and all forms, without regard to defining constructs like 
straight, gay, vanilla, or outrageous. 

Open relationships. A term that describes relationships in which sexual 
and romantic connections are not restricted to the two members of the 
couple. We like to use it a bit more loosely for any relationship in which the 
people involved have some degree of freedom to fuck and/or love people 
outside the relationship, so that an eight-person group marriage may still be 
either "open" or "closed." 

Free love. The only reason we're not using this phrase more often in this 
book is because we're afraid we'll sound like the aging hippies we are. In 
Catherine's adolescence and Dossie's young adulthood, this was the phrase 
used joyously by many (and disgustedly by many more) to describe a lifestyle 
in which sex, affection and love were shared as a means of interpersonal 
connection as well as an idealistic sociopolitical statement. It saddens us that 
the values of our culture have turned away from this ideal, which we still 
believe to be both achievable and desirable for many people. 

Sexual freedom. A term from the '60s that still has a lot of juice in it. One of 
the earliest groups to attempt to live out many of the ideas in this book was 
called the Sexual Freedom League. Since we like sex and we like freedom, we 
like this phrase. 

Sexual freedom implies casting off the chains of our sex-negative 
programming and returning to innocence, manifested as a Garden of Eden of 
sex and love. Back in the '60s, we believed we could do that just by declaring 
ourselves to be free. We quickly learned that freedom doesn't come that easy: 
it requires effort, work. 

Luckily for all of us, sexual misery is a powerful motivator, a very sharp stick 

Page 37 of 220 

that prods us donkeys up the road, into doing that hard work of coming to 
grips with our fears about sex. And lucky for us, we eventually can get to the 
carrot of sexual delight and fulfillment, and isn't that carrot sweet! 

Page 38 of 220 



Sluts come in all the various forms and styles that humans come in: men and 
women in all cultures, from all parts of the world, of all religions and lifestyles, 
rich and poor, with formal and informal education. 

Most of us today live in communities of non-sluts, with only occasional or 
limited contact with other people who share our values: some groups hold 
conferences and conventions to mitigate the isolation and expand their 
intimate circles. Other sluts drop out of mainstream culture to some extent or 
another to live in communities composed of people whose sexuality is like 
their own. San Francisco's Castro District is a good example of a modern 
urban "ghetto" for sexual minorities. 

A slut living in mainstream, monogamy-centrist culture in the '90s can learn a 
great deal from studying other cultures, other places, and other times: you're 
not the only one in the world who has ever tried this, it can work, others have 
done it without harming themselves, their lovers, their kids- without, in fact, 
doing anything except enjoying themselves. 

Pioneering sexual subcultures with extensive documented and undocumented 
histories include communities of gay men and of lesbian women, transgender 
groups, bisexuals, the leather communities, the swing communities, and some 
spiritually defined subcultures of pagans, modern primitives and radical 

Even if you dont belong to any of these sexually oriented communities, it's 
worth taking a look at them for what they can teach us about our own options 
as they develop ways of being sexual, ways of communicating about being 
sexual, and social and family structures that are alternative to sex-negative 
traditions in America. 

Dossie's favorite dance club in 1970 was a remarkable mini culture of 
polymorphous perversity. She remembers: 

Page 39 of 220 

The Omni, short for omni sexual was a small North Beach bar whose 
patrons were men and women, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual and often 
transgendered. The sexual values were very open, from hippie free-love 
freaks to sex industry professionals, and most of us came there to dance like 
wild women and cruise like crazy. However, thanks to the large transgender 
faction, there was no way of pigeonholing the person you were cruising into 
your categories of desire. You might dance with someone you found very 
attractive, and not know if they were chromosomally male or female. It's 
difficult to get attached to preferences like lesbian or straight when you dont 
know the gender of the person you are flirting with. This may sound crazy, 
but the results were surprising: I patronized the Omni because it was the 
safest environment available to me. Because there was no way to make 
assumptions, people had to treat each other with respect. No one could 
assume what kind of interaction might interest the object of their attention, 
so there was nothing to do but ask. And if you were, as I was, a young 
woman in your twenties, to be approached with respect was a most welcome 
relief from straight social environments where it was customary for men to 
prove their manhood by coming on too strong, evidently in the belief that 
women who cruise in single bars have problems with virginal shyness and 
dont mean "no" when they say it. The Omni provided my first experiences 
with true respect. 

Since we see some of the problems in attaining a free and open expression of 
our own individual sexuality as having to do with living in a sex-role-bound 
culture, we have found it useful to learn from people who have shifted the 
boundaries of what it means to be male or female, or to love someone male or 
female. Thinking about these different ways of living and loving can help us as 
we consider whether we want to change anything about how we go about 
living as men and women. 

Lesbian women 

In the lesbian community we get to look at what happens in a world consisting 
almost entirely of women. The first thing we can see is an intensification of the 
mainstream values that teach us that men focus their energy out into the 

Page 40 of 220 

world while women specialize in relationships, families and emotional 
nurturance. The lesbian community tends to be relationship-centered, and 
has both weaknesses and strengths in the way that women find their primary 
relationship to be the most important thing in their lives. For women, 
relationship can get confused with their sense of identity, especially since our 
culture in its most traditional form hardly allows women any sense of identity 
at all. 

Dossie had a psychiatrist, admittedly some years ago, who advised her that 
she would not be happy and mentally healthy until she gave up her artistic 
and intellectual pursuits and (an exact quote) "submerged her identity in a 
relationship " Submerge identity- sounds like psychological suicide, right? But 
many women today act as if they would lose their entire sense of themselves if 
they lose their relationship, so the most common relationship sequence, as we 
see it magnified in the lesbian community, is the form of nonmonogamy 
known as serial monogamy. Often the connection to the partner of the future 
precedes the breakup with the partner of the past, with accompanying drama 
that presumably feels safer than the vast empty unknown terrifying identity 
void of being a woman living as a single human being. 

Younger lesbians are questioning these traditions, and one of the ways they 
are questioning is in investigating nonmonogamy as a way to form less insular 
relationships. Lesbian free love is characterized by a lot of serious 
thoughtfulness and attention to con sensuality and thus to tremendous 
openness about processing feelings, an area in which the women's community 

Another thing we have learned from our sisters is new ways of dealing with 
developing a woman's role as sexual initiator In heterosexual culture, men 
have been assigned the "job" of initiator, and men are trained to be sexually 
aggressive, sometimes to a fault In the world of women who relate sexually to 
other women, it rapidly becomes apparent that if we all see ourselves as 
Sleeping Beauties waiting for Princess Charming to come along and wake us 
up, we also might get to wait a hundred years Or else we need to learn to do 
something new -to meet the eye, touch the shoulder, move in a little too close, 

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or just plain blurt out "I think you're really attractive and I would like to leap 
into bed with you right now or at any other mutually agreeable time." 

Women's style of coming on- when shyness doesn't get in the way tends to be 
forthright, with respect for consent, and is unlikely to be intrusive or pushy, as 
many women have had a little too much experience with being violated to 
want to go down that road Women have strong concerns about safety, and so 
tend to move slowly, announce their intentions and be very careful about con 
sensuality They may be shy in the seductive stages, and bolder once welcome 
has been secured. Women tend to want explicit permission, and for each 
specific act, so their communication could serve as an excellent role model for 
negotiated consensuality. 

We would like to draw your attention to another difference about sex between 
women that we all can learn from. A sexual encounter between two women 
rarely involves the expectation of simultaneous orgasm, as many people 
believe penis-vagina intercourse should, so women have become experts at 
taking turns. Lesbians are also the world class experts on sensuality and outer 
course those wonderful forms of sexuality that do not rely on penile 
penetration When penetration is desired, the focus is on what works for the 
recipient: we have yet to meet a dildo that got hung up on its own needs. For 
those of you, female or male, who haven't considered these options, think of 
all the fun you could have with never a worry about pregnancy and sexually 
transmitted diseasesi 

Gay men 

The gay male community in its own way reflects some of the traditional 
images of male sexuality in intensified form. While some gay men are more 
interested in long-term relationships and settling down, other gay men have 
set records as world-class sluts. The gay baths are the ultimate role model of 
friendly group sex environments, and easy sexual connection for its own sake. 

Dossie learned her group sex etiquette from gay men, and is glad she did. We 
both, in fact, have always identified strongly with gay men: Dossie sees herself 
as a drag queen trapped in a woman's body, and Catherine got her earliest 

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sense of her own sexual possibilities when she learned about gay male 
communities. This may not really be too surprising, since the gay male 
community has always modeled sluttery for the rest of us to admire and, 
perhaps, emulate. 

Gay men do not generally try to get consent from each other by manipulation 
and pressuring: connection is mostly commonly made by a gentle approach, 
meeting a gentle response, and no need to ask three times. Gay men give each 
other a lot of credit for being able to say no, and for meaning it when they say 
it. This makes coming on very simple, since you are never trying to sneak up 
on anybody and you are not required to be subtle. It is always okay to ask as 
long as it is okay for the other person to say no. This straightforward and 
admirably simple approach to con sensuality cannot be recommended too 

Men in general have had less reason to fear sexual violation than their sisters. 
(Although it is true, and terrible, that boys do get molested and men do get 
raped, we think that perhaps men have more confidence than women in their 
power to protect themselves.) Men also tend to get a lot of cultural support for 
being sexual. So although the forbiddenness of homosexuality may give many 
gay men a lot of questions about being okay, or having something wrong with 
them, or other forms of internalized homophobia, this is most often not 
reflected in sexual dysfunction. Gay men as a group are really good at 
exploring, and finding out what feels good to them. 

And it is gay men who have established most of our understanding of safer 
sex. In the face of the AIDS epidemic, where many people might have 
retreated into sex-negativism, the gay community is to be commended for 
continuing to celebrate a newly liberated sexuality, with due respect for safety. 


Transgendered people form a variety of communities, all of which are of 
interest to anyone who is interested in transcending their gender-role 
programming. Dossie, in the early years of her feminism, found friends among 
male-to-female transsexuals who were wonderful role models for how to be 

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female, indeed often ultra-feminine, and still be assertive and powerful. 

What we can all learn from transgendered people is that gender is malleable. 
We learn about how some behaviors and emotional states may be hormone- 
related from people who take hormones to express male or female gender. 
People who have lived parts of their lives in both gender modes, 
physiologically and culturally, have a great deal to teach us about what 
changes according to hormones, and what does not, and what gender 
characteristics remain a matter of choice no matter what your endocrine 
system says. 

Transsexuals can also tell us a lot about how differently other people treat you 
when they see you as a man, or as a woman. Perforce, transgendered people 
become experts at living in a very hostile world. No other sexual minority is 
more likely to suffer direct physical oppression in the form of queer bashing. 
It takes a strong minded person to stand up to our culture's rigidity about 
"real men" and "real women." It was mostly transgendered people, butch 
women and drag queens, who rebelled against police brutality in the famous 
Stonewall riots of 1969 that initiated the Gay Liberation movement. 
Transgendered people can teach us a lot about the determination to be free. 


Often stigmatized as "gays unwilling to relinquish heterosexual privilege" or 
"he's taking a walk on the wild side," bisexuals have recently begun 
developing their own forceful voice and their own communities. 

Looking at the theory and practice of bisexual lifestyles may enable us to 
explore our assumptions about the nature of sexual and romantic attractions 
and behaviors. Some folks have had sex only with members of one gender, but 
know that they have within themselves the ability to connect erotically or 
emotionally with both genders, and thus consider themselves bisexual while 
others may be actively having sex with the gender opposite their usual choice, 
and still consider themselves heterosexual or gay. Some bisexuals prefer one 
type of interaction with men and another with women, while others consider 
themselves "gender-blind." Some can be sexual with either sex but romantic 

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with only one, or vice versa. And so on, through all the spectrums of bisexual 
attractions and choices. 

Catherine's path toward her current identity as a bisexual has been a 
confusing one: it was nearly a decade after she began having sex with women 
before she began to feel comfortable using the term to describe herself. 

I felt turned off by the trendiness of "bisexual chic," and under some pressure 
to claim an identity that didn't feel right to me. And at the same time, I was 
hearing some genuinely cruel judgments from both heterosexuals and 
homosexuals about his, and that anger was scary to encounter. 

Add to that the difficulty I was having sorting out my own feelings- 1 knew my 
feelings toward women were different than those toward men, and I wasn't 
sure what that meant- and things just got very confusing. As a result, it wasn't 
until I knew for sure that I was capable of having both sexual and romantic 
feelings toward both men and women- and until I felt strong enough to claim 
the identity in the face of all those negative judgments -that I finally began 
calling myself "bisexual." The increasing visibility of bisexuality has led to 
some challenges to traditional definitions of sexual identity. Specifically, we 
are having to look at the fact that our sexual attractions may say one thing 
about us, while our sexual behaviors say another, and our sexual identity says 
yet a third. Questions like these are eating away at some of the traditional 
boundaries we place around sexual identity much to the dismay of purists of 
all orientations. Your authors, sluts that we are, enjoy this kind of fluidity, and 
appreciate the opportunity to play as we like with whomever looks good to us 
without relinquishing our fundamental sexual identities. 


In bygone decades, non monogamous heterosexual interactions got called 
"wife-swapping" — a term with a built-in sexist bias which we find offensive. 
Today, heterosexuals seeking no-strings sex outside a primary relationship 
often seek out the swing community. These groups are well worth looking at 
for what they have to teach us about how heterosexual men and women can 
interact outside the confines of the "shoulds" of mainstream, monogamous 

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Swinging is a broad term that gets used to define a wide variety of 
interactions, ranging from long-term two-couple sexual pairings through the 
wildest of Saturday-night puppy-pile orgies. Swingers are primarily 
heterosexual: female bisexuality is relatively common in some swing groups, 
while male bisexuality is rare and frowned upon in most. They are most often 
coupled, and are often more mainstream in their politics, lifestyles and 
personal values than other kinds of sluts. Some swing communities confine 
themselves explicitly to sexual interactions and discourage emotional 
connections outside primary couples, while others encourage all forms of 
romantic and sexual partnering. 

Swinging has offered many a heterosexual woman her first opportunity to 
explore greedy and guilt-free sexuality- in fact, we often hear of women who 
attend their first swing party very reluctantly, their second one hesitantly, and 
their subsequent ones avidly. We also like the sophistication with which many 
swing communities have evolved patterns of symbols and behavior to 
communicate sexual interest without intrusiveness (one local swing club has a 
fascinating code of opening doors and windows to communicate, variously, 
"Keep away," "Look but dont touch," or "Come on in and join us"). 

Sex Workers 

How about if we stop stereotyping sex workers? They're really not all 
desperate drug addicts, debased women, or whatever you might have learned 
about them on TV or in the tabloids. Many of our dearest friends work in the 
sex industry, doing essential and positive work healing the wounds inflicted by 
our sex-negative culture. These men and women have a great deal to teach us 
about boundaries, limit-setting, communication, sexual negotiation, and ways 
to achieve growth, connection and fulfillment outside a traditional 
monogamous relationship. Do not imagine that connections between sex 
workers and clients are necessarily cold, impersonal, or degrading, or that 
only losers frequent prostitutes. We know of client prostitute relationships 
that have been a source of tremendous connection, warmth and affection for 
both parties, and that have lasted many years. Practitioners of "the world's 
oldest profession" offer all of us the wisdom of the ages about understanding, 
accepting and fulfilling our desires: these are the real sex experts. 

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Sacred sluts 

Finally a word about sexually explorative lifestyles in spiritual communities. 
Celibacy is not the only sexual practice of the spiritually inclined. Early 
examples of religious communities based on nonmonogamy included the 
Mormon church, the Oneida community, the practice of maithuna and 
karezza in Tantric Yoga, and the temple whores of the early Meditaerranean 
Goddess worshipers. Current sexually active spiritual communities include 
some pagan groups and radical faeries, who come together for festivals and 
gatherings, and celebrate ancient sexual rites such as Beltane, or make up 
their own that are appropriate to current lifestyles, like the open sexuality of 
Faery gatherings, or the underlying eroticism of ritual. 

These practitioners understand that sex is connected to the spiritual. We have 
said before that sex is spiritual. "Every orgasm is a spiritual experience. Think 
of a moment of perfect wholeness, of yourself in perfect unity, of expanded 
awareness that transcends the split between mind and body and integrates all 
the parts of you in ecstatic consciousness.... When you bring spiritual 
awareness to your sexual practice, you can become directly conscious of- 
connected to that divinity that always flows through you.... For us, sex is 
already an opportunity to see god."5 

What Can You Learn? 

If thinking about all this makes you kind of nervous, we are not surprised. 
What you are being exposed to is how threatened you feel when limits are 
very different from what you are used to those customary boundaries we 
take for granted and believe apply to all social and sexual situations. There 
are no universally accepted boundaries of gender or attraction among 
consenting adults, and the limits of sexual exploration are not handed down 
on stone tablets by some higher authority. 

When you look at people who meet your standards of happiness and success 
without buying into the world's standards of lifetime heterosexual 
monogamous pair-bonding, you begin to see how such things can be possible 
for you too even if these people aren't doing it the same way you want to. 

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Recognizing other sexual cultures offers an opportunity to become aware of 
where your own buttons are, especially when you think about keeping them 
buttoned up around a lot of people whose sexuality may be different from 
yours. Listen to your fears: they have a lot to teach you about yourself. 

Think of Dossie's old dance club. The Omni. Not knowing what's what can feel 
scary- but think of it as a chance to scrap all your preconceptions and start 
from scratch. It's only by recognizing all the possibilities out there that you 
can truly choose the ones that work for you. Then you can be free to figure 
where you want the boundaries to be in your life, what your personal limits 
are, and if you ever want to expand them. 

This is a great opportunity as well as a serious responsibility. Once you have 
established your own limits, you are free to explore beyond your wildest 

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Great sluts are made, not born. The skills you need to keep yourself and your 
partners happy and growing can be developed through a combination of 
conscious effort and frequent practice. There are certain thought processes 
you can try, and skills you can learn, that will help start your adventure on the 
right foot and keep it on track. 

Self-examination, in our opinion, is always a good idea- and for we who are 
journeying without a map, having a clear picture of the internal landscape 
becomes essential. Here's an interesting question to ask yourself: What do you 
expect from this way of living your life? What rewards can you foresee that 
will compensate you for doing the hard work of learning to be secure in a 
world of shifting relationships? Some people who have already made the 
journey cite benefits like sexual variety, less dependence on a single 
relationship, or a sense of belonging to a network of friends, lovers and 
partners. Some of the people we interviewed said things like this: 

I get relief from pressure- 1 dont have to fulfill every single thing my partner 
needs or wants, which means I dont have to try to be somebody I'm not." 

"People have different ways of knowing and understanding things, so 
intimacy with various people expands my appreciation of the universe." 

"I can have hot erotic experiences without genital sex, and without 
compromising my emotional monogamy." 

"My lifestyle gives me personal freedom, independence and responsibility in a 
way that being an exclusive couple does not." 

"I dont believe that the human male is designed to be monogamous. 
Monogamy goes against my instincts." "I never feel that the grass might be 
greener on the other side of the fence- I've been there." 

"Outside partners are an infusion of sexual juice into my primary 

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As you read this book, particularly some of our interviews with successful 
sluts, you may discover special benefits for you. What are your reasons for 
choosing this path? Alas, many people begin to explore open relationships 
because their partner is pushing them into it, or because all their friends are 
doing it and they dont want to seem prudish. We ask that you get clear within 
yourself that you're doing this for you- because it excites you, because it offers 
opportunities for learning and growth and fun, because you want to. Make no 
mistake, this can be a rocky road... and if you're navigating it for the wrong 
reasons, resentment can easily poison the very relationships you set out to 

Sexual change can be a path of reprogramming yourself, with the joyous 
feeling of abundant sex and love as the carrot, and the fear of deprivation, 
boredom or self-loathing as the stick. Since we dont believe that the urge 
toward monogamy is innate, we think you must have learned your negative 
sexual feelings and your insecurities somewhere from your parents, from your 
past lovers, from our culture- and, thus, you can unlearn them. Becoming 
aware of those feelings, and changing your reactions to them, can be difficult... 
but what a feeling of power and triumph when you succeed! 

Earning Your Slut Merit Badge 

The people we know who succeed at ethical slutdom usually have a set of skills 
that help them forge their pathway cleanly, honestly, and with a minimum of 
unnecessary pain. Here are some of the ones we've noticed. 


Learning to talk clearly, and listen effectively, are critical skills. A good 
technique for listening is to hear what your partner has to say, and let him 
know you heard by telling him what you think he just said. Use this 
clarification technique before you respond with your own thoughts and 
feelings. In this way, you make sure you have clear understanding before you 
go on with your discussion. Similarly, if you're the one talking, it's not fair to 

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expect your partner to read your mind- take the time and effort to be as clear 
and thorough in your explanation as you can, and be sure to include 
information about the emotions you're feeling as well as the facts involved. 

If your communications often seem to go awry, it might be a good idea to 
spend some time and effort learning better communication skills: many adult 
education facilities offer communication classes of various kinds, and you can 
check the Resource Guide for further reading. 

Emotional honesty 

Being able to ask for and receive reassurance and support is extremely 
important. Catherine's partner occasionally requests, when she is off to a 
joyously anticipated date with one of her other lovers, "Just tell me I dont 
have anything to worry about." It feels very good to know that he's willing to 
ask for reassurance when he needs it, and that he trusts her to tell the truth 
about her feelings. If you imagine what would happen if he were feeling 
insecure and didn't ask for reassurance (grumble, chew fingernails, lie awake 
thinking bad thoughts, etc." etc.), you can see why it's so important to get your 
needs met up front. 

We have all been afraid to ask, we have all failed to ask, we have all been irked 
with our lovers when they didn't read our minds, we have all thought "I 
shouldn't have to ask." So let's honor the courage it takes to ask for support, to 
share vulnerable feelings- let's pat ourselves on the back when we do the 
things that scare us, and then let's do them some more. 


Similarly, it's vital to be able to give reassurance and support- both in 
response to a request, and on your own. If you can't tell your lover that you 
love him, or give him a heartfelt compliment, or tell him what you think is so 
wonderful about him, it may be optimistic to assume that he'll be able to 
remain secure enough to accommodate your other relationships. Our friend 
Carol notes, "If you're already starved for attention, no wonder an open 
relationship feels like a problem!" We recommend lots of hugging, touching, 
verbal affection, sincere flattery, little "love ya" gifts, and whatever else helps 

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both of you feel secure and connected. 


This may seem like an odd word to read in this context- but even the most 
outrageous of sluts can be, in the words of Cole Porter, "always true to you, 
darling', in my fashion." Our friend Richard says, "A lot of people describe 
having sex with only one person as 'being faithful." It seems to me that 
faithfulness has very little to do with who you have sex with." Faithfulness is 
about honoring your commitments and respecting your friends and lovers, 
about caring for their well-being as well as your own. 

If you have a primary relationship, it can be very important to reinforce its 
primary-ness. Many people in primary relationships have certain activities 
that they keep only for their partners- particular sexual behaviors, sleep-overs, 
terms of affection or whatever. The same may also be true of other, non- 
primary relationships. Without the security blanket of monogamy, it becomes 
very important to help your partner feel more secure by demonstrating how 
much you care for he rand if this means that once in a while you choose to 
miss your favorite TV show, or even give up a hot date, because she's sick, or 
having a life crisis, or just feeling lonely and blue, we think that is well worth 


To be a happy slut, you need to know how- and when- to say "no." Having a 
clear sense of your own limits, and respecting those limits, can keep you 
feeling good about yourself and prevent those morning-after blues. Some 
limits may be about sexual behaviors: Would you have sex with a gender 
other than the one you usually do? Would you try a kind of sex you think is 
kinky? Some limits might be about relationship styles, such as frequency of 
contact or intensity of connection. We also encourage you to think about 
ethical dilemmas and how you'd react to them. Would you, for example, be a 
lover to a coupled individual whose partner didn't know about your 
involvement? Would you lie to a lover? Fake an orgasm? 

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And then there's the most important limit of all: "I dont want to." "No, thank 
you." "I dont feel like sex right now." Even if it's your birthday. Even if you're 
supposed to want to. Even if you haven't for a long time. Just because it's true. 


Successful sluts know that relationships dont just happen- they take work, 
planning, and commitment. Few of us have so much time on our hands that 
we can simply have conversations, sex, recreation, family time, or even fights 
whenever we feel like it- mundane reality has a way of getting in the way of 
such important stuff. And yes, we do think fighting is important and 
necessary- we'll talk more about the hows and whys in the chapter on 
"Conflict" in Part II. If scheduling a fight seems a little bit absurd, just imagine 
the results of letting the tension build for several days because you haven't 
made time to argue. 

Get yourself an appointment calendar, and use it (Catherine used to schedule 
sex with her husband, whose name began with F, with the cryptic note "F.F.", 
just in case a co-worker should glance into her Day Runner). And once you've 
made the commitment to spend time together doing any of these things, keep 
it- we know you're busy, but postponing important relationship work to attend 
to business does not speak well of the significance you give your relationships, 
does it? 

Know yourself 

And know your programming. As we have said before, we are all carrying 
around a lot of garbage in our minds about sex and gender. No one can grow 
up in our culture and escape picking up puritanical and inaccurate ideas about 
sex. Some of these beliefs are buried so deep they can drive our behavior 
unconsciously, without our knowing it, and cause a great deal of pain and 
confusion to ourselves and the people we love. All too often, in the name of 
these beliefs, we oppress other people, and ourselves. 

These deeply held beliefs are the roots of sexism and sex negativism and to be 
a radical slut you are going to have to uproot them. To truly know yourself is 

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to live on a constant journey of self exploration to learn about yourself from 
reading, therapy, and, most of all, talking incessantly with others who are 
traveling on similar paths. This is hard work, but well worth it because this is 
the way you become free to choose how you want to live and love, own your 
life, and become truly the author of your experience. 

Own your feelings 

A basic precept of intimate communication is that each person owns her own 
feelings. No one "makes" me feel jealous, or insecure- the person who makes 
me feel that way is me. This belief is not as easy as it sounds. When I feel 
rotten, it can be hard to accept the responsibility for how I feel: wouldn't this 
be easier if it were your fault? Then maybe you could fix it, and if you can't, 
well then maybe I can go ballistic and vent a little steam, burning you up in 
the process. 

The problem is that when I blame you for how I feel, I disempower myself to 
accept myself and work toward feeling better. If this is your fault, you must be 
in control, right? So I can't do anything but sit here and moan. 

On the other hand, when I own my feelings, I have lots of choices, I can tell 
you how I feel, I can choose whether or not I want to act on these feelings (no 
more "the devil made me do it!"), I can learn howto understand myself better, 
I can comfort myself, or ask you to comfort me. Owning your feelings is basic 
to understanding the boundaries of where I end and you begin, and the 
perfect first step toward self acceptance and self-love. 

Dos and dont's of ethical sluttery 

DO arrange your own transportation without depriving your partner of the 

DON'T get your lover's pubic hairs in the albolene. 

DON'T fuck loudly and enthusiastically within your lover's hearing. 

DON'T wander off with your lover, leaving your partner to make conversation 
with your lover's spouse. 

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DO refrain from fucking the guests until your lover is finished cooking and 
serving dinner. 

DON'T tell your lover more than your lover wants to know. 

DON'T regard "it was such a good fuck" as an adequate excuse for coming 
home late without calling. 

DON'T expect necessarily to like your partner's lovers. 

DON'T expect thy partner to be intensely horny for you right after having sex 
with someone else. 

DO get the trick towels into the hamper before your lover gets home. 


As prepared as you are, as centered as you are, as stable as you are, you are 
going to trip over problems you never anticipated- we guarantee it. 

Perhaps the most important step in dealing with problems is to recognize that 
they will happen, and that it's OK that they do. You'll make mistakes. You'll 
encounter beliefs, myths and "buttons" you never knew you had. There will be 
times when you'll feel pretty awful. 

Can we tell you how to avoid feeling bad? Nope. But we think you'd forgive a 
friend or lover who misunderstood or made a mistake, and we hope you'll 
grant yourself the same amnesty. (As Morticia Addams says: "Don't beat 
yourself up, Gomez; that's my job.") Knowing, loving and respecting yourself 
is an absolute prerequisite to knowing, loving and respecting someone else. 
Cut yourself some slack. 

A friend of ours, when he makes a mistake, says, philosophically, "Oh well- 
AFOG," That stands, he says, for Another Fucking Opportunity for Growth. 
Learning from one's mistakes isn't fun, but it's better than not learning at all, 

Tell the truth 

Throughout your experience- as you feel pain, ambivalence, joy- you must 
speak your own truth, first to yourself, then to those around you. "Stuffing" 

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and self-deception have no place in this lifestyle: pretending that you feel 
great when you're in agony will not make you a better slut; it will make you 
bitterly unhappy, and it may make those who care about you even unhappier. 

When you tell the truth, you discover how much you have in common with the 
people you care about, and put yourself in an excellent position to support 
yourself and each other in a life based on understanding and loving 
acceptance. As you dig deeper and share your discoveries, you may learn more 
about yourself and others than you ever knew before. Welcome that 
knowledge, and keep on digging for more. 

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There are a whole lot of ways to live your sexual life, a whole lot of different 
ways to relate to people and form relationships and families, and no one way 
is better than all the others. 

What is normal? What is natural? 

Our culture teaches us that only one way of relating- long-term monogamous 
marriage is the right or the best way. We are told that lifetime monogamy is 
"normal" and "natural," and that if we do not manage to force our desires into 
a single relationship we are morally deficient, and somehow going against 
nature. But the truth of our natures is that many of us desire sex with more 
than one person. So why does our culture require monogamy? 

Historically, requirements for sexual fidelity to one partner are linked with 
sex-negative attitudes and attempts to control sexuality in the interest of 
society. "Control" is the key word herein particular the control of reproduction 
in the interest of primogeniture or other dynastic goals. 

When our culture was agrarian, and infant mortality common, having lots of 
children to work the farm in your old age was a good survival tactic, and 
mixing the gene pool not such a bad idea either. When we look back on 
marriage in the agrarian world, we see that much of its purpose was dynastic, 
to ensure the orderly succession of property and production so that the family 
and the village had enough food, houses to live in and general stability to 
maximize physical safety and well-being. In these villages, and in many parts 
of the world today, the extended family was what was important, the network 
of kinship that ensured a large basis of mutual physical and emotional 
support. The extended family still exists to some degree in America today, 
often in cultures recently transplanted from other countries, or as a basic 
support system among economically vulnerable urban or rural populations. 

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The prudishness that characterizes much of our cultural heritage is a relatively 
new thing- in the last century, only relatively wealthy people had master 
bedrooms; most people had their sex in the same room with their children and 
their parents. In warmer climes, you had your sex outdoors. In one African 
culture, proper etiquette taught to young people prescribes that if you come 
across a couple copulating in the bushes, the polite thing to do is to quietly sit 
on your heel and rock back and forth till you have an orgasm too. Wouldn't 
that be a different way to grow up! 

The control of reproduction became increasingly important as our culture 
became more urban- indeed, we see an increasing focus on controlling sex 
since the Industrial Revolution in Europe. It was at this time, in the late 18th 
century, that we began to hear that masturbation was bad for you, that this 
most innocent of sexual outlets was dangerous to society: 19th century child 
rearing manuals show devices to prevent babies from touching their genitals 
in their sleep. So our very interest in sex, not even acted on with another, 
became our shameful secret. 

Wilhelm Reich put forth an interesting theory in his lectures to young 
Communists in Germany in 1936, during the rise of Hitler. Reich theorized 
that without the suppression of sexuality and the imposition of anti-sexual 
morality, you could not have an authoritarian government, because people 
would be free from shame, and would trust their own sense of right and 
wrong. Such people are unlikely to march to war against their wishes, and we 
would like to think they would be unlikely to agree to operate the death camps 
too. It is interesting to think that if we were raised without shame and guilt 
about our desires, we might be freer people in many ways. 

The nuclear family, which consists of parents and children relatively isolated 
from sisters and cousins and aunts, is an artifact of the modern middle class. 
Children no longer work on the farm or in the family business; they are raised 
almost like pets. Modern marriages, no longer essential for survival, have 
become luxuries whose primary purpose is to fulfill our needs for sex, 
intimacy, and emotional connection. We are convinced that the increase in 
divorce reflects the simple economic reality that most of us can today afford to 
leave relationships that we no longer find satisfying. 

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And still the puritans, perhaps not yet ready to deal with the frightening 
prospect of truly free sexual and romantic choice, attempt to enforce the 
nuclear family and monogamous marriage by teaching sexual shame. 

We believe that the current set of prescribed "oughta he's," and any other set, 
are cultural artifacts. We believe that Nature is wondrously diverse, offering 
us infinite possibilities. We would like to live in a culture that respects the 
choices made by sluts as highly as we respect the couple celebrating their 
fiftieth anniversary. (And, come to think of it, what makes us assume that such 
a couple is monogamous anyway?) 

We are paving new roads across new territory. We have no culturally approved 
scripts for open sexual lifestyles; we pretty much need to write our own. To 
write your own script requires a lot of effort, and a lot of honesty, and is the 
kind of hard work that brings many rewards. You may find the right way for 
you, and three years from now decide you want to live a different way and 
that's fine too. You write the script, you get to make the choices, and you get to 
change your ini nd too. 

Endless Possibilities 

The possibilities for rewarding and constructive slut lifestyles are indeed 
endless, so we can't cover them all. We will describe some of the lifestyles that 
have worked for some people. Whether or not any of these scenarios fit for 
you, we hope that they will offer you some ideas about where to start your 
exploration, or perhaps the validation of knowing that there are others like 
you out there. 

Remember that there are many kinds and degrees of intimacy, as many as 
there are people. We have seen a lot of people get confused, and have been 
confused ourselves, when we try to force a relationship to satisfy some fantasy 
or ideal that does not fit that particular relationship. When we meet someone 
we like and feel sexy about, this is not an indication that that person will fit 
precisely into the empty space in our lives. And it will not work to make a 
point-by-point evaluation of a potential playmate, scoring her according to 
how closely she matches up to our fantasy of the ideal partner. Putting our 
own needs and fantasies foremost gets in the way of actually meeting another 

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person, and enjoying the wonderful surprises involved in getting to know who 
that person is. 

Each relationship seeks its own level. You might get along fabulously with 
your friend, and have great sex with colossal intimacy... yet discover from 
experience that this works when you get together about once a month. Maybe 
when you try to spend a week together you get irritated, or bored, or otherwise 
very unhappy with the situation. If you allow this relationship to work the way 
it works, you could go on meeting once a month for ten years and be perfectly 

One of the wonderful advantages of being a slut is that you get to have 
different kinds of relationships, instead of having to choose just one. When we 
are looking for a life partner, for example, we want a lot of compatibility: 
similar values, intellectual and esthetic interests in common, good sex, likes to 
eat the same food. We can connect with a much wider range of people as soon 
as we stop auditioning them for a together-forever role. You dont have to force 
anyone into a mold that doesn't fit: all you have to do is enjoy how you do fit 
together, and let go of the rest. 

Friendly sex 

Nothing challenges culturally imposed boundaries for intimacy more than 
opening up the potential to share sex with friends. Catherine had lunch a 
while ago with Mary, one of the few friends remaining from her previous life 
as a monogamous married woman. At one point Mary remarked, "Hey, I guess 
I'm about the only straight friend you have left, huh?" "Yup," Catherine 
agreed. "In fact, you're the only friend I've never had sex with." 

In singles culture, we can observe the "Land of One-Night Stands," in which 
you go home with a pick-up and share some hot sex, then the next morning 
you look at each other and decide if the relationship has life-partner potential. 
If not, you leave, with much embarrassment, and the unspoken rule is that 
you will never be comfortable with that person again, as they have been 
weighed in the balance and found wanting. We have no scripts for sexual 
intimacy in the middle, in the area between complete stranger and total 

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How do you learn to share intimacy without falling in love? We would propose 
that we do love our friends, and particularly those we share sex with: these 
individuals are our family, often more permanent in our lives than marriages. 
With practice, we can develop an intimacy based on warmth and mutual 
respect, much freer than desperation, neediness, or the blind insanity of 
falling in love. That's why the relationships between fuck-buddies are so 
immensely valuable. When we acknowledge the love and respect and 
appreciation that we do share with lovers we would never marry, sexual 
friendships can become, not only possible, but preferred. So while you're 
worrying that your sexual desire could cost you your best friend, the more 
experienced slut could be wondering- like Catherine- why you are the only 
friend he has never fucked. 

Each relationship seeks its own level, or will if you let it. Like water, you and 
whatever person has caught your fancy can flow together as long as you let it 
happen in the way that is fitting to you both. 

There are infinitely many ways in which people can come together, so here we 
will list only a few of the patterns that we have observed work well for some of 
the people we have known. All these get modified by your sexual preferences: 
monosexual, bisexual, transgender, S/M. Here we are talking about what are 
essentially the family structures of sluts. 


Traditionally, celibacy has offered a way for people to focus on intellectual or 
spiritual concerns, without the distraction of fleshly lusts. If you're on a 
religious quest, or working on your doctoral dissertation, or undergoing a 
major life change, celibacy- short-term or long-term- may offer a valid means 
of narrowing your focus for a while. 

Similarly, people for whom sex or relationships have been problematic may 
choose a period of celibacy as a pathway toward self examination "What kind 
of person am I when I'm by myself?" (Dossie was celibate for this reason for 
five months after she left her abusive partner.) 

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Some people are celibate, but not by choice: people who are incarcerated, ill or 
disabled, geographically isolated, socially unskilled, or underage may have 
trouble finding partners for consensual sex. Others are celibate simply 
because they do not, for whatever reason, feel like being sociable or sexual for 
a while. 

We do not see "celibate slut" as in any way a contradiction in terms. Unless 
your spiritual guest dictates otherwise, a period of celibacy can offer a 
wonderful "honeymoon for one": a period that you can spend in lengthy and 
luxurious exploration of your own fantasies, turn-ons and physical reactions 
to various stimuli. Masturbation can and should be a sexual art equal to 
partnered sex in its possibilities and complexity, a genuine and honorable 
manifestation of self-love. And celibacy can become a triumphant celebration 
of your relationship with yourself. 


For some sluts, being single may be a temporary condition between partners, 
or a recommended period of healing from a recent breakup, or a chosen 
lifestyle for the long term. Being single is a good way to get to know who you 
are when you are not trying to fit as the other half of somebody else; learning 
to live with yourself and enjoy it gives you a lot to share with a partner when 
you choose to have one. Dossie has spent about half of her adult life un 
partnered generating a kinship network from playing the field, raising her 
daughter in a very supportive community of mutually loving and sexual men 
and women. 

Single people can play the field in a variety of ways. One distinguishing 
dimension is how separate you keep your lovers. We may go to great lengths 
to protect our lovers and ourselves from experiencing any jealousy, to the 
extent that we often fail to learn how to deal with jealous feelings because we 
have given ourselves no opportunities to try but more about this later. We 
promise we will help you with jealousy in its own chapter. 

So one form of sluttery for the single involves multiple partners who have no 
interaction, indeed no information about each other. This avoids 
complications at the cost of limiting certain kinds of intimacy, such as 

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opportunities for mutual support and the development of community. 

Another way is to introduce your lovers to each other, perhaps over Sunday 
brunch. This may sound wild, or impossible, or like a script for disaster, but 
dont knock it if you ain't tried it. Your lovers have a lot in common, to wit you 
and whatever attracted you to them, and they may very well like each other: 
Catherine used to have a marvelously giggly biweekly lunch date with her 
partner's lover, who lived near her workplace. Indeed, you could go into this 
situation fearing that your lovers would hate each other, and come out 
wondering about your own jealousy if your lovers like each other a little better 
than you bargained for- Catherine stayed friends and occasional lovers with 
her partner's lover long after his sexual relationship with her had ended. 
Introducing your lovers helps prevent one of the scariest aspects of jealousy, 
which is the part where you imagine that your lover's other lover is taller, 
thinner, smarter, sexier and in all ways preferable to funky old you. When you 
meet that other person, or when your lovers meet each other, they meet real 
people, warts and all, and so may wind up feeling safer. (Believe us, no flesh 
and blood human is scarier than your own imagination.) This also solves the 
annual problem about who you spend your birthday with: once they know 
each other, they can conspire to surprise you with a big party. 

Introducing your lovers to each other also makes possible the development of 
a community, or an extended family of people who are intimately connected 
through sexual and personal bonds. As more people connect to each other in a 
variety of ways, including sexual, networks form, and something like families 
evolve. Then the situation of introducing your lovers can become obsolete, as 
they may already know each other. 

For the single person, becoming lover to one member of a couple requires that 
you, as the single person, respect their relationship and be courteous and 
supportive to your lover's primary partner. It also requires that your lover's 
partner be courteous and supportive to you. Avoid falling into the trap that 
you are automatically the co-respondent, the seducer, the home-wrecker, the 
thief of love when someone who is partnered is attracted to you, or you to 
them. You are no more the villain than anyone else in this transaction When 
all of you behave with respect for all of your feelings, there are no victims, and 

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no villains. 

The single person may also become lover to a couple, in any combination of 
genders. Relating to an established couple offers a lot of security to the single 
person, who can enter into an existing intimacy, and share whatever energy 
seems to suit, without further obligation. It is an incredible privilege, and a 
great treat, to be permitted to observe and enter into a couple's sexual pattern 
that has had the chance to evolve over time with the intense intimacy of 
partners There is a great beauty in intimate sex, and the lover to a couple is in 
a great position to partake of it Your authors both cherish memories of 
delicious moments in three-ways when, perhaps ourselves already sated, we 
got a quiet moment to watch our lovers make love to each other- a profoundly 
moving and beautiful sight. 

If you are a single person in any open sexual lifestyle, it helps to pay attention 
to how you are getting your needs met, both sexual and emotional. A life of 
one-night stands can be warm and intimate if you make your lovers into your 
family- sharing your emotions with your partners, and expressing affection 
and appreciation for the delight you find in them. You can get your needs met 
in an infinite variety of ways. The important thing is to be aware of your needs 
and wants, so you can go about getting fulfilled with full consciousness. If you 
pretend that you have no needs, either for sex, or affection, or emotional 
support, you are lying to yourself, and you will wind up trying to get your 
needs met by indirect methods that won't work very well. People who do this 
often get called manipulative or passive-aggressive- terms, in our opinion, for 
people who have not figured out how to get their needs met in a 
straightforward manner Do not commit yourself to a lifetime of hinting and 

When you figure out what you want and ask for it, you'll be surprised how 
often the answer is "yes." Think how relieved you might feel when someone 
asks you for support, or a hug, or otherwise lets you know how to please her or 
him. Think of how competent and just plain good you feel when you can truly 
help another person, whether it's by offering a shoulder to cry on, or that just 
right stimulation that leads to the perfect orgasm. Give your friends the 

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opportunity to feel good by fulfilling you too. 


There are multiple forms of open relationships for the partnered, including 
serial monogamy, where one's various partners are separated in time, and the 
ever-popular non consensual nonmonogamy, otherwise known as cheating 
We can think of these lifestyles as "unconscious free love," but your authors 
feel both freer and safer when we stay aware 

It is axiomatic that open relationships work best when a couple takes care of 
each other and their relationship first, before they include others in their 
dynamic So the slut couple needs to be willing to do the work we will describe 
later in this book to communicate well and to handle jealousy, insecurity and 
territoriality with the highest consciousness. Couples also need to keep their 
own sexual connection happy, healthy and hot. 

Couples can have a secondary relationship outside of the primary, or a 
number of lovers that dont get ranked in any hierarchy. Relationships vary a 
lot in how close or distant they are, and in how much contact is involved. 
Some may be short-term, while others may last for years or even a lifetime; 
some may involve getting together twice a week, others twice a year. 

Couples new to nonmonogamy tend to spend a lot of energy defining their 
boundaries. They usually focus more at first on what they dont want their 
partner to do- the activities that make them feel, for some reason, unsafe or 
downright terrified- than on their actual desires. This is, for many couples, a 
necessary first step out into the disorienting world of slut hood these limits act 
as friendly handles to grab onto when you're feeling dizzy, scared or insecure. 
Our observation is that as couples become more sophisticated at operating the 
boundaries of their relationship, they tend to focus more on what they would 
enjoy, and then strategize about how they can make it safe. 

One woman of our acquaintance has a lifetime lifestyle of having two primary 
partners, one of each gender, with her other partners and her primaries' other 
partners forming a huge network. Her primary relationships historically have 
lasted many years, through raising children and grandchildren, and her exes 
are still active members of their extended family. Her and her partners' 

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abilities to extend love and unconditional support to so many people is 

In some open relationships, each partner seeks out other partners pretty 
much separately, often making agreements about who gets to cruise which 
club when, or taking care to avoid running into each other on the Internet or 
in the newspaper ads. They may talk about their adventures with each other, 
and occasionally introduce play partners to their primaries. 

Others seek out a close match with another couple so they can play, either as a 
foursome or by switching partners, with people they have met and chosen 
together. Many polyamorous couples make a fine lifestyle out of seeking 
relationships with couples who are most like themselves, who share their 
values and boundaries. Such pairings of pairs can become lifelong 
attachments, and generate both hot sex and true family interconnectedness. 
Couples, as well as singles, may enjoy group sex. Environments for orgies, 
party houses, sex clubs, swing houses, gay men's baths, the tubs or the glory 
holes, are available in many major cities in a variety of forms, and cater to all 
sexual preferences. We will tell you all about them in their own chapter. As 
part of a lifestyle, a group sex environment may constitute a safe field of 
exploration for a non monogamous couple. They can attend parties together 
or separately, cruise singly or as a twosome, meet each other's friends, and 
play with a variety of people, all the while maintaining whatever connection 
with each other they feel good about. In this way, sex outside of the primary 
relationship has a boundary of sorts, the specific environment in which it 
happens, and many people like it that way. 

Group sex environments tend to develop their own families, people who come 
regularly and get to know each other, and may share other activities, like giant 
Thanksgiving dinners. The film "Personal Services" shows us a warm and 
marvelous Christmas get-together of such a family in a British house of 

Some people form sexually exclusive groups of couples, practicing polyfidelity 
in a closed but wider field of possibilities so that members can explore 
sexually and still have a container that will protect them from infection and 

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provide a level of emotional commitment from all members. Some live 
separately, and some create group marriages of two or three or four couples 
who have made commitments to raise kids and buy houses, along with 
whatever agreements they work out about sharing sex. 

More than two 

People can make commitments to each other in numbers greater than two. 
The level of commitment may vary, as when an existing couple makes a 
commitment to a third partner, or even a fourth. Relationships that add, and 
inevitably also subtract, members over time actually tend to form very 
complex structures, with new configurations of family roles that they generally 
invent by trial and error. Individuals in groups that come together as a 
threesome or foursome may find their roles within the family developing, 
growing and changing over time: the person who feels like "mother" of the 
group this year might well transition to "kid" or "Dad" over time. 

Triads are probably the most common arrangement, allowing partners of one 
or both genders to form a family unit. Some people grow into triadic or 
quadratic families as they attain deepening involvement with one or more 
members who started as outside lovers. Others actively seek members for 
group marriages, to fulfill their idea of the kind of family they want to live in. 
We have heard of people who identify as tri sexual because they are so 
strongly attuned to the idea of living and loving as part of a threesome. 
Balancing triads can be challenging, as in any menage a trois there are actually 
three couples, A & B, B & C, and C & A, and each of these relationships will be 
different. In a triad, as with the siblings of a family, all the relationships will 
not be at the same level at the same time. Catherine, for instance, recently 
participated in a lengthy Internet conversation regarding which member of a 
triad should ride in the back seat of the car. To get hung up on forcing these 
relationships to be exactly the same can leave you in the position of the small 
kid screaming about "How come she got the first hug?", or the biggest smile, 
or the hottest orgasm. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of getting 
beyond competitiveness to work inside yourself on accepting difference and 
uniqueness as a wonderful gift that increases us all. 

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Circles and tribes 

Circle is a word we use for a set of connections between a group of people that 
actually might look more like a constellation, with some people near the hub 
and connected to several others, and others near the outside and connected to 
only one or two (and, perhaps, part of another constellation as well). These 
constellations may be casual, or may become actual extended families, with 
provisions for raising children, making a living, taking care of the sick or 
aging, and purchasing property. 

University of Pennsylvania professor James Ramey, in his wonderful book 
"Intimate Friendships," documented his observations that nonmonogamy 
tended toward the forming of what he described as kinship networks, 
communities bound together by the intimacies of their sexual connections, 
perhaps serving the same functions as villages did in a smaller world. Some of 
us have taking to referring to our groupings as tribes. 

Circles of sexual friends are common- gay men call these friends "fuck 
buddies." Such circles may be open, and welcome new members, typically 
brought in by other members. When you are part of such a circle, new lovers 
of any member are potential friends and family members of your own, so the 
focus changes from competition and exclusivity to a sense of inclusion and 
welcome, often very warm indeed. 

Other circles are closed, with new members welcome only by agreement with 
existing members. Closed circles have become more popular as a strategy for 
safety from HIV infection and other sexually transmitted conditions, and also 
to deal with alienation in an overpopulated world. In a closed circle, the 
notion is that you can play with anyone in the circle (all of whom have made 
agreements about safer sex, and are all perhaps of known HIV status) but you 
dont have sex with anyone outside the group. Thus you get to play around 
with a variety of relationships and still stay in a limited field. Such lifestyles 
are sometimes known as polyfidelity. 

Group marriages, of any number, may be formed by a group of couples or may 
actually avoid dyads, focusing on everyone being an individual member of the 
group. Groups may also be closed or open. They may choose to celebrate the 

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inclusion of a new member into the family with a marriage-type ceremony- 
Catherine recently encountered a group of three friends who were shopping 
together for wedding rings. 

The Unethical Slut: Ways Not to Do It 

Some people approach open sexual lifestyles as if the most important aspect is 
the score, and there is no referee. All's fair, right? Sport fuckers, set collectors 
and trophy fuckers treat their partners like prizes in a contest they have set 
out to win- only what happens after the prize is collected? Is it time to go after 
the next one? 

The concept of set collectors may be new to you, but we assure you that such 
people exist. Dossie discovered a bunch of them when she lived in a 
communal San Francisco household called Liberated Ladies at Large with two 
other single mothers, and learned that some people's ideal of free love was to 
make sure they had sex with all three of the liberated sisters. Catherine once 
discovered that a would-be lover of hers had already had sex with her mother 
and her sister, and was hoping for a perfect score. 

When sport-fucking means treating your partners as objects rather than as 
human beings, this does not meet our requirements for mutual respect. We 
hope you aspire to more from your sexual encounters than to score a few 
points in the game of love: we prefer to play for real. 

Some people approach "scoring" as if all people could be ranked on a 
hierarchy from the most to the least desirable, and as if the way to make the 
most points and assure yourself of a high rank were to collect partners as high 
up the ladder as you could reach. People gain in rank and value in these 
hierarchies by being rich, thin, young, cute, wealthy and/or professional, and 
sometimes by owning expensive wardrobes, cars or other property. You will 
note that these attributes, the ones you can measure, are all about external 
characteristics, rather than about the kind of person this is or the warmth and 
depth of the connection you could make. 

We do not believe that love is a game which you can win by scoring high on a 
hierarchy of shallow values. We know from extensive experience that a 

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fashionable appearance is not a predictor of good loving. We avoid ranking 
people as better or worse than each other, and are unhappy with those who 
want to relate to our rank (authors get quite a few points in the "profession" 
category) more than our selves. Hierarchies produce victims on the top as well 
as the bottom, since it is just about as alienating to be approached by too 
many people for the wrong reasons as it is to be approached by no one at all. 
We know that each person is unique, and that their own individuality is far 
more valuable than how they look or what they own. 

Some people enter into sexual encounters as though sex were a big game 
hunt- trying to conquer the unwilling, and unwitting, victim, as though the 
object of their attentions would never make a decision to share sex with the 
seducer unless tricked into it Have we all seen or read "Dangerous Liaisons'"? 
If you believe that someone else would have to be a fool to make love with you, 
that may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe that you can use sex to 
shore up your fragile self-esteem by stealing someone else's, we feel sorry for 
you, because this will never work to build a solid sense of self worth, and you 
will have to go on stealing more and more and never getting fulfilled. And we 
hope you play the thief of love in some other social circles than our own. 

Often, someone who has a history of non consensual nonmonogamy gets 
attached to the sense of secrecy, of "getting away with something" These folks 
may have a very hard time adapting to the idea of consensual slut hood they're 
so used to concealing their activities from their partners that they may even 
have built that furtive feeling into their erotic life, feeling hooked on the 
adrenaline rush they get from forbidden fruit It may take a pretty substantial 
leap of faith, and maybe some creative fantasizing and role-playing, for such 
an individual to open up her hidden places and experience the greater joy that 
can come from knowing that nobody is getting hurt by her fun. 

Don't make promises you can't keep If you are attracted to someone who is 
looking for a life partnership and what you want is a light-hearted affair (or 
vice versa), you need to be honest about that, even if that means saying no 
thank you to sex until your feelings for each other are more on a par. Mistakes 
can easily be made. Dossie made such a mistake when she was very young and 

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I had just broken up a long term relationship, and was pretty broken up about 
it myself I had gone out to the coffee shops in Greenwich Village, and saw my 
recent ex in earnest conversation with a cute young thing who was not me I 
felt horribly betrayed, lost and worthless 

Just then, a young man who had been attracted to me, and for whom I had no 
serious feelings, came up to speak to me. It somehow seemed appropriate to 
go home with him and let him soothe my ruffled feathers, but I regretted it the 
next day when I found myself hurting his feelings and leaving him in the 
lurch. To further aggravate my guilt, it turned out what my ex was doing with 
that sweet girl was beating his bosom about how horrible he felt about 
breaking up with me, and we wound up getting back together. I have always 
felt like I took advantage of the young man who offered me his affection, 
which I thoughtlessly took and then gave right back to him. It would have 
been kinder had I just said no. 

An older and wiser Dossie has since discovered a couple of limits of her own: 
she does not share sex with anyone that she's not at least potentially 
interested in sharing sex with again, and anything worth doing is worth 
waiting for till the time is right. While we all make mistakes, the hallmark of a 
skillful slut is to learn from them and keep going. 

Which brings us to revenge fucking. It is truly nasty to arrange to have sex 
with one person to get back at another. To arouse one person's insecurities, 
jealousy and other painful feelings on purpose is dishonorable, and to use 
another person like a puppet in your play in this fashion is disrespectful and 
often downright abusive. In psychopathology, "antisocial" is defined as 
behaving with flagrant disregard for the rights, and we would add feelings, of 
others. We prefer to relate to sociable people. 

What do you do when someone in your intimate circle is not playing honestly? 
It helps if the people in your extended family have ways to talk about what is 
going on, to share experiences and feelings -if everyone is too ashamed to 
admit to having been misused by someone with an untrustworthy hidden 
agenda, then no one will have the information they need to protect 
themselves. There is no shame in having believed someone's lies, and most of 

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us at some time or other have given our trust to someone who turned out not 
to be worthy of it. It is possible to fool an honest person, but we hope you have 
enough humility to learn from your mistakes and not get fooled twice. 

All of the above problematic scripts are about somebody not being honest, and 
are also about somebody having sex while avoiding intimacy and emotional 
connection. We prefer to trust to Nature and allow each relationship to seek 
its own level. That way we can discover our full potential for intimacy with 
each particular person, and permit each relationship to form at whatever 
closeness or distance is appropriate to it at any given time. 

Catherine says: 

Cheryl was my first female lover , and I hers. We connected almost a decade 
ago, and had a few months of terrific, hot sex. Unfortunately, we foundered 
on some difficult rocks: I was still sorting out my feelings about sex with 
women, and, to make matters worse, her feelings toward me became 
stronger and more romantic than mine toward her. We broke up in a torrent 
of recriminations and unhappiness. It took some time and effort, and a great 
deal of difficult communication, but today we're back to being the best of 
non-sexual friends -although we now live a couple of hours apart, we meet 
for a meal or an adventure every couple of months, and vacation together 

By treating lovers as people, and letting relationships take the shapes they 
want instead of the forms forced on them by the culture around them, ethical 
sluts can form friendships that last as sex waxes and wanes. 

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Sex is nice and pleasure is good for you. We've said this before, and it bears 
repeating. In our present lives, your authors enjoy sex for its own sake, and it 
feels natural and comfortable, but we want you to know that it wasn't always 
this easy for us. In a culture that teaches that sex is sleazy, nasty, dirty and 
dangerous, a path to a free sexuality can be hard to find, and fraught with 
perils while you walk it. If you choose to walk this path, we congratulate you, 
and offer you support, encouragement and, most important of all, 
information. Start with the knowledge that we, and just about everybody else 
who enjoys sex without strictures, learned how to be this way despite the 
society we grew up in and that means you can learn too. 

What is sex anyway? 

To acquire a basic knowledge of sexual functioning, and how the sexual 
response cycle works in men and women, we recommend strongly that you 
read one or several of the books in the Bibliography. Books about sex provide 
a lot of information- more than we can give you in a chapter about how sex 
works, and what you can do about it when it isn't working as well as you'd like. 
Self-help exercises are usually provided for concerns about erections or 
orgasms, timing, coming too soon or too slow, and what to do when you can't 
find your turn-on. You can learn more strategies for safer sex and birth 
control, and more language so you can more easily talk with your partners 
about all of this good stuff. We like to use an expanded definition of sex, 
including more than genitals, more than intercourse, more than the 
stimulations that lead to orgasm (and we definitely wouldn't exclude them 
either!). We like to think that all sensual stimulation is sexual, from a shared 
emotion to a shared orgasm. One friend of ours, a professional sex worker, 

I'd had a regular session with this guy once before, but one day he showed up, 

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put $400 on the table, and said that he just wanted to talk. So we lay down 
together on the futon and talked all evening. It was one of the most intensely 
sexual experiences of my life; it felt like being in love. We were in this 
profound heart chakra communication, a space of pure communion that felt 
luscious and sweet, as thick as honey. We were close enough that we could feel 
the heat of each other's bodies, almost but not quite touching- we tried 
touching a couple of times and it diminished the energy. We were so turned on 
I felt nauseous. It was mind-boggling. When we expand our concept of what 
sex is, and let that be whatever pleases us today, we free ourselves from the 
tyranny of his hydraulics, the chore of getting her off, perhaps even birth 
control and barriers if we decide that outer course is perfectly good sex in and 
of itself. 

Pleasure is good for you. So do what pleases you, and dont let anybody else tell 
you what you ought to like, and you can't go wrong. 

Stay with what feels good and sex becomes easy, easy for yourself and 
incredibly easy to share with another. 


What gets in the way of enjoying sex? Sex-negative cultural messages top the 
list. Many of us start out paralyzed by shame and embarrassment, even after 
we figure out that we dont want to be embarrassed by sex. Shame, and beliefs 
we were taught that our bodies, desires and sex are dirty and wrong, make it 
very hard to develop a healthy self-esteem. Many of us spent our adolescences 
consumed with guilt for our sexual desires, our fantasies and our 
masturbation, long before we managed to pull anything off with another 
human. And when we did connect with others, many of us spent those 
encounters obsessing about our "performance," often so convinced we were 
doing it wrong that we forgot to notice how good it felt. 

When our desires and fantasies stretch further than a monogamous marriage 
with a member of the opposite sex, we suffer further attacks on our self- 
acceptance- we become sex-crazed perverts, the objects of scorn from others 
and, all too often, ourselves. According to some, even God hates us. It's hard 
to feel good about an expansive sexuality when you feel so bad about yourself 

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that you just want to hide. 

Body image 

None of us look sexy enough. The advertising and fashion industries see fit to 
line their coffers by making us all feel bad about our bodies so that we will buy 
more clothes, make-up, cosmetic surgery or whatever in a desperate attempt 
to feel okay about how we look to others. The perfume industry floods us with 
images designed to convince us that we smell bad (and if we smell worse than 
these highly merchandised scents, we must smell very bad indeed) Even those 
lucky souls who are young and thin and cute suffer from constant worry about 
how they look, why else do you think they throng to nautilus gyms and aerobic 

The more people you want to share sex with, the more people you are going to 
have to expose your naked body to, so there you are To enjoy a free sexuality, 
you need to come to terms with the body you are living in, unless you want to 
wait till you lose twenty pounds, which could take forever, or until you look 
younger- dont hold your breath Do remember your sexiness is about how you 
feel, not how you look 

How much do you know about sex, and is it true? 

Another obstacle on our course is inaccurate or just plain bad information we 
may have learned about sex. For many years, information about sexual 
behavior and basic functioning was censored, along with most other 
discussions of sexual pleasure Depending on where you live in the culture 
now, you may or may not have access to good information. We need to 
politicize to protect our right to accurate and positive information about sex 
Twenty-five years ago, you might not have been able to read this book. Only 
recently, attempts were made at the national level to censor communication 
on the Internet, luckily ruled unconstitutional by the courts 

Currently, books about sex proliferate, and there is much discussion on the 
information superhighway, and bewarei much of the information you read 
and hear about sex will be inaccurate. Because sexology is such a new science, 
and because research into what people actually do in sex is difficult and often 

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inconclusive, and because we as a culture have not talked explicitly about sex 
for a very long time, fairy tales abound, and reality can be hard to come by 
Collect all the information you can, use what works for you, and take it all with 
a grain of salt Please. We have listed some of the books that we find most 
helpful and accurate in the Bibliography. 


If you can't talk about sex, how can you think about it? The historical 
censorship of discussion about sex has left us with another disability: the act 
of talking about sex, of putting words to what we do in bed, has become 
difficult and embarrassing. This cuts us off from sharing about our sexual 
experience with our friends, sometimes even with our lovers Think of who you 
would talk to if you found yourself having difficulty getting to orgasm with 
your partners Would it be easy to walk up to your close friends and ask them if 
they ever had trouble with this? How about your partners? Although most of 
us have had the experience of failed sexual functioning in one way or another, 
most of us never get the chance to get support from our friends and lovers 
about it- sexual dysfunction becomes our secret shame, a position from which 
it is virtually impossible to figure out a way to function better. 

What you can't talk about, you can hardly think about. Most of us think in 
words, without a language with which to speak about sex, we not only cannot 
communicate with others, we cannot communicate with ourselves. This is a 
crippling disability What little language we have to talk about sex with is 
riddled with negative judgments. Either you speak in medical language of 
vulvas and penile intromission- which sounds like you need to be a doctor to 
talk about sex, so it must be a disease- or you have gutter language, rucking 
cunt, hard dick, that makes everything sound like an insult. When is it okay to 
say, "I would really love it if you ran your finger around my clit in a circle 
instead of up and down," or "I need you to grab my dick much harder"? As 
writers, we are keenly aware of how hard it is to find language to express our 
ideas and experiences about sex, and we have had a lot of practice. 

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Goal orientation 

One consequence of all the difficulties people may encounter when they set 
out to enjoy sex is that, driven by nervousness, they may end up acting as if 
their objective was to get to orgasm as rapidly as possible, as if they were 
trying to get it over with. When sex becomes goal-oriented, we may focus on 
what gets us to orgasm to the exclusion of enjoying all of the nifty sensations 
that come before (and, for that matter, after). When we concentrate our 
attention on genital sex to the exclusion of the rest of our bodies, we are 
excluding most of ourselves from the transaction. And when we ignore most of 
the good parts, we not only miss out on the good feelings, but we increase our 
chance of developing sexual dysfunction. And we have a lot less fun. 


So how does a person learn about sex? The mythology has it that once we 
begin, it should all come naturally, and if it doesn't, then we have some deep- 
seated problem that only Dr. Freud can resolve. Forget this -we want to enjoy 
sex now, and we can't afford seven years of analysis. We advocate a simpler 
approach: after much research, we have come to the startling discovery that 
good information and willingness to learn are all you need to become the 
hottest lovers and have the wildest and most wonderful sex, and lots of it. 

One friend of ours had her first orgasm at the age of thirty-four, after reading 
for the first time in one of the sex manuals which became popular in the early 
'70s that it was okay for her to masturbate she'd grown up in the generation 
that was told that masturbation would make you sick or crazy. This makes us 
sick to contemplate- how many years of orgasms did this woman miss because 
of bad information? Nobody is born knowing how to have wonderful sex, and 
the information our bodies give us when we're young often gets quashed by 
our sex-negative culture. The best thing about learning about sex is that you'll 
love the homework- so let's get studying! 

Read and talk 

Whatever you do now you learned somewhere, somehow, so you can learn 

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new or different sexual delights if you choose, and you can also overcome any 
sexual difficulties you may have. Learning requires some effort, but the 
rewards are great, and we know you will be brave and persistent. We 
recommend that you read some books about sexual functioning our 
Bibliography lists good books for every lifestyle and orientation. Get your 
partners to read them with you, so you can all start out on the same page. 
Many of these books include exercises you can use to expand your sexual skills 
and your repertoire- try them. 

Talk dirty. Talk to people about sex. Ask them about their experience, and 
share yours. Catherine remembers seeing her first porno movies, and feeling 
confounded because the women in them all masturbated face-up, and she 
wasn't sure if she'd been "doing it wrong" all those years. She started asking 
her women friends, and found that she was far from alone- not only in her 
face-down preference, but in her sense of uncertainty. Talk to your intimates, 
and any friends or people you respect who are accessible to you. Breaking the 
ice can be scary at first, but establishing discussion about sex with your 
friends and lovers will be a valuable resource for all of you, well worth risking 
a few minutes of embarrassment as you get started. A friend of ours used to 
believe that she was the only person in the whole world whose cheeks got sore 
from sucking cock. Talking to a few friends let her know that she was in the 
majority. If you find you can't talk intimately and explicitly about sex with 
your lovers, then how can you deal with a problem or try something new? 

Good sex starts with yourself 

We mean this quite literally. When Masters and Johnson began their research 
into sexual functioning in the late '50s, they wanted to start by learning about 
good sex before researching sexual dysfunction- so they started by selecting 
382 men and 312 women, including 276 heterosexual couples, all of whom 
had satisfactory sex lives. One surprising fact they uncovered was that 
virtually all these sexually satisfied people masturbated- regardless of whether 
or not they were also having partnered sex. 

Write this on your mirror: sexually successful people masturbate. You are not 
making love with yourself because you are a loser, because you can't find 

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anyone to play with you, because you are desperate to get your rocks off. You 
make love to yourself because you deserve pleasure, and playing with yourself 
makes you feel good. 

People who play with themselves are good lovers for two reasons. First is that 
sex with yourself is a really good time to explore new sources of stimulation, 
like touching yourself in different places, or vibrators, or new positions, 
because you will never fail to notice what doesn't feel good, you will always do 
it the way that feels best, and there's no one to get embarrassed in front of. So 
masturbation offers you an opportunity to practice all sorts of interesting 
things: for instance, if one of your goals is too be able to enjoy more sex before 
you come, you can practice relaxation exercises with yourself, and learn to 
slow down and speed up your response however you like. And if your concern 
is that sometimes you are not able to come when you would like to, you can 
pay attention to what works for you in self-sexuality and teach your partner 
your individual preferences in sexual stimulation. 9 Practice makes perfect, so 
masturbate a lot. 

Start by putting some energy into supporting your own selfesteem and 
developing a positive feeling about your body- no, not the body you plan to 
have next year after you work out every day and live on lettuce. What have you 
done recently that helps you feel good about the body you are inhabiting 
today? It's hard to have a good relationship with your body when all you do is 
yell at it. Try giving your body treats: a bubble bath, a trip to the hot tubs, a 
massage, silk underwear, anything that feels good. Be nice to your body, and 
then go find somebody else's body to be nice to, and somebody will be nice to 
your body too. 

Love yourself as you would your lover. Masturbation is a good way to nourish 
and develop our relationships with ourselves. We can improve our self-esteem 
by the simple act of pleasuring our bodies. If you want a better relationship 
with your body, try making a date with yourself. Put your best sheets on the 
bed, candles and music in the bath, warm your towels, set out your sexiest 
nightie or robe, treat yourself to a long soak, sensuous lotion, self-massage 
and a dynamite climax. 

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We have never met a person who suffers from low self-esteem 
at the moment of orgasm. 

Your relationship with yourself is what you bring to a relationship with 
another person: it is what you have to share, your offering, personally, 
emotionally and sexually. The sexier you are to yourself, the sexier you will be 
to your lovers. 

And if you really want to be the world's greatest lover, and you want your 
partner to know exactly what pleases you the most, try masturbating in the 
same room. Who knows, you too might like to watch -we find it a tremendous 
turn-on. And in watching, or showing, you will teach and learn each other's 
individual pattern of pleasure, and become the most perfect, and the most 
perfectly satisfied lovers that ever could be. 

Get your conditions met 

It's hard to focus on pleasure when you're worrying about whether the baby is 
awake, the door is locked and the shades are drawn, or whatever bothers you. 
Figure out what your conditions are, what you need to feel safe and free of 
worry so you can enjoy your sex completely. Deal with your needs beforehand. 
Establish your agreements with your partner about safer sex and/or birth 
control. It is not appropriate to argue with anyone's limits regarding 
pregnancy and disease risk reduction: respect the limits of the most 
conservative person, because sex is a lot more fun when we all feel safe. 
Personal limits may be idiosyncratic, and that's okay too. Dossie has a minor 
obsession about being clean, and likes to set up clean sheets and have a 
shower so she feels all fresh and sparkly. Someone else might not care as 
much- so what? There is no one right way to get ready to have sex. Give 
yourself permission to take care of your own needs; it will free you. 

Sometimes you discover that your conditions aren't what you thought they 
were, and that the new ones might offer some special fun. 

Catherine remembers: 

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I'd been to a concert that night with two friends, who were lovers of each 
other's and of mine. One of us had recently acquired a treasure: a '64 
Lincoln Continental the size of a studio apartment. On the way back, we 
decided to stop by the river to admire the moonlight and before we knew it 
we were throwing a full-scale orgy in the fi'ont seat of the Lincoln. I'd 
always thought I wouldn 't like sex in a car, but when I found myself 
stretched out in the front seat with my head in one partner's lap as I 
masturbated him over my shoulder, and my other partner kneeling in the 
passenger foot well with her head buried between my legs, I began to change 
my mind. The scene ended in hysterical giggles: the one I was masturbating 
began to come, his body went into an orgasmic spasm, and he hit the horn- 
the car emitted an enormous blast of sound from its mid-'6os Detroit horn 
that must have awakened everybody for miles around, and made us all 
practically fall out of our seat! 


Most of us have been struck dumb by the scariest communication task of all- 
asking for what we want. Is there any one of us who has never failed to tell our 
partner when we want our clit or cock stimulated harder or softer, slower or 
faster, more on the shaft or more on the tip, on the side, on both sides, up and 
down or round about, or whatever it is that would work for us? Take it from 
us, the way to get what you want in sex is to ask for it. And the way to get a 
good reputation as an excellent lover is to ask each partner what he or she 
likes, and let them show you how to do it exactly right: Catherine makes a 
point of having her lovers masturbate for her early on in the relationship, so 
she can watch how they do it and make mental notes about what kinds of 
stimulation they like to feel. Once you get past the initial embarrassment, this 
is actually easy, and will make you a very popular lover indeed. 

If you find this impossibly difficult, we have an idea that will help. Try this 
exercise with yourself or with a lover that you are very familiar with, and as 
you get comfortable, repeat it with each new lover. 

First, make a list of all the sexual activities you can think of that anyone, not 
just you, might like to do. You will immediately discover that this is also an 

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exercise in developing language, so pay attention as you name these things. 
Are you more comfortable with intercourse or fucking, oral sex, going down, 
cocksucking or eating out? What do you call your own sex organs penis, dick, 
cock, prick... pussy, cunt, vagina, clitoris? If you get stuck, put a little effort 
into finding any name that describes the activity, take a deep breath and 
repeat those words five times, and breathe again. Make your list as complete 
as possible, and include activities that you dont like as well as those you do. 
You can make this list by yourself, with a partner or a friend, or with a group 
of people who may or may not be your lovers. When you make the list of all 
possible sex acts with a group of people, you get good practice in talking about 
sex explicitly, graphically and on purpose. 

Then each person takes a separate sheet of paper and makes three columns: 
YES, NO and MAYBE. YES means I like this, NO means I dont want to do this, 
and MAYBE means maybe if I felt safe enough, or was turned on enough, or 
my partner were very experienced, or whatever. Make your personal list 
privately, and share with your partner or partners after. When you are 
negotiating an evening's entertainment, everything on the NO lists is off 
limits, everything on both partner's YES list is the wonderful fun you are ready 
to share. And if all goes well, you may get to try out an item or two from the 
MAYBE list. We strongly encourage you to try this exercise you will be amazed 
at how much you will learn, and how easy communication can be once you get 

We have also included on Page 102 an inventory of sexual activities. Try filling 
it out and see what you learn about yourself. You can make copies to share 
with your friends as an ice-breaker for a discussion group or for negotiating a 
sexual encounter. We made the boxes as big as possible so you can make 
comments about how you feel, which tends to be more informative than a 
simple yes or no. 

These are ideas about how you can start communicating explicitly about sex, 
and negotiate con sensuality Remember, we define consent as an active 
collaboration for the pleasure, benefit and well-being of all persons concerned. 
This means that everybody involved must agree to whatever activity is 
proposed, and must also feel safe enough that they could decline if they 

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wished. We believe that if you are not free to say "no," you can't really say 
"yes." We also think it is essential that everyone involved understands the 
consequences of both responses, which is another way of saying that it's not 
acceptable to take advantage of someone's naivete. 


Ouch! ??? Eeek! HOT!!! Scary Hmmm... We cannot say this often enough: You 
have a right to your limits and it is totally okay to say no to any form of sex you 
dont like or are not comfortable with. Having a limit does not mean that you 
are inhibited, uptight, no fun, or a permanent victim of American puritanism. 
It just means you dont like something, and if you want to learn to like it, we 
think there are better ways to do that than to succumb to guilt-tripping, 
shaming or outright bullying. Say no to what you dont want, and when you 
decide to try something new, arrange for lots of support from your partner, get 
your conditions met, and be kind to yourself. Positive reinforcement is really 
the best way to learn. 

In many areas, workshops and groups about sex are available, put on by 
dedicated sex educators and counselors, sometimes at birth control clinics or 
organizations supporting sexual health. All of these workshops are designed to 
be safe, to respect everyone's boundaries and give you an opportunity to learn 
new information, increase your comfort level and speak for yourself about 
your own feelings and experience. What we are advocating here is 
communication by, with and for everybody. 

Find your turn-on 

Have you ever set out to make love and discovered that you couldn't find your 
turn-on? There you are, hunting for that elusive state of excitement, and 
wondering what's wrong with you when your lover does the things you usually 
love and your response is just plain nothing, or worse yet, irritation or 
ticklishness. Women wonder why they aren't getting wet, men agonize over 
absent erections, everybody either fakes it or gets embarrassed. It happens to 
everybody. Really. It's not just you. 

For some people, losing their turn-on happens when they are nervous, maybe 

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with a new partner or in a new situation. For others, familiarity reduces 
arousal, and they have a hard time grasping their desire in the relationships 
with the people they know the best and love the most. 

Lust for one person is seldom satisifed by sex with another, but experienced 
sluts know that turn-on is transferable. The excitement you feel about the sex 
you're planning with Bill next weekend can easily set a fire under your session 
with Jane tonight, because arousal is a physical experience that can be used 
for anything you want. The lust in the mind persists, and will still be there for 
you when you get around to Bill- we promise. 

Getting turned on requires a physical and mental transition into a different 
state of consciousness. Every night, when you go to sleep, you make such a 
transition: you turn the lights down, get into loose clothing, lie down, perhaps 
read quietly or watch a little TV, deliberately changing your state of 
consciousness from wide awake to sleepy. Some people do this automatically, 
while others have to work at figuring out what helps them get to sleep. 

Similarly, we all need to know how we get turned on, what works for us when 
arousal doesn't just come of its own accord. Our mythology tells us that we are 
not supposed to have to do this on purpose, that we are supposed to be swept 
away with desire, or else something is wrong: we dont really want to make 
love to this person, we've made a terrible mistake and now what are we going 
to do with the kids? Men are told that they are supposed to be so turned on by 
the mere availability of a partner that their erection should stand up and 
salute without any actual sensory stimulation. Women are taught that they 
ought to be turned on in response to any stimulus from a partner they care 
about, and if they aren't, they are frigid or perhaps feeling hostile. These are 
only some of the very destructive lessons you may have learned. 

So the first thing you need to do when desire doesn't come up like thunder is 
to remember that lots of serious sluts have dealt with this problem 
successfully, and so can you. So let's look at how we could go about getting 
turned on on purpose. 

Some people just charge on, start sexual stimulation and keep on with it until 
their turn-on catches up with them, and this works for many people much of 

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the time. Dossie once had a partner who liked to leap into cold mountain 
lakes when they were camping, insisting that you'd get warm eventually if you 
just thrash around. 

Other people like to get in one step at a time, warming up gradually and 
sensually, allowing time to appreciate the changes in sensitivity that occur as 
they move slowly into their sexual response cycle. For many people, simply 
slowing down gives them the chance to get in synch with their turn-on, and 
once you find your turn on it makes it easier to speed up. 

Many people experience hypersensitivity, which means feeling ticklish or 
jumpy or irritated, when they attempt to take in sensations that are too 
focused or too intense in the early part of their journey to arousal. Such 
ticklishness usually disappears once the person is thoroughly excited, and may 
reappear right after orgasm. The only way to deal with hypersensitivity is to 
remember that almost nobody can get turned on while they are being tickled 
or irritated, so take your time. (Dossie's partner who loved to leap into cold 
lakes also really loved to be tickled, but Dossie hates it, so Dossie didn't get 
tickled and her girlfriend did. Diversity rules.) Feel free to tell your lover about 
hypersensitivity, and what sensations you enjoy early on, and how that may be 
different later. Most hypersensitivity can be cured with a firm touch and a 
gradual approach. Start with caressing backs and shoulders and less sensitive 
parts of the body, making sure of serious arousal before touching the more 
exquisitely sensitive areas. 

Talk with your lover about what turns you on- a fantasy? A story? Having your 
fingers or toes gently bitten and sucked? Ask your lover what turns him on- 
chewing on a neck? Brushing his hair? You could prepare for this talk by 
writing down a list of all the things that you know excite you, each of you on 
your own, and then sharing your lists. Talking can be a little risky, and risk 
can be exciting in and off itself. 

Get into your body: sensual delights like hot tubs, bubble baths, naked skin by 
the warm fire, massage. These are the slower delights that give us time to 
focus our attention on physical pleasure, and allow our busy brains to slow 
down or drift off into fantasy. This kind of pleasure should not be demanding, 

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this is not the time to worry about heavy breathing or undulating hips. This is 
the time for entrancement. 

Fantasy is a big turn-on for many people, and yes, it is perfectly normal to 
fantasize when your partner is doing sexy things to you. Many people also like 
to fantasize on their own before their erotic encounters, building up a nice 
head of steam before any touching actually takes place. Perhaps you would 
both enjoy watching an erotic video, or reading each other grown-up bedtime 
stories. Maybe it would be hot to tell each other your favorite fantasies. 

Excitement begins with a slow sensual warmth, and when the warm-up has 
begun, the door is open for more intense excitement, exploring the 
sensitivities of ears, necks, wrists and toes, or tongues in mouths. Breathing 
becomes deeper, and hips start to move of their own accord. 

So does this excitement mean it's time to leap on that express train to 
orgasmic release? Just because your body is physically ready to enjoy sex 
doesn't mean you need to rush to fulfillment! Why dont you take a little more 
time? This feels good, right? So what about feeling good a little more, getting a 
little more turned on: remember when you were in high school and you could 
neck for hours? 

Slow down 

And dont we all want a lover with a slow hand? The most common mistake 
people make when they get nervous about sex is to rush things. Tension does 
tend to speed us up, and it is also true that both men and women develop a lot 
of muscle tension as they approach orgasm, which adds to the furor. Now 
when we are truly ready, there is nothing we like more than to grunt and gasp 
and heave and shout and make fists with our toes on the speeding express 
train to orgasm. But there is more to sex than orgasm, so let's not leave out 
sensuality, seduction, the oh-so gradual turn-on, the building of suspense, the 
exploration of every part of the body that can arouse the senses- we want to do 
it all. And to explore the entire range of sensual and sexual intimacy, we need 
to learn techniques for slowing down. 

The first technique for slowing down is very simple. Take a deep breath and 
hold it. Put your hand on your abdomen and feel the hardness of your 

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muscles. Then breathe out, slowly, and you will feel the muscles in your torso 
relax. When we are tense, we tend to breathe in gasps, gulping air in and 
exhaling very little, and that's how we maintain tension in our muscles and in 
our minds. When we breathe out, we relax. So anytime you are tense, in any 
situation, you can relax a little by taking three long, slow, deep breaths, 
making sure to breathe out as thoroughly as you breathe in. 

You can reduce your nervousness about talking about sex, and you can slow 
yourself down during sex, just by breathing. When you slow your breathing 
while you are turned on, let your awareness go down into your body. Scan 
your whole body with your mind, starting from your toes, and let yourself 
notice how each part of you feels. Chances are you will discover a lot of good 
feelings you hadn't even felt before. Sex therapists call this sensate focus, and 
advocate it in particular for those who want to slow down their response and 
enjoy more sex before they come. You can slow down your physical sexual 
response by breathing, relaxing and focusing your attention to reduce your 
physical tension, because, you see, not only do we all tense our muscles before 
we come, but most of us cannot come when our muscles are relaxed. So 
orgasmic control is not achieved by grunting and bearing down, but rather by 
relaxing and enjoying yourself. 

Slowing down is also useful when you are trying out new activities, or nervous 
for any reason. Our friend Mandy relates one of her early learning experiences 
with condoms: 

Rob and I had been occasional lovers for many years, and we were getting 
together for the first time after a long hiatus. We had very little experience of 
safer sex at the time, but decided, due to our various experiences, that if we 
wanted to fuck we should use a condom. This was all fine in theory, but when 
the time came to put it on after a suitable and exciting round or two of outer 
course Rob picked up that difficult little piece of rubber and promptly lost his 
erection. I'm sure this has never happened to any of you. 

We fooled around for a little while, and tried again, with the same response- 
Rob's mind and his cock were not in agreement, and his cock was not 
cooperating. I dragged myself up into a more active consciousness and 

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decided to put what I had learned in adult sex education to use. 

I got him to lie back and agree to be done to, and I set up the environment: 
candles for light carefully placed where we wouldn't knock them over, 
lubricant and towels handy, and two or three rubbers in case we broke one, 
plus slow sensual music on a long tape. I got myself in a comfortable position 
between his legs- comfortable because I wanted to take all the time in the 
world, and I did not want to be interrupted by an aching back or a cramped 

I started by stroking his body- thighs, tummy, legs -very gently, in a soothing 
way, for a long time, till he first relaxed, and then responded with an erection. 
I waited a little longer so he could enjoy that erection without any 
responsibility for taking things further: in sex therapy, this is called non- 
demand pleasuring. Then I moved the stroking to his genitals around, but not 
on his penis. His erection went down again, so I moved further back and 
continued sensual stroking on his skin until he got hard again, and continued 
again a little longer, and then moved to touching closer to his cock. This time 
his erection fell only a little, and got hard again after only a few seconds. By 
now he was breathing hard, and so was I. For me, the experience was very 
sensual and kind of trancelike, warm and pleasurable: a major turn-on too. 

I spent a very long time stroking around, but not on, his cock, until he was 
very hard indeed. He reached for me, but I slapped his hand- no distractions, 
please. I am doing this to you, get it? When the suspense was virtually 
unbearable, I ran my hand lightly over his dick -he shuddered. Stroking his 
cock and pulling gently on his balls aroused him even more, and he was 
beginning to moan and sweat. I picked up the condom, checking to make sure 
I was unrolling it in the right direction, and he lost his erection almost 
instantly. I went back to stroking around, not on, his cock, and he sprang up 
again, getting impatient but I made him wait, played with his dick for a long 
time but gently enough that I knew he couldn't come. 

The next time I approached with the rubber, he only wilted a tiny bit, so I 
rubbed a bit more, and we went round a few times until he was so turned on 

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he couldn't think any more and his cock stood up nice and straight while I 
rolled the rubber over it. I continued playing with him while he got used to the 
new sensation. 

By this time I was seriously turned on and more than a little impatient, so 
when I gave the word, he attacked and did the raging bull thing, and we both 
finally got to fuck fast and hard: well worth the waiting, I say. You should have 
seen the explosion, I'm sure they heard us in the next town. 

To sum up, and maybe catch our breath a little ourselves, a basic skill for good 
sex is knowing how to relax, and slow down, and then knowing how to tense 
and speed up. And once you know how, you can go round and round as many 
times as you can bear to hold off, enjoying every minute and building up 
excitement for the grand finale. Relaxing your breathing, and relaxing your 
body, can help you get centered, grounded in your body and in the pleasure 
you are feeling, and give you more choices about your sex. You can learn more 
about relaxation and slowing down by taking a class in any form of yoga, 
practicing sensual massage, trying tantric techniques, or just slowing down 
long enough to discover what fun it is to focus on what you're feeling when 
you're feeling good. 

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page 90 of 219 



Many people believe that to be a slut is to be indiscriminate, to not care about 
who you make love with, and thus to not care about yourself. They believe that 
we live in excessively wide open spaces, with no discrimination, no fences, no 
boundaries. Nothing could be further from the truth. To be an ethical slut you 
need to have very good boundaries that are clear, strong, flexible, and, above 
all, conscious. 

One very successful slut we interviewed is outraged by accusations of 
indiscrimacy, and points out that sluts get a great deal of opportunity to 
develop exquisitely sophisticated discrimination: "We actually have more 
boundaries than most folks because we have more points of contact," more 
experience relating in very different ways to very diverse people. 

What Are Boundaries? 

It is basic to any relationship, and particularly important in open 
relationships, that no one can own another person. Ownership is not what 
relationships are about. We each own ourselves, lock, stock and barrel. We 
each have the responsibility of living our own lives, determining our 
individual needs and arranging to get those needs met. We cannot live 
through a partner, nor can we assume that just because we have a lover, all of 
our needs should automatically be satisfied. Many of us have been taught that 
if our lover does not meet every need, this must not be true love, our lover 
must be somehow inadequate, or we must be at fault- too needy or 
undeserving or some other judgment like that. 

If you were brought up to believe that your relationship would provide your 
other, or (shudder) better half, or that your destiny is to submerge your 
identity in a relationship, you will probably have to put some attention into 

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learning about your own boundaries. Boundaries are invariably in the plural 
because none of them hold still for long and all of them are individual. They 
are how we understand where you begin and I end, where and how we are 
separate as individuals. You need to figure out where your limits are, what 
constitutes comfortable distance or closeness between yourself and others in 
various situations, and particularly the ways in which you and your lovers are 
different and individual and unique. 

If you read the literature about co dependency or attend support groups with 
Codependents Anonymous, you can learn more about how to own your own 
life, how to get into that position of ownership, and the ways in which we all 
often fail to do so- mostly by understanding the complexities of boundaries. 

Owning Your Choices 

It is axiomatic in communication between intimates that each person owns 
their own emotions, and that each person is responsible for dealing with those 
emotions. This means that nobody "makes" you feel anything. If someone yells 
at you, for instance, you have emotional choices: you might feel afraid, or 
angry, or icy calm. You also have behavioral choices: you might decide to yell 
back, or leave, or get closer and resolve this problem right now because you 
can't stand it. And all of these, and the many other responses too numerous to 
mention here, belong to you. 

Nobody makes anybody feel anything. Understanding this is the first step to 
claiming something very precious- your own emotions. And when you grasp 
your emotions, you have something unbelievably valuable to bring to your 

When you find yourself responding to someone else's behavior, it is easy to 
dwell on what they have done and how terrible it is and what exactly they 
should do to fix it. Instead, try looking at your own feelings as a true message 
about your internal state of being, and decide how you want to deal with 
whatever's going on. Do you want to find out more? Do you want to discuss a 
limit? Do you want a little time to yourself to calm down and get centered? Do 
you want to be heard about something? When you take responsibility, you get 

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these choices, and more. 

What you are not responsible for is your lover's emotions. You can choose to 
be supportive we're great believers in the healing power of listening- but it is 
not your job to fix anything. 

Once you understand that your lover's emotions are not your job or your fault, 
you can listen to him and really hear what he has to say, without falling victim 
to an overwhelming need to figure out whose fault it is or to make the emotion 
change or go away. 

Some people tend to respond to a lover's pain and confusion with an intense 
desire to fix something. "Fix-it" messages can feel like invalidation to the 
person who is trying to express an emotion. "Why dont you just do this... try 
that... forget about it... relax!" sends the message that the person expressing 
the emotion has overlooked some obvious and simple solution and is an idiot 
for feeling bad in the first place. Such messages disempower and invalidate 

It is up to each of us to fix how we feel, to reach out for the support and 
connection we want, and to set our own limits about what we dont want in our 
lives right now. In this way, we all get to solve problems in our relationships, 
learn about ourselves and get along much better with all of our partners. 

Relationship boundaries 

Relationships also have boundaries. The agreements that free-loving couples 
and families make with respect for each other's feelings constitute the 
boundaries of their relationship. In an open sexual community, it is important 
to deal with each relationship within its own boundaries. That means, for 
example, that you figure out your limits with your partner before you go to the 
sex party, that you dont use your mistress to diss your wife, that decisions are 
made with input from everybody affected by them- which means not behind 
anybody's back -and so on. 

Communities based on sex and intimacy work best when everybody has 
respect for everybody's relationships, which includes not only lovers, but 

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children and families of origin and neighbors and exes and so on. Such 
communities can evolve into highly connected family systems when everyone 
is conscious of and caring about boundaries. 

Problems With Boundaries 

Learn from your mistakes. Boundaries can get tricky at times, so we hope you 
give yourselves lots of slack to explore and have your trials and make your 
errors, and learn from them. Remember, you can't learn from your errors if 
you always gotta be right! 


One place where people often get confused is differentiating between the 
honest sharing of feelings and dumping. Dumping means using another 
person as your garbage pit, spewing your problematic stuff all over her and 
leaving it there. Asking someone to listen to your feelings is different from 
dropping them in his lap and leaving them there. Dumping usually carries the 
expectation that the dumpee will do something about the problem, even if it's 
simply to take on the burden of worrying so that the dumper can stop. Usually 
you can avoid dumping by making it totally clear that your need to share your 
emotional state carries no obligation for your listener: "I dont like your having 
a date with Paula tonight," followed by a heavy and pregnant silence, carries 
an entirely different weight than "I'm feeling a little insecure about your date 
with Paula tonight, but I want you to go ahead and have it. Are you okay with 
listening to some of my fears? Can we talk a bit about ways that I might be 
able to feel safer?" 


Another trick to watch out for no, not the kind you find at the disco on 
Saturday night! is projection. Projection is when we use another person as a 
screen to run our movie on. We see our fantasy, and miss the real person. We 
imagine we know his thoughts, when in fact we are thinking about our fears. 
We predict that she will respond the same way our parents did "I know you'll 
reject me if I dont make a lot of money," "You'll never respect me if I show you 

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my sadness." Or we might be projecting our expectations, projections that our 
lovers- who are not mind-readers- can never live up to: "You're supposed to 
take care of me!" "Whaddaya mean, you're not horny? I'm horny!" 

When you make a commitment to own your own stuff, you can stop projecting 
and see the people you love clearly in all their glory. When all of you work 
together to own your stuff, each of you, then you will never again feel like a 
puppet in somebody else's show. 

Role boundaries 

This boundary may seem unfamiliar because we dont have that much 
experience with living in multiple relationships. You may find yourself playing 
out different roles, indeed feeling like a somewhat different person, with 
different partners. With one partner you might feel young and vulnerable and 
protected; with another, you are Earth mother. With one lover you might feel 
careful and solid and safe, with another you might be dashing and reckless. 
Catherine got a wonderful feeling of acceptance for all her parts from a recent 

I enjoy games in which I role-play the port of a "little girl” but my regular 
partner isn't comfortable with them. After a bit of searching, though, I found 
within my circle of acquaintances a man who enjoys being a "Daddy” as 
much as I enjoy having one. My partner was delighted I’d found a safe place 
to play that role, and we both felt I'd made a good choice in selecting 
someone to whom I could entrust such vulnerable parts of me. "Daddy” and I 
get together once or twice a month for finger-painting, watching Disney 
movies, eating peanut butter sandwiches, and other slightly more adult 

Recently I attended a party where both my life partner and my "daddy” 
were in attendance. From across the room, I saw the two of them chatting, 
and I headed over to say hi. As I drew closer, my partner held his arm out 
invitingly and called, "Hey, hon, come over here and hang out with your dad 
and your boyfriend for a while." The feeling of acceptance, and the warmth 
of knowing the two men accepted and honored each other's role in my life, 

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was amazing. 

One of the things people get out of multiple relationships is the chance to be 
all of their various selves. When two people meet , they relate where they 
intersect, where they have complementary roles in similar scripts. So, being 
different things to different lovers, we might find ourselves having different 
boundaries, limits and relationship styles in different circumstances. 

This might manifest in a variety of ways. For instance, I might be calm and 
centered when Lover A is angry, but Lover B’s irritability is distressing to 
me- it "pushes my buttons, " perhaps reminding me of a past lover or a 
punitive parent. In this case, I need to own my buttons, and figure out if my 
limits with Lover B are going to be different from my limits with Lover A. 
Forget about fairness. Ethical sluttery does not mean that all things come 
out equal. Different relationships have different boundaries, different limits, 
and different potentials. So if your lover has found someone that she can 
share a certain activity with, and you would like to share that with her too, 
the question is not "Why dont you do that with me?" but "That sounds 
interesting, how do you suppose we could make that work for us?" 

This is how one woman we interviewed put it: 

My open sexual lifestyle gives me personal freedom, independence, and 
responsibility in a way that being an exclusive couple doesn't. Because I'm 
responsible, every day, for my needs being met (or not), and for creating and 
maintaining the relationships in my life, I can take nothing for granted. Every 
person I meet has the potential for whatever it is that's right between me and 
that person, regardless of how my relationships are with anybody else. And so 
this lifestyle gives me a very concrete feeling of individuality, that I recreate 
every day. I feel more like a grownup, adult, responsible person when I know 
that my life, all of it, who I fuck, who I relate to, how I relate to them, is all my 
choice. I promised my partner that I would share my life with him, and that 
implies to me that I have a life to share- a complete life. And it's clear to me 
that he's here because he wants to be, wherever "here" is. We are with each 
other, every day, because we really want to be. Our choices are real. 

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As we have said before, many traditional attitudes about sexuality are based 
on the idea that there isn't enough of something- love, sex, friendship, 
commitment- to go around. If you believe this, if you think that there's a 
limited amount of what you want, it can seem very important to stake your 
claim to your share of it. You may believe that you have to take your share 
away from somebody else, since if it's all that good a thing someone else 
probably already has it (how unfair!). Or you may believe that if someone else 
gets something, that means there must be less of it for you. 

Starvation economies 

We call this kind of thinking "starvation economies." People often learn about 
starvation economies in childhood, when parents who are emotionally 
depleted or unavailable teach us that we must work hard to get our emotional 
needs metso that if we relax our vigilance for even a moment, a mysterious 
someone or something may take the love we need away from us. Some of us 
may even have experienced real-world hunger (if you didn't grab first, your 
brother got all the potatoes), or outright neglect, deprivation or abuse. We 
may learn starvation economies later in life, from manipulative, withholding 
or punitive lovers, spouses or friends. 

The beliefs acquired in childhood usually run deep, both in individuals and in 
our culture. So you may have to look carefully to see the pattern. You can see it 
in a small way in the kind of "complaining contests" some people engage in: 
"Boy, did I have a rotten day today." "You think your day was rotten- wait till 
you hear about my day! "as though there were a limited amount of sympathy 
in the world, and the only way to get the amount due you was to compete for 
it. People may think that if you love Bill that means you must love Mary less, 
or if you're committed to your relationship with your friend you must be less 

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committed to your relationship with your spouse. 

This kind of thinking is a trap. We know, for example, that having a second 
child doesn't usually mean that a parent loves the first child less, and that the 
person who owns three pets doesn't necessarily give any less care to each one 
than the person who owns one. But when it comes to sex, particularly sex with 
a romantic component, it's hard for most people to believe that more for you 
doesn't mean less for me. 

Letting go 

Getting over past fears of starvation can be one of the biggest challenges of 
ethical slut hood It requires an enormous leap of faith you have to let go of 
some of what feels like yours, trusting that it will be replaced, and more, by a 
generous world. You need to get clear that you deserve love and nurturance 
and warmth and sex. And if the world hasn't been all that generous to you in 
the past, this may be very difficult. 

Unfortunately, we can't promise you that the world will be generous to you. 
We think it will that if you loosen your possessive grip on the love that's 
already yours, you'll get more, from the person who loves you, and maybe 
from some other people too. It certainly has worked for us. But, especially in 
the beginning, letting go of false starvation economies can feel a lot like 
trapeze-swinging letting go of what you already have (or believe that you 
have), trusting that at the end of the leap there will always be something else 
to grab. 

Is there a safety net for this kind of dare devilry Well, yes, but it's going to 
require another leap of faith... because the safety net is you. Your self-reliance, 
your self- nurturing, your ability to spend time in your own company. If being 
alone seems unbearable to you, the courage required to relinquish what's 
"yours" the things that stand between you and aloneness, may be impossible 
to summon. 

On the other hand, what an incredibly free feeling it is to realize that there is 
enough love, sex, commitment, support and nurturing to go around! 
Catherine used to spend the nights when her partner was out with someone 
else by getting together with one of her own other lovers, so she wouldn't have 

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to be alone. Now, she says, "I know that option is there for me if I want it but 
more often I choose to spend that time in my own company, enjoying the 
opportunity for solitary self-indulgence." Knowing that the world offers plenty 
of companionship, she feels safe enough to not need that reassurance. 

Real-world limits 

In contrast to starvation economies, some of the things we want really are 
limited. There are only twenty- four hours in the day, for example so trying to 
find enough time to do all the wonderfully slutty things you enjoy, with all the 
people you care about, can be a real challenge (and sometimes may simply not 
be possible). 

Time is the biggest real-world limit we encounter in trying to live and love as 
we like. This problem is hardly exclusive to sluts; monogamous folks run into 
problems finding the time for sex, companionship and communication, too. 
Careful planning can help- if you dont already keep a fairly detailed datebook 
or computerized calendar, now is a good time to start. Respecting one 
another's realities, and staying flexible, is important. Crises happen: a sick 
child, a work emergency, or even another partner who needs companionship 
and reassurance during a particularly bad time. You might also want to do 
some thinking about how much time you need to get your needs met: do you 
really have to stay over and have breakfast together the next day, or would an 
hour or two of cuddling and talk be just as nice? 

However you work out your schedule, remember that everybody concerned 
needs to know about it, and that may include more people than you are used 
to thinking about. A friend of ours, having failed to inform his wife's lover 
about an engagement that affected her schedule, moaned: "I know I told 

Don't forget to schedule time to relate to your partner and play with your kids. 
And dont leave yourself out: many busy sluts find it important to schedule 
alone time for rest and replenishment. Catherine, who lives in a Grand Central 
Stationlike group household, has an arrangement with her girlfriend that she 
can occasionally use Barbara's house for solitary retreats- a rare and precious 
gift- while Barbara is out of town. 

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Space is another real-world limit for many people. Few of us are fortunate 
enough to live in multi-room mansions with rooms dedicated exclusively to 
sex. If you're in your bedroom with your friend, and your live-in partner is 
sleepy and wants to go to bed, you've got a problem. Crashing on a narrow 
couch in your own apartment, while your partner disports with someone else 
in your bed, may be beyond the limits of even the most advanced slut. This 
problem may be solved by separate bedrooms or personal spaces if you can 
afford them. One couple we interviewed said, "Having separate bedrooms is a 
nonnegotiable need for us; we wouldn't be able to maintain this lifestyle 
without them." Sometimes a hotel room or other rented or borrowed space 
can be another good solution. If neither of these is an option, we suggest 
making clear agreements about what times the shared space is available for 
other-partner sex, and sticking strictly to them. 

Things. It's only natural to want to share our possessions with the people we 
care about. But this urge can cause problems when possessions- money, food, 
art, toys- belong, legally or emotionally, to more than one person. If there's 
any chance that someone feels a sense of possession about an item, we 
strongly recommend that you talk carefully with that person before you share 
the item with someone else. This rule is sometimes simple: you dont let your 
lover polish off the carton of milk that your spouse was planning to drink for 
breakfast. But it sometimes gets tricky, too. While you may have the legal right 
to give away a gift that was given to you by someone else, the wife who sees 
her husband's Father's Day tie around his lover's neck may feel 
understandably miffed. (These are some of the advanced boundaries we told 
you about.) Similarly, it's not a good idea to share with someone else an item 
that was made for you by a lover, or that the two of you bought together 
during an intimate shopping trip. Many sluts, for the purposes of hygiene 
and/or emotional attachment, set aside certain sex toys for use with only one 
person: my vibrator, Harry's dildo. Lending or giving jointly owned money 
without discussing it with the co-owner is, we hope it's not necessary to say, 

"The tyranny of hydraulics." This is Dossie's phrase for the biological realities 
that govern many aspects of sexuality. While it might be nice to think that 

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you're a sexual superman who can generate erections on demand ad 
infinitum, neither of us has yet met such a man. A partner who is looking 
forward to conventional sexual activities with a male lover may be quite 
understandably disappointed to find him unavailable by virtue of having 
ejaculated with another partner earlier that day. And even the most multiply 
orgasmic of women can't stay turned on forever. 

Such problems can often be solved by readjusting your expectations of what 
constitutes sex" does it really always require an erection? An orgasm? An 
ejaculation? Practitioners of tantric yoga have developed ways by which many 
men can experience orgasm without ejaculation. These strategies are only 
somewhat useful for birth control and safer sex, and are certainly no 
substitute for rubbers. But they come with a wonderful side effect: men who 
learn to orgasm without ejaculating are able to come many times, like women. 
And practitioners of many other kinds of sex have developed ways in which 
enthusiastic sluts can give their partners one or many orgasms, regardless of 
their own state of arousal. Before you give up on polyamory because of "the 
tyranny of hydraulics," we suggest you investigate at least some of these 
possibilities (our earlier chapter on Enjoying Sex, and some of the books in 
the Bibliography, will help). 

Remember outer course Remember sensuality. Rediscover massage for its 
own sake. Share a seriously filthy conversation about what you'd like to do to 
each other tomorrow. 

Am I really going to starve? 

When you try to decide what limits you want to the openness of your 
relationship, it's not always easy to tell which fears are based on reality and 
which on fear or illusion. First, you have to pinpoint the areas in your life 
where you feel insecure, where you perceive the possibility of deprivation- 
which requires a lot of self-searching and honesty. It helps to ask, "What am I 
afraid might happen?" 

Is my partner's fondness for his friend really going to make him fall out of love 
with me? What if my partner doesn't think I'm special any more? What if she's 
so ecstatically happy that she doesn't need me? Why would she ever want me, 

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anyway? These are some of the horrible little thoughts that pop up in all of our 
minds when we're scared of starving. 

You need to decide whether your fear is a possible reality, or something that 
probably wouldn't happen. Frequent check-ins, good communication to keep 
you aware of whether anyone's feeling deprived or overextended, and lots of 
internal reality checks (is your disappointment that he couldn't get it up really 
just that, or is it anger or jealousy over his date last night?) can help. We'll talk 
later about how to get reassurance when you're afraid. 

Limits can stretch 

Sometimes, you just have to try it and see. The old chestnut about "If you love 
something, let it go" is sentimental, but more than a kernel of truth lies at its 
core. In the same way that a dieter is sometimes counseled to let himself get 
hungry in order to see what that feels like, you may need to let yourself feel 
deprived, simply to prove to yourself that feeling deprived isn't the end of the 
world. Sometimes letting go of one pleasure opens your eyes to another that 
was there from the start; sometimes a new one comes along; sometimes you 
find out you dont need it all that much right now anyway. We can't tell you 
what letting go will feel like; all we can do is assure you that you will learn 
something from it. Scary... and satisfying! 

A song to remember: 

Love is a rose and you better not pick it Only grows when it's on the vine 
Handful of thorns and you know you missed it Lose your love when you say 
the word "mine. "to 

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"Let jealousy be your teacher. Jealousy can lead you to the very places where 
you most need healing. It can be your guide into your own dark side and show 
you the way to total self-realization. Jealousy can teach you how to live in 
peace with yourself and with the whole world if you let it. "Deborah Anapol, 
Love Without Limits 

For many people, the biggest obstacle to free love is the emotion we call 

Jealousy feels really rotten and most of us will go to great lengths to avoid 
feeling it. However, your authors believe that most people take the destructive 
power of jealousy way too much for granted, that they give their jealousy far 
more power than it deserves. After many years of living free and dealing 
successfully with jealousy, we tend to forget that we live in a culture that 
considers it acceptable to divorce or even murder a sexually explorative 
partner who has committed the unthinkable crime of arousing jealousy in us. 
We danced happily for years to a bouncy Beatles tune before we noticed the 
lyrics that threatened, "I'd rather see you dead, little girl, than to see you with 
another man..." 

Let us point out here that monogamy is not a cure for jealousy. Joe managed 
to get pathologically jealous without Dossie ever cheating. We have all had 
experiences of being ferociously jealous of work that keeps our partner away 
or distracted from us, or of our lover's decision to cruise the Internet instead 
of our bodies, or of Monday (and Tuesday and Wednesday and...) Night 
Football. Jealousy is not exclusive to sluts; it's an emotion we all have to deal 
with in our relationships. 

Many people believe that sexual territoriality is a natural part of individual 
and social evolution, and use jealousy as justification to go berserk, and stop 
being a sane, responsible and ethical human being. 

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Threatened with feeling jealous, we allow our brains to turn to static on the 
excuse that we are acting on instinct. 

What Is Jealousy? 

We cannot ask this question too often. What is jealousy to you? Does jealousy 
really exist, and is it what we think it is? Once we are willing to confront the 
feeling of jealousy rather than run away from it, we can see more clearly what 
jealousy truly is for each of us. Jealousy may be an expression of insecurity, of 
fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, feeling left out, feeling not good 
enough, or feeling inadequate. 

Sometimes what we perceive as jealousy is actually something else. Think 
through the details of how jealousy works with you. What bothers you the 
most? Is it that you dont want her to do those things to someone else, or that 
you do want her to do them to you? Jealousy might actually be envy, and envy 
is often very easy to fix: why not make a date with your lover to do what you 
have just discovered you are missing? 

Sometimes jealousy has at its roots feelings of grief and loss, which can be 
harder to interpret. We have been taught by our culture that when our partner 
has sex with another, we have lost something. Not to sound dumb, but we are 
confused. What have we lost? When our partner comes home from a hot date 
with another, often she is excited, turned on and has some new ideas she 
would like to try out at home. We fail to see what we lose in this situation. 

On the other hand, sometimes the truth is that we are becoming aware on an 
intuitive level that our partner is moving away from us, and it might be true 
that we are losing the relationship that we cherish. That does happen. And the 
fact that supposedly monogamous people everywhere often leave one partner 
for what they perceive as greener grass with another is not much consolation 
when it happens to you. 

We watched a friend of ours go through feelings of deep grief and loss when 
she perceived that her partner's lover was trying, quite nearly successfully, to 
abscond with him. In this case, her pain threw a spotlight on some dishonesty 
and manipulation on the part of the third party, and gave her partner the 
strength to break off from the lover and to find other lovers who had greater 

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respect for his primary bond. On the other hand, this scenario might just as 
easily have ended in a breakup; we'll talk more about breakups, and dealing 
with them ethically with care for your own and your partner's feelings, in the 
chapter on "Sluts In Love." 

Jealousy might also be associated with feelings of competitiveness and 
wanting to be number one. Dossie's daughter, when young, once asked her, "If 
there were an Olympics of sex would you win a gold medal?" We say thank the 
Goddess there is no Olympics of sex, because sexual achievement is not 
measurable- so get that ruler out of here. We cannot rank each and every one 
of us on some hierarchical ladder of who is or is not the most desirable, or the 
better fuck. What a horrid idea! We want to live in a world where each 
person's sexuality is valued for its own sake, not for how it measures up to any 
standard beyond our own pleasure. And if you learn from someone else's 
experience something that you would like to add to your own repertoire of 
skills, you can certainly learn to do it without wasting time trashing yourself 
for not already having known how. 

Fear of being sexually inadequate can be particularly potent. But allow us to 
reassure you that eventually, when you succeed in establishing the lifestyle 
you are dreaming about, you will be so familiar with so many different 
individuals' ways of expressing sexuality that you will no longer have to 
wonder how your sexuality compares to another's; you'll know from direct 
experience. You can learn from your lovers, and your lovers' lovers, and 
your lovers' lovers' lovers, to be the sexual superstar you would like to be. 

Unlearning Jealousy 

To change the way you experience a feeling takes time, so expect a gradual 
process, learning as you go, by trial and error. And there will be trials, and 
you will make errors. 

Start by giving yourself permission to learn new ways. Allow yourself to not 
know what you dont know, to be ignorant. You must allow yourself to make 
mistakes you have no choice. So reassure yourself: there is no graceful way to 
unlearn jealousy. It's kind of like learning to skate- you have to fall down and 

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make a fool of yourself a few times before you become as graceful as a swan. 
The challenge becomes learning to establish within yourself a strong 
foundation of internal security that is not dependent on sexual exclusivity, or 
ownership of your partner. This is part of the larger question of how to grasp 
your personal power and learn to understand and love yourself without such a 
desperate need for another person to validate you. You become free to give 
and receive validation, not from need or obligation, but from love and caring. 
We suggest most strongly that you put some effort into learning to validate 
yourself- believe us, you're worth it. 

Many people find that as they develop their polyamorous families, they 
actually get validation from lots and lots of people and thus become less 
dependent on their partner's approval. Their needs and their sources of 
nourishment get spread out over a wider territory. 

We can't tell you how to banish jealousy, or how to exorcise it as if it were a 
demon. Jealousy is not a cancer that you can cut out. It is a part of you, a way 
that you express fear and hurt. What you can do is change the way you 
experience jealousy, learn to deal with it as you learn to deal with-any 
emotion- until it becomes, not overwhelming and not exactly pleasant, but 
tolerable: a mild disturbance, like a rainy day rather than a typhoon. 

Disempower your jealousy 

One woman we talked to had some very good ideas about what you can do 
about jealousy: 

I notice that jealousy comes and goes, depending on how good I feel about 
myself. When I'm not taking care of getting what I want, it's easy to get jealous 
and think that someone else is getting what I am not. I need to remember that 
it's my job to get my needs met. I feel the jealousy, but I'm not willing to act on 
it, so it mostly goes away. Once you have made a commitment to refuse to act 
on your jealousy, you become free to start reducing the amount of power you 
let your jealousy have over you One way to do this is simply by allowing 
yourself to feel it. Just feel it. It will hurt, and you will feel frightened and 
confused, but if you sit still, and listen to yourself with compassion and 

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support for the scared child inside, the first thing you will learn is that the 
experience of jealousy is survivable. You have the strength to get through it. 

We have heard sluts accuse each other of being jealous as if it were a crime. 
"See? Look at youi You're jealous, aren't you? Don't try to deny iti" It is 
particularly important that you own your jealousy, to yourself and to your 
intimates. If you try to pretend that you are not jealous when you are, others 
will perceive you as dishonest, or worse yet, they may believe you, and see no 
need to support or protect you because you're fine, right? If you pretend to 
yourself that you are not jealous when you are, then your own emotions may 
try devious routes to bring themselves to your attention, which can generate 
intensely irrational feelings and behavior, temper tantrums and hissy fits, or 
perhaps even make you physically ill. 

When you deny your jealousy to yourself, you take from yourself the 
opportunity to be in sympathy with yourself and to support and comfort 
yourself. When you deny jealousy, or any other difficult emotion, you put 
yourself in a harsh and difficult landscape, full of pitfalls and land mines. 
"Acting out" means doing things you dont understand, driven by emotions you 
have refused to be aware of- and denying your jealousy can lead you to act out 
harsh feelings in ways you will regret later 

Sometimes acting out takes the form of making ultimatums about what your 
partner may and may not door, worse, trying to enforce retroactive 
"agreements" by getting all righteously indignant about how anybody could 
have figured out that it wasn't okay to take Bob to the movie you wanted to 
see, and aren't both of them inconsiderate and rotten? You cannot deal 
constructively with jealousy by making the other guys wrong Jealousy is an 
emotion that arises inside you; no person and no behavior can "make" you 
jealous. Like it or not, the only person who can make that jealousy hurt less or 
go away is you. 

Listening to your lover when she is feeling jealous can be difficult. Sometimes 
we find it easier to feel angry and push our beloved away than to stay close 
when she is in pain, to stay in empathy, to support, to care When we blame a 
lover for being jealous, we are trying to justify our intense desire to not have to 

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listen to how much he hurts when we are on the way out the door to play with 
someone else. This is a crummy way to avoid dealing with our own feelings of 

If this sounds familiar to you, if you have experienced times like this in your 
life, we recommend that you practice the skill of staying quietly with both your 
own and your lovers' pain. Remember, you dont have to fix anything all you 
have to do is listen, to yourself or another, and understand that this hurts. 

The way to unlearn jealousy is to be willing to experience it. By actively 
choosing to experience a painful feeling like jealousy, you are already 
starting to reduce its power over you First, you decide that you will not allow 
your jealousy to make you run screaming over the horizon And so you 
exercise your first form of control over jealousy I will hold steady and stay 
with myself and my feelings. 

Catherine and her partner had a difficult moment when she first told him that 
she was in love with one of her lovers. 

I'd been seeing this woman for a while, and realized, much to my surprise, 
that my feelings toward her had gone beyond simple sexual friendship and 
into a deep romantic emotion that I identified as being in love. When I told 
Jay about this, I think his first impulse was to feel threatened, insecure, and, 
yes, jealous. I could feel him getting close to exploding. It was hard for me 
not to try to fix things, to take back what I'd said about being in love, or to 
simply leave the discussion altogether because I felt scared and guilty. 

But Jay stayed on course, allowing the feelings to present themselves, but 
not allowing them to drive him into acting angry or defensive. He asked me 
some questions about what exactly this meant to us, and I was able to 
explain that I wasn't planning to leave him, that my love for her was in no 
way a threat to my love for him, that she and I weren't expecting to become 
primary partners- that, really, nothing had changed except my own 
emotions and the words I was using to describe them. We still re-visit this 
discussion from time to time, especially when our busy schedules permit me 
to spend some extra time with my lover. And, so far, we've all been able to 

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recognize and honor one another's emotions, and things are going great. 

You can feel jealousy without acting on it. In fact, flying into a rage and 
breaking all the crockery, or calling your lover's lover and hanging up every 
fifteen minutes during your first sleepless night, or picking a fight with 
whoever's handy all these are things that people do in order to not feel jealous, 
in order to not feel scared and small. 

When you hold still with your jealousy, you will find that it is possible to feel 
something difficult without getting frantic, or doing anything you dont choose 
to do. You will have taken your second step at disempowering your jealousy. 
You've told your jealousy that you will not allow it to destroy your loving 

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses 
your understanding. 

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, 
so must you know pain. 

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, 
your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy: 

And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always 
accepted the seasons that pass over your fields. And you would watch with 
serenity through the winters of your grief." 

Weathering the storm 

So here you are, holding still, feeling rotten. Now what do you do? Get as 
comfortable as you can and listen to yourself. Explore your feelings, nourish 
them, treasure them- they are the most essential part of you. 

Be good to yourself, and remember that the most important part of love is not 
the love, however wonderful, that you or another can have for your beauty and 
strength and virtue. The real test of love is when a person- including you- can 
know your weaknesses, your stupidities and your smallnesses, and still love 

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Remember, as you look at yourself, to look kindly, and also remember that 
you are not balancing a checkbook. Anything you see that you dont like, or 
that you want to change, is not a debit that you subtract from your virtues. 
Learn to reflect on your strengths and virtues and it becomes easier to look 
constructively at your weaknesses. Keep your virtues at their full value, and 
cherish them. 

Start by setting yourself the task of getting through a short period of time with 
your jealousy, like an evening or an afternoon when your partner may be off 
with another. Make a pact with yourself that you will stay with your feelings, 
whatever they may be, for a short period of time. If a whole evening or night 
seems like too long, start with five or ten minutes, then arrange to distract 
yourself with a video or whatever. 

It might be easier than you thought 

One of the possible, and indeed common, outcomes will be that your partner 
will go off on a date with another, and you will feel just fine. Surprise! Your 
anticipation may have been a lot worse than the actual event. Experienced 
sluts often find that they only feel jealous now and then. When they do 
experience jealousy, they can examine these specific experiences to see what 
they can learn about themselves, and if they can think of what might make this 
particular sort of event safer and easier. 

One couple we talked to is working to maintain their primary relationship in a 
difficult situation: one of them is out of town most of the time on business, 
and thus much of their activity with other partners takes place under 
circumstances that prevent them from reconnecting physically to the primary 
relationship afterwards. One of their agreements is that they talk on the phone 
every single night, regardless of where they are or how busy they are. Often, 
their conversations take place after one of them has spent time connecting 
with an outside partner. One of them notes that during these conversations, 
he allows my feelings. I dont hesitate to say anything I want; in fact, he 
encourages me to. I've found that just being allowed to say these things, to talk 
about my jealousy and sadness, somehow defuses them. They lose a lot of 
their power because they meet no resistance from him- he just listens to them 

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and lets them be. 

Feel your feelings 

Painful feelings, even the most intense of them, have a tendency to run their 
course if you let them, so an initial strategy is to make yourself as comfortable 
as possible and wait till the feelings die down. Find your feelings, jealousy or 
hurt or anger or whatever, and let them flow through you, like a river. Your 
mind may be racing with nasty thoughts, angry, blaming, focusing on some 
detail that you're absolutely certain those other people did wrong, obsessing 
on believing that someone is taking advantage of you, or riding roughshod 
over your feelings. This hurts a lot, so surely it must be somebody's fault! 

Allow us to reassure you: you are not an idiot. We all go through this. Don't 
die of shame, just let these thoughts run through you too. 

Feelings, once uncovered, can be better understood by reflecting on them. It is 
useful to have scripts and strategies for self-exploration. Journal writing, 
preferably with total disregard for grammar and syntax, can be a good way to 
vent feelings and learn about yourself at the same time. It is okay to cover 
pages of your journal with FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK I HATE THIS! in 
bright red ink; if this feels good to you we recommend you get a large size 
journal. Try writing down your stream of consciousness, which means 
whatever you find in your head whether or not it makes sense, and see what 
you get. Treasures, jewels of self knowledge are often found here. 

You can get a big drawing pad and a set of oil pastels, which are crayons for 
grownups. These big crayons encourage expression with bright colors, and 
discourage getting hung up on details (they're too fat to get crabby with). 
Sometimes you will draw, and get squiggles, and that's great- the smallest 
thing you can accomplish still helps you hold still for a while, and rant in 
color. Other times, you may surprise yourself with a drawing that is 
profoundly meaningful to you. Both of us use drawing a lot to vent our strong 
feelings and discover things about ourselves- Dossie quit smoking this way, 
and Catherine used it as an important tool to get out of suburbia and recover 
her slut hood -and we assure you that neither of us is a great artist. 

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Some people like to express their feelings with their bodies, and might like to 
run, or work out at the gym, or clean the kitchen, or dig in the garden. Try 
finding music that fits your mood, angry or sad or frantic, and dancing your 
feelings out. When you express yourself, you get to know yourself better and 
work out some of the most intense stress constructively. The least you could 
wind up with would be a clean kitchen, and you might actually feel good after 
a self-indulgent afternoon on the beach. 

Poor baby 

Try focusing on the feelings in your body: where do you feel these emotions, in 
your throat, chest, gut? Turning your attention to the physical sensations can 
intensify them, and might bring up tears, but they will move on through even 
more readily if you allow yourself to feel them on the physical level. If rage 
comes welling up, you can pound on a pillow. If you start to cry, let it flow, 
remembering the sense of relief that comes after expressing intense emotion 
in tears. Catherine likes to seek out a tear-jerker book or movie to help her get 
tears out when she feels stuck. ("Terms of Endearment" has never failed her 

Some people have trouble doing this because they've been taught that it's 
wrong to feel sorry for yourself. So who else should you feel sorry for? Stay in 
sympathy with yourself: you feel bad, so be kind to yourself. 

You can talk to a friend, or your other lover, presuming you have made 
agreements about confidentiality with everybody who might care if you gossip. 
Catherine has a deal with a good friend of hers for telephone support. She can 
call her friend up and ask for five minutes of "poor baby," and if her friend is 
available, she pours out her feelings and her friend says, you guessed it, 
nothing but "poor baby" till she is through. This may sound silly, but dont 
knock it till you try it. Comfort is a good thing in hard times. 

Who's to blame? 

As you get skilled at finding and expressing your feelings, you can try a more 
challenging task- see if you can write about or talk to your friend about your 

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feelings without blaming anybody not your lover, not his lover, and especially 
not yourself. This is not an easy exercise: you will be surprised how readily we 
all slip into that blaming mode, but it is very very worthwhile to learn to have 
your feelings without foisting them off onto someone else's account. 

Remember, it might be easier in the short run for me to dump my feelings on 
you when I feel bad, it sure is tempting to make how I feel all your fault. But 
when we blame others for feelings that truly belong to us, we disempower 
ourselves. If it's your fault that I feel bad, I guess there's nothing I can do 
about it, so I'm stuck. Only when I am willing to own my emotions do I have 
the power to change and grow. 

One tiny step in the direction of... 

When your emotions are overwhelming and chaotic, it can help to ask yourself 
if there is anything that would help you feel just one tiny bit safer. Let go of 
the big picture- maybe it's too big to figure the whole thing out right now, so 
start by taking a tiny step in the direction of safer. A few deep breaths, 
conscious relaxation of some muscles, soothing music- try wrapping yourself 
in a soft blanket. It may not seem like much, but once you manage to do 
anything that improves your lot even the littlest bit, you are moving in the 
right direction to build some confidence that you can learn to deal with your 
jealous feelings. 

Baby yourself 

Give yourself permission to take good care of yourself while you learn to work 
through jealousy and other hard feelings. Learn to nurture yourself. What are 
the things you find comforting? Give them to yourself. Hot chocolate? Warm 
towels after a long soak? A long session with your most beloved movie or 
computer game? Your favorite teddy bear? Effective self-nurturing often 
happens on the level of body awareness, so nice physical experiences 
massages, bubble baths, skin lotion, flannel nighties- can give a sense of 
comfort and security even when your mind is anxious and your thoughts are a 
mess. Give yourself permission to take the best possible care of yourself. You 
deserve it. 

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When you anticipate feeling jealous, make plans to occupy your time. It may 
be too much too ask that you always have a hot date at exactly the same time 
as your lover- most people's schedules are too complicated, and what do you 
do when one of your dates comes down with the flu? Do you cancel the other 
one? The people you make these dates with might be counting on you, the 
time they have with you might be important to them, their feelings might get 
hurt. Third parties have a right to some predictability in their lives too. 

But even if you can't round up a hot date for yourself, you can probably find a 
friend to go to a movie with, rent a video, talk obsessively on the "Net, grind 
your teeth, eat sugar, chew your fingernails, whatever works. We do not 
recommend drinking and drugging, as getting high might very well increase 
the intensity of your disturbance, and disinhibit you enough that you might 
forget your commitment to experience your jealousy without acting on it. 
Besides, although a certain amount of escapism is fine, to anesthetize yourself 
so that you feel nothing at all will never give you the opportunity to develop 
skills at dealing with all the feelings you have that are inspired by jealousy. 

Bite the bullet 

When no better plan is available, there is nothing wrong with gritting your 
teeth, biting the bullet and hanging in there till it's over. For now. 

Dossie remembers her first challenge after she decided to never be 
monogamous again: 

I had been casually dating a young man, and had told him at great length 
that I was not available for partnering, and had no intention of ever being 
monogamous again. He came over to visit at my home when my best friend 
was there, we all got a little stoned, and he came on to her. She thought he 
was neat, and didn't know I was involved with him, so they started necking 
right in the middle of my living room. Eeeek! My thoughts went racing as I 
watched them, thinking- well it's not like I want to marry him, and I dont 
think I feel like joining them, and I dont think my friend is bisexual anyway, 
so what do I do? Amy Vanderbilt has said nothing on the appropriate 
etiquette for this situation. For a while I sat doing nothing , frozen, to tell the 

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truth, and finally I thought to myself. Okay, so there's no script. I'll have to 
make one up. What would I be doing if my friend and my new lover weren't 
rolling around on the floor with their braces locked? I guessed I’d be 
finishing taking the notes from that Tarot book I’m reading, so I went 
upstairs and studied, gritting my teeth, but focusing on my notes gave me at 
least a little relief by occupying my mind. Eventually they left, and I got 
through a strange and lonely night, not feeling necessarily great, but at least 
proud of myself that I had survived. I was particularly proud that I hadn't 
thrown my soup at them. I felt not at all damaged, really okay. Later I got to 
talk to my friend: our friendship survived, the dating relationship did not, 
which was fine by me. What I got a grip on was my own strength, so funky 
as it was, this was my first successful run through jealousy. 

Go for it 

A good Question to ask yourself as you seek to understand your jealousy is, 
"What are the specific images that disturb me the most?" Chances are you are 
already imagining along these lines, so you're not likely to make yourself feel 
worse by thinking about the scary stuff on purpose. 

Those disturbing images, the ones that really bother you, are not telling you 
what your partner is doing. You actually dont know what your partner is 
doing. The images you see in your mind are the perfect reflection of your own 
fears. One way to come to terms with your fears is to acknowledge them: "Yes, 
I'm afraid of that." You can take it even further, and work through the fears by 
envisioning the worst possible scenario that you can imagine. Go ahead, 
wallow in it. Elaborate it until it becomes ridiculous. Maybe that other guy has 
a dick three miles long, that girl is a perfect replica of a living Barbie doll. 
Maybe you can laugh at your fears: that'll take the power out of them. 

Pay attention also to your imaginings that are less dangerous, less anxiety- 
ridden. This is where you feel safer. You may be surprised to find that 
imagining your lover in the midst of sex with someone else is less scary than 
you thought it would be, or maybe images of kissing bother you more than 
intercourse, or whatever. Try writing down your imaginings on index cards, 
then putting them in order from the most to the least scary. Then you will 
know what parts scare you the most, and what the safer-feeling parts are. Now 

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you have a direction to turn your mind that will help you feel a little bit safer, 
which is your first step on the road to becoming perfectly comfortable. 

Reality is less terrifying than fiction. You can counter your fears with reality 
testing. Our minds, like nature, abhor a vacuum. We get nervous. Think of the 
last time you were waiting for someone to return a call, or a family member 
was significantly late coming home. It may reassure you to know that the 
Highway Patrol is now computerized, and ready to deal with all of us who call 
and want to know if our beloved Joe Blow had an accident between there and 
here. We all do this. Catherine and her partner have an agreement to call each 
other before they leave a lover's house for the trip home, just to help prevent 
this kind of worry. 

When we dont know what's going on, few of us are able to just say "I dont 
know" and stop thinking about it. We fill in the blanks, and in order to do that 
we make something up. What you see when you fill in the blanks has nothing 
to do with reality- what you see is your own worst fear. So now you know what 
you are afraid of, and nothing about what is really happening. 

This is why your authors are biased in favor of full disclosure in free love. We 
are particularly in favor of multiple partners having a chance to meet each 
other, or at least hear about each other, to dispel our self created mythology 
that that other person is younger, thinner, sexier, etc. You might be surprised, 
when you meet your lover's lover, to find the experience downright reassuring. 
The truth is that different individuals are apples and oranges, each with faults 
and virtues, and each one unique, which is why we like to relate to lots of them 
in the first place. Difference is wonderful, and remind yourself: this is not a 
contest, this is not a race. We all get to win. 

Remember the good stuff 

Make a list of everything you value about your relationship, and put it aside 
for a rainy day. Be an optimist, turn your mind to the positive end of things. 
Value what you have, and what you get from your partner; the time, attention 
and love that he shares with you, the good stuff that fills your cup. Avoid being 
the pessimist who focuses on what is not there, the energy that goes 
somewhere else. That energy is not subtracted from what you get- 

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relationships are not balanced like checkbooks. So when you are feeling 
deprived, remember all the good stuff you get from your partnership. 


You and your partners need to practice talking about jealousy. When you try 
to pretend that you're so perfectly enlightened that you never feel jealous, you 
deprive yourself of the opportunity to work with your feelings and share 
support with your partner. And when you try to protect yourself and your 
partner from jealousy, you are engaging in a deception that can only lead to 
more distance, and can never bring you closer. 

A couple we know tell us that they have developed a convention in their 
relationship that each can ask the other for what they call a "jelly moment." In 
your jelly moment, you get to say what's bothering you, that you feel scared 
and jealous, nervous about saying goodbye for the weekend, small and silly 
and your knees are feeling like, well, jelly. The other partner's commitment is 
to listen, sympathize and validate. That's the response- not "Okay, I'll cancel 
my date with Blanche," but "Aw, honey, I'm sorry you feel bad. I love you." 

When we tell our partners that we feel jealous, we are making ourselves 
vulnerable in a very profound way. When our partners respond with respect, 
listen to us, validate our feelings, support and reassure us, we feel better taken 
care of than we would have if no difficulty had arisen in the first place. So we 
strongly recommend that you and your partners give each other the 
profoundly bonding experience of sharing your vulnerabilities. We are all 
human, we are all vulnerable, and we all need validation. 

Repertory drama 

Your strategies for surviving periods of jealousy will stand you in good stead 
for the rest of your life, and you will use what you learn about yourself from 
this practice over and over. All of the techniques listed above are applicable to 
other difficult feelings, so now you not only have a repertoire of ways to deal 
with bouts of jealousy, but also to handle whatever other painful emotions 
may come your way. So when you get this far, congratulate yourself. Celebrate 

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your successes: write "I am a genius!" two hundred times with lots of bright 
colors. Buy yourself something nifty. You've done a lot of hard work, and you 
deserve a reward. 

A final note about love 

One remedy for the fear of not being loved is to remember how good it feels to 
love someone. If you're feeling unloved and you want to feel better, go love 
someone, and see what happens. 

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We hear too often of folks who enjoy a joyously slutty lifestyle until they fall in 
love. Then, perhaps prodded by cultural messages that love must equal 
marriage must equal monogamy, they suddenly skydive into an attempt at a 
conventional lifestyle, often with disastrous consequences. At least one of your 
authors you can insert Catherine's rueful grin here- is not immune to this kind 
of programming. 

There is no reason why wedding bells, or the equivalent thereof, need to break 
up that old gang of yours. Many sluts find it possible to combine the 
committed stability of a life partnership with the multifarious pleasures of sex 
and intimacy with others. 

However, there is no question that being a slut within a committed 
relationship has some special challenges. So much of our cultural baggage tells 
us that commitment equals ownership that, as the old bitter joke has it, a ring 
around the finger equals a ring through the nose. Even people who know 
better often find that their expectations of a committed relationship may 
include the right to control many aspects of their partner's lives. 

As you can probably guess, we dont much like the idea that a relationship 
commitment specifies anybody's right to anything beyond mutual respect 
and caring for each other. Yet once you divorce romantic love from the 
concept of ownership, what happens? Dossie's partner. 

who has never been in an open relationship before, was startled to find that 
many of her old habits have become irrelevant: "Why should I bother to look 
for stray hairs or inconsistent stories, trying to sniff out any trace of infidelity, 
when I know that if she has sex with someone else she'll simply tell me about 
it?" Yet there are still issues of boundaries, of responsibility, of courtesy, that 
override the ownership issue, and must be dealt with. 

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So, how do two sluts in love (or more- we'll write this chapter based on a two- 
partner agreement for the sake of simplicity, but the issues involved come up 
in multi partner arrangements as well) build a life together? 

Our friends Ruth and Edward remember: "We had a monogamous 
relationship for about sixteen years, then opened it up and started interacting 
with other people. Now we're trying to figure out what we're comfortable 
doing with other people, and what we want to reserve for our own 
relationship. Sometimes, the only way to locate the boundary of our comfort 
zone is to cross it and feel the discomfort. We try to take small steps, so that 
the pain is minimal. We're definitely committed to each other, and are each 
willing to stop doing things that the other finds threatening." 

Mostly, you take care of your own stuff, recognize and protect your 
boundaries, and make agreements to help yourself and your partner feel safe 
but we've already talked about that. Here are some special problems that may 
come up for partnered sluts. 

The accidental couple 

We've said before that each relationship seeks its own level. For some 
relationships, that's a life partnership, which may include sharing living space, 
possessions, and so on. Others may take other forms: occasional dates, 
friendships, ongoing romantic commitments, and so on. Yet many folks find 
that they've gotten into a habit of letting their relationships slide inexorably 
into life partnership, without much thought or intent on their part. Well- 
meaning friends and acquaintances may aid in this process by assuming that 
you and your friend are a couple before you've ever decided to become one. In 
addition, many people get coupled by accident, by virtue of an unplanned 
pregnancy, an "eviction romance" where one partner loses a housing situation 
and moves in with the other, or simple convenience. Catherine remembers: 

In my freshman year of college, I met a guy I liked a lot- quiet and shy, but 
when he said anything I really liked what he had to say. Fred and I wound up 
going out together a couple of times, and having sex a few times. When school 

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ended, we wrote to each other over the summer. Then fall came and I began 
looking around for a place to live outside the dorms. The only room I could 
find was a double-sized room which I could only afford if I shared it with 
someone. So I called Fred and proposed that we share it, putting up a 
partition across the middle and sleeping on separate mattresses, and he 

The first night there, Fred had already gotten himself a mattress, and I hadn't 
yet so I shared his. Somehow, we never did get around to getting another 
mattress. We wound up living together for a couple of years, then getting 
married. That missing mattress led to a fifteen year marriage and a couple of 

While we're all for coupledom for people who choose it, we like to see folks 
make their choices a bit more mindfully than this. We suggest that before you 
let yourself slide into something that you dont really want, you do some 
serious thinking and talking, alone and together, about what is the best form 
for this particular relationship. Talk to each other about what love means to 
you, and how you fit into each other's lives. 

You may discover that while you enjoy one another's company and have 
fabulous sex, your habits regarding housing, money, possessions and so on are 
wildly incompatible. In such a situation, you could do what generations of 
people have done- move in together and spend years trying to change one 
another, getting frustrated and resentful in the process. Or you could 
reconsider some of the implicit assumptions you have brought to the 
relationship. Do you have to live together? Why? Why not instead enjoy your 
friend for the things you like about him, and find someone else with which to 
share the other things? Sluthood means, among other things, that you dont 
have to depend on any one person to fulfill all your desires. 

If you know that you're a person who tends to slide into coupledom, we 
suggest spending some serious time trying to figure out why you've fallen into 
this pattern and what you hope to get out of being a couple. It's a very good 
idea for everyone to learn to live single -to figure out how to get your needs 
met without being partnered, so you dont find yourself seeking a partner to fill 

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needs that you ought to fill yourself. You might also consider experimenting 
with some relationships unlike those you've tried in the past- instead of 
looking for Mr. or Ms. Right, try dating some people you like and trust but 
dont necessarily love, or maybe love in a quieter way than chills running up 
your spine. 

In this, as in just about everything else we've told you in this book, the key is 
to build your own sense of internal security. If you like yourself, love yourself, 
and take care of yourself, your other relationships can arrange themselves 
around you, as perfectly as crystals. We hope that if and when you get coupled, 
you do it on purpose. 

Sluts in competition 

One problem that often arises between partners is competition to be the most 
popular, a concern most of us have carried around in the bottom of our 
psyches since junior high school. Sometimes partners compete with each 
other, to see who can score the most, or the most attractive of conquests- an 
ugly picture. 

We cannot reiterate often enough: this is not a contest, this is not a race, and 
no one is the prize. One strategy to cut through any feelings of 
competitiveness is to play matchmaker for each other, to invest yourself in 
your partner's sexual happiness as you do in your own. Remember the climax 
of "The Big Chill," in which a woman character sets up her best friend with her 
husband so that the friend could have a baby? Catherine recalls meeting a new 
Internet acquaintance for coffee, and hearing her describe a pet sexual fantasy 
that was startlingly similar to Catherine's partner's -Catherine set up their first 
date for later that week. 

Dossie remembers being out with a long-time lover of hers when she noticed 
an attractive person trying to catch her eye behind her date's back. As they 
were leaving, Dossie explained this to her friend, who had a stroke of genius. 
He strode over the young man in question, and with great dignity announced, 
"My lady would like you to have her phone number." Dossie has made use of 
this strategy repeatedly since then, and recommends it highly: they always 

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We have pointed out before that it is impossible for anyone to predict what 
depth of feeling may potentially exist in any sexual relationship. Many people 
new to open relationships try to limit outside sexual encounters to a casual, 
recreational level to avoid the terrifying specter of seeing your partner in love 
with, or at least crushed out on, another. And it is true that sometimes an 
outside relationship will threaten to become primary and supplant the existing 
partner, and when this happens everyone involved will feel horrible, 
particularly the person who may lose his partnership. Especially when that 
person has struggled to own their jealousy, and worked hard on his fears of 
abandonment, only to find himself actually abandoned and left out in the cold. 

It is not possible to predict when or with whom a crush, or any other 
deepening of feelings, might happen. We certainly do not want to draw the 
boundaries of our agreements so tightly that we exclude everybody we like. 
There is no rule that will protect us from our own emotions, so we need to 
look beyond rules for solutions and for a sense of security. 

It can help to do a reality check on your fantasies and expectations. New 
relationships are often exciting because they are new, glowing with sexual 
arousal, and too new to have uncovered the inevitable conflicts and 
disturbances that come with true intimacy over time. Every relationship has a 
honeymoon phase, and it is a true, if tragic, fact of life that the honeymoon 
cannot last forever. When we refuse to figure this out, we can wind up flying 
from partner to partner, always imagining that the next partner will be the 
perfect one. We may never stay with anyone long enough to discover the 
deeper intimacy and profound security that comes with confronting, 
struggling with, and conquering the hard parts of intimacy together. Our 
friend Carol wisely notes: 

Sexual time is connected with intimate time for most of us; we come to 
depend on our partners for various kinds of emotional support. So we get into 
this pattern where we share all our hard emotional un-sexy needs -all the 
work of living together, the sickness and health, richer and poorer stuff- with 
our life partner, and we're on our "best behavior" with our other partners. It 

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can be important to remember that, while you may be trading away some of 
that juicy excitement of a brand-new unknown partner, the intimacy you get 
in return is valuable too, and you can't have that with a person you met two 
weeks ago. The trick is to find a way to manifest both possibilities- the 
intimacy of sharing and the heat of novelty- in your own life. 

Remember, please, that fantasy is not reality, and enjoy your fantasies while 
you maintain your commitments. When your expectation is that a crush is a 
brief, if wonderful, experience, you and your partner can live through one with 
relative equanimity, and more important, without destroying your long term 
stability and love with each other. 

Relating to third parties 

Your relationship with your lover's lovers brings up points of etiquette that 
Miss Manners never dreamed of. One couple we talked to noted. 

"It's important that we not be totally grossed out or disgusted by one 
another's lovers- especially if it's going to be long term, it helps if we can all 
be friends." 

Dossie has a story to tell about this. 

I was once in a relationship with a man who had a primary partner whom I 
had not met. I had asked to meet her, and she was considering if she felt safe 
enough to do that. Their arrangement was that when Patrick had a date 
with me, Louisa would make a date with her other lover, and everybody 
would, hopefully, feel safe and taken care of. Unfortunately, Louisa's other 
lover frequently stood her up, and then Patrick would stand me up, which I 
began to find unacceptable. This was the first time I had asserted any right 
to consideration of me as the outside lover- we are so used to seeing the 
outsider as the home wrecker that we rarely think to protect that person's 
feelings. With much back and forth, and the promised meeting, Louisa 
finally agreed that Patrick could see me whether or not she had a date, and 
we would make sure that she got plenty of advance notice, that he got home 
on time, and that she got lots of support from both of us. As we worked 
through this. Louisa and I got closer and closer particularly remember one 

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night when we were worried about Patrick, and sat up late talking about 
him while he slept in the next room. Louisa and I became best friends and 
went into business together, putting on workshops and theater 

We all three traveled together, and had a wonderful time. 

Patrick and I wound up growing apart as lovers, but the friendship between 
me and Louisa carried on. What was important for me is that when we 
allowed ourselves to determine what boundaries fit for us at any given time, 
that freed us up to evolve through a series of changing relationships that 
made us close family for many years. Should you meet the "third party"? We 
vote yes: if you dont, you'll almost certainly wind up imagining someone 
cuter, sexier, more predatory and more threatening than anyone could be 
outside a Hollywood erotic thriller. Besides, who knows? you might wind up 
liking him. Some of our best friends are people we met because someone we 
were fucking was fucking them too. Catherine and her partner's 
commitment ceremony was performed by a priestess who had first been a 
lover of her partner's, and later a lover and close friend of Catherine's. If you 
are gay or bisexual, you may, as Catherine did, find yourself considering 
forming a liaison with this person yourself- we talked to one woman whose 
first experience with open relationships took place when her girlfriend was 
fucking another woman, and our friend wound up falling in love with the 
other woman. ("My girlfriend got kind of cranky about this, " she remembers 
wryly. "We're all tight family now, but it took a decade to get here.") We 
suggest a few moments of soul searching to make sure your motivation is 
loving or lustful rather than vengeful or competitive then, if you "test clean, " 
go for it. It's really not too surprising that you like the same people your 
partner likes, and mutual attractions like these conform the nucleus of a 
long-lasting and very rewarding little tribe. 

On the other hand, we sometimes see sluts who feel like they have to be sexual 
with their lover's lovers. In some cases, both parties in a partnership have an 
agreement only to play with a third party together. Such agreements require 
that both partners have "veto power" over potential thirds being sexual with 
someone who you find unattractive or unpleasant is a very bad idea for you 

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and for them. On the other hand, basic slut ethics should not allow you to 
abuse this power to prevent your partner from having sex with anyone at all 
by vetoing everybody: a strategy which may seem tempting, because until you 
unlearn jealousy, all outside engagements can look very threatening. 
Sometimes you need to gather up your strength, face down your fears, and 
unlearn by doing. 

Or you may simply feel that since your partner likes and lusts after this person 
so much, you should too- to assuage your partner's guilt, to confirm her 
excellent taste, or to satisfy some obscure sense of fairness. Please dont. If you 
simply dont feel hot for this person, dont let yourself be driven into a position 
where you feel you have to fuck out of politeness: there are many other 
excellent ways for people to relate to one another. Cook her a nice dinner, go 
to the movies with her, play cards together, or find some other way to help her 
feel accepted into your life. 

Which brings up an important question: how much responsibility do you have 
for helping your lover's lovers feel secure and welcome? Catherine has spent 
many long telephone conversations reassuring her partner's lovers that, yes, 
it's really okay with her, and have a great time, honey. We think that your own 
needs should be of primary importance to you, and if you really just can't be 
welcoming and supportive then you shouldn't. On the other hand, we also 
think it's gracious to be as friendly as you can without having to grit your teeth 
and force a smile. At minimum, we suggest that you at least try to provide 
some reassurance that this is not a competition, that you are not being 
harmed by anything that's going on, and that you are able to take care of your 
own emotions- in other words, a promise to own your own stuff and not blame 
the third party. After all, he's doing this because he feels the same way you do- 
that your partner is the hottest thing on legs- and not because he wants to 
destroy your life. 

After the crush is over, some people will find a long term place in your life, 
often unexpected, like the lover who has become your kid's favorite uncle, or 
your partner's business partner. Others may leave, and when they leave with 
warm feelings, they may come back again in the future, when once again there 
is a place for them in your life, or for you in theirs. Thus the infinitely 

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connected polyamorous slut builds his web of extended families and tribes. 
And we feel there is some truth in the notion that a family of lovers cannot fail. 

Some very capable sluts maintain more than one primary relationship. Dossie 
has known one such couple, Robert and Celia, for twenty-five years. They have 
been married twenty-four years, and have together raised two children from 
previous relationships. Each has another primary partner, both usually 
women, and family relationships with all their exes. Robert's outside partner 
May was originally lover to Celia's lover Judy back in 1985, then became 
lovers with Celia, and finally with Robert from 1988 to the present, and, they 
intend, on into the future. Some years ago Miranda and Celia lived upstairs, 
and Robert and May lived downstairs. Currently Cheryl, another of Celia's 
previous girlfriends, lives upstairs and helps with the grandchildren; Miranda, 
another of Celia's exes, visits two days a week since she lives out of town but 
attends school nearby. All of these people, plus many other friends and lovers 
of various degrees of intimacy, both present and historical, and most of their 
friends and lovers, form a very long-term extended family that has lived, loved 
and raised children together for almost thirty years, and plan to care for one 
another in their old age. We are impressed. 

The Ebb and Flow of Relationships 

We observe, with much delight, the number of our old lovers we count among 
our present friends, and how sexual relationships can develop into family 
memberships. There is a reality limit here- you only have twenty-four hours a 
day to devote to your love life, and presumably you need some of those hours 
for work and sleep and so on, so you have a finite amount of time to devote to 
each of your lovers. You can only fit a certain number of people in your life 
and expect to do any of them justice. 

We find that most people do okay letting their partners come and go as it feels 
right for each of them. Extended family sexual relationships are more likely to 
grow apart than to break up. One of the very wonderful things about building 
sexual friendships is that, while past relationships and smaller affairs may 
come and go over the years, each pairing has its own characteristic and unique 
intimacy. You create this intimacy the way you learn to ride a bike- by trial 

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and error, slipping and falling, and ultimately zooming along together. Just 
like riding a bike, you'll never forget this particular intimacy, or your own role 
in it. Even after the most bitter of separations, when conflict is cleared and 
time has healed the wounds, you may find that you can slip that connection 
right back on, like a comfortable old glove. 

On the other hand, sometimes conflict in an intimate relationship goes on so 
long, or seems so impossible to resolve, that it threatens the very foundation 
of that relationship. We hope you will bring the same high level of ethics and 
concern to a conflicted relationship that you brought to a happy one. 

It is always tempting to respond to a major relationship conflict by assigning 
blame. In childhood we learn that pain, in the form of punishment from our 
all-powerful parents, is the consequence of doing something wrong. So when 
we hurt, we try to make sense of it by finding somebody doing something 
wrong, preferably somebody else. We have discussed the disempowerment of 
blaming before. What is important to remember is that most relationships 
break up because the partners are unhappy with each other, and no one is to 
blame: not you, not your partner, and not your partner's lover. Even if 
someone acted badly, or was dishonest, your primary relationship probably 
isn't falling apart for that reason- relationships tend to end due to their own 
internal stresses. Even your authors have trouble remembering this when we 
are in the middle of a bitter breakup. 

When you find yourself blaming a lot, it may help to remember a truism of 
relationship counseling: the "client" is the relationship itself, not either of the 
people in it. If you start looking at conflicts, problems and so on as problems 
of the relationship, instead of trying to decide whose fault they are, you have 
taken an important first step in solving them. 

Traditionally in this culture, women often bear the burden of being 
responsible for everybody's emotional well-being. A woman's inability to 
magically make pain and trouble disappear is rarely at the heart of a 
relationship conflict, although she may feel as guilty and inadequate as if it 
were. In this pattern, one partner takes too much responsibility for the 
problem, so it becomes important to distinguish what each partner's 
responsibilities are. 

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On the other hand, it's also common for one partner to take too little 
responsibility. Women (and sometimes men) who have a lot of their self- 
esteem connected to their ability to maintain a relationship may feel the need 
to make their partner into the "villain," in order to justify their own desire to 
leave. This strategy is unfair to both of you: it gives the "villain" all the power 
in the relationship, and disempowers the "victim": deciding that you have no 
choice but to leave because your partner is so horrible is denying the fact that 
there are always choices. Our experience is that relationship troubles are 
almost always two-sided: if you can acknowledge your own contribution to the 
problem, you can work toward solving it. 

We should note here, however, that if your relationship problems include 
anybody being physically violent, or emotionally or verbally abusive, it's not 
time to waffle over whose fault it is- it's time to get professional help in 
learning to resolve conflict in a nondestructive manner. The Resource Guide 
in the back of this book will tell you how to get in touch with groups in your 
area that help both battered and battering partners. 

Breaking up 

It happens. Good relationship skills and high ethics dont mean you get to be 
with the same partner or partners forever and ever. It is our experience that 
relationships change, people grow out of them, people change. They may 
acquire new desires, new dreams. Some breakups 

The ten great lies of slut hood (A tongue-in-cheek guide). 

I never get jealous. 

Fucking other people doesn't diminish my sexual frequency with my primary 

I'd stop this if she really wanted me to. 

I always tell the complete truth about my outside partners. 

I'm never tempted to leave my primary for one of my other partners. 

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We never compete for the same person. 

Nobody's keeping score here. 

I dont mind if they use our bed, our car, our sex toys. 

We always plan everything in advance. 

There's nothing to be upset about. 

In our own lives, as we look back with 20-20 hindsight, were actually 
constructive moves toward personal growth and a healthier life for each of us. 
At the time, however, we just felt awful. 

When a traditional marriage breaks up, nobody takes that as evidence that 
monogamy doesn't work- so why do people feel compelled to take a sluts' 
breakup as evidence that free love is impossible? Your breakup may be for 
reasons entirely unrelated to the openness of your relationship. At any rate, it 
probably isn't evidence that you aren't meant to be a slut: we suspect you 
wouldn't have done all the hard work it takes to live this way if you hadn't had 
a strong desire for slut hood in the first place. 

It's important to remember that a breakup isn't necessarily the end of a 
relationship- it may be, instead, a shift to a different kind of relationship, 
possibly a relationship between courteous acquaintances, or friends, or maybe 
even lovers. One of the nice things about being an ethical slut is that your 
relationships become non-binary; you may have as many ways of relating to 
your friends and lovers as you have friends and lovers. Dossie remembers: 

I dated Bill for such a long time- a year and a half -that by the time I 
announced to our friends that we were officially a couple, everybody 
laughed at me: big news, ha ha. We moved in together, and that lasted for 
all of six months before we blew up in a massive fight and separated. It was 
a year before we could be around each other much, but then we started 
having sex again, because our sex together had always been really hot. And 
we wound up getting together once a month or so for fully nine years as 
good friends, continuing to have the same wonderful steamy sex that had 
brought us together in the first place. 

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When a relationship shifts dramatically, it's great if everybody feels calm 
enough to separate with affection and equanimity. But all too often, 
partnerships break up, divorce happens, in a harsh way, with painful, angry, 
hurt and bitter feelings. Grief at losing a relationship that we had counted on 
cuts deep, and while we are going through the hurtful process of an 
unwelcome separation, none of us are at our best. 

A typical grief process takes about three months to get past the acute phase. 
What that means is that feelings of grief, loss, abandonment, anger, 
resentment and what-have-you that are overwhelming or intolerable today 
will probably seem sad but manageable three months from now. A useful rule 
of thumb is that as the feelings die down, it's a good time to get back into 
communication with your ex- have some coffee or go to a movie or some such. 
It would be a shame not to come out of this breakup with at least a friendship, 
after all you've shared. 

Who gets the friends? 

One of the joyous consequences of open sexual lifestyles is that everybody 
tends to get interconnected in an extended family, sexual circle or tribe. When 
a couple breaks up with lots of pain, then the whole circle is affected. For the 
people in pain, it can feel like there is no privacy. Your friends and other 
lovers may be full of their own ideas about who done who wrong. It hurts 
them when they feel your pain, so the entire circle may start looking for 
someone to blame. 

Ethically speaking, the separating couple has some responsibility toward 
their intimate circle, and the circle has some responsibility toward the 
erstwhile couple. The members of the couple should refrain from trying to 
split the community. This means you dont demand that all your friends sever 
whatever friendships they may have with your ex, and that you dont divide 
your community up into those who are on your side and those who are 
against you by virtue of who continues to speak to your unspeakable ex. 

Privacy is a touchy issue here, because no one likes the consequences of gossip 
run amok- but we all need a confidant to tell our troubles to, especially in hard 
times. Sometimes separating couples can make agreements about who it's 

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okay to talk about private matters with, and who we would rather not have 
familiarized with our dirty linen. Other times, no agreement is reached, and 
the chips fall where they may. 

If you feel that you and your ex should not be at the same parties for a while, 
you need to work that out with each other, and not wind up screaming at your 
host for having invited both of you to the same event. It is particularly 
unethical to call up the host of a certain party and ask them to disinvite your 
ex, or blackmail them by telling them that you won't come if your ex is invited. 
This constitutes foisting your work off on your friends. It is your task to set 
your boundaries, to make agreements with your ex, and, if you find yourself 
feeling bad in any place where your ex is also socializing, then it is your 
decision whether to stay or leave. We recommend that you make your decision 
to stay or leave according to your own comfort, or discomfort, level, rather 
than trying to control someone else's behavior. And if you wind up deciding 
that you want to attend this event so much that you will just have to deal with 
your ex's presence, all to the better: you will get some practice at sharing 
social space with your ex, which you are going to need to do eventually unless 
one of you moves to Timbuktu. And eventually you will get good at dealing 
with your feelings about your ex, and with practice all of this will hurt less, 
and you will be closer to achieving resolution and even possibly friendship 
after a bitter breakup. 

Your circle of friends and family is responsible for not getting split, for 
listening without judging, and for understanding that all of us think harsh 
thoughts while we are breaking up. Validate how bad your friend feels and 
take any condemnations with a grain of salt. The exception to this rule occurs 
when a breakup is based on the revelation of serious issues, like domestic 
violence or destructive substance abuse: there are no easy answers here, 
because a circle of sexual partners really does need to make judgments about 
these things. But most of the time, the accusations are about what a 
thoughtless, selfish, insensitive, bitchy, dishonest, manipulative, passive- 
aggressive, rude and stupid oaf that ex-partner is; we have all been all of these 
at some time or another, so we should be able to understand and forgive. 

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While breakups are very hard for all concerned, and while we understand that 
you may feel very angry, sad, abandoned, or ill-treated for a while, we implore 
you to remember that your soon-to-be ex-partner is still the same terrific 
person you used to love, and to burn no bridges. Catherine says: 

After our breakup, my ex-husband was very angry with me and pretty 
depressed, and I felt very guilty. Still, for the sake of the kids of whom we had 
joint custody, we made a point of staying on civil terms. Now, eight years later, 
I count him among my best friends: we still swap murder mysteries, share 
poetry, and talk on the phone for hours. If we'd been awful to one another 
back when things were raw and difficult, I dont think we'd be able to be on 
such good terms today, and we'd both have missed out on a very important 
and rewarding friendship. 



Intimacy is based on shared vulnerability. Write this on your bathroom 
mirror. We'll never discount all the wonderful things that we get from sharing 
love, laughter, happiness and such, but nothing deepens intimacy like the 
experiences that we share when we feel flayed, with our skins off, scared and 
vulnerable, and our partner is there with us, willing to share in the scary stuff. 
These are the times that bring us the closest together. 

What's in it for you? 

Some people find it surprising to learn that a slut can experience 
overwhelming insecurities, but the truth is that sluts are just as nervous as 
anyone else, and skills to deal with our anxieties were not taught us in our 

Your freedom might turn out to be a lot easier to accept than your partner's. It 
certainly does not follow that just because we can date others with equanimity 
that we will be equally calm when our partner does so. Going out and staying 

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home are separate functions, like cooking and eating, each with its own 
rewards, and each requires specific skills to accomplish. 

When problems arise, a good question to ask yourself is "What am I hoping to 
get out of this situation?" Why are you doing all this hard work to become a 
slut? The answer depends on your own individual situation, but for many of 
us, the payoff is our own freedom- and we have to learn to give freedom to our 
partners if we're going to get it for ourselves. 

Fighting Fair 

Thinking about how intimacy and bonding is cemented by sharing vulnerable 
feelings brings us to perhaps the ultimate act of intimacy: fighting. Many 
people believe that fighting between partners is to be avoided at all costs, but 
most relationship therapists would disagree. Fights between partners appear 
to be a universal experience; not many people actually enjoy them, but they 
seem to be necessary, a constructive element in the building of solid 
relationships. Only by fighting can partners struggle with their disagreements 
and express their most heartfelt feelings. 

There has to be a way to communicate anger in a long-term relationship, and 
there has to be a way to struggle with disagreements. How many times have 
you had a bitter argument with your partner, and when it was over, felt closer 
than you had before? 

So the problem, as we see it, is not to avoid fighting but to learn to fight in 
ways that are not destructive: physically, morally or emotionally. A good fight 
is very different from abuse in a good clean fight, there is respect for safety 
and mutuality so that both people get to express their feelings at full volume, 
and come out the other end stronger and closer than before- bonded by fire, as 
it were. 

The concept of "Fair Fighting" was first expounded by Dr. George R. Bach in 
his wonderful 1968 book, "The Intimate Enemy: How to Fight Fair in Love 
and Marriage." We strongly recommend that you read this book, even though 
it is dated and hetero sexist and even though the authors admit that they 
haven't even tried to conquer jealousy. They think jealousy is too hard for 
them- maybe they'll read this book. But the material on communication, and 

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the detailed descriptions of how you can learn to share your anger with your 
partner in a constructive way, is priceless. This book is a classic. 

Win-win solutions 

A good fight starts with the understanding that in order for a fight to be 
successful, both people have to win. If one person wins a fight and the other 
loses, the problem causing the fight has not been resolved. It is naive to 
imagine that the person who "lost" has given up their interest in whatever 
issue is at stake. And when they feel overpowered, outgunned, or shouted 
down, they will be resentful, and the problem will go on being a problem. The 
only real way to win is to come to a solution where all parties concerned feel 
that they have won. So in a good clean fight, everybody's feelings get heard 
and considered, and solutions are decided on by agreement, not bullying. 

We make a fight fair by agreeing on rules and limits, by respecting other 
people's right to their feelings and opinions while we are expressing our own. 
It is usually helpful to schedule a time to fight, and make an agreement to do 
soit does not promote fair fighting if we waylay our partners in the bathroom 
when they are late for work. We need to schedule discussions at a time when 
we can give them our full attention. 

Scheduling fights has the added advantage that we can prepare for them, 
organize our thoughts, and that we know we have a time when this particular 
issue will be dealt with. If I feel bad about the grocery bills on Tuesday, and I 
know we have a date to fight about it on 

Thursday, it's pretty easy to put my stuff aside until then. Most people dont 
put their stuff aside very well when it seems that their issues will never get 
dealt with. 

Whaddaya mean, schedule a fight? Don't they just erupt, like volcanoes? And 
when we have a fight, we are not likely to obey any rules or respect any limits, 
right? Aren't we talking about intense emotional outbursts? Well, yes, we are, 
but we dont believe that you can settle any issues when you are in an intense 
emotional state. When your feelings erupt, it is important to acknowledge 

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them and pay attention. However awkwardly you may be expressing yourself, 
this is your truth; you obviously feel strongly about it, so it's an important 
truth. That's what we learn from our outbursts. 

So while you are bursting out is a time to listen to your own truth. If emotions 
are being expressed at such a level of intensity that things feel out of control, 
like pounding on the walls or screaming at the top of your lungs, then it's time 
to take time out and land yourself. Either person can call for a "time out," 
which means that both people agree that they will take certain actions: 
perhaps be in separate rooms for a while, or take separate walks, or whatever 
will make it possible for you to quiet down and listen to your own feelings. A 
time out is not a time to try and listen to your partner: you will do that later. It 
may be difficult to cut yourself off in mid-rant, and you may feel abandoned if 
your partner reduces her anger by taking a walk- but sometimes this rough 
transition is the best way for each of you to own how you feel, and not let a 
fight escalate in a direction you both know from experience will be destructive. 
It will be much easier to talk about whatever it is when you are both feeling 
more serene. 

Following is an agenda for a fair fight that Dossie uses with couples in her 
practice. If you want to try this out, pick a small issue, like how does the toilet 
get cleaned, and run through these steps. 

Everybody-wins steps to no-lose conflict resolution: 

1. Take TIME OUT to ventilate anger. 

2. Select ONE issue to work on. 

3. Make an APPOINTMENT to talk. 

4. Each person gets three minutes to state HOW I FEEL. Hint: Use I 
statements, avoid YOU-messages, consider allowing time between each 
person's statement. Listen carefully. 

5. BRAINSTORM: write a list of ALL possible solutions, even silly ones. 

6. EDIT the list: cross out any suggestions that either person feels they could 

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not live with. 

7. CHOOSE a solution to try for a specific period of time. 

8. RE-EVALUATE when that time is up. 


Notice that communication begins with everybody talking about their feelings, 
long before they get to discussing the pros and cons of any solutions. Good 
communication is based on identifying our feelings, communicating them to 
our partners, and getting validation from our partners that they hear and 
understand what we are saying. This is best done in sentences that begin with 
"I feel." There is an enormous difference between saying "you are making me 
feel so bad," and "I feel so bad." The second statement, the I-message, is a 
pure statement of feeling, and there is no accusation in it. So your lover 
doesn't feel attacked, and doesn't need to defend herself, but is free to actually 
listen to you. Conversely, sentences beginning with "you," and particularly 
"you always," usually are perceived as attacks, and responded to with 

Most of us resent it when another person tells us how we feel -whether or not 
they are correct is immaterial. It is a violation of our boundaries when another 
person tells us what our inner truth is. Dossie trained with a supervising 
therapist who used to point his finger at clients and say, "I know what your 
problem is!" You probably already know how you feel when someone does 
that to you. 

We can't ask our lover to hold still while we sling accusations and use her as a 
target for our frustrations. That would be asking her to consent to being 
abused, and she would be right to resist. But we can ask her to listen to how 
we feel, because putting aside her own agenda for a few minutes and listening 
to our feelings is a do-able task for the listener. 

To learn how to use I-messages, try talking about an issue that is current for 
you without ever using the word "you," and without talking about what 

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anyone else is doing, but only about your own feelings. This takes a little 
practice, but is less difficult than it may seem at first. 

And when we listen to our lovers telling us how they feel, we can really hear. 
We learn how the world looks from their shoes, we can appreciate how they 
feel, we can validate their position. And then the solutions flow so much freer 
and more naturally. There are no wrong solutions, and no right ones only the 
answers that fit well with how we all feel. 

Differing Goals 

What if it comes to pass, as it sometimes does, that after some exploration you 
and your partner discover that one of you wants an open relationship and the 
other one does not? Your authors strongly encourage you not to enter into a 
mortgage until you get this one straight, but you may discover this truth about 
yourselves after you've already bought a house and had triplets, so what then? 
When this difference is discovered after a relationship has been developed 
over a period of years, divorce is not an easy answer. 

And perhaps you are a slut who loves your partner, and earnestly does not 
want to leave your home and your children to pursue the joys of slut hood You 
can use all the strategies included here to try and work through your 
differences, and make agreements you can both live with. This is probably the 
most difficult and painful circumstance that can arise, and many relationships 
do not survive it. 

Some couples do manage to stay together and develop enough openness to 
satisfy the one, and enough exclusivity to satisfy the other. They can get 
renewed commitment and intimacy from their struggles with these issues. 
Perhaps the less explorative partner can learn that his partner's exploration is 
not truly dangerous to him or to his relationship, and perhaps the explorative 
partner can learn to make changes slowly, or to accept some limits to her field 
of exploration because she genuinely cares about her partner's feelings. Over 
time, perhaps the mismatched pair will come closer to each other, if not in 
behavior, at least in acceptance. 

Dossie relates: 

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I fell in love at the tender age of fifty with a woman my age who was a 
novice at nonmonogamy. She decided she was willing, and that our 
relationship is important enough for her to work on these issues, and I 
decided that I valued our relationship enough to set some limits to my own 
outrageousness, out of respect for my lover's feelings and to give her a 
chance to learn the freedom I have developed over twenty-seven years of 
free loving. Some might think we were ill-advised to enter into a committed 
relationship with such a huge difference in our experience, but we are totally 
crazy about each other, and this partnership is worth the earth to me- 1 am 
willing to do whatever work is necessary to make this work for both of us, 
and I know she is too. 

Some things have been easy- group sex, for instance, has never bothered her, 
and we go to parties together and have dates with our friends with no 
difficulty. Our agreement is that when we go to group sex environments, we 
will discuss our plans beforehand, and we rarely engage in any activity that 
does not include the other, although we well may in the future. 

My lover has more problems when I go on dates with another person on an 
individual basis, and so we are working on that, very slowly, to give her 
time to work through her feelings, and me mine, as we related earlier in this 

Recently, a new wrinkle occurred when a friend asked my partner for a 
date. My lover decided that she wasn't ready to make dates with others 
because it feels too much like cheating on me, but she is comfortable with 
playing individually with this woman at a party, so she will probably do 
that. This is an example of how you can respect your own limits. Our friend 
was careful to ask me how I felt about her pro positioning my lover, and so I 
feel respected and cared for as well We dont know how exactly this will look 
a year fi'om now, but for the present we love our relationship, we love our 
friends and lovers, and we love each other and plan to grow older, and 
sexier, together. 

Help is available 

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You dont have to do all this on your own. Many wonderful books, classes and 
workshops are available we've listed a few good ones in the back of this book. 
It's a good idea to put aside some time and energy to learn about 
communication, and to do it with the person you're trying to communicate 
with. There are many wonderful weekend workshops focusing on 
communication for couples; even your local church may well offer a weekend 
marriage retreat. We've never known a couple who went to a communication 
or intimacy workshop and didn't gain some good new skills and insights from 
it. Some workshops exist specifically to work on issues arising from 
nonmonogamy. We encourage you to take them, or to join a support group 
suitable to your needs. Just knowing that others struggle with some of the 
same issues that you do can help. 

A somewhat more expensive, but still excellent, option is to do some sessions 
with a couples counselor. In general, we recommend this as a second-level 
alternative, after you've already done some classes and workshops, unless you 
have privacy concerns that make classes and workshops difficult for you. 

Screen any of these resources about whether they'll be accepting of your open 
relationship. Some old-fashioned psychologists, and some workshops and 
retreats, may believe that your lust for many people is a "symptom" of 
psychological disturbance in you- you may not feel adequately safe and 
supported in such an environment. If you need help finding a sympathetic 
therapist or group, try asking your friends, or checking the Resource Guide in 
this book. 

We strongly recommend that you investigate these types of help sooner rather 
than later. Just about everyone can use an occasional communications skills 
"tune-up," and if you wait until your relationship Is in crisis, you'll face much 
harder work than if you'd been practicing your skills all along. 

Owning what's ours 

Nobody communicates with perfect form all of the time. But, when 
communication is loaded, difficult, confusing and important, then we need to 
make the ethical commitment to own our stuff, and let you own yours. That 
means we do not talk about, interpret, inventory, analyze, judge or otherwise 

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trample all over your stuff. In formal communication we promise to stay with 
what is ours, our feelings, that we own, and give our partners the respect to let 
them represent their own feelings, their inner reality, their truth. 

When you are willing to own your distress, it becomes possible for your 
partner to comfort you, to offer you reassurance and love when things are 
hard- so that even when you dont agree about how you are going to handle an 
issue, you can still exchange love and comfort. We recommend that everyone 
be open about asking for reassurance, love, hugs, comfort and stuff like that. 
Many of us grew up in families where we were taught not to ask for what we 
needed, scorned, perhaps, as only wanting attention. 

So what's wrong with wanting attention? Isn't there plenty? Remember about 
starvation economies: dont short-change yourself. You do not have to be 
content with little dribs and drabs of comfort, attention, support, reassurance 
and love. You get to have all the comfort and reassurance you want. You and 
your intimates can set yourselves up to share lots and lots and lots, and in the 
process learn how much more you have to share than you ever thought. So 
focus on abundance, and create your environmental ecology rich in the good 
things of life -warmth and love and sex. 


We have the following guide of carefully tested methods for making mistakes 
in polyamorous relationships. With proper application and ingenuity, these 
methods may impair or destroy monogamous relationships as well; they're 
truly multipurpose tools, we post this listing for your consideration; no 
liability expressed or implied. 

l. Lie. this is basic and effective. To maximize bad results, lie about 
something important to the other persons) and arrange to be caught in the lie 
in such a way as to produce maximum shock, additional stress points awarded 
for keeping the lie going for a while before discovery, which increases the 
disorientation and sense of betrayal in the deceived persons), lying about sex 
gets double points, lying about being married gets triple f***-up points, 
creative lies of omission (i.e. "not telling") with fancy rationalizations and 
condescension get gold stars. 

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2. Avoid self-knowledge. This is more elegant than strategy l, as it 
combines a bold sweep of denial with sorties of distraction aimed at oneself, 
this tactic is most effective when combined with tactics 3 and 4. selfdestructive 
or addictive behaviour has also been found very effective in avoiding self- 
knowledge. when combined with an endearing attitude of helplessness, this 
strategy has been proven efficacious in attracting "rescuers" or "white knights" 
on whom one can then practice strategies 4 and 3, in that order. 

3. Blame the other people. If anything went wrong, hey, it must be their 
fault, right? this eliminates the need for messy things like communication and 
negotiation, which can be embarrassing, particularly if one is using strategy 2. 

4. Disclaim responsibility. This is a little more complex than strategy 3, 
and often includes what is referred to as co-dependency the classic way to play 
this strategy is to cater to the partners involved while repressing one's own 
desires and questions. This allows a good head of resentment to build up, and 
one can justify anger by saying one has done so much for one's partners and 
gets no thanks, etc. In its most refined state, this strategy makes the other 
people responsible for setting the direction, pace and content of the 
relationship, for which one can them blame them if one's own expectations or 
needs are not met. Using strategy 2 to avoid knowledge of these expectations 
and needs gets double points. 

5. Push. This is an art, albeit a crude one. When augmented with strategy 6, 
pushing can achieve spectacular negative results in even a short time. 
Remember, when pushing, only your satisfaction counts! It's a dog-eat-dog 
world, and you're a pit bull. Emotional and mental bullying can be as 
satisfying as old-fashioned physical coercion, and not nearly as easily 

6. Play on insecurity. This is an old favorite. Using sexual insecurity as a 
weapon and combining this with strategy 5 is a four-star winner. Attempting 
to control one's partners by manipulating them through their insecurities is a 
sure-fire f***-up tactic. It's so much more delicate than simply beating them 

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up, too, though the resultant emotional damage can be remarkably similar. 

7. Avoid intimacy. This may seem paradoxical; after all, we're talking about 
getting up-close and personal with as many hot babes- er, ahem- we're 
discussing achieving satisfyingly close relationships with a number of people, 
right? the trick of avoiding intimacy can be performed in several ways, but the 
easiest is to confuse intimacy with "rubbing slippery bits together." substitute 
the words "sex" and "love" for each other often in conversations, repeat the 
mantra, "if you loved me, you'd know what I want." practice strategy 8 
assiduously, supplementing it with strategy 2. according to the needs of the 
moment, figure out whether action or words are more likely to be ambiguous 
or misconstrued, and go with what gives you the most plausible deniability 
later, some exceptionally talented individuals manage to give the impression 
of being intimate while successfully remaining stone-cold, study sales 
techniques for pointers. People with good "lines" fall into this category, 
especially if the lines include explanations of how they truly value the other 

8. Dont talk. Talking has been known to lead to communication if practiced 
carelessly, communication will seriously impair your f***-up progress, and in 
certain cases will halt or reverse it entirely, if you must talk, use cliches and 
quotations from popular songs as much as possible, or fall back on strategy 
number 1. If all else fails, make a safer-sex agreement with your partners and 
then break it, contracting a communicable disease about which you do not 
then tell them, double points for avoiding all discussion or negotiation of 
sexual matters entirely so that the "agreement" is wishful thinking and 
completely deniable, for a coup de grace, add strategy 6 and tell them it 
wouldn't have happened if they had been satisfying you like they were 
supposed to. m. Am *** 

9. For the ultimate meta-fuck-up, remain technically faithful to 
your partner while breaking the spirit of whatever agreement you 
have whenever possible, keeping this knowledge bottled up to 
ensure maximum fear, shame and resentment. Some people win the 
grand prize with the fig leaf-and-stinging-nettle cluster for self-inflicted 

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suffering and wasted potential by managing to keep this strategy up until 
death do them part, concealing from their spouse the fact that they have been 
shamming happiness all these years. 

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Most successful relationships, from casual acquaintanceship through lifetime 
monogamy, are based on assumptions that are really unstated agreements 
about behavior: you dont kiss your mailman, you dont tip your mother. These 
are the unspoken rules we learn very early in our lives, from our parents, our 
playmates and our cultures. People who break these unspoken rules are often 
considered odd, sometimes even crazy, because the values and judgments 
behind the social agreements about how we relate to one another are so deeply 
ingrained that we are usually not even aware that we have made any 
agreement at all. 

In many day-to-day relationships, such as your relationship with neighbors 
and co-workers, it's probably fine to rely on those implicit, "built-in" 
agreements. But when you're trying something as complicated and 
unprecedented as ethical slut hood we think it's very important to take 
nothing for granted. Talk with the people in your life about your agreements, 
and negotiate the conditions, environments and behaviors that will get your 
own needs met. 

You'll often hear people talking about the "rules" of their relationships. But 
"rules" implies a certain rigidity, that there is a right way and a wrong way to 
run your relationship, and that there will be penalties if you do it wrong. We 
understand that there are many different ways that people may choose to 
relate to each other, so we prefer to use the word "agreements" to describe 
mutually agreed-upon, conscious decisions, designed to be flexible enough to 
accommodate individuality, growth and change. These agreements are 
sometimes a little fuzzy, particularly if you're used to the hard edges of rules. 
A little fuzziness is OK; your agreement will either get clarified later if it needs 
to be- or it won't, in which case it's probably clear enough. 

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How do you know when you need an agreement? You can tell by listening to 
your emotions. If something comes up that leaves you feeling icky or angry or 
unheard or whatever, that's an area in which you and your partner may need 
to discuss making an agreement. We suggest that you let go right now of the 
idea that you can predict every single situation that might come up in your 
relationship and make a rule to cover it just forget it. Many perfectly good 
agreements get made by 20-20 hindsight: a problem comes up, and instead of 
arguing over whose fault it was, the couple simply makes an agreement to try 
to prevent that problem from coming up again. 

Our friends Laurie and Chris have become extraordinarily flexible 
agreement-makers through practicing a lot: 

We met at the Renaissance Fairs and made a pretty deep connection right 
away. Although we didn't feel ready to jump into marriage right off, we did get 
hand fasted (an ancient Celtic rite of romantic commitment) about five 
months after we met. Our hand fasting included an agreement that if we still 
wanted to be together a year and a day later, we'd get married. And we did. 

When we first decided to get hand fasted Chris proposed an agreement in 
which we'd be free to be sexual with other people during Faire, but at no 
other time. Laurie felt shocked by his desire to do this, and insecure about 
what might happen. So we decided to postpone a decision until the next 
summer's Faire, after we'd gotten married. During the first year of our 
marriage, the agreement was for Faire only, and then after that we extended 
it to the weekend preparatory workshops as well as to Faire itself. At one of 
these, Laurie met a guy with whom she got fairly seriously involved- it was 
our first ongoing relationship outside the marriage. At that point things 
opened up all the way to where Laurie was spending a lot other time with 
her other lover, and Chris didn't like it much; he felt that he wasn't getting 
enough time with Laurie. 

So we renegotiated. We decided that either of us could sleep over with 
another partner twice a month. We felt that twice a month was often enough 
for fun, but not so often that it would accommodate a threateningly strong 
bond with someone else. That's been working pretty well for a while, 

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although we've compromised on a case-by case basis a time or two. 

We're still working out the bugs- among other things, we're hoping to 
become parents pretty soon, and we're not sure how a baby will affect our 
relationship. But our agreements have always been at least tolerable, and at 
times they've offered a relief valve that's kept us from fleeing the 
relationship in terror! 


So what constitutes a good agreement? In our opinion, the single most 
important hallmark of agreement is consent, which we define as "an active 
collaboration for the pleasure and well-being of all concerned." In the case of 
polyamory, this consent often includes that of people not directly involved- 
primary partners, children and other parties whose lives are affected by your 

Defining consent can sometimes be tricky. If someone consents under 
pressure, we dont think that meets the "active collaboration" criterion. And 
you can't consent to something you dont know about: "Well, you didn't say I 
couldn't fly to Boise for two weeks with this flight attendant I just met" does 
not constitute consent. 

In order to achieve this kind of active consent, it is critical that everyone 
involved accept responsibility for knowing their own feelings and 
communicating them. This isn't always easy. Sometimes feelings dont want to 
be pulled to the surface and examined- you may simply know that you feel 
bad. Give yourself the time and support you need to manifest that feeling, 
perhaps using some of the strategies we discussed in the "Jealousy" chapter. If 
you feel like you need help in defining what's going on for you, it's OK to ask 
for that help: physical or verbal reassurance often make a huge difference, and 
sometimes a wise friend or therapist can ask the right questions to help you 
untangle a complicated feeling. Once you start listening to your own feelings, 
you'll have a much easier time getting your needs and desires out there where 
everybody can hear them and make agreements to help meet them. 

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Most of us need some support in asking for what we want. When we are 
involved in making agreements, we need to feel safe that the needs we reveal 
will not be held against us. Most of us feel pretty vulnerable in and around our 
emotional limits, but it's important to recognize that these limits are valid, 
too: "I need to feel loved," "I need to feel that I'm important to you," "I need to 
know that you find me attractive," "I need you to listen and care about me 
when I feel hurt." 

Blaming, manipulation, bullying and moral condemnation do not belong in 
the agreement-making process. The process of making a good agreement must 
include a commitment from all concerned to listen to one another's concerns 
and feelings in an open and unprejudiced way. If you are waiting for your 
partner to reveal a weakness so that you can exploit it into ammunition to 
"win" your argument, you are not ready to do a satisfactory agreement. 

Legalistic hair-splitting is another enemy of good agreements. We know one 
couple whose agreement was that either of them would let the other one know 
within twenty-four hours if they were going to have sex with someone else. 
One of them called the other one from another city to let her know that he'd 
had sex with someone else the night before. "But you said you'd give me 
twenty-four hours' notice!" she cried angrily. "I never said twenty-four hours 
before," he pointed out. This "loophole-finding" legalistic behavior left neither 
individual feeling that their agreement had worked for them. The moral: be 
clear, be specific, and above all negotiate in good faith. This is not about 
cheating any more. 

Agreements need to be realistic, something that you really can keep. It is 
unrealistic to ask your partner to never enter into a sexual interaction with a 
person that they care about "too much." There is no way to define "too much," 
and few of us conceive of our polyamorous Utopia as a world in which you are 
only allowed to share sex with people you dont care about at all. None of us 
can truthfully agree to feel only this way or that way: our agreements need to 
have room in them for real emotions, whatever they may be. 

Agreements do not have to be equal. People are different and unique, and 
what pushes my buttons might be perfectly okay with you. So one person 
might find it very important that his partner not stay out overnight, whereas 

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said partner might actually enjoy an occasional opportunity to watch the late 
movie by himself and eat crackers in bed. One friend of ours says, 

Bill and I have very different needs when it comes to relationships. I feel no 
need to be monogamous; I'm quite comfortable having sex with people I like, 
but they're not affairs of the heart- whereas his sexual connections are either 
very casual like at parties, or very deep and long-term. We've formed 
agreements that meet both of our needs- mine for friendly partners and fuck 
buddies, his for long-term secondary relationships. So fairness does not mean 
equity. Fairness means we care about how each person feels, and make 
agreements to help all of us feel as good as possible. 

When thinking about agreements for an open relationship, most people start 
out by listing what their partner can and cannot do: dont kiss her on the 
mouth, dont ever treat him better than you do me. Some "thou shalt nots" 
are necessary: agreements need to be made, for example, about sexual 
connections with relatives, neighbors and coworkers, and I really care a lot 
that you refrain from seducing my boss. And my therapist, too. But many 
negative agreements are really about protecting your partner from feeling 
hurt or jealous. The best agreements to protect your partner from emotional 
pain are positive: 

Let's have a special date next weekend, I will find time to listen to you when 
you hurt, I'll tell you how much I love you again and again. 

Thinking up agreements that will help both partners feel emotionally safe can 
be confusing, since in the process of unlearning jealousy we will all at some 
time be asking our partners to agree to take some risk, to feel some painful 
feelings, to fall down a few times in order to learn how to ride the emotional 
bicycle of truly free love. And we all need a sense of emotional safety to 
succeed at feeling secure in open relationships. 

One way you can make agreements to respect emotional limits is to ask for 
whatever seems like it might make you feel a little bit safer -reassurance, 
compliments, affection, a special ritual for homecoming after a date and then 
when that works and you feel a little safer, take another step toward even 
more safety, and soon you will feel safe enough to expand your explorations 

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further and further. Each tiny step in the direction of freedom will eventually 
get you there. One of the things that works about reassurance is that once we 
understand that our partner, or partners, or maybe even also their partners, 
are willing to help us with our feelings, we feel more secure and need less and 
less protection as we go along. 

The single most important thing to remember about agreement making is 
that the purpose of an agreement is to find a way in which everybody can win. 

Some agreements 

We've done some asking around among our friends and colleagues to find out 
what kinds of relationship agreements have worked for others. Here's a partial 
list of agreements we've heard from some very successful sluts. Notice as you 
read it how many different kinds of agreements it contains- some are sexual, 
some are relationship-oriented; some "thou shalts" and some "thou shalt 
nots"; some are logistical and some sentimental. Just so you know that we're 
not recommending any of these, you should also note that some are mutually 
exclusive. We're presenting this list as a discussion-opener, not as how it 
ought to be. 

everybody has to make some agreements about sexual health call nobody else 
by a particular pet name everybody will work together to find a good place for 
the non involved partner to be no sleep overs (always spend night together 
except while traveling) 

I'll watch everyone's kids this weekend, you do it next weekend you dont get to 
use our car for dates with your other lover no intercourse with other partners 
no genital contact with other partners no anal contact with other partners no 
kissing with other partners veto power over potential other partners advance 
notice of potential other partners previous discussion required dont tell me 
about other partners tell me everything you did with other partners other 
partners must be same-sex opposite-sex everybody meets everybody- no 
strangers group sex only anonymous sex only committed sex only must check 
in to confirm safety after get-together with new partner everybody chips in for 
the babysitter 

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Friday nights only 

Saturday nights are for us be sure to save some hot sexual energy for me not in 
our bed no surprises lover will not contact other lover without mutual lover's 
knowledge if non-involved lover feels lonely or left out, he will ask to 
participate not in our house limits on phone calls, "Net time, etc. 

Establish quality time, time to fight, time to discuss, dates, etc. 

only at parties we'll set our next date before we have one with someone else 
agreements about who can talk about what to whom not during time we would 
otherwise be spending together dont take off the ring I gave you little gifts and 
cards help limits about partner choice neighborhood school? Work? relatives? 
close friends? total strangers? partner's doctor, lawyer, therapist? 

Only in my presence we'll spend an hour cuddling and 
reconnecting afterwards predictability 

Our experience is that most people need some kind of predictability to deal 
with the stresses of open relationships. Most of us can handle a nervous- 
making situation much better if we know when it is going to happen, and 
when it is going to be over. We can plan to do something supportive with a 
friend, go to a movie, visit Mom, whatever- and tell ourselves that we only 
have to handle things for this chunk of time, and then our sweetie will come 
back and maybe we can plan a celebratory reunion. 

Most people have a harder time dealing with surprises, which can feel like 
land mines exploding. Very few of us would be comfortable living with the 
possibility that our partner might go home with someone else at any time, 
from any party we go to, from the restaurant where we thought we were just 
going for a cup of coffee no place, no time would be secure. 

If you feel that planning takes too much of the spontaneity out of your life, 
then think about declaring one weekend a month to be open season, or one 
Saturday night, or whatever- then you can make a decision whether to join 
your partner in cruising or sit this one out in a quieter milieu. An agreement to 
be unpredictable at some specified time is, after all, predictable. 

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What if there is no agreement? 

There are probably a lot of things in your life on which you feel no need to 
reach agreement. Most people dont feel the need to agree on whether to wear 
red or blue, or whether to eat crunchy or smooth peanut butter. However, lack 
of agreement can feel less comfortable in the close-to the-bone field of sexual 

Still, sometimes, you simply need to agree not to agree. Between the "yes" of 
full agreement and the "no" of full disagreement is a whole big gray area of no- 
agreement-yet, or tolerable-disagreement, or even who-cares? Sometimes you 
will eventually find it possible to make an agreement, and other times you 
won't. But you've been getting along fine without agreement so far, and there's 
a pretty good chance you can go on that way almost indefinitely. 

Occasionally, however, you might hit an area in which agreement is both 
necessary and impossible. For many people, the whole issue of non- 
monogamy may be one of these; childbearing is another frequent "deal- 
breaker." We suggest compromise-seeking (possibly with the help of a 
qualified therapist) and flexibility. But if agreement simply cannot be reached, 
we think the skills you learned in trying to reach agreement the non-blaming, 
non-judging and non-manipulating can also stand you in very good stead as 
you agree to change or even end whatever relationship you're in. Sometimes, 
when you agree to end that relationship, you may find that you can agree on a 
new kind of relationship- some of our best friends (and hottest lovers) are our 

Getting to "yes" 

(Yes, we stole this phrase from somebody else.) So how do you find an 
agreement that will work for everybody? A good place to start is by defining 
your goals. A goal is not the same as an agreement; your goal is what you're 
trying to accomplish, your agreement is the means you're using to try to get 
there. So, for example, if your goal is to prevent anyone from feeling taken 
advantage of, your agreements might have to do with ensuring that nobody's 
personal time, space or belongings are being infringed on. 

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Often, you discover a goal by tripping over a problem: "Last night, when you 
and Sam were in our bedroom together, my feet were freezing and I couldn't 
get in there to get my bedroom slippers." The goal is to prevent this problem 
from coming up again- what kinds of agreements might help achieve that 
goal? Answering these questions will require an honest (and often difficult) 
look at what the real problem is: is it that your feet are cold, or that you resent 
being kicked out of your own bedroom, or that you're feeling jealous and left 

Once you've defined your problem and your goal, it's time to start figuring out 
a good agreement. It might be appropriate to do a "trial" agreement to put a 
time limitation on your newborn agreement to see how it feels to everybody 
concerned. After the time is up, whether that's a week or a year, you can sit 
down again to discuss what worked, what didn't, and whether to continue 
your agreement or revise it or scrap it. 

In our experience, it's rare for an agreement to last a lifetime without change: 
human beings change, and so do agreements. The way you can tell that your 
agreement needs to change is when someone doesn't agree to it any more. 
Catherine and her partner, for example, began their relationship with an 
agreement that they could be sexual with other people, but that they couldn't 
fall in love with anyone else. Then one of them did. (In hindsight, this seems 
like a fairly silly agreement as though you could simply decide not to fall in 
love!) She remembers. 

There was a period in which we were having check ins one or two times a day. 
This was a situation neither of us had ever planned on. We found it was very 
important to stay in the moment, and to stay with tangible things- yes, it feels 
OK if she sleeps over while I'm out of town; no, it doesn't feel right for you to 
bring the two of us to the same party. We found, during that experience as 
well as a similar one more recently, that the words "in love with" were kind of 
a trap, and made us both feel kind of panicky- that agreements that dwell on 
measurable factors such as time, behavior and space work better for us. 

Expect to spend some time working out your agreements. Expect to hear 
things from your lovers) that you didn't expect; expect to hear things from 
yourself that are also surprising. A gay couple we know started negotiating for 

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opening their relationship, and discovered a big difference in their 
expectations of how that openness would work. One man's image of 
nonmonogamy was that outside involvements would be limited to one-night 
stands with strangers, while the other man envisioned a friendly circle of fuck 
buddies. This couple is currently enjoying monogamy while they discuss their 
way onto some more common ground. 

Expect to try out some agreements and find out that they dont work, and 
expect to need to change them. You will get better at this process with 
practice, and in time you will know your own and your partners' needs so well 
that negotiating agreements will be easy. But in the beginning, while you are 
learning, tidiness won't count anywhere near as much as tolerance. 

When you first set out, some of these discussions may get quite heated: 
remember, anger is an emotion that tells you what is important to you. What 
is constructive about these difficult times is what you learn about your 
partners and about yourself. Don't get discouraged- all the successful sluts you 
see who seem so carefree have fought over their agreements. You too can work 
your way through this tangled web of assumptions and emotions, and learn to 
love with openness and freedom. 

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From the slut's point of view, the world is sometimes a dangerous place. Lots 
of people seem to think it is okay to go to any lengths to stop us from being 
sexual. Some anti-sex crusaders try to make loving dangerous for women by 
outlawing birth control and abortion, leading to unwanted pregnancies and 
back-alley medical care. Others would outlaw access to sex information, in 
schools or on the Internet, so that our children cannot learn to care for their 
health and well-being, and have no access to safer sex training that would 
teach them how to avoid spreading AIDS. Some people purporting to have the 
word from God preach on the public airwaves that AIDS is a just punishment 
for any sexuality that deviates from what these self-proclaimed godly folk 
believe is normal. We find this truly obscene. 

There are places where some people believe that being a slut makes you fair 
game for violence. Why were you walking down that street at night in a short 
dress, or tight pants? No wonder you got raped, or assaulted. Must be the 
victim's fault. And you look so queer no wonder that gang decided to beat you 

We are also considered fair game for other forms of oppression. Multiple 
sexual partners can be seen as a good excuse to take all of your property, your 
children and your future income in a punitive divorce settlement. And dont 
forget to keep your social life a secret on the job. 

You could lose your job, or your promise for advancement, or your 
professional reputation, if you share your personal life with the wrong person. 

Judging ourselves 

We hope this examination of the dangers of sluttery will lead you to ask 
yourself some questions. What is my experience of oppression and how does it 
affect me? Who do I have to lie to in my life? How does this affect me? What 
are my closets? And as you look deeper, you might ask yourself: what 

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assumptions have I made about how my sexuality should be? Do I have 
judgments about what "good" and "nice" people do that I wind up turning 
against myself? 

When we judge ourselves by cultural values imposed from the outside, when 
women believe they ought to be small and quiet, when gay people believe that 
their sexual choice is a neurosis, or when we all believe we would be better 
people if we were able to be monogamous, this is internalized oppression. 
When we apply these unfair judgments to other people who are like us, when 
we see our friends as too slutty or too free, this is called horizontal hostility. 
We suggest you look through the preceding section on myths, stereotypes and 
oppression as a checklist, to see where your own beliefs that you learned in 
our sex negative culture might be getting in your way. 

Sanctions against sluts 

Those of us who choose to run our lives and loves in an unconventional 
manner should probably be prepared for the fact that many parts of the world 
will not welcome us with open arms. While there are certainly ways to protect 
yourself against some social, logistical and financial consequences, we can't 
guarantee that there never will be consequences. It's not easy being easy. 
Ex-spouses, parents, in-laws, and others who dont share your values about the 
potential for inclusive relationships may be hostile. Your friendly 
neighborhood pastor may not be sympathetic, either. And bringing both of 
your partners to the company picnic is not a good way to ensure your 
continued ascent through the corporate hierarchy. We recommend extreme 
caution in choosing who to come out to: yes, we know you're blissfully happy 
and want to share your joy with the world, but remember, you can't un-tell. 
We know people who have lost jobs, child custody and more because the 
wrong people have become aware of their sexual choices. 

Some landlords are quite reluctant to rent to groups that dont conform to the 
traditional family structure; although this may be technically illegal, in our 
experience it's common, and we suggest that you be prepared to tell a teeny 
white lie when necessary. ("Why, yes, he's my adopted brother. Oh, that? Well, 
I use my married name...") Some leases contain clauses that allow landlords to 

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terminate rental agreements on the basis of "immoral behavior" or 
"association with undesirable people," and most allow them to kick you out for 
illegal behavior- which in some states includes non-marital sex and/or 

Similarly, your personal love and sex arrangements are best kept out of the 
workplace: both of us have lost jobs and clients for being who we are. While 
some cities and states offer some protection to people who are gay, lesbian or 
transgender, we are not aware of any that guarantee equal rights for sluts. 
Unless you are absolutely certain that your employer or your co-worker is slut- 
positive- not just that she's a swell person with a great fund of dirty jokes, or 
that he used to sleep around in college- we recommend a capacious and well- 
insulated closet. 

Government is not our friend 

As we write this, our nation's various political establishments are wrestling 
over the issue of whether people of the same gender ought to be able to 
partake in the financial and social benefits of legal marriage. (With any luck, 
we'll be able to edit that statement out of future editions of this book.) 

While we certainly think that same-sex couples are entitled to the same 
benefits as opposite-sex couples, we strongly question what business any of 
this is of the government's. For several centuries, government has subtly or 
not-so-subtly attempted to enforce its ideas of what constitutes a proper 
relationship between human beings, by offering a financially and socially 
desirable legal status only to those who meet its criteria. As a result, we've 
seen laws that forbid marriage between people of different races, laws that 
give preferred tax status to married couples (Dossie remembers tax laws that 
gave widows lower taxes than single parents), laws that dictate exactly how 
married couples must share their money and belongings, laws that tell you 
what gender of person you're allowed to marry, laws that tell you what 
number of persons you're allowed to marry, and many other coercive laws 
even laws that tell you you're married when you didn't choose to be, like 
common-law marriage. In order to be allowed to be a state at all, the territory 
of Utah had to pass laws that only two people were allowed in a marriage, 
nullifying an honored tradition of Mormon polygamy. (Some Mormon groups, 
we hear, still live in established multi-partner marriages in defiance of those 
laws. Good for them!) 

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We see marriage laws imposed by the government as a blatant violation of the 
Constitutional separation of church and state, as well as a very bad 
environment for sluttery. We think that most people are able to figure out and 
codify their own contractual agreements agreements that specify how they will 
share their belongings, make their decisions, raise their children, care for their 
sick and elderly, and arrange for their futures together. And, for those who 
can't or dont want to do the work of figuring all that out from scratch, we 
know there are churches, support groups, mediators, publications and other 
resources to help create agreements that meet their standards. 

OK, end of rant. You know and we know that our government is not likely to 
get out of the marriage business anytime soon. In the meantime, however, 
those of us who are too slutty, too queer or too cynical to buy into this one- 
male one-female till-death-do-us-part model had best learn to make our own 
agreements, and to deal with the real-world ramifications of doing without 
official "support" for our chosen lifestyles. 

Legal agreements 

If you and your partners) are living in a somewhat marriage-like structure, 
with the expectation of sharing property, providing for one another in the 
event of illness or death, raising children, or running a business together, we 
strongly recommend official legal documentation of your status and 
intentions. Terrifying stories of lover kept from lover when someone gets 
hospitalized, a longtime partner left penniless and homeless after someone's 
unexpected death, individuals who have been parents in all ways but blood 
losing an orphaned child to a partner's parents or ex-spouse, and so on, 
should be enough to convince you that it's time to get official about all this. 

You do not legally own your children, and the legal agreements you can make 
about them are limited by that fact. You can use your will to express your 
desires about who will care for your children after your death, but the court 
may not be obliged to follow your wishes. In some cases a non-biological 
parent can adopt a lover's children as a stepparent. But your children are not 
property, and you cannot give them to anyone you choose. 

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Aside from that, it is possible, and not difficult, to make fully legal contracts to 
document your agreements on relationship issues. A publishing company 
called Nolo Press specializes in do-it-yourself legal books, complete with 
forms and step-by-step instructions. Catherine and her partner have chosen 
not to engage in legal marriage although, since they're an opposite-sex couple, 
they could do so; instead, they used the "Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay 
Couples" (listed in the Bibliography) to outline their legal agreements with 
powers of attorney and wills. 

Pay special attention to durable powers of attorney for finance and health 
care, and to wills. While the law will not support everything an eager slut 
might want to do with his money and property, your chances of having your 
desires upheld by the law will be greatly improved if you express them in a 
formal legal manner. 

If your agreements are particularly complicated, or if things of great value 
(such as a lot of money or a successful business) are involved, you may want to 
go beyond the do-it-yourself level and contact an attorney. If you have that 
kind of money, you probably know more about this than we do. Do try to find 
an attorney who is open to nontraditional relationships. 

We have neither the space nor the expertise to tell you all the ways that people 
with non-traditional sexualities can go about setting up their lives- options 
range all the way from adopting your partner to setting up a business trust, 
and beyond. But please, dont assume that your good intentions, heartfelt love 
and general wonderfulness will protect you. Sluts dont have that luxury. Do 
your homework and get the law on your side. 

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In this dangerous era, the term "safe sex" has taken on a specific meaning" sex 
designed to minimize the risk of HIV transmission." But sex has never been 
altogether safe. Both your authors are old enough to have grown up in an era 
when an unwanted pregnancy meant a life endangering illegal abortion. It's 
been only a few decades since more reliable birth control became available, 
and only a few before that since antibiotics began curing illness, insanity and 
death caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Seen in historical 
perspective, today's environment, in which careless sex can kill, is the norm, 
not the exception. Which means that you have to protect yourself and your 

Given that sex is never completely safe, ethical sluts put time, effort and 
commitment into getting as much sex at as little risk as possible. Hence, the 
term "safer sex" has sprung into use, and is the term we have used throughout 
this book to refer to the many risk-reduction strategies that can help minimize 
the chances of infection and/or unwanted pregnancy. 

Some of the safer-sex information out there these days refers to AIDS as 
though that were the only infection you had to worry about. It isn't. Thus, 
we're not going to spend a lot of time debating which forms of sexual 
expression are likelier than others to transmit HIV first, the information 
available on this topic changes almost weekly and would undoubtedly be 
obsolete by the time this book sees print; and second, you need to protect 
yourself against HIV and against herpes, hepatitis, gonorrhea, syphilis, 
chlamydia, shigella, human papilloma virus, cervical cancer, unwanted 
pregnancy and a host of other nasties. 

On the other hand, we dont think it's necessarily a good idea to tell you to 
cover every portion of your anatomy with latex before you touch another 
human being. Such advice smacks a bit to us of "Just say no," and we think 

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people often react to such blithe blanket advice with an all-or-nothing shrug- 
they're not willing to follow it to the letter, so they dont follow it at all and 
wind up sick or dead. 

Still, there ore ways to continue to have hot satisfying sex without performing 
the erotic equivalent of skydiving with a faulty parachute. Here are some that 
we, and the people we know, have used successfully. 

Fluid bonding 

A strategy used by some sluts who are in a primary relationship is called "fluid 
bonding" or "fluid monogamy." Both of us have such agreements with our life 
partners. To do this kind of agreement, both (or all) partners get thoroughly 
tested for HIV and other diseases. This may mean waiting six months to be 
sure, since HIV antibodies dont reliably show up in the bloodstream for that 
long after the individual is infected. Once you're both sure you're healthy, you 
agree to practice unprotected sex with one another, but to use barriers 
(condoms, gloves, dental dams and so on) with others. Be sure you're in clear 
agreement about which activities are safe enough to do without a barrier and 
which ones require a barrier; to reach such an agreement, everyone involved 
will have to do some homework on the risk levels of various activities, and 
decide together what level of risk is acceptable to you. 

In addition, you may wish to restrict some kinds of sex- many people focus on 
vaginal and/or anal intercourse, which place the participants at higher risk for 
disease transmission- to your primary relationship. 

Another good reason for fluid bonding is baby making if you and your 
primary partner are trying to become parents, you might not want to engage 
in potentially reproductive activities with all and sundry. 

If barriers were infallible, fluid bonding would be a nearly perfect strategy. 
Unfortunately, they are not. Pinhole leaks can allow virus to creep through, 
although this happens less often than anti-sex crusaders would have you 
believe. Condoms can break or come off during sex. If you are fluid-bonded 
and experience a condom failure, you and your partner will have to decide 
together whether to begin again with HIV testing and six months of barrier 

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usage, or to risk the possibility that one of you has been infected and could 
infect the other. 

Eliminating high-risk behaviors 

Another risk reduction strategy is simply to eliminate some forms of sexual 
expression from your repertoire. Many people have chosen to forego forms of 
sex that involve putting hands, mouths or penises into or near assholes, 
feeling that the particularly high risks of this form of play are not worth its 
rewards. (We note that medical journals have yet to include a case study of a 
dildo or butt plug coming down with a disease.) Others have decided not to 
engage in any form of penetration with an organic penis. 

Every such decision you make requires that you balance your own desires 
against your assessment of the risks. Remember when you're making your 
decisions that desire is powerful and important, and that there's no point in 
making rules you can't live with starving and hinging is an even worse pattern 
for sluts than it is for dieters. On the positive side, expanding your range of 
hot sexual expression by learning new and exciting ways to have sex can leave 
you both safe and satisfied. 

Barrier usage 

Many people decide to follow their sexual urges, but to be scrupulous about 
the use of latex or polyurethane barriers and other safer sex strategies. We 
hope you dont need us to explain this to you at this point in history, but 
careful use of barriers includes condoms for vaginal sex, anal sex and fellatio; 
gloves for masturbation of a male or female partner or for insertion of fingers 
into vaginas or anuses; and dental dams or plastic wrap for cunnilingus or 
analingus. It also includes placing a latex barrier (a glove or condom) over any 
sex toy that will be used by more than one person, and cleaning that toy 
thoroughly with an antiviral solution after each use. 

The use of a good water-based lubricant can do wonders to make latexed sex 
more pleasurable for both or all partners. For tips on how to use barriers in a 
pleasure-enhancing manner, check out our chapter on sex and some of the 

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books in the Bibliography. And if you're not completely comfortable using any 
of these barriers, practice! Gentlemen can masturbate with a condom (or two, 
or three), until it comes easy. We have heard of one dedicated fellow who 
managed to put on eighteen condoms at once he said it felt really good. And 
why not get a little playful with your rubber? 

After doing careful research into available information about the relative risks 
of various sexual behaviors, some people decide that some of these activities 
are safe enough to perform without a barrier. Safer sex workshops are 
available in most communities now, and the place where you get your HIV test 
will know where to find them. We urge thoughtfulness and conservatism in 
making such choices- we need all the readers we can get, so we dont want to 
lose you. 


Simply hoping for the best, or denying that you're at risk, or pretending that 
diseases and unwanted pregnancies only happen to other people, is not an 
acceptable strategy. If you dont have the honesty and courage to face the 
genuine risks of your sexual behaviors, you certainly dont have what it takes to 
be an ethical slut, and we question whether you should be having sex at all. 

We are shocked and worried by the levels of denial we see among some sexual 
communities, who would like to believe that because HIV hasn't yet decimated 
them as it has the gay male community, they must be somehow immune. New 
strains of HIV are constantly being discovered, and it appears that 
transmission patterns may vary from one strain to the next- and even if you're 
not at particularly high risk for current strains of HIV, you certainly are for 
herpes, hepatitis and a host of other diseases. Get educated, friend, and take 
care of yourself. 

Testing and prevention 

We think it's essential for ethical sluts to get tested for HIV and other sexually 
transmitted diseases on a regular schedule. How frequently depends on a 
number of risk factors in your life. Ask your doctor, clinic or Planned 
Parenthood office, and follow their advice. 

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While most STDs are preventable only with barriers and care, recent medical 
developments have evolved vaccinations that protect you against several 
potentially deadly forms of hepatitis. If you engage in non-monogamous anal 
play, these are a very good idea. They are expensive, but cheaper than getting 
sick. Get 'em. 

Birth control 

Mother Nature is called that for a reason sometimes it seems like she wants 
everybody to be a parent. ("So, when are you going to give me a grandchild?") 
Birth control technology is, alas, far from perfect: reliable, reversible, easy, 
side-effect-free contraception is still a dream. Unwanted pregnancies need no 
longer be the life-shattering tragedies of yesteryear, but they are still awful, 
and we hope that none of you ever has to have one. 

If you are female, and have intercourse with men, and are not certain that you 
are not fertile, you must take active steps to ensure that you won't get 
pregnant until and unless you want to. Birth-control pills, longer-term 
chemical birth control like Norplant and Depo-Provera, diaphragms and 
cervical caps, condoms, iUDs, sponges and foam, tubal ligation, and other 
possibilities exist. Some women with regular menstrual cycles succeed at the 
rhythm method, particularly if they learn to enjoy outer course during their 
fertile periods. There is a lot of good information available about the risks and 
reliability of all these methods; your physician, clinic, or Planned Parenthood 
can help you make a good choice. 

For men who have intercourse with women, the choices are (unfortunately) 
quite limited. If you know you are unlikely to want to father children in the 
future, a vasectomy is minor surgery that will relieve you of a great deal of 
worry. If you hope to be a father someday. 

Use those condoms- and lobby for research into better 
male contraception. 

So what if someone gets pregnant anyway? This can be, to put it mildly, 
difficult. If the partners agree that an abortion is the best choice, that's pretty 
traumatic in and of itself; if there is disagreement, it can be shattering. Until 
such time as science enables men to carry fetuses in their bodies, we believe 

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that the final decision has to be the woman's, but we bitterly sympathize with 
the man who would like to raise a baby and whose female partner isn't willing 
or able to carry it to term. We do think that both partners should share in the 
financial and emotional burden of an abortion or a pregnancy. 

If one or both partners is interested in being a parent, and the woman is 
willing to carry the fetus to term, ethical slut hood opens up a wealth of 
options for parenting. Please dont feel that the only way to be a parent is to get 
married and buy a house in the suburbs perfectly marvelous children come 
out of shared parenting arrangements, intentional communities, group 
marriages and a multitude of other ways to nurture and support a child. (More 
about this next chapter.) 

Committing to healthy sex 

You may notice that we have gone out of our way not to tell you what decisions 
to make about your sexual behavior. That's because only you can decide what 
risks feel acceptable to you, and we believe that letting anybody else make that 
decision for you virtually guarantees that you won't follow through on your 

You must, however, make choices. You must choose to do your homework, 
and learn what you need to know about risks and rewards. You must choose to 
do the work of saying "no" to sex that doesn't meet your own safety criteria, 
and of being prepared to say "yes" to sex that does: discovering you're out of 
condoms at the wrong moment is a recipe for disaster. You must choose to 
approach your sexual behaviors in a mature, realistic and sober manner 
intoxication plays a major role in a shockingly high percentage of HIV 
infection and unwanted pregnancy. 

And you must be prepared to share your sexual decision-making and history 
with any potential partners you encounter. If consent is at the core of ethical 
slut hood -and it is- your partners must be able to give informed consent to 
whatever risks are involved in having sex with you. You, of course, have the 
right to expect that same honesty from them. 

You won't like talking about this stuff, especially not with a new lover. It's 
depressing and scary, definitely not erotic, and sometimes horrendously 

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embarrassing. Allow us to reassure you: the first time is the worst. Practice 
makes perfect, and after you've been over all these ugly and lethal possibilities 
a few times, you will become less sensitive and learn to deal with what you 
need to with ease and grace. And it's well worth the investment: getting good 
at talking about sex has other rewards, like getting exactly what you want in 
the way of pleasure. 

We, and most of the people we know, make fairly conservative choices about 
what health risks we take in our sexuality- and we know from experience that 
it is quite possible to have exciting, satisfying, fabulously slutty sex without 
lying awake nights worrying afterwards. And isn't that the kind of sex we all 
want to have? 

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If you're raising kids today, you have it a little bit easier than sluts of 
yesteryear images of families in books and television aren't quite as limited to 
"The Bobbsey Twins" and "Ozzie and Harriet" as they were in our childhoods. 
Still, even though divorce and single parents are now acceptable topics, our 
culture is being rather slow to catch up to the other realities of our lives: 
media images of multi partner relationships, same sex relationships and other 
nontraditional models are still pretty rare. 

Yet kids take to these relationships quite readily- perhaps more so than to the 
traditional nuclear family: children's need for tribe may be even more 
pronounced than adults'. Catherine remembers having some of her first 
desires for group living during vacations with her then husband extended 
family, when she noticed that her kids, surrounded by loving adults with 
plenty of time on their hands, were happier, more docile and less fragmented 
than she'd ever seen them. Today, she lives in a group household, and though 
her sons are nearly grown, they have adapted quite readily to the comings and 
goings of a disparate group of adults- one of whom is almost always free to 
answer a question, troubleshoot a computer program, experiment with a 
recipe, or play a game. 

In contrast to the dilemma of the traditional single parent who must decide 
how and if to bring sex partners back to the home she shares with her kids, the 
ethical slut may have a number of creative options for maintaining a fulfilling 
sex life while being a responsible parent. When Dossie was sharing a house 
with two other single mothers, one of her lovers used to babysit all the kids so 
the mothers had a chance to go out together. And one friend of ours used to 
babysit for her younger sister and the kids next door so that her parents could 
mess around with the next-door neighbors. 

Still, many parents have a great deal of difficulty bridging the gap between 

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responsible parenting and inclusive relationships. Questions about what and 
how much to tell your kids, how to prepare them for difficult questions in the 
outside world, and how to help them relate to the new people who arrive and 
depart in their lives can be challenging for any mom or dad. 

We think that the most important characteristic you can bring to bear in the 
lives of your children is consistency. Kids, especially younger ones, dont deal 
well with here-today-gone-tomorrow connections. While it's easy to assume 
that inclusive relationships might create massive inconsistency, our 
experience is just the opposite. The binary nature of monogamy-centrist 
thinking tends, we think, to cause problems: you're either the love of my life, 
or you're out of here. Both of us have found that opening our lives to other 
kinds of connections also opens our children's lives. For example, a former 
lover of Catherine's has not been sexually involved with her for quite a while, 
but has become a sort of surrogate uncle and best friend to one of her sons 
and is still a loved member of her household as she writes this, he is asleep on 
a futon on her living room floor. 

Sex education for kids 

As you've surmised, we think inclusive emotional relationships can be highly 
beneficial to family life, and that children gain in role models. 

Attention and support in the polyamorous extended family. Clearly, children 
should not be included in adult sexual behavior, and there are many adults 
around who have been wounded by sexual abuse as children who can testify to 
the damages. Children do, however, need enough information to make sense 
out of what the adults are doing, so they can grow up to their own healthy 
understanding of sexuality. 

All parents must make their own decisions about what kind of sexual 
information their children should have at any given age. For the health and 
well-being of the child, a balance must be struck between offering too much 
information, which might seem scary or overwhelming, and too little, which 
might leave the child with the message that naked bodies and sexual arousal 
are so dangerous and embarrassing that it's not allowed to even talk about 
them. We dont want to terrify the kids, and we dont want them to come into 

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their own adult sexual lives with the belief that sex is dirty and shameful. 

To make matters more complicated, our culture currently is deeply divided 
about the entire subject of kids and sex. Some people consider any form of sex 
education to be child abuse, and many do not feel that children should have 
any information at all about adult sexual activities. Some authorities feel that 
when children have "precocious" information about sex, that must mean that 
the child is being abused by an adult. How are we to teach our children to say 
"no" to an abusive adult if we are not frank about what it is that they should 
say no to? 

What should they know? 

You'll have to decide how much your kids should know about your sexual 
choices, such as multiple partners, same-sex partners or alternative family 
structures. Our experience is that kids figure such things out quicker than you 
think they do, but that they may not figure them out exactly right. It's a 
delicate balance between giving your children enough information to answer 
their questions and allay their discomfort, and giving them too much 
information and thus frightening them or turning them off. 

One word of warning: if your kids aren't old enough to keep such information 
to themselves, it may be best not to share it with them. One friend of ours, 
who had a lovely piercing placed in her clitoral hood as a symbol of 
commitment to her partner, was dismayed to find out that her very young 
daughter had told her school friends and teachers that "Mommy has an 
earring in her penis." Fortunately, here in liberal San Francisco, no trouble 
ensued- but the ending might not have been so happy elsewhere. There are 
many places in this country where living in a nontraditional sexual lifestyle is 
considered a justification for legally removing your children from your 
custody. Even when you are sure you are doing no harm, you still may need to 
protect your kids from Mrs. Grundy. 

What should they see? 

We think it's a good idea to model physical and verbal affection for children; 

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that's how they learn to be affectionate adults. But you'll have to make some 
decisions about the appropriate dividing line between physical affection and 
sexual demonstrative ness 

Do your kids get to see you hugging your partners? Kissing them? Touching 
them? These are all decisions we can't make for you. You have to think them 
through yourself- taking into account such issues as their ages, their levels of 
sophistication, and their perceptions about your existing relationships- and 
abide by your own decisions. 

Nudity is a gray area. We certainly dont think kids are seriously harmed by 
growing up in households where casual nudity is the norm. But a child who 
has never been around nude adults may be upset if nudity is suddenly 
introduced into his living arrangements. Kids are also very sensitive to issues 
like sexual display: if you sense that anybody is "strutting their stuff instead 
of simply being comfortably nude, that's not a good environment for kids. 
Certainly, if a child expresses discomfort with being around your or your 
friends' nudity, her desires should be respected. And we hope it goes without 
saying that no child should ever be required to be nude in front of others 
many children go through phases of extreme modesty as they struggle to cope 
with their changing bodies, and that, too, deserves scrupulous respect. 

What should they do? 

It is definitely inappropriate to allow your kids to engage in any form of sexual 
behavior with any of your partners, or vice versa. Many children go through 
one or more sexually explorative and/or flirtatious periods in their lives- this 
is natural and common. But it's very important that you and your friends 
maintain especially good boundaries during such periods; learning polite and 
friendly ways of acknowledging a child's changing needs without engaging 
sexually is a critical skill for any ethical slut who spends time around her own 
or her partners' kids. ("Isn't that cute? You're getting to be such a big girl 

answering their questions 

Kids' questions about sex and relationships can often be challenging -from the 

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five-year-old's "But how does the seed get to the egg?" to the teenager's "So 
how come you get to fuck anyone you want but I have to be home by 

Here's where the skills you've learned in other parts of this book cam come in 
handy. You owe your kids honest, heartfelt responses to questions like these; 
this is not the time to come on all high handed and parental- Particularly with 
older children and teenagers, it's fine to let them know if you're feeling 
ambivalent or embarrassed about something (they'll know anyway, believe 
us). If a situation makes you angry or sad, share that, too. They may need 
some reassurance that your emotion isn't their fault, and some reinforcement 
that it's not their job to help you feel better. 

It's also fine to test their willingness to receive information. Before you start 
heaping data on their heads, you can try prefacing your oral communication 
with a question like, "Do you want to know about [whoever] the topic is" 
Catherine remembers a conversation with her Older son when he was about 
ten: she'd just done a "birds and bees" rap. and had perhaps gotten a little 
carried away. At the end of her long speech, she asked him, "So, as long as 
we're on this topic, is there really thing else you want to know?" He replied, 
fervently, "Mom, you've already told me much more than I wanted to know." 

Good boundaries are important here too. While your kids are certainly 
entitled to express an opinion about the way you choose to A your life, they 
dont get to dictate it. The flip side of this is that you owe it to them to help 
prevent their lives from being unduly impacted ky 3 lifestyle they never chose. 
Dossie willingly agreed to maintain a discreet closet about her lesbian partner 
when her daughter's junior high school friends came to visit; her daughter got 
to "come out" to her fiends about her mom at her own pace. Well, nobody ever 
said parenthood- especially slutty parenthood- was going to be easy. 

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Just to prove to you that it can be done, we want to start this chapter with a 
true story of how a lesbian couple of our acquaintance began their 
relationship. They have lived together for two years now in a committed and 
polyamorous life partnership, and got married last August in a redwood grove. 
They are still very much in love, and have every intention of growing old 

June had never been to a play party before. That's evidently what they call 
orgies in California, she mused. Well, at least it's a lesbian orgy. How on earth, 
she wondered, did I come to be the guest of honor at an orgy? 

Actually, she knew how it came about. She was visiting her dear friend Flash 
in San Francisco, and Flash announced that she had the use of a house in the 
country for the weekend, and she wanted to throw a party and introduce June 
to her friends. Sounds like fun, thought June.... and then Flash began to talk 
about having a "Chick Rite" to celebrate the advent of spring by setting up 
mattresses and safer-sex supplies in the middle of the living room. 

June had argued, and at first had refused to come. But Flash talked her into it, 
pointing out that she didn't have to actually have sex with anybody if she 
didn't want to. June finally said okay, adding that if she couldn't stand it she 
would hike down to the local coffeehouse with a book. So Flash went on 
setting up the house for the convenience of sexual pleasures, and June hid in 
the kitchen making dips, one party function that she at least understood. 

As the guests began to arrive, June began to question whether or not she'd be 
able to stay at this event. She was introduced to a parade of the most 
outrageous dykes she had ever seen, femmes and hutches like birds in bright 
plumage, sporting exotic garments designed to display a gallery of tattoos, 
gleaming here and there with jewelry set in body parts that June did not want 
to think about. And they were all so young! June felt the whole weight of her 

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forty-eight years. She figured you can't go wrong being polite, so she said the 
same how-do-you dos she would anywhere else, wondering how she'd respond 
if one of these enthusiastic orgiasts actually told her how she did do. 

In, at last, came a couple of women of unabashed middle age. One of them, 
Carol, was a dead ringer for June's Great-Aunt Mary- only Great-Aunt Mary 
would never have been seen in high butch gear complete with boots and 
cowboy hat. June felt relieved to have found one woman she could relate to. 
Then Carol smiled her most winning smile and announced that she would like 
to put her hand in June's cunt. 

June, swallowing a gasp but ever polite, responded that she didn't really feel 
quite ready for that, and Carol, ever easygoing, replied "Okay, I'll check in with 
you later." Great Goddess, thought June, there's no escape. June knew about 
fisting, had learned to do it with a lover who liked it, she knew it was safe 
when done properly, but it seemed more than a little too intimate to try with 
someone whose name she'd only learned in the last half hour. 

Then Lottie came inclose to June's age, but not dressed like it. Lottie sported a 
head of obviously dyed naming red curls and a black chiffon dress through 
which could be clearly seen long black stockings, a black leather corset, and a 
voluptuosity of just plain flesh. How does she balance on those heels, 
wondered June, as Lottie hugged, kissed and chatted her way through the 
progressively less clothed mass of partygoers. June overheard Lottie thanking 
various women for their participation in a previous orgy held in celebration of 
Lottie's fiftieth birthday. Do these people ever get together and not have sex? 
wondered June. 

Puppy piles began to form on the floor in front of the couch where June was 
sifting- untidy heaps of women necking and petting, smiling and laughing- 
Lottie and Carol conspicuously among them. June decided it would be safer 
out on the deck, where she might be able to soak out her terrors in the hot tub. 
The hot tub was quieter, and June managed to chat with a few women, and 
began feeling marginally more comfortable. Then Lottie reappeared. Off came 
the dress, the stockings, the shoes- June found herself wondering what it 

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would be like if she could see Lottie's cunt, and instantly wondered if anyone 
else had noticed her looking. Lottie slipped into the warm water, and almost 
immediately asked June if she would rub her neck because it felt stiff. "Sure," 
she heard herself say, I'd be happy to." Oh, no, she thought, what have I let 
myself in for? 

Lottie's skin felt warm and silky under her fingers, and June rubbed and 
soothed. June felt relaxed by the rhythm of massage, and reassured as Lottie 
conversed about perfectly normal things: her work and June's, their 
philosophies of life: June's Buddhist, Lottie's pagan. Eventually, Lottie's neck 
relaxed, and the hot tub began to feel too warm, and Lottie brightly suggested 
they find out what was going on inside. She climbed out of the tub, pulled on 
her stockings and buckled her heels, and darted inside. Holy Minerva, thought 
June, can I follow her in there? No, she decided firmly, I can't. June found a 
table in a corner on the patio, and determinedly admired the stars. 

Lottie, meanwhile, was finding she had a thing or two to think about as well. 
In the living room, her friends were happily disporting themselves on couches, 
in armchairs and in front of the fire, but Lottie was thinking about June. What 
is it about her that turns me on so much? Does she like me? Will she play with 
me? Doesn't look like she's used to playing at parties- ah, well, there's always a 
first time. Now where did that girl go? 

Lottie scanned the living room, but there was no June to be found. The living 
room was actually pretty interesting, and Lottie contemplated giving up the 
chase and finding a friend to play with, but intrigue triumphed. She made her 
way toward the kitchen, stepping over various happy people and lingering 
here and there to appreciate some particularly exciting activity. Pausing to 
check out the dips and replenish her blood sugar, Lottie looked out the 
window and there was June, hiding out on the patio. 

Ah, here's the opportunity, thought Lottie as she arranged a few goodies on a 
plate and trotted outside to share them with June. But, although they were 
chatting together quite amiably, Lottie felt she wasn't reaching June. Her most 
flirtatious sallies were met with no response whatsoever: June, petrified, 
would only breathe deep and consciously hold as still as she could. Lottie, 
frustrated, decided on the direct approach. "I think you're really attractive. 

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Would you like to play with me? What sort of thing do you like to do?" June, 
cornered again, stammered out, "I dont think I'm ready to have sex in public, 
so sorry." 

Right then, Carol sauntered up to the table and sat down. While June 
wondered how she could disappear into the bushes without appearing gauche, 
Lottie greeted Carol by sliding her thigh- which Carol, being a woman who 
knew how to act, promptly stroked and admired -over onto Carol's lap. Lottie, 
not out of revenge but simple desire not to waste a perfectly good party, asked 
Carol: "How's your dance card tonight? Got room for me?" 

Carol asked what was her fancy, and Lottie put out that she had a yen for a 
sensitive fist, and Carol said she would be happy to oblige, just needed to 
check with Susie about a plan they had for later. Both happily trotted off, 
exchanging a quick body rub as they squeezed through the door, and June was 
left to herself. Was she relieved? Well... not exactly. 

Returning to the living room, Lottie was surprised to see Carol and June both 
sitting on the window seat backs to the sides, feet in the middle. Lottie had 
never been slow to leap on opportunity, so she sashayed across the room, 
climbed up on both pairs of feet (neatly trapping June), and proclaimed: 
"Here I am!" Carol being a good friend of Lottie's and well-versed in the ways 
of femmes called for gloves and lube and firmly pushed Lottie into June's lap. 
"Will you hold her for me please?" June opened her mouth, but nobody waited 
for her answer, and next thing, there she was, holding Ms. Lottie's squirming 

Amazing, thought June, just amazing. She got a good grip on Lottie, took a 
deep breath, and off she went on the ride. June concentrated on keeping up a 
good front and trying not to notice several smiling women who had settled 
down to watch the action on the window seat while Carol competently went to 
work to turn Lottie on, lube her up and get her off. Omigod, thought June, 
how am I going to get through this. I'm touching this woman's breast and I 
hardly know her. Maybe, she thought, I can pretend this is somebody I've 
already made love with. 

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Lottie had braced her foot over Carol's shoulder against the window frame, 
and was energetically pushing herself down on Carol's hand. She let out a big 
groan as the hand slipped in, and they both starting fucking hard and loud. 
June had all she could do to prevent Lottie from falling onto the floor. Lottie 
finally came- loudly, noticed June, very loudly- and June realized she hadn't 
breathed for a while, and took a big gasping breath. All three let their bodies 
go limp on the window seat and invested a few moments in just feeling good. 

Reality eventually asserted itself. Lottie sat up, and politely offered to fuck 
Carol in return. Carol said thanks but no, I promised Susie, and both of them 
went off in different directions. June felt like she had fallen into some other 
universe- who are these women, anyway? Although it was kind of fun, and I 
think I did it okay -but it's still too much. I think I'd better go to sleep. 

A day passed. Back at home, Lottie found she could not stop thinking about 
June. I know me, she told herself, and I know when I feel this way I'm just 
gonna go for it, so there's no point in agonizing. She called Flash and 
discovered that June had flown out of San Francisco that morning. Lottie, 
ever resourceful, got her address and sent her this letter. 

Thursday, June 2 Dear June It a beautiful morning up here on my mountain, 
the sun is streaming through the redwood trees, the sky is very blue with little 
cloud puffs- yesterday walking up on the ridge I saw a huge jackrabbit. The 
irises are finished and it's time for morning glories, rhododendrons, and lots 
of tiny bright exquisite flowers to whom I have not been properly introduced. 
Do you live in the city? If I make your mouth water for the mountains, will you 
come visit me? 

Who are you anyway? Write me and tell me about yourself. I am particularly 
interested in how, as a Buddhist, you deal with desire and passion. I've been 
thinking some about this since we met, and realized that I am not a Buddhist 
because, although I have gotten a great deal from my connections to Zen, 
including learning a lot about letting go of desire, my spiritual path is about 
grasping desire (passion might be a more appropriate word here) as if it were 
the ox, and riding it as a vehicle to communion with the Dao. I worry that this 
might not be an acceptable practice to you: although I am used to being 

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various people's version of anathema, I would rather that not be the case with 

I really like you. I really like the connection we made at Flash's, and I hope we 
get the chance to explore it further. So write and reveal yourself to me. What 
are your thoughts about sex, connection, art, nature? What are your 
fantasies? I really want to know. I bet you dream up some great bedtime 

I wish you were here writing to you is making me nervous and I would like a 
cuddle. As I read over this letter trying to decide how far to go I realize I have 
probably already gone too far oh well, I always do. 

Love, Lottie 

Eight months and approximately three thousand dollars' worth of phone bills 
later, not to mention a few impulsive air fares, June put all other worldly 
goods in her truck, Lottie flew out to meet her, and they drove across the 
Great Divide to a sweet little house in the country, where they lived happily 
ever after. 

This is not a typical story of how sluts find partners. Any sexual minority 
member faces special challenges in partner-finding and, as a slut or slut 
wannabe, you are most assuredly a member of a sexual minority. If you're also 
gay, lesbian, transgender, or interested in a specialized area of sexuality such 
as crossdressing or S/M, you are doubly or triply challenged. 

Many of us have sad, frustrating stories to tell about near- misses: partners 
who are fine with an open relationship until they start to fall in love, at which 
point they freak out and demand monogamy... partners who rhapsodize about 
sexual openness and free love in principle, but can't handle them in reality 
(Catherine says these remind her of the dog who chases cars all his life, then 
actually catches one and can't figure out what to do with it)... even partners 
who are successfully polyamorous but whose needs, desires and limits simply 
dont fit together well enough -after all, sex is not the only way we relate. 

Yet many people do succeed in finding each other, for relationships ranging 
from casual to lifetime. So, how do you find friends, lovers and potential 

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partners who not only share your values and beliefs- but are also emotionally, 
intellectually and sexually compatible with you? 


A good place to start is by getting an idea of who you're looking for. The trick 
in making this decision is to be neither too specific nor too vague. If your 
"who" list basically includes anybody who is breathing and who is willing to 
have sex with you, we suggest that you are perhaps broadening your field a bit 
too much. Even if you dont have strong preferences about gender, age, 
appearance, background or intelligence, you probably do want someone who 
will not lie to you, steal from you, hurt you or exploit you: basic sanity, 
honesty and respectfulness are on most of our lists. It is also perfectly fine to 
acknowledge those preferences that are genuinely important to you: if you 
prefer men to women, or people your own age to people much older or 
younger, nobody is going to report you to the Equal Opportunity Commission. 

On the other hand, if your "who" list reads like a set of technical 
specifications- gender, age, weight, height, coloring, mode of dress, 
educational background, penis size, sexual kinks- we suspect that you may be 
more interested in making love to your own fantasy than you are to a real, live 
person. Many of us, unfortunately, are conditioned to react sexually to a 
rather unrealistic standard of appearance and behavior: porn queens and 
kings are fun to watch in the movies, but they rarely appear in our living 
rooms. If you expect your new honey to be gorgeous, loving and highly sexual 
all the time, you are almost certainly setting yourself up for a lifetime of 
disappointment few people can achieve those standards, and nobody can 
maintain them twenty four hours a day. 

We can't tell you the exact cutoff point at which a healthy preference becomes 
an unrealistic desire; only you can look inside yourself to do that. We do think 
that physical appearance, wealth, and social status have very little to do with 
the person behind them, and if any of those criteria appear high up on your 
"who" list, you may be a little bit stuck in your fantasy. Try getting to know 
some people who dont meet those criteria. We have a hunch that if you get to 

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know them and like them, you will discover that they have their own unique 
beauties, just waiting there for someone to notice them. 

An important note: even people who are gorgeous or rich or busty or whatever 
dont usually like to feel that their beauty, wallet or breasts are their most 
attractive quality. Those who partner successfully with them often consider 
such qualities a happy bonus that have little or nothing to do with why they 
chose that person in the first place. 


What kind of relationship do you want? Do you want someone with whom 
you can buy a house and raise a family? Someone you can meet once a year 
for a hot and heavy weekend of role-playing fun? Or "Ms. Right Now"? 
Knowing what you want up front can prevent a lot of misunderstandings and 
hurt feelings later. 

Ethical sluts do not tell potential sweeties that they're looking for a life partner 
when, in fact, they're looking to get laid tonight. 

Similarly, it's dishonest to swear that all you want is to have a little fun when, 
in fact, you're mentally measuring him for a tuxedo. 

If you're worried that nobody could possibly want what you have to offer, dont 
be so sure. While it may be harder to find someone who wants to be a 
secondary partner, or a role-play buddy, or the mother of your children, it is 
certainly possible- in fact, there are undoubtedly at least a few people out 
there who are looking for just such a situation. 

Trick versus partner is not an either/or situation: there are many, many ways 
to relate that lie between a one-night stand and marriage. You may not know 
in advance what kind of relationship will develop with the person who 
intrigues you tonight, and that person may not fit whatever hole in your life 
you were looking to fill. Taking people as they come, how they are, here and 
today, can lead you to wonderful surprises that more than make up for the 
occasional disappointment. So watch out for your preconceptions, and be 
ready to approach new people with an open mind and an open heart. 

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Of course, situations do change. Someone you thought was just an occasional 
playmate may evolve into a much more important figure in your personal 
landscape. When this happens- and it has happened to both of us- it is 
important to keep that person, and anyone else involved, thoroughly briefed 
on the emotional shifts you're experiencing. It may be that he is feeling the 
same way toward you, and, Louie, this could be the beginning of a beautiful 
friendship. On the other hand, he may not. Or he may just not be in a place in 
his life where a deep emotional commitment is right for him. In any case, treat 
this changed relationship as though it were a brand-new one- in a way, it is. It 
may be that the two of you can go on playing in your original, casual manner, 
or you may have to part for a while to maintain your equilibrium. 


Where do sluts gather? What are your best-bet venues for finding the bed 
mate, playmate or life mate of your dreams? 

Our experience has been that people who are open enough to talk about 
sexuality may be more interested in other forms of openness, or at least able 
to hear your desires with respect. So groups, clubs or newspapers organized 
around sexuality- sexual minorities, group sex, sex education might be good 
places to look for kindred spirits. 

Additionally, we've found that ethical sluts often enjoy exploring alternative 
realities (perhaps as novelty-seeking behavior?}. Try your local Society for 
Creative Anachronism, historical re-enactment group (the Renaissance Faire 
here in Northern California is practically a sluts' trade conference), science 
fiction conference or role-playing game group. 

Another good place to look might be in workshops, seminars and gatherings 
that have to do with human sexuality or intimacy. While cruising is, 
understandably, not allowed at some of these activities (people baring their 
souls are doing difficult work that can be disturbed by having to be on guard 
against unwanted advances), "graduates" often go on meeting socially long 
after the actual session is over. There are also several regional and national 
conferences about sexuality and intimacy, and these are attended by many 

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kindred slutty spirits. 

In many of the Internet's sexuality and sexual orientation groups, 
polyamorists are the majority. In addition to alt. polyamory a forum devoted 
exclusively to discussion of the topic, you can find friends in other Usenet 
news groups private mailing lists, and specialized groups sponsored by 
Internet service providers. Local adult-oriented computer bulletin boards in 
many communities are also frequented by a fair number of sluts. Some of 
these groups allow personal advertising, and some sponsor face-to-face get- 
tog ethers Do be a bit careful, though: as the New Yorker cartoon, showing a 
mutt happily typing on a keyboard, has it, "On the Internet nobody knows 
you're a dog." Many people enjoy using the anonymity of the computer screen 
to experiment with alternate personae, so the 20-year-old masseuse you've 
been corresponding with may in fact be a 50-year-old truck driver, and the 
delightfully imaginative slut may in real life be a prude seeking titillation. Still, 
Catherine (an Internet addict) has found many friends and lovers on the 
computer, as have countless others of our friends. 

You can also cruise the ads in your local newspaper. Modern personal ads 
usually operate by voice mail you call a number, hear a recorded message and 
get an opportunity to record a message of your own, and your phone bill will 
reflect a per-minute charge for the service. You can answer ads, or put in an ad 
of your own, or both. Some people run several ads at the same time. 

It is customary to get to know people you meet through the Internet or ads in 
stages, starting with a phone conversation, and then perhaps a date for coffee 
or dinner, so that you actually get to know the person before you are expected 
to decide whether or not you want to share sex with them. 

Cruising the ads and the Internet are both successful strategies for meeting 
people. We know of many fine times, and many long-term relationships, that 
started with a few words in a paper or on a screen. 


What do you do once you're face-to-face with a potential playmate? Civilized 
cruising is a fine art, and one that few people develop overnight. Sex roles 
make it even harder. Men in this culture are taught to push, to insist, never to 

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take "no" for an answer; women are taught to be coy, to refuse, never to offer 
an outright "yes." And the more polarized we get in this silly equation, the 
further we push one another away- with results that range from hurt feelings 
to date rape. 

The good news, though, is that both sets of behavior can be unlearned, and 
that the more we unlearn them, the less there is to unlearn. When both 
genders feel free to answer "yes" or "no" with no concern for anything but 
their own desires, a truer understanding, and a more positive sexuality, can be 

Dossie tells the story of a woman friend of hers back in the '70s who, as an 
experiment, sat patiently in a singles' bar one night, being approached by 
many men, until finally one to whom she felt attracted came along and began 
to flirt. She asked him nicely if he would like to come back to her place and 
fuck. He swallowed his ice. It took the poor fellow a couple of minutes before 
he could talk coherently again, and when they actually got to her place he 
found himself impotent. That's how deeply ingrained some of these cultural 
stereotypes can be. 


Sexual sophisticates tend to give each other a lot of credit for knowing what 
they want. With this assumption, it becomes easier for your potential partner 
to make outrageous proposals, because he trusts you to say "no" if you dont 
want to. It is nobody's task but your own to figure out what you want, and 
nobody can or will second-guess you. So you are going to have to learn to say 
"no," and to say "no" easily enough that it won't ruin your evening if you get a 
couple of unwelcome com eons Men as well as women have trouble with this- 
men are taught that they are always supposed to be up and ready for sex, so if 
someone comes on to a man when he is not ready, or not interested, it can feel 
unfamiliar or unmanly to say "no." 

When you say "no," do so clearly and kindly. Please do not fall into the trap of 
putting down people who find you attractive- they must be total idiots to have 
come onto you, right? Being politely asked is a compliment, not an insult. 
When we are embarrassed because we need to say no to a polite inquiry, let's 

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just own our own embarrassment. It's not the other person's fault if she thinks 
you're nifty. 

Women have been taught that it is unfeminine to say "no" directly. We are 
supposed to hint, and this doesn't work. Practice saying "no." Say it to your 
mirror fifteen times: "No, thank you for the offer, but no." You are not 
required to produce an excuse or a reason. It would be ridiculous to claim a 
headache at an orgy. The simple truth is "No, thank you very much, I dont 
want to." 

Women also need to practice saying "yes." Our cultural myth is that the man 
in a heterosexual transaction pleads with or cons or bullies the woman into 
saying "yes," or at least refraining from saying "no," and then does whatever 
he thinks is appropriate. Women need to equalize here, to do more of the 
choosing, to know what it is that we enjoy and to be able to say what we want 
in no uncertain terms to whomever we find attractive. And if you are a man 
whose sexual game plan is more about what you think you are supposed to do 
to be a good lover than about what you actually want, than you need to learn 
to say "yes" too. You can expect that this will be more difficult than it looks. 


Cruising strategies depend a lot on your own gender, and the genders) of the 
people you're seeking. 

For men 

Gay men have their own style of cruising, marked by a straightforward 
approach based on the understanding that most gay men are able to say "no 
thank you" without much discomfort. Thus, gay men often are able to cruise 
each other with greater reliance on body language and non-verbal cues than 
their het brothers. 

Successful heterosexual male cruisers, on the other hand, have evolved 
strategies for conveying interest without coming on too strong, remaining 
sensitive to verbal and nonverbal cues. Many a man has made the mistake of 
approaching a woman in the way he thinks he would like to be approached if 

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he were a woman. He may or may not have ever really been approached that 
way, and he may not appreciate such an approach himself. If you're not sure if 
women find your approach too heavy-handed, imagine being approached by a 
large strong gay man using your exact technique, and ask yourself how that 

Few women like to be pushed, overwhelmed or not listened to in the arenas of 
sex and intimacy. Most women are particularly offended by men who push too 
hard for private get-tog ethers or phone numbers, who insistently move the 
conversation back to sexual topics when the woman has tried several times to 
change the subject, or who touch them, particularly in a sexual, paternalistic 
or covert way, without permission. Sneaky come-ons are a pain; it works 
better to simply ask, and if you hear a "no," dont argue. 

Dossie remembers going dancing with a group of her gay male friends. In the 
(mostly gay) disco, a heterosexual man came on to her in a very pushy and 
obnoxious manner. Dossie's friends were horrified -they'd never seen a man 
behave like that, not even in the baths. 

For women 

Most women are not very good at saying "yes," and not very good at saying "no 
we're not, and we've been practicing for a long time. We're not sure how 
things got to this state, where a woman is just supposed to stand there looking 
adorable until some big strong hunk comes and makes her decision for her, 
but we dont like it much. 

Ask yourself: when was the last time you said "no" to sex? And how did you do 
it? Was it with a polite, friendly but unmistakable "no thanks"? Or was it with 
a sort of "not tonight, I've got a headache" or "maybe another time" or "I'll 
think about it" waffle? We strongly suggest you work out a "no thanks" that 
feels comfortable to you Catherine likes "No thanks; you seem nice, but I dont 
feel a strong chemistry with you." Expecting him to read your mind and 
somehow know that your "maybe..." means "no" is neither ethical nor slutty. 

And again: when was the last time you said "yes" to sex? Simply closing your 
feminine little eyes and letting him work his will on you is, shall we say, 

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subject to misinterpretation. 

Many women, both gay and straight, can benefit greatly from learning to be a 
bit more assertive in asking for what they want, both during the meeting 
process and afterwards. If you're used to sipping your drink and waiting for 
someone to make a move on you, initiating contact yourself may seem terribly 
awkward, pushy- yes, even slutty -at first. It's also scary as hell to risk 
rejection like that. It does get easier... particularly if you do get rejected a time 
or two and get a chance to find out that it isn't the end of the world. And, after 
all, we're not asking you to do anything that men haven't been doing for 

So here's the challenge for women: develop at least two scripts for 
introducing yourself to the man or woman that you find attractive. 

"Hi, I'm Susan; who are you?" is just fine for starters. You need a second script 
to say "I find you attractive, and would you like to: go on a date, come home 
with me, meet my polyamorous partner..." 

For couples 

If you're in a steady relationship, you and your partners) may find yourselves 
in the situation of cruising en masse. Couples cruising has its advantages- if 
you strike out, you still have someone to go home with. However, many 
cruisers are not used to the idea of openly non monogamous relationships, 
and may get a little freaked out when you come on to them with "Hi, I find you 
very attractive, and so does my wife." You will find some, however, who 
actually prefer the safety and built-in boundaries of getting it on with one or 
both members of an established couple. And isn't that just what you were 
looking for! 

Some couples cruise together for someone to play with in a three way while 
others cruise individually for partners who want to play with one or the other 
of them. When you cruise on your own, you will eventually have to tell your 
cruisee that you have a life partner at home. We can't tell you exactly where or 
how to slip this into the conversation, but we do suggest sooner rather than 

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Whether you cruise individually or together, you need to work out your 
agreements with each other beforehand. Who is interested in doing what to 
whom? Where? When? If one of you is looking for someone to hit the mattress 
with right there that night, and the other wants something permanent ("She 
followed me home! Can I keep her? Please?"), you may be headed for a major 

We think it's important that those who cruise as couples each have their own 
social skills. Depending on your partner to do all the work of introductions, 
conversation, flirtation and negotiation is bad for you and bad for your 
partner. It may also lead to misunderstandings, since few partners are skilled 
enough communicators to get across all your needs, interests and personality 

A pet peeve of many sluts is the couple who treats one or more of the people 
involved in a disrespectful or objectifying manner. One example is the couple 
who uses the more conventionally attractive member as bait" Catherine 
remembers once, in a group sex environment, being invited by a man to help 
stimulate his female partner. As she happily joined the group, she noticed that 
the man almost immediately shifted his focus from his girlfriend to her- 
ignoring the hapless girlfriend as he grabbed Catherine's breasts. Needless to 
say. Catherine excused herself immediately from this creepy-feeling scene. 

It is disrespectful to treat the third party as some sort of oversized marital aid. 
Many bisexual women we know are driven to distraction by the "hot bi babe" 
phenomenon- couples who seek them out, not because they're charming or 
hot, but because one member of the couple has a fantasy about seeing (or 
being part of) two women getting it on. Dossie was badly turned off at one 
group sex environment in which she'd received a sexual invitation from a 
woman she found attractive. While Dossie's new friend was supposed to be 
paying attention to Dossie, she was actually beckoning to her husband; he was 
poised and ready to take his wife's place when Dossie opened her eyes and 
discovered the substitution. Yuck. 

The fundamental rule for cruising as a couple, or getting cruised by a couple, 
is respect for the feelings and relationships of all concerned. You dont want to 

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cruise someone who will try to steal you or your partner for his own, and he 
doesn't want to be cruised by someone who will use him, withhold 
information from him or mistreat him. Treat everybody involved with respect, 
affection and intimacy, and you can reap very special rewards- anything from 
a warm happy fling to a long-term multi person relationship. 

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Do you want to be an orgy slut? This is a choice. No matter what you may have 
heard, group sex is not obligatory for open relationships, and we know many 
fine outrageous sluts who dont attend orgies, or promote three-ways and four- 
ways in their homes. And we know monogamous couples who frequent public 
sex environments for the sheer pleasure of playing with each other, in a 
special and sexy place, complete with an appreciative audience. 

If you have ever had a fantasy of being made love to by five people, or having 
an extra pair of hands to make love with, or lots of hot people to get impulsive 
with right now, or an appreciative audience that will thrill to your thrashing 
and screaming in delight... in other words, if you are attracted to the idea of 
sex parties, this chapter is for you. Here we will tell you what you need to 
know to have a good time and deal with any difficulties that might come up. 
We believe that it is a fundamentally radical political act to de privatize sex. So 
much oppression in our culture is based on shame about sex: the oppression 
of women, of cultural minorities, oppression in the name of the (presumably 
asexual) family, oppression of sexual minorities. We are all oppressed. We 
have all been taught, one way or another, that our desires, our bodies, our 
sexualities, are shameful. What better way to defeat oppression than to get 
together in communities and celebrate the wonders of sex? 

Going to a sex party presents an exciting challenge. It's an opportunity to 
stretch and grow as we deal with stage fright, performance anxiety, and the 
wonderful and scary tension of planning and getting ready for elaborated sex 
in an intensely sexual environment. We are all nervous, and the shared 
vulnerability adds to the arousal. We love the giddy feeling of conquest when 
we succeed in overcoming all these obstacles and creating a hot sexual 
encounter. There's not a lot of room for prudery and shame at an orgy, and 
when we play in a group of people, we get powerful reinforcement that sex is 

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good and beautiful, and that we are hot and sexy people. 

Why Public Sex? 

We both enjoy public sex, and regularly attend what we call play parties, 
environments in which people gather to enjoy a wide variety of kinds of sex 
with each other. In a highly charged sexual atmosphere, we feel a synergistic 
kind of arousal when everybody else's excitement feeds our own, and we feel 
connected to and turned on by all this happy sex that is going on around us. 
Group sex offers the chance to try out new partners in a safe environment, 
surrounded by our friends- we even get the opportunity to check out a person 
we might be turned on to while they make love with someone else (an audition 
or advertising, depending on your point of view). 

We can learn new sex acts with lots of support: we can watch someone else 
actually doing a form of sex that we had previously only seen in our fantasies, 
and we can ask them how they do whatever that is when they are through. We 
learned many of our safer sex skills at orgies, where rubber barriers are de 
rigueur and there is plenty of support for dealing with awkward bits of latex 
and maintaining everybody's well-being. 

Play parties can help you get over bad body image. As we have pointed out 
before, people enjoy sex at all ages and in all kinds of bodies, and at any orgy 
you will see them doing it. One good way to prepare for your first adventure at 
an orgy is to visit a nude beach or hot spring, if you never have before, to see 
what real people look like without clothes, and to experience being naked in 
public yourself. You'll start to see beauty in a lot of bodies that dont look 
anything like the ones in Playboy or Playgirl. and there's a lot of sensual 
delight to the feeling of warm sun and gentle breezes on all the parts of our 

It is amazing to us to think, after many years of practicing sex in public, that 
most people in our culture have never had a chance to watch another person 
enjoy sex. No wonder we worry so much about our appearance. You will feel 
much better about how you look, how you perform and who you are, when you 
have a chance to see real people having real sex. Look around you- every 
single person is gorgeous when they come. Which is why the orgy can be a 

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perfect stage for the consensual exhibitionist: at the sex party, we all get to be 
stars and shine our brightest. 

Sex clubs are very special environments. San Francisco, where we live, has a 
delightfully wide choice of orgiastic environments to choose from. There are 
party spaces for women only, for men only, for couples, for S/M enthusiasts, 
lovers of drag and costumery, and parties that specialize in just about every 
sexual practice you can think of and some that have to be seen to be believed. 

Parties may be openly advertised to the public, advertised only in newsletters 
or at support groups, or may be run by invitation only to a private mailing list. 
There are public clubs, like the gay men's baths, that are open twenty-four 
hours a day, seven days a week, and smaller spaces, perhaps an adapted 
basement recreation room, whose owners host parties once or twice a month. 
Other congenial groups sponsor small private gatherings in their living rooms. 

San Francisco boasts a fair number of "party houses," where one or two stories 
of a building have been dedicated to the social areas and play rooms for 
partying. Party houses may rent space to private groups, who might host a 
party once a month or so for their particular guest list. 

The first group sex parties that Dossie attended were held in a communal flat 
in San Francisco, under the presiding genius of Betty Dodson. Those who 
lived there were all dedicated to feminism, gay liberation and sexual 
liberation, and their commune was a conscious experiment to radically change 
the conditions in which we can enjoy sex. They took out all the doors, and 
made the loft space upstairs into one unbroken room by getting rid of the 
furniture. On a typical day, you could find several people on the deck 
sunbathing nude, some others organizing dinner, two more playing chess, a 
couple fucking and another person watching them while vibrating. There were 
larger parties three or four times a year, full of people making love in groups, 
in twos or singly, with lots of massage, and tantric practitioners chanting 
"Ommmm" in rune with the ever-present hum of vibrators. This was a private 
environment, available to the friends and lovers of the six or seven people who 
lived there. 

page 192 of 219 

Public sex environments, whether they're large public clubs or small party 
houses, have the common function of providing an agreeable space in which 
you can act sexy. Thus, most have some similarities. 

Although the decor and furnishings of group sex environments vary as widely 
as the human sexual imagination, there are basics that you will find in most 
party spaces. There will be a door person to check you in, and you may be 
asked to sign a waiver of liability. There will be a social area, with places to sit 
and talk and meet people, usually with a small buffet of snacks and beverages. 
Sex does not usually take place in the social area. There will be lockers or coat 
racks or shelves or some place to put your street clothes, and either change 
into party costume or simply disrobe. Some parties are mostly naked, others 
feature a dazzling array of clothes for every sexual fantasy. There will be 
provisions for cleanliness, bathrooms and showers. Then there will be the play 
room or rooms. 

Play rooms vary from tiny cubicles, often set up as mazes, with a small bed 
just big enough to fuck on, to large rooms with mirrored walls and 
upholstered floors for puppy piles, group gropes, and other orgiastic activities. 
There may be hot tubs, steam rooms and gardens for you to cruise and relax 
in. There may be an area for dancing. There is often music with a very strong 
beat, to enhance your natural rhythm and to give a sense of aural privacy so 
you won't be distracted by the noise of others. The lights will be low, and often 
red or orange, so we all can look a little tan and perhaps a little sexier. There 
may be rooms with furniture imaginatively designed to have sex on, like 
medical examining tables or slings, mirrored beds or dungeons for S/M 
fantasies, or perhaps a giant waterbed for those who like to make waves. 

Play party spaces tend to form communities. People try out the various parties 
in their area, and usually return to one or two groups that they find congenial. 
As people get to know each other, and share the special intimacy of sexual 
connection, they often become friends and form extended families. It is not 
unusual at all to find a sex party 

Parties may be openly advertised to the public, advertised only in newsletters 
or at support groups, or may be run by invitation only to a private mailing list. 

page 193 of 219 

There are public clubs, like the gay men's baths, that are open twenty-four 
hours a day, seven days a week, and smaller spaces, perhaps an adapted 
basement recreation room, whose owners host parties once or twice a month. 
Other congenial groups sponsor small private gatherings in their living rooms. 

San Francisco boasts a fair number of "party houses," where one or two stories 
of a building have been dedicated to the social areas and play rooms for 
partying. Party houses may rent space to private groups, who might host a 
party once a month or so for their particular guest list. 

The first group sex parties that Dossie attended were held in a communal flat 
in San Francisco, under the presiding genius of Betty Dodson. Those who 
lived there were all dedicated to feminism, gay liberation and sexual 
liberation, and their commune was a conscious experiment to radically change 
the conditions in which we can enjoy sex. They took out all the doors, and 
made the loft space upstairs into one unbroken room by getting rid of the 
furniture. On a typical day, you could find several people on the deck 
sunbathing nude, some others organizing dinner, two more playing chess, a 
couple fucking and another person watching them while vibrating. There were 
larger parties three or four times a year, full of people making love in groups, 
in twos or singly, with lots of massage, and tantric practitioners chanting 
"Ommmm" in tune with the ever-present hum of vibrators. This was a private 
environment, available to the friends and lovers of the six or seven people who 
lived there. 

Public sex environments, whether they're large public clubs or small party 
houses, have the common function of providing an agreeable space in which 
you can act sexy. Thus, most have some similarities. 

Although the decor and furnishings of group sex environments vary as widely 
as the human sexual imagination, there are basics that you will find in most 
party spaces. There will be a door person to check you in, and you may be 
asked to sign a waiver of liability. There will be a social area, with places to sit 
and talk and meet people, usually with a small buffet of snacks and beverages. 
Sex does not usually take place in the social area. There will be lockers or coat 
racks or shelves or some place to put your street clothes, and either change 

page 194 of 219 

into party costume or simply disrobe. Some parties are mostly naked, others 
feature a dazzling array of clothes for every sexual fantasy. There will be 
provisions for cleanliness, bathrooms and showers. Then there will be the play 
room or rooms. 

Play rooms vary from tiny cubicles, often set up as mazes, with a small bed 
just big enough to fuck on, to large rooms with mirrored walls and 
upholstered floors for puppy piles, group gropes, and other orgiastic activities. 
There may be hot tubs, steam rooms and gardens for you to cruise and relax 
in. There may be an area for dancing. There is often music with a very strong 
beat, to enhance your natural rhythm and to give a sense of aural privacy so 
you won't be distracted by the noise of others. The lights will be low, and often 
red or orange, so we all can look a little tan and perhaps a little sexier. There 
may be rooms with furniture imaginatively designed to have sex on, like 
medical examining tables or slings, mirrored beds or dungeons for S/M 
fantasies, or perhaps a giant waterbed for those who like to make waves. 

Play party spaces tend to form communities. People try out the various parties 
in their area, and usually return to one or two groups that they find congenial. 
As people get to know each other, and share the special intimacy of sexual 
connection, they often become friends and form extended families. It is not 
unusual at all to find a sex party club hosting a benefit for a member who has 
had an accident or a major illness. These are communities, and communities 
take care of their own. 

Group Sex Etiquette 

We know they didn't teach you in school how to behave at an orgy, and we bet 
your mother didn't teach you either. 

There is a particular etiquette needed for public sex environments, since 
everyone in them has let down some of their customary boundaries in order to 
get closer to each other. Social boundaries usually serve the purpose of 
keeping people at a predictable distance, so we all feel safe in our own 
personal space. Group sex poses the challenge of figuring out how to feel safe 
and comfy while getting up close and very intimate with a whole bunch of 

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presumably nice, sexy people- so new boundaries must be developed, learned 
and respected, or no one will feel safe enough to play. 

Many party houses show you a list of rules as you come in, or post them on the 
wall. Read them. They will make sense. Most places specify the level of safer 
sex precautions they require, and provide condoms, rubber gloves, lubricants, 
dental dams, and so on. Even if you and your partner are fluid-bonded, you 
may be asked, or feel it is polite, to use latex barriers in a public environment. 
Ethical sluts obey the rules of the parties they choose to attend. 

Responsible voyeurism is a must. You may watch what people do in public 
places, but always from a respectful distance. If the participants are aware of 
your presence, you are too close. Whether or not it is okay to masturbate while 
watching varies from place to place, but it's always polite to keep your own 
excitement discreet enough that you dont distract the good folks who are 
putting on such a nice show they are probably not actually doing it for you, 
anyway. Also be aware that when you are close to people who are playing, they 
can hear you -this is not an appropriate place to tell your friend all about how 
awful your boss is, or your recent experiences at the proctologist. 

The boundary between social talk space and play space is very important- 
when you enter play space, you enter into a different state of consciousness 
that tends to get you out of your intellect and into your body very quickly. Too 
much talking in play space can yank you back into everyday, verbal, nonsexual 

Cruising is active, but must not be intrusive. Ideally, a respectful request 
receives a respectful response, which means it's okay to ask, and if the answer 
is "no, thank you," that has to be okay too. Remember, people who come to 
orgies are pretty sophisticated, and they are here because they know what they 
want. And if that person you found attractive doesn't want to play with you 
right now, that's okay, take it easy and find someone else. 

Cruising at group sex parties is not that different from elsewhere, although 
perhaps more honest and to the point. Usually, you start with introducing 
yourself as a person: "Hi, I'm Dick, what's your name?" is way preferable to 
"Hi, do you like my big dick?" People will talk for a bit, flirt a little, and then 

page 196 of 219 

ask quite directly "Would you like to play with me?" When the answer is yes, 
negotiation follows: "What do you like to do? Is there anything you dont like? 
Let's check that we both mean the same thing by safer sex, and by the way, I 
have this fantasy..." 

Non-verbal communication 

Cruising by body language also can work, as long as you are willing to be 
relaxed about any misunderstandings that may arise. We believe that it is 
important to learn how to put what you want into words, so you have an 
option for absolutely clear communication. Then you can pursue nonverbal 
cruising if you like it, knowing your good communication skills will back you 
up if you need them. 

Body language is about catching someone's eye, exchanging a smile, moving 
your body closer- always checking the response. If you catch his eye and he 
turns his back, well, there's your answer. If you move into her personal space 
and she moves closer, there's another answer. It helps to initiate touch on a 
relatively neutral part of the body -a shoulder, a hand- and again, does the 
person move away, or closer? If he freezes, it's probably a good idea to 
communicate with words. 

Gender differences 

We live in a society where people learn some pretty warped ideas about sex. 
Women learn that they are not supposed to be sexual without falling in love, 
men learn that sex is a commodity that you get from a woman, men may even 
believe that women themselves are commodities. Group sex only works when 
everybody is acknowledged as a person. Nobody likes being treated like a 
thing. To avoid such problems, most group sex environments that include 
both men and women restrict the number of single men who are invited, or 
insist that no man is welcome without a female escort. This is a sad last resort 
for dealing with an unpleasant reality, and we quite agree that it is unfair that 
men of good will get penalized for the intrusive behavior of men who evidently 
dont know any better. But that's how it is, and the only way we are going to 
change it is to work on our own behavior and teach our brothers what we 

page 197 of 219 

learn. Cruising is different by gender, and those differences become very 
visible when you compare gay men's environments to lesbian orgies, and see 
how they are similar and different to hetero or bisexual groups. Gay men seem 
to feel safer with anonymous sex, and gay male cruising at baths or clubs is 
often nonverbal. One man might catch another's eye, smile, walk across the 
room, touch a shoulder and then embrace, with little or no verbal 
communication. Lesbians are more cautious, and tend to talk a great deal 
before moving into the playroom and actually getting down. 

Women in all group sex environments tend to be less open than men to 
anonymous sex, and to prefer some communication and personal connection 
first. Perhaps this is because women have had serious reasons to feel less than 
safe around sex with strangers, and need some reassurance that this is a safe 
person to play with. There are no rights and wrongs to this situation, or what 
wrong there is exists in our history, which we can't very well change. What is 
important is that everyone, male, female or transgendered, straight, bi or gay, 
has a right to feel safe in order to get free to enjoy sex. 

Establishing consent 

Consent is an absolute requirement. Naive people sometimes assume that 
when two or three or four people are already having sex, it is okay to just join 
in and start fondling somebody. Well, it isn't, because you didn't ask, and 
because you dont know what these people want, or what their limits are. So 
you might do the wrong thing, and the people you tried to join will have to 
stop whatever they are having so much fun doing to deal with you, and then 
they will be justifiably angry. At you. And how are you going to get consent 
from people in the middle of a hot fuck? Tap them on the shoulder and say, 
"Will you please stop a moment so I can ask if I can join you?" There is just 
about no way to join a sexual scene that has already started unless you are 
already lovers with all the people involved, and even then you should be 
careful. Respect for boundaries, as we have said before, is mandatory if 
everyone is going to feel safe enough to play freely and without constraint. 
Don't be the person who makes the environment unsafe. 

If you are playing at a party and someone invades your space, you are quite 

page 198 of 219 

right to tell them to move away. It is also appropriate to let your host know 
about intrusive people and pushy come-ons -party hosts develop skills to talk 
with people about appropriate behavior, explain why the etiquette is as it is, 
and if the person will not learn, the host has the power to remove that person 
from the guest list. 

Watch your expectations 

Most people approach their first group sex party with a virtual brainstorm of 
fears, fantasies and wild expectations about what might, or worse yet, might 
not happen. We strongly recommend that you get a grip on yourself, 
acknowledge that you actually dont know what is going to happen, and go to 
the party with the expectation that you will be proud of yourself if you manage 
to walk in the door. If you stay for an hour and watch, you get a gold star. If 
you manage to introduce yourself to someone and hold a conversation, give 
yourself a medal of honor. 

Going to an orgy is very challenging. Expect to be nervous. Expect to worry. 
Expect a fashion crisis, and allow at least two hours to get dressed. Many 
parties specify when doors are open, and close them at eleven or so, because 
otherwise all these nervous people will arrive after midnight, having finally 
decided to wear something, and too late to warm up for play before the party 
is over. So be easy on yourself. 

Dress to look good and be comfortable- it's bad enough to have your stomach 
churning, you dont need your shoes pinching. Go with the goal of making a 
few acquaintances and getting familiar with the scene and your reactions to it. 
If you do get inspired to play, and find someone who wants to play with you, 
that's fine, and if you dont, that's fine too. 

Couples at the orgy 

Deal with your relationship before you go to the party. This is important. Are 
you going as a couple, to show off your incredible sexiness? Are you cruising 
for thirds and fourths? Or are you going as two separate individuals, to meet 
people and share sex with them? If one of you connects with a hot number, is 

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the other welcome to join in? Do you need your partner's agreement before 
you play with anyone? Are you committed to going home together, or is it 
okay for one or the other of you to sleep out, and if both want to, what about 
the babysitter? The reason you decide all this in advance is that it is way too 
embarrassing to have a disagreement about this sort of thing in public, so if 
you do disagree, you are likely to get really angry and make a big unhappy 

Two friends of ours got locked in a disagreement about going to sex parties. 
They both wanted to go, but one wanted to go and play with the other, and the 
other wanted to play the field. What to do? Well, there are parties at least once 
a month around here, so they decided to go one month as a couple to do 
things together, and the next to support each other in separate and seriously 
intense cruising. 

We like to watch couples make love with each other at parties -you can see the 
intimacy, and how well they know each other's ways, how beautifully they fit 
together, how exquisitely orchestrated a sexual scene that has already started 
unless you are already lovers with all the people involved, and even then you 
should be careful. Respect for boundaries, as we have said before, is 
mandatory if everyone is going to feel safe enough to play freely and without 
constraint. Don't be the person who makes the environment unsafe. 

If you are playing at a party and someone invades your space, you are quite 
right to tell them to move away. It is also appropriate to let your host know 
about intrusive people and pushy come-ons -party hosts develop skills to talk 
with people about appropriate behavior, explain why the etiquette is as it is, 
and if the person will not learn, the host has the power to remove that person 
from the guest list. 

Watch your expectations 

Most people approach their first group sex party with a virtual brainstorm of 
fears, fantasies and wild expectations about what might, or worse yet, might 
not happen. We strongly recommend that you get a grip on yourself, 
acknowledge that you actually dont know what is going to happen, and go to 
the party with the expectation that you will be proud of yourself if you manage 

page 200 of 219 

to walk in the door. If you stay for an hour and watch, you get a gold star. If 
you manage to introduce yourself to someone and hold a conversation, give 
yourself a medal of honor. 

Going to an orgy is very challenging. Expect to be nervous. Expect to worry. 
Expect a fashion crisis, and allow at least two hours to get dressed. Many 
parties specify when doors are open, and close them at eleven or so, because 
otherwise all these nervous people will arrive after midnight, having finally 
decided to wear something, and too late to warm up for play before the party 
is over. So be easy on yourself. 

Dress to look good and be comfortable it's bad enough to have your stomach 
churning, you dont need your shoes pinching. Go with the goal of making a 
few acquaintances and getting familiar with the scene and your reactions to it. 
If you do get inspired to play, and find someone who wants to play with you, 
that's fine, and if you dont, that's fine too. 

Buttons and biases 

Expect to get buttons pushed. Expect to discover your biases. At a group sex 
party you will share unprecedented intimacy with a bunch of strangers, and 
sometimes that will be difficult. You might start into a three way with your 
girlfriend and another man, which seems like a hot idea but might turn out to 
push some buttons. Yeah, we know, you set out to both make love to her, but 
there you are, with another man, being sexual, and probably in physical 
contact, and how does that feel? We like to attend pan sexual group sex 
parties, which means that attendees may identify as gay or lesbian or bisexual 
or hetero or transgendered, but are generally comfortable and happy to play 
side by-side with people whose desires may be entirely different than their 
own. We are always running into issues about the unfamiliar: the lesbian who 
has never been naked in the presence of men, much less gotten fucked; the gay 
man who fears judgment from women, or violence from straight men; the 
transgendered woman who gets to wonder if that person who is so attracted to 
her knows what she's got under her skirt, and does she care, and if she cares 
what is she going to do? 

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Whatever your prejudices are- the people at this party are too old, too young, 
too male, too female, too queer, too straight, too fat, too thin, too white, too 
ethnic, whatever- it really is good for you to learn to get bigger than your 

Everything embarrassing you never thought of doing in public 

In our fantasies, we all come together as smoothly as Fred and Ginger, carried 
away by the music on a rising tide of passion- and sometimes it will be like 
that. But you probably will need to practice first, just like Fred and Ginger. 
Your erection might refuse to cooperate as you near the moment of truth, 
especially when you suddenly remember you need to put a condom on it. 
Orgasm might be more difficult to focus on in a noisy environment with an 
unfamiliar partner are you going to fake one? What if you set out to play with 
someone and you can't find your turn-on? 

A young roommate of Dossie's once wound up in bed with both her current 
and her previous lover in an unplanned episode of lust run amok. Courtesy of 
inadequate soundproofing and a good imagination, Dossie knew what was 
going on and was wondering how they were doing when Kenny, the current 
boyfriend, staggered into the kitchen. "Dossie," he pleaded, "I dont know what 
to do! Help!" She said, "Don't forget to breathe, this is not a contest, this is 
about doing what feels good." He muttered it like a mantra, "Breathe, no 
contest, feel good, breathe, no contest..." squared his shoulders and gamely 
returned to the fray. 

So if you find yourself internally panicking, we encourage you to breathe. Slow 
down. Remember that this is not a race, and you are not in a hurry. This is 
also not the Olympics, you have nothing to prove you and your new friend are 
setting out to do things that feel good with your bodies. Touch feels good. 
Stroking feels good. Taking time feels good. Slow down enough so that you 
can truly feel what you are doing. Worrying about the future will not help you 
get there: focus on what you are feeling in the present. Erections and orgasms 
might come, might go, but you can never go wrong by doing what feels good. 

The noise and hectic energy of a party can lead people to rush when slowing 

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down is the best way to connect with your turn-on. People dont get turned on 
by magic, at least not very often, or very reliably. And different people are 
turned on in very different ways. A very important kind of self-knowledge will 
come in handy at these times: know what turns you on. Whether it's biting on 
the neck or sucking on the backs of knees, when you know what gets your 
juices flowing you can ask for it, and then your play partner will know what 
turns you on, and feel freer to tell you what turns her or him on, and before 
you know it there you all are, completely turned on and floating down the 
river of unbridled lust. 

page 203 of 219 



Paradigms and pluralism 

Earlier in this book, we discussed the paradigms on which our relationships, 
and our beliefs about our relationships, are based. We also talked about the 
ways in which our vision is limited by the prevailing beliefs of our culture, and 
the ways in which those limits can prevent us from expanding our sexuality, 
our lifestyle, our families and our love. 

Monism is the belief that all processes, structures and relationships can be 
reduced to a single element, that everything can eventually be explained by 
one governing principlei3. When we ask a question, we often assume that 
there must be only one answer, and thus that if there's more than one answer 
then our task is not finished and our question not really answered. This is 
monist thinking. When we look at how we run our relationships and families, 
for example, monism leads us to believe that there is some single best way, 
some ideal marriage, and our goal is to get as close to that ideal as possible. 
Monism leads us to believe that all possibilities can be ranked on a hierarchy 
like in the old Sears catalog- good, better, best- and that only the best one 
counts. When we constantly compare our lives and our selves to a single ideal, 
and take off points for any way in which we differ from that ideal, we discount 
ourselves constantly, and we never discover our true value. 

Dualism is the theory that everything comes in pairs, like mind and body, 
black and white, or, as computers would have it, o and l. Dualists describe the 
world in terms of divisions, of barriers: between mind and body, man and 
women, straight and gay, good and bad. We often imagine that these pairs are 
opposed, like good and evil. Dualistic thinking in the form of adversarialism 
dominates our courts, our politics and our talk shows, with some crazy results: 
for instance, some people believe that anyone who enjoys sex outside of 
marriage must be attacking traditional ways of relating; our president has 

page 204 of 219 

signed the "Defense of Marriage Act." Anything that is different must be 
opposed, must be the enemy. 

Dualism may lead to the belief that you can't love more than one person, or 
that you can't love in different ways, or that you have a finite capacity for love 
that "many" must somehow be opposed to "one," or that your only options are 
"in love" and "out of love," with no allowance for different degrees or kinds of 

Pluralism is the open-ended view, the multi-valued system, that refuses the 
intellectual simplification of reducing everything down to one or two, and 
insists on seeing, and valuing, everything that there is. To the pluralist, all 
existence, and certainly each single person's life, is important- so there can be 
as many ways to be sexual as there are to be human, and all of them valid. 
There are lots of ways to relate, to love, to express gender, to form families, to 
be in the world, to be human. And all of those ways are wonderful. 

In order to unlearn monogamy and liberate our sexuality, we need to uproot 
the arbitrary limitations to our thinking and seeing that have been imposed on 
our minds by previous philosophies. When we manage to get bigger than our 
programmed judgments, we become able to see beyond: beyond worrying 
about how do we look, how's our performance, our partner's performance, our 
fantasy of our partner's other lover's performance, all our beliefs that we are 
not really okay. When we learn to transcend those conditioned responses that 
limit our actions, our thinking and our very awareness, we can free ourselves 
to be fully conscious of all the wonderful variety and diversity that there is 
right now in the world, right here, in the present, available to us. 

Thus pluralism and slut hood can become a path to transcendence, a freeing 
of the mind and spirit as well as the body, a way of being in the world that 
allows expanded awareness, spiritual growth and- not incidentally- really 
good sex. 

Slut utopia 

We believe that when we examine the issues that limit our relationships and 
our understanding of how we might be, we are essentially planning for a 

page 205 of 219 

society that is appropriate to the way many people live today that meets our 
need for change and growth while it feeds our fundamental desire for 
belonging and family. 

We believe that monogamy will continue to thrive as it always has, a perfectly 
valid choice for those who truly choose it. We dont think it's much of a choice 
when you are forbidden to choose anything else. We want to open our vision 
to accommodate monogamy as well as a plethora of other options- to plan for 
family and social structures that have growing room, that will continue to 
stretch and adapt, that we can fit to our needs into the future. We believe that 
new forms of families are evolving now, and will continue to evolve, not to 
supplant the nuclear family but to supplement it with an abundance of 
additional ideas about how you might choose to structure your family. We 
want to create a whole world of choices for sex and love, for family and 
community. We want to set you free to invent the society you want to live in. 
Our vision of Utopia has free love, in all its forms, as the foundation of our 
beliefs about reality, about possibility, about staying in the moment and 
planning the future. We believe that sexual freedom helps us to see our lives 
as they really are, with the honesty to perceive ourselves clearly and the 
fluidity to let us move onward as our needs alter, as a changing and growing 
self with changing and growing partners in a changing and growing world. 

We see ethical slut hood leading us to a world where we respect and honor 
each individual's boundaries more than we honor any preconceived set of 
rules about how their boundaries ought to be. 

And in expanding our sexual lives, we foresee the development of an advanced 
sexuality, where we can become both more natural and more human. Sex 
really is a physical expression of a whole lot of stuff that has no physical 
existence: love and joy, deep emotion, intense closeness, profound connection, 
spiritual awareness, incredibly good feelings, sometimes even ecstasy. In our 
Utopia, intellect is not a trap that we get stuck in, but an honored tool we use 
to discover and access all the parts of ourselves, and give form to our 
experience. We free our animal selves by opening our intellects to awareness 
of our bodies, and when we are no longer stuck in our intellects we become 

page 206 of 219 

more like spirit: intuitive, experiencing the joy of life for the simple sake of 
experiencing, in communion with ourselves, with each other, and beyond. 

Our favorite sex fantasy: sexual abundance 

We want everyone to be free to express love in every possible way. We want to 
create a world where everyone has plenty of what they need: 

of community, of connection, of touch and sex and love. We want our children 
to be raised in an expanded family, a connected village within urban 
alienation, where there are enough adults who love them and each other, so 
that there is plenty of love and attention and nurturance, more than enough to 
go around. We want a world where the sick and aging are cared for by people 
who love them, where resources are shared by people who care about each 

We dream of a world where no one is driven by desires they have no hope of 
fulfilling, where no one suffers from shame for their desires, or 
embarrassment about their dreams, where no one is starving from the lack of 
sex. We dream of a world where no one is limited by rules that dictate that 
they must be less of a person, and less of a sexual person, than they have the 
capacity to be. 

We dream of a world where nobody gets to vote on your life choices, or who 
you choose to love, or how you choose to express that love, except yourself and 
your lovers. We dream of a time and a place where we will all be free to 
publicly declare our love, for whoever we love, however we love them. And 
may we all look forward to a lifetime of dreams come true. 

page 207 of 219 

Chapter Notes 

1 Edna St. Vincent Millay, Collected Poems. Harper & Row, NY, no date. Edna 
is also responsible for another slut favorite: "My candle burns at both ends It 
will not last the night. But ah my foes and oh my friends It makes a lovely 

2 Warden B. Pomeroy, Dr. Kinsey and the Institute for Sex Research. 

Harper & Row Publishers, New York, 1973. Page 316. 

3 Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice. New American Library, 1988. 

4 Sigmund Freud, Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex, E.P. 

Dutton & Co." Inc." New York, 1962 (orig. 1905), p. 51. 

5 Dossie Easton & Catherine A. Liszt, The Bottoming Book: Or. How 
To Get Terrible Things Done To You By Wonderful People, 

Greenery Press, San Francisco, 1994. 

6 Wilhelm Reich, Sex/Pol. Random House, New York, 1966. 

Throughout these essays, and in The Mass Psychology of Fascism, Reich 
develops a sophisticated analysis of the role of sexual repression in enforcing 
obedience to authority in classist, capitalist and fascist societies. 

7 James Ramey, Ph.D." Intimate Friendships, Prentice Hall, 

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1976. 

8 William H. Masters, M.D." & Virginia E. Johnson, Human Sexual 

Response. Little, Brown & Co." Boston, 1966, pps. 198-201. 

9 see Bernard Zilbergeld, Ph.D." The New Male Sexuality. Bantam 

Books, New York, 1992, and Lonme Barbach, Ph.D.: For Yourself: 

The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality. New American Library, New 
York, 1991. 

10 Neil Young, "Love Is a Rose," Silver Fiddle, 1975 

page 208 of 219 

li Kahlil Ghibran, The Prophet. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1968, p. 

12 Adapted from How to Talk So Kids Wil Listen and Listen So Kids 
Will Talk. Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish, Avon Books, New York, 

13 Random House Dictionary of the English Language. Unabridged, 
Random House, New York, 1971, p. 925. 

page 209 of 219 


Dr. Deborah M. Anapol, Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits. IntiNet 
Resource Center, San Rafael, CA, 1997. 

Dr. George R. Bach and Peter Wyden: The Intimate Enemy: How to Fight Fair 
In Love and Marriage. Avon Books, New York, 1968. 

Lonnie Barbach, Ph.D.: For Each Other: Sharing Sexual Intimacy. Signet 
Books, New York, 1984. 

Lonnie Barbach, Ph.D.: For Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female 

New American Library, New York, 1991. 

Kate Bornstein: Gender Outlaw: On Men. Women and the Rest of Us. 
Routledge, New York, 1994. 

Pat Califia: Public Sex. Cleis Press, Pittsburgh, 1994. Pat Califia: Sapphistry. 
Naiad Press, Tallahassee, 1988. 

Stephanie Covington, Ph.D." Awakening Your Sexuality: A Guide for 
Recovering Women. Harper, San Francisco, 1991. 

Hayden Curry, Denis Clifford & Robin Leonard: A Legal Guide for Lesbian 
and Gay Couples. Ninth Edition, Nolo Press, Berkeley, 1996. 

Betty Dodson, Ph.D.: Sex for One. Crown Trade Paperbacks, New York, 

Sigmund Freud: Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex. E.P. Button & Co." 
Inc." 1962 (originally published in 1905). 

J. Patrick Gannon, Ph.D.: Soul Survivors: A New Beginning for Adults 
Abused As Children, Prentice-Hall, New York, 1989. 

The Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality: The Complete Guide to 

page 210 of 219 

Safe Sex. Specific Press, Beverly Hills, California, 1987. 

Greg Kettelback: Howto Make Love While Conscious: Sex and Sobriety. 
Harper, San Francisco, 1993. 

Kevin Lano and Claire Parry, editors: Breaking the Barriers to Desire: 
Polyamory. Polyfidelity and Non-monogamy- New Approaches to Multiple 
Relationships, Five Leaves Publications, Nottingham, UK, 1995. 

Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.: The Dance of Anger. Harper & Row, New 
York, 1986. 

Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.: The Dance of Intimacy. Harper & Row, New 
York, 1989. 

Dr. Harold Litten: The Joy of Solo Sex. Factor Press, Mobile, Alabama, 

1993 - 

JoAnn Loulan: Lesbian Sex. Spinsters/ Aunt Lute, San Francisco, 1984. Dr. 
Patricia Love: Hot Monogamy. Penguin, New York, 1994. 

Robert K. Moffet: Tantric Sex. Berkeley Publishing Corp." New York, 1974. 

Jack Morin, Ph.D.: The Erotic Mind. Harper Perennial, New York, 1996. 

Ryam Wearing: Loving More: The Polyfidelity Primer. Loving More 
Publishing, Boulder, CO, 1996 

Tuppy Owens: Safer Planet Sex: The Handbook. A K Press Distribution, 

Carol Queen: Exhibitionism for the Shy. Down There Press, San 
Francisco, 1995. 

James Ramey, Ph.D.: Intimate Friendships. Prentice Hall, Engle-wood 
Cliffs, New Jersey, 1976. 

Riley K. Smith, MA." and Tina B. Tessina, MA.: How to Be a Couple & Still Be 
Free. Newcastle Publishing Co." Inc." North Hollywood, CA, 1987. 

page 211 of 219 

Kenneth Ray Stubbs, Ph.D." The Sensuous Lovers' Guide, Secret Garden, 
Larkspur, CA, 1986. 

Kenneth Ray Stubbs, Ph.D." Editor. Women of the Light: The New 

Prostitute. Secret Garden, Larkspur, CA, 1984. 

Celeste West: Lesbian Polyfidelity. Booklegger Press, 1995. 

Cathy Winks & Anne Semans, The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex. Cleis 
Press, San Francisco, 1994. 

Bernard Zilbergeld, Ph.D." The New Male Sexuality. Bantam Books, New 
York, 1992. 

Sigmund Freud: Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex. E.P. Dutton & Co." 
Inc." 1962 (originally published in 1905). 

J. Patrick Gannon, Ph.D.: Soul Survivors: A New Beginning for Adults 
Abused As Children. Prentice-Hall, New York, 1989. 

The Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality: The Complete Guide to 
Safe Sex. Specific Press, Beverly Hills, California, 1987. 

Greg Kettelback: Howto Make Love While Conscious: Sex and Sobriety. 

Harper, San Francisco, 1993. 

Kevin Lano and Claire Parry, editors: Breaking the Barriers to Desire: 
Polyamory. Polyfidelity and Non-monogamy- New Approaches to Multiple 
Relationships. Five Leaves Publications, Nottingham, UK, 1995. 

Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.: The Dance of Anger. Harper & Row, New 
York, 1986. 

Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.: The Dance of Intimacy. Harper & Row, New 
York, 1989. 

Dr. Harold Litten: The Joy of Solo Sex. Factor Press, Mobile, Alabama, 

page 212 of 219 

1993 - 

JoAnn Loulan: Lesbian Sex. Spinsters/ Aunt Lute, San Francisco, 1984. Dr. 
Patricia Love: Hot Monogamy. Penguin, New York, 1994. 

Robert K. Moffet: Tantric Sex. Berkeley Publishing Corp." New York, 1974. 

Jack Morin, Ph.D.: The Erotic Mind. Harper Perennial, New York, 1996. 

Ryam Nearing: Loving More: The Polyfidelity Primer. Loving More 
Publishing, Boulder, CO, 1996 

Tuppy Owens: Safer Planet Sex: The Handbook. A K Press Distribution, 

Carol Queen: Exhibitionism for the Shy. Down There Press, San 
Francisco, 1995. 

James Ramey, Ph.D.: Intimate Friendships, Prentice Hall, Engle-wood 
Cliffs, New Jersey, 1976. 

Riley K. Smith, MA." and Tina B. Tessina, MA.: How to Be a Couple & Still Be 
Free. Newcastle Publishing Co." Inc." North Hollywood, CA, 1987. 

Kenneth Ray Stubbs, Ph.D." The Sensuous Lovers' Guide. Secret Garden, 
Larkspur, CA, 1986. 

Kenneth Ray Stubbs, Ph.D." Editor. Women of the Light: The New 

Prostitute. Secret Garden, Larkspur, CA, 1984. 

Celeste West: Lesbian Polyfidelity, Booklegger Press, 1995. 

Cathy Winks & Anne Semans, The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex, Cleis 
Press, San Francisco, 1994. 

Bernard Zilbergeld, Ph.D." The Mew Male Sexuality. Bantam Books, New 
York, 1992. 

page 213 of 219 


magazines and periodicals 

Green Egg P.O. Box 1542 Ukiah, CA 95482 

These folks also offer various books and tapes on polyamory and 
polyfidelity, and sponsor an annual conference 

Loving More 

P.O. Box 4358 
Boulder, CO 80306 

Phone/ FAX 303/543-7540 Mountain Time clubs, workshops and other 

Alt.polyamory is a medium-traffic Internet Usenet newsgroup which focuses 
specifically on issues surrounding open and non monogamous relationships. 
While the majority of posters are interested in long-term committed multi 
partner relationships, other posters represent other forms of slutdom. Its FAQ 
(Frequently Asked Questions) gets posted about once a month, or you can 
read it on the Web at Another Usenet 
group, alt.personals.poly, is a good place for personal ads if you're seeking 
partners for non-monogamous relationships or fun. 

If you're gay or lesbian, these are good places to start in your search for sluts 
interested in same-sex relationships. 

The Bob Damron Guidebook 
The Damron Company 

P.O. Box 422458 

San Francisco, CA 94142-2458 

page 214 of 219 

National Gay Yellow Pages Box 292, Village Station New York, NY 10014 

If you're bisexual, try: 

Bisexual Resource Center 
P.O. Box 639 

Cambridge, MA 02140 

(617) 338-9595 

This organization puts on a series of weekend-long intensive workshops on 
Sex, Love and Intimacy. We hear they are excellent. Human Awareness 
Institute 1720 South Amphlett Blvd." Ste. 120 San Mateo, CA 94402 (800) 

This organization offers courses, in various locations nationwide, designed 
to help men and women expand their erotic boundaries and deepen the 
connection between the sexual and the spiritual. 

Body Electric 

(510) 653-1594 

This organization offers workshops and individualized consultation on 
polamory, sexual healing, sacred sexuality and related topics. It also sells a 
variety of books, magazines and videotapes on polyamory and spirituality. 

Sacred Space Institute 

PO. Box 4322 
San Rafael, CA 94913 

(415) 507-1739 

If you are primarily heterosexual, and looking for friendly and uncommitted 
sex outside a primary relationship, the swing community may be your home. 

page 215 of 219 

These folks sponsor various events and vacations, and publish a directory of 
swing clubs worldwide. 

North American Swing Club Association (NASCA) 

P.O. Box 7128 

Buena Park, CA 90622 
(714) 229-4870 

resources that can help with problems 

Kink- Aware Professionals is a list of physicians, therapists, attorneys and 
other professionals who are open to alternative sexualities and lifestyles. E- 
mail, check their website at http://, or send a self-addressed business-sized 
envelope with two regular stamps on it to: 

Kink-Aware Professionals co Race Bannon 

584 Castro St. #518 

San Francisco, CA 94114-2500 

The National STD Hotline can answer your questions and refer you to 
resources about sexually transmitted diseases and conditions. Their toll-free 
number is (800) 227-8922. 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline can help if anyone in your 
relationship is violent or abusive. Their toll-free number is (800) 


Planned Parenthood can help you with issues surrounding birth control, 
pregnancy (wanted or unwanted), and sexually transmitted diseases and 
conditions. Call their national toll-free number at (800) 344-4435 to learn the 
location of the office nearest you. 

general resources 

This university-based organization maintains a detailed, thorough, and up-to- 

page 216 of 219 

date database of sexuality- related information. Write them, or better yet check 
their website, for good current information about resources for sluts. 

Society for Human Sexuality 

University of Washington 
SAO 141 

Box 352238 

Seattle, WA 98195 -sfpse/ 

This free switchboard is staffed on weekdays from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific 
time with trained volunteers who can answer sex related questions and 
refer you to groups which are appropriate to your needs. 

San Francisco Sex Information 

(415) 989-7374 

page 217 of 219 

Other Books from Green 


Big Big Love: A Sourcebook on Sex for People of Size and Those Who Love 

Hanne Blank $15.95 

The Bride Wore Black Leather... And He Looked Fabulous!: An Etiquette 
Guide for the Rest of Us 

Andrew Campbell $11.95 

A Hand in the Bush: The Fine Art of Vaginal Fisting 
Deborah Addington $ 13.95 

Health Care Without Shame: A Handbook for the Sexually Diverse & Their 

Charles Moser, Ph.D." M.D. $11.95 

The Lazy Crossdresser 
Charles Anders $13.95 

Look Into My Eyes: How to Use Hypnosis to Bring Out the Best in Your Sex 

Peter Masters $16.95 

Supermarket Tricks: More than 125 Ways to Improvise Good Sex 
JayWiseman $11.95 

Turning Pro: A Guide to Sex Work for the Ambitious and the Intrigued 
Magdalene Meretrix $16.95 

When Someone You Love Is Kinky 

D. Easton & CA. Liszt $15.95 

page 218 of 219 


The Bullwhip Book 
Andrew Conway $11.95 

A Charm School for Sissy Maids 

Mistress Lorelei $11.95 

The Compleat Spanker 
Lady Green $12.95 

Family Jewels: A Guide to Male Genital Play and Torment 
Hardy Haberman $12.95 

Please include $3 fat first book and $lfo handling costs, plus $iofor overseas 

page 219 of 219