More Than Two is a new, comprehensive guide to polyamory by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert. For years, Veaux has blogged about polyamory on http://www.morethantwo.com/, and the book is an outgrowth of that work.
More Than Two is divided into both sections and chapters, providing advice on multiple aspects of polyamory. After answering the question, “What is polyamory?” (forming multiple, committed, romantic and/or sexual relationships at the same time with the full consent of those involved) the book moves on to discussing communication tools, boundary-setting, and how to create empowered relationships and agreements (not rules) with multiple partners.
Veaux and Rickert explore different possibly poly formations, including pros, cons, and possible pitfalls of each. Whether a couple is opening up an existing relationship, someone who might appear single from the outside practices solo poly, or a vee (three-person) or quad (four-person) relationship forms, the authors have advice for those involved.
In addition to relationship advice and definitions of terms, each chapter contains stories based on the personal experiences of the authors or other real-life poly individuals. I was impressed by the honesty, vulnerability, and bravery necessary to speak openly about past relationship mishaps and the short-sighted actions which lead to the end of past relationships.
It is clear Veaux and Rickert have learned from experience, and we should be honored they have chosen to share that experience with us. Individuals seeking to form poly relationships don’t have access to the same role models or social support monogamous individuals do. Books like More Than Two can be seen as a means of bridging that information gap.
Any time we try to create relationships outside of traditional cultural scripts, we can expect to face problems we are unprepared to solve. But what I really appreciated about More Than Two is the authors’ insistence that all the tools necessary to be successful at poly are actually just relationship tools more generally.
Even those who choose to be monogamous (or single) could learn much from the communication and boundary-setting tools outlined in More Than Two. It’s difficult to learn to understand what we want and need from our romantic partners (or family members or friends), let alone being able to communicate that in a constructive and loving way.
Throughout the book, the authors emphasize the importance not only of communication, but trust and empathy. Veaux and Rickert stress the importance of not treating people like objects, and the necessity of valuing the people in the relationship over the relationship itself.
What people most worry about when considering polyamory is how to combat feelings of jealousy. But as Veaux and Rickert explain, jealousy most often stems from insecurity, low self-esteem, and lack of trust. It is only by learning to value our own self-worth and to trust in the love and care our partners have for us that we can combat the fear and insecurity which feed jealousy.
To do that work takes courage and a willingness to be vulnerable. But it’s worth it – again, whether or not you choose to be monogamous or polyamorous. The lessons outlined in More Than Two will help strengthen romantic relationships, but they will also help you have stronger and more intimate friendships, and a better relationship with yourself.
Perhaps my only complaint about the book is its length, but I have mixed feelings about seeing that as a negative. Comprehensive is certainly a good word to use to describe the book, however. At over 450 pages, it’s quite hefty. There is also a lot of repetition of the important themes in the book. While repetition is important to make new ideas take root, I do think the book could have been streamlined a bit more than it was before publication.
More Than Two is filled with valuable information, but I worry it would be too intimidating to someone just starting to think about exploring polyamory. I would hate for someone to think polyamory must be too complicated for them to consider if it takes a book that long and heavy to explain it. In that case, I might suggest reading The Ethical Slut first.
I do think More Than Two is a valuable resource for those just starting out in polyamory, as well as those who’ve been building polyamorous relationships for years. Reading More Than Two got me thinking about the areas where I can improve my own self-work and sense of worthiness, in order to combat the jealousy and insecurity I still sometimes feel when my partner meets someone new.
It’s hard to un-learn all the cultural scripting of monogamy, especially since it’s so deep-seated and taken for granted in our culture. It’s important to remember the polyamory is a process, not a destination. It’s something that we do, that we work towards, that we build together with those we love.
It’s also important to note that while the book does discuss solo polyamory, its focus is on couples who are considering (or have already begun) opening up an existing monogamous relationship. I understand many people come to poly that way, but for personal reasons, I wish there was more of a focus on solo polyamory in the existing literature.
The book was also somewhat heteronormative, which I suppose makes some sense. People in the LGBTQ community have been building non-traditional relationships for years without necessarily calling themselves polyamorous. Now, however, I do know many queer people who embrace the term.
The book touches on the fear some men have in letting their female partners have other boyfriends, but overall, there wasn’t the focus on alternative sexuality I would have liked to have seen from such a comprehensive guide. I feel there could have been a section dedicated to queerness, and another to BDSM, instead of just slight references to each sprinkled throughout.
I’d certainly suggest the book to anyone who wants to learn to create mutually-beneficial, ethical, empowered, intimate relationships in their lives. I would perhaps not set out to read the book from start to finish, however. Since More Than Two is such a comprehensive guide to polyamory, it might be better to pick and choose the chapters that most resonate with your current struggles first. However you choose to read it, however, I would suggest that you do. It’s well-worth the effort.
This review was originally published by The Horn on 09/17/2014.