The Book MY Younger Self Could’ve Used in My First Poly Relationship

(Book review #4 – original post @ Cannonball Read 8…I’m a little behind in my blogging because of work and life, but here’s another review!)

Well, hell. This was a deceptive little book. It looks pretty slim and comes in at a scant 140 pages, which, I mean…after reading the unabridged Les Miserablès is downright tiny. And this is also a companion to a different book, The Husband Swap, but the same author which recounts her experience in polyamory and in a quad where she eventually wound up swapping husbands with another woman, but not before lots of heartache and personal growth. Which, for anyone familiar with polyamory, is…pretty much how it all goes down. There’s always at least one relationship that…transforms you. That breaks you open from the inside and changes everything you thought you knew about love, family, friendship, mental and emotional health, your own limits, and so much more.

My own experience with this kind of relationship was very similar to Louisa’s except I didn’t have someone to swap to. This may seem strange but it’s true. Her lessons and mistakes ran very parallel to my own and I’ve found myself looking back in a different way. With a little more understanding and a lot more peace. It’s helping me forgive myself for decisions I made that I sometimes wish I hadn’t.

I’m fond of the way she set up this book. Each chapter opens with as short excerpt from The Husband Swap, followed by two pages of the lessons she wants to teach her “younger self”. Right after that is the distilled version of the lesson, all pithy and quotable. The last four pages of the book are all the lessons listed in order, making referencing even easier.

One of my favorites was this one, which has taken me years to get to:

4. Be careful that the rules you make around your relationship aren’t an effort to push the emotional risk onto other people. You do not have the right to control others’ actions, only your own. You can and must express your own needs. But it’s up to you to seek partners who choose to do the things that help you feel loved, rather than making rules that they must do so.

It’s so much easier to make rules for other people. Or at least it used to. It was a way for them to “prove” their love. To “protect” my primacy. To give me a false sense of security. Now I’m much better at being comfortable with my partners figuring out how they want their other relationships to look and progress, and likewise have found people who feel the same. This was virtually impossible to imagine five years ago when I was still in my previous marriage. But then again, I wasn’t always good with change or imaging a future without the relationships I was in. I could’ve used lesson 17 back then, too:

17. Everything changes, and change is easier when you embrace it. You will get through it, and you might even fly like you never have before.

I’m working on embracing change. And that flying part. There are times when I catch wind and soar and it’s incredibly exhilarating.

However, I do have a confession to make. I’ve never read The Husband Swap. For some reason, this book called to me more than that one did and I feel like, while a companion guide, it stands alone quite well. The story was distilled into bite-size, easy to digest chunks and the lessons were swift and concise. Very grateful to have this book in my poly library.

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