Open

One Woman's Journey Through Love and Polyamory

Paperback

June 4, 2024 | ISBN 9780593139578

Hardcover

January 25, 2022 | ISBN 9780593139554

Ebook

January 25, 2022 | ISBN 9780593139561

About the Book

An award-winning journalist chronicles her first open relationship with “breathtaking honesty” (Los Angeles Times) in this “sexy, messy, necessary look at polyamory” (The Advocate).

FINALIST FOR THE LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: PopSugar, Them

 
When Rachel Krantz met and fell for Adam, he told her that he was looking for a committed partnership—just one that did not include monogamy. Intrigued and more than a little nervous, Krantz decided to see whether their love could coexist with the freedom to date other people. Could they strike an exquisite balance between intimacy and independence, and find a way to feel passion for each other once the honeymoon phase ended?
 
Krantz documents her dive into polyamory, from Brooklyn sex parties to swinging and beyond, in her extraordinary debut memoir. As she attempts to write a new plot for her love story with Adam, she runs up against miscommunications, gaslighting, and ancient power dynamics, and seeks solid ground in a relationship where the rules are ever-shifting. An award-winning journalist, she interviewed scientists, psychologists, and people living and loving outside the mainstream as she searched to understand what polyamory would do to her heart, her mind, and her life. 

With an unflinching eye and page-turning storytelling, Open is groundbreaking in both its documentarian approach to polyamory and its explicit subject matter. From debilitating anxiety spirals to heart-opening connections with the men and women she dates, Rachel puts her whole self on the line as she attempts to redefine what a relationship is—or could be.
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Praise for Open

Open is . . . neither a manifesto of polyamorous ideals nor an argument against it. Instead, it’s Krantz’s sincere and curious reckoning with the cultural messaging we all receive about gendered expectations and power dynamics in romantic and sexual relationships in general . . .”—NPR

“Open has all the makings of a juicy beach read—romance, sex, deception, and twists—except that it’s an ‘obsessively documented’ account, per Krantz, of her real-life open relationship.”—Vogue

“[Krantz’s] breathtaking honesty in probing the serious downsides of polyamory while eschewing outmoded patriarchal codes of morality should allow for an overdue dialogue about what makes any relationship work.”Los Angeles Times

“A sexy, messy, necessary look at polyamory.”The Advocate

“Heavily researched and incredibly vulnerable.”—Shondaland

“Generous and fearless . .  . Open is an insightful and compassionate reminder that nonmonogamy—like any other intimate relationship—is only as viable as the humans involved make it.”Bitch

Open is a smart, original, ambitious, and deeply absorbing memoir, in part because Krantz wants no less than to help us rethink the concepts of love, sex, and power as we know them. She succeeds by bringing us deftly and irresistibly into her most intimate pains and joys, stretching our understanding of what commitment and autonomy mean.”—Dr. Wednesday Martin, author of Untrue and Primates of Park Avenue

“Seamlessly shifting from a critique of evolutionary biology to the first touch of his hand on her thigh, this polyamorous coming-of-age story crackles with equal parts erotic energy and searching commentary. A perfect guide to our new world, the only problem I had picking up this book was putting it back down.”—Terrence Real, bestselling author of Us: Getting Past You and Me to Build a More Loving Relationship

“Krantz offers an unflinchingly honest account of the highs and lows of non-monogamous relationships, beautifully illustrating the ways that opening up one’s relationship can offer tremendous freedom and painful imprisonment.”—Lux Alptraum, author of Faking It: The Lies Women Tell About Sex —And the Truths They Reveal

“I stayed up all night reading this book, and when I was done, I felt I’d lived another life. Open investigates what we hope for from our romantic partners and how eschewing conventions might help us attain those things—and the pitfalls we might face if we choose a less traditional path.”—Cara Blue Adams, author of You Never Get It Back

Open is a feat of tremendous candor and vulnerability, and to call it unputdownable would be an understatement.”—Liv Stratman, author of Cheat Day

“Titillating . . . Krantz sweeps readers into a narrative that seduces and educates in equal measure . . . [Open] offers an alluring and insightful look at a life lived outside of conventional structures.”—Publishers Weekly
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Excerpt

Open

Once Upon a Time, a Solitary Maiden Believed Only Somewhat Ironically in Being Rescued . . .


6/8/14

Rachel Journal Entry


Age 26

I let her convince me to have half a carafe but no more because I knew it would lead me to cheating on Dan. . . . I would have slept with a woman last night if not for him. . . . I feel resentful of not being able to.

8/3/14

Journal Entry


I’m waiting for someone to come find me. I believe in being rescued.


2/20/15

brooklyn, ny


“Here,” I said, presenting the bouquet in a casual thrust. “I brought you flowers.”

“You brought me flowers?” I’d managed to disarm him, if only for a moment. I hoped the flowers would send a message: I might be twenty-­seven to his thirty-eight, but I was not prey. And I had on the adult-­lady-­dress I’d found in a giveaway box to prove it.

“Men deserve flowers, too, you know,” I said, as if the idea hadn’t occurred to me an hour ago.

“Well, thanks. I don’t think that’s ever happened before.” Adam’s smile had a slight downward turn to it, amused in a wringed way. It was satisfying to squeeze it out of him. “I think I have a vase here somewhere. . . .” I noted his back muscles through his plain white T-­shirt as he reached for further proof of his civilized life. Jazz played, and I padded my stockinged feet on his spotless wooden floors as he caramelized onions. I admired titles in English and German, picked books up and put them down like a toddler-­cum-­anthropologist. I noted the extensive Philip Roth section, The Professor of Desire nestled between Letting Go and The Prague Orgy, the obvious fondness for Updike, Jung, Lacan, Heidegger, Yeats, Freud, and . . . Edith Wharton? At least I’ve read all the Diaz and Lahiri. I’d just broken up with Dan, a guy with neither curtains nor more than ten books—­let alone a clean vase. This is progress.

Adam and I stood together in a comfortable yet sexually tense silence as he cooked.

“You know, I think the Groupon massage therapist I’ve been seeing might be molesting me?” F***, why did you just say that? I could blame the hit of dried-­out herb I’d had before I came, but it was more than that. There was something about Adam that was like going to Jewish confession—kneeling felt imminent.

“Uh, what?” His eyebrows furrowed with concern.

“Well, he tells me to get naked, and each session he sort of inches closer and closer to my pussy. Brushing its sides and occasionally over it, but never fingering me or anything. Telling me to breathe deeply over and over in this pretty sexual way, kind of moaning to demonstrate . . .” Ironically, I’d treated myself to the Groupon package in the hopes that it would help me avoid making romantic decisions based solely on a hunger for touch; an investment I hoped would pay dividends tonight. “Maybe I’m imagining it? Or I’m giving him the feeling I’m into it, you know? Which in a way I am, until he pushes it too far and I keep pulling away, but then he just does it again . . .” Why are you telling him this? “I don’t know, what do you think?”

“I think it sounds like you need a new masseur.” Adam had a definitive way of closing conversations I already found comforting.

Dinner was skillfully done, but watching him lick rolling paper for dessert was my preferred pornography. His academic research, he told me as I inhaled, was mainly about the psychology of romantic and sexual desire—­specifically, the importance of triangulation.

“Like, there being three people?” I asked.

“Often, yes. It’s one of the most common stories, the love triangle. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Lolita, The Age of Innocence . . .” Twilight, I mentally added. The Hunger Games. “But triangulation is also sometimes just an outside obstacle, maybe not even a person. A war, or distance.”

“I wonder if that’s one subconscious reason people have children,” I tried. “To create a safer form of triangulation than another lover, a constant obstacle to being alone together.”

“Desire can be understood as a feeling of lack,” he said, nodding professorially. “If we believe we have someone in every single way, we usually cease to want them sexually.”

“Seems accurate, but a little sad too, no?”

“No, it’s not. It’s like physics. Knowing how things work only makes them more beautiful.” He held my gaze with meaning. “I study what’s most important to me. How I might maintain desire. Not just for me, but for my long-­term partner.” I nodded, lesson absorbed. I had to admit, I could hardly imagine a topic I’d rather a lover devote their life to studying. My legs were tucked sidesaddle on his wonderfully clean couch. He paused to acknowledge the flesh encased in black tights. “Since your feet are right here and you mentioned earlier you like massage, I’d be happy to work on them for you.” Bold move after my story, and kind of a tone-­deaf one? But, I mean, does sound nice . . . just do what you want to do, but don’t think that means you owe him anything. You’re a grown woman tonight. I’d promised myself that this evening was about ushering in a new era of Adult Dating. I would no longer feel I owed a certain debt if I received “too much,” or placed myself “too deep” into a situation. I would do whatever I wanted and nothing more (or less?)—without judgment.

“Okay, sure. Why not,” I said, offering my legs toward him like a second bouquet of flower stems.

Adam’s touch was subtle, consistent, and sure. An exercise in paying attention to what I wanted and taking not a centimeter more, promising me something attuned, patient, giving. His voice deep and at moments gravelly, his highly grabbable biceps flexing as he continued to steer our conversation, my body the clutch. He had a focus more intense than any I’d felt directed at me before. Not even by a therapist, much less a man I found sexy. As he massaged, he kept asking more and more questions, interviewing me as he had on our first date. It was as if he had to get down to the root of me deeply, thoroughly, urgently. Like there was no more pressing subject.

About the Author

Rachel Krantz
Rachel Krantz is a journalist and one of the founding editors of Bustle, where she served as senior features editor for three years. Her work has been featured on NPR, The Guardian, Vox, Vice, and many other outlets. She’s the recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Investigative Reporters and Editors Radio Award, the Edward R. Murrow Award, and the Peabody Award for her work as an investigative reporter with YR Media. Open is her first book. More by Rachel Krantz
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