Recent Poly Books, 3:
● Polyamory in the 21st Century: Love and Intimacy with Multiple Partners by Deborah Anapol, and
● What Does Polyamory Look Like? Polydiverse Patterns of Loving and Living in Modern Polyamorous Relationships by Mim Chapman.
The others are:
● Love Unlimited: The Joys and Challenges of Open Relationships, by Leonie Linssen and Stephan Wik,
● Swinging in America: Love, Sex and Marriage in the 21st Century, by Curtis R. Bergstrand and Jennifer Blevins Sinski,
● Love in Abundance: A Counselor's Guide to Open Relationships, by Kathy Labriola, and
● The Art and Etiquette of Polyamory: A Hands-on Guide to Open Sexual Relationships, by Françoise Simpère.
Let's take a look at the next on this list:
Love Unlimited: The Joys and Challenges of Open Relationships, by Leonie Linssen and Stephan Wik. Findhorn Press, 2010.
Leonie Linssen is a relationship coach in the Netherlands, bi and poly herself, who specializes in clients with multi-relationship situations. She has counseled hundreds of people, and certain repeating themes stand out. Love Unlimited, coauthored with Stephan Wik (translated from their Dutch edition) presents the detailed stories of 12 representative individuals, couples, and groups who came to her with multi-love problems. Each gets a chapter, following how Linssen and her clients examined situations and worked toward resolutions.
Each chapter ends with a list of questions you might ask yourself in similar situations, and tips for progressing on a particular problem highlighted. Wik adds sections looking at larger philosophical, historical, or spiritual aspects of the topics that have been raised.
A Special Calling
Linssen found her way to her counseling role late. "I grew up in a small Dutch village with an upbringing based on monogamy, strict rules, and the Catholic faith," she writes. As a result, "My childhood concepts of love and relationships were rather romantic and bore no relationship to who I actually was." Not until age 40 did she face up to her bisexual and poly nature and start consciously constructing her life.
"Someone who wants to live a life based on true personal authenticity first has to have the courage to be who he or she really is," she continues. "For many of us, this is an in-depth process that first involves discovering how to come in contact with our own inner source of truth, our own being." Her own transformation was so powerful and difficult "that I decided I would like to share my experiences and, if possible, be of service to others grappling with the same issues."
So she went back to school, earned a degree in counseling, and in 2005 opened her own coaching practice, Verander je Wereld ("Change your World"). She is now a pioneer in poly coaching in the Netherlands and has made many media appearances.
The case studies come from both avant-garde and mainstream society. They include a women seeking to make a successful poly-and-single life for herself with her several very different lovers; a conventional woman in a conventional marriage confused and devastated by falling in love with someone else; couples recovering from cheating; a married woman attracted to other women whose husband disapproves; a couple opening their marriage together; two couples investigating swinging together and perhaps more; a mono-poly couple breaking up; an otherwise fine marriage that has gone sexless, with a possible agreement for one spouse to go outside for sex; and a full, three-way poly triad seeking to construct their pioneering way of life.
In each case Linssen is careful to put her clients' interests ahead of her assumptions or agendas. For instance, a woman with a conservative Christian husband ultimately decides to put aside her unexpected love for another and to cleave to her husband and the way of life she has sworn herself to. Linssen helps guide her to resolution in making this choice.
Each case study is presented at length, possibly more length than you'd like unless you're really interested in people. But that's who the book is for especially those who face similar problems in their own lives, and especially other therapists who want to see how a variety of poly and extramarital situations can be handled in a non-judgmental way based on the clients' own wishes, needs, and values.
Anyone can benefit by considering the self-examinations and exercises suggested at the end of each chapter. Examples are the "see it through my eyes" exercise, tips for developing autonomy, tips for setting boundaries, making clear agreements, active listening, recognizing codependence, and developing an effective complementary sexual relationship even with different desires and needs. And some of the characters portrayed along the way may stick with you forever.
You can read the (very detailed) table of contents and more of the book online.
Here are some audio interviews about the book that Linssen did in the U.S. (with Monika Thomas and Susan Block) and in the U.K. (with Mike Vitalis and Julia Armstrong).
She and the book have appeared in many more articles, radio, and TV reports in the Netherlands; for links see the entire right-hand sidebar here.