Some recommended books on growth and communication
Cascade Spring Cook and Zhahai Spring Stewart
Terrence Real: The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Know to Make Love Work. Terry Real talks about Relationship Empowerment - learning how to act in ways that create authentic intimacy and help you empower each other to step into the full abundance of your own power. This is a wonderful entertaining and practical book on how to create great relationships. Currently my favorite book on relationships. Read more
Mark Michael Lewis: RelationDancing: Consciously Creating What You Really Want in Your Relating. Mark Michael Lewis dissects the cultural expectation of Monogamy, Marriage, Kids and Eternal Soulmate, and explains how we can create a dance that meets our needs. Instead of sacrificing our values for the sake of a relationship, we can create a form of relating that reflects and supports our values. He mentions polyamory as one of the paths that people choose to take.
Kelly Bryson: Don't Be Nice, Be Real: Balancing Passion for Self with Compassion for Others.A delightful explanation of NonViolent Communication that promotes a healthy selfishness that helps us stay in touch with our needs and desires. Kelly Bryson helps us aim for self-liberation rather than self-motivation. He says that true freedom is not based on owning anything, but on "a joyful flow of connectedness, peace and creativity within one's community." His personal stories make the book very lively. Polyamory is mentioned in passing.
Jett Psaris and Marlena S. Lyons: Undefended Love. Psaris and Lyons write that intimacy is a reflection of our natural state when our hearts are undefended and available. They discuss our limiting beliefs and our cracked identities, and how to get back in touch with our essential selves. They distinguish between intimacy and closeness; sometimes we have to risk closeness to achieve intimacy. They emphasize self-inquiry and using our feelings to learn more about ourselves.
Harriet Lerner: The Dance of Anger; The Dance of Intimacy; The Dance of Deception; The Dance of Connection. While these books are written especially for women, they have useful information for everyone. They discuss how to stand up for yourself in intimate relationships, and how to come from a place of honesty and integrity. While you can't control the reactions of others, choosing your own responses will change your relationships.
David Schnarch: Passionate Marriage (also published as Passionate Couples). This is about committed relationships as a source of growth, and using the natural problems and tensions within them to move to greater intimacy and intense sexuality. If you overlook Schnarch's focus on monogamy, his basic concepts are highly applicable to polyamory.
Marshall B. Rosenberg: Nonviolent Communication: a Language of Compassion. This is an explanation of deep listening, with a emphasis on observations, feelings, needs and requests to help us focus attention so that we're better able to give and receive from the heart. We also recommend NVC workshops.
Suzette Haden Elgin: You Can't Say That to Me! Stopping the Pain of Verbal Abuse (and other works). This analyses the way statements can be or appear to be abusive (often because of emphasis rather than the specific words), and describes how one can respond to defuse the situation and not get caught in escalating tensions.
Susan Campball: Getting Real. The more we can express our feelings directly, as our feelings rather than making them about the other person, the easier our communications become. This book is an excellent primer on how to express our feelings and then let them go, on how to be real in the moment.
Terrence Real: How Can I Get Through to You? Closing the Intimacy Gap Between Men and Women. Terry Real explains how our culture has created the difficulties that men and women have in communicating by alienating us all (in different ways) from our natural ability to be intimate with others. He explains how to heal from this with chapters such as "Intimacy as a daily practice," as well as an explanation of the basic interpersonal skills.
Gary Chapman: The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Gary Chapman discovered that people have different ways that they take in love, and fill their "emotional love tanks." He has grouped them into five languages: Words of Affirmation; Quality Time; Receiving Gifts; Acts of Service; and Physical Touch. He explains how to interact with our partner in the love language that he or she understands so our relationship can thrive.
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