Notes and paraphrases from "The Ethical Slut" by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy

Pretty helpful book for me, the first and only I've read about non-monogamous relationships so far. It didn't make assumptions about how much experience I had—very gentle yet quite a spectrum discussed.

Tools and perspectives not only for relationships, but also managing emotions, finding strength in vulnerability, being a better listener. Some notes may have been mixed up with related personal reflections, but that's probably why you're here.


[Everyone around you gets permission to be open with their vulnerable feelings when you have the courage to be open about yours.]

I ask for whatever I want, and say no to whatever I don't.

I turn difficulties into opportunities for growth.


[It's like learning to ride a bicycle: maybe strange and awkward at first, maybe you will fall down a lot, but once you find your balance it feels great, and you never forget.]

[You can't learn from your mistakes if you're always right.]

[When you find yourself blaming someone, ask if there are feelings of yours that you need to claim ownership of.]

[Practice flirting by pretending with a willing friend]


[Use jealousy as a signpost: "Work on this feeling right here!"]

[Try to learn without trashing yourself for not already knowing.]

[It may not be possible to eradicate jealousy from your system, but you can change the way you experience it and disempower the emotion.]

[Feelings like to be listened to.]

[Emotions are not 'wrong' or 'right': they are expressions of truth only need to be felt, not justified.]

[Have the strength to acknowledge what you are afraid of; the images in your mind are clues to what those fears are.]

[Silly is the opposite of powerful.]

This time I listened, without interrupting, trying only to let her know that I love her, I feel her pain, I am here for her. She is furious with me, and I am not giving myself permission to defend myself, and I hurt.

When our partners come home from hot dates, they are often excited and turned on and have some new ideas they would like to try out at home. [Nothing to lose] in this situation.


[Emotion is not an opinion, it is a truth about someone's experience.]

[Feelings like to be heard and validated, not analyzed and explained.]

In some Native American cultures it is customary to wait several minutes after a person speaks before responding: it is rude and disrespectful to fail to think about what the person has said


[We need to feel sure that the needs we reveal will not be held against us.]

[Eight steps to win-win conflict resolution: 1) Take time to vent anger. 2) Pick one issue. 3) Make an appointment to talk. 4) Take three minutes for each person to express feelings with "I-statements" and without "you-messages"; focus on emotions and maybe take time between each session. 5) Brainstorm a list of solutions. 6) Remove any that can't be accepted by one of you. 7) Pick a solution for a specified period like two to four weeks. 8) Re-evaluate when the time is up.]

[Between "full agreement" and "no agreement", there is a spectrum that includes "no agreement yet" or "tolerable disagreement" or "who cares?".]

[Expect that some agreements may not work or may require change.]

[Anger can indicate what is important to someone.]


[When a relationship goal seems too large, split it into smaller steps, order by difficulty, and always take the easiest step.]


[Open up a controversy, discuss it for a short pre-determined amount of time, then find a way to close it until next time.]


[Look at random people and try to imagine: what is their lover's favourite thing about them? What makes them loveable or lustworthy? Do this especially with people you wouldn't normally consider in that way.]


My lady would like you to have her phone number.


[A lifelong commitment to yourself.]

[The relationship, not either of the people, is the client, and needs counsel.]

[Invent agreements for right after the breakup, for six weeks later, for six months later.]

[Put aside future tripping: will this lead to sex? Who cares? The two of you are in the moment, feeling your feet.]

[Sexiness is about how you feel, not how you look.]

[Sexually successful people masturbate.]

[Try masturbating simultaneously with your lover in the same room, it could be a turn on or a way to learn their patterns of pleasure.]


[Transform from seeing everything in pairs to multiples.]

[Intellect is not a trap but a tool.]

[Openheartedness: Greeting the world with compassion and without defensiveness; opening yourself to whatever love or connection life offers you.]

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