Polywise: A Deeper Dive into Navigating Open Relationships
Jessica Fern with David Cooley, with a foreword by Carrie Jenkins
Publication Date: August 25, 2023
Formats: Trade paperback, Kindle, ePub, PDF
ISBN: 978-1-990869-14-3 (paperback); 978-1-990869-15-0 (ePub; Kindle; PDF)
Price: US $24.95 / CAD $33.95 (paperback); US $11.99 / CAD $15.99 (e-book)
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As polyamory continues to make its way into the mainstream, more and more people are exploring consensual nonmonogamy in the hope of experiencing more love, connection, sex, freedom and support. While for many, the move expands personal horizons, for others, the transition can be challenging, leaving them blindsided and overwhelmed. Beyond the initial transition to nonmonogamy, many struggle with the root issues beneath the symptoms of broken agreements, communication challenges, increased fighting and persistent jealousy.
Polyamorous psychotherapist Jessica Fern and restorative justice facilitator David Cooley share the insights they have gained through thousands of hours working with clients in consensually nonmonogamous relationships. Using a grounded theory approach, they explore the underlying challenges that nonmonogamous individuals and partners can experience after their first steps, offering practical strategies for transforming them into opportunities for new levels of clarity and intimacy.
Polywise provides both the conceptual framework to better understand the shift from monogamy to nonmonogamy and the tools to navigate the next steps, allowing you to not just survive in open relationships, but thrive in them.
Jessica Fern is a psychotherapist, public speaker and trauma and relationship expert. In her international private practice, Jessica works with individuals, couples and people in multiple-partner relationships who no longer want to be limited by their reactive patterns, cultural conditioning, insecure attachment styles and past traumas, helping them to embody new possibilities in life and love.
Jessica’s first book, Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma and Consensual Nonmonogamy, was published by Thornapple Press in October 2020, and The Polysecure Workbook: Healing Your Attachment and Creating Security in Loving Relationships was released in November 2022.
David Cooley is a professional Resorative Justice faciliitator, diversity and privilege awareness trainer and biligual cultural broker. He is the creator of the Restorative Relationships Conversations model, a process that transforms interpersonal conflict into deeper connection, intimacy and repair. In his private practice, David specializes in working with non-monogamous and LGBTQ partnerships, incorporating a variety of modalities including trauma-informed care, attachment theory, somatic practices, narrative theory, and mindfulness-based techniques.
“In her latest book, Jessica Fern has crafted the map to guide readers and lovers venturing into the uncharted. With great care and necessary nuance, Polywise is a must-read for anyone navigating open relationships."
“Polywise emphasizes transitions—whether from monogamy to nonmonogamy, or from one form of nonmonogamy to another. It is these transitional periods that can easily reveal the grinding mechanisms behind the scenes, and the cracks in a relationship’s infrastructure. This is where many of us need the most help, and so Polywise goes straight to the heart of the matter, offering balms for healing and genuinely feasible strategies for making these things…not painless, perhaps, but hopefully a little kinder to all involved, and certainly survivable.
As I read, I found myself particularly inspired by the collaborative spirit of Polywise, incorporating as it does several sections written by David Cooley, with whom Fern has been “classmates, friends, lovers, husband and wife, co-parents, ex-husband and ex-wife, family of choice, housemates, life partners and now, even co-authors.” The book’s very existence is tangible proof of the general fact that relationship transitions need not be losses. More generally, you can feel in these pages the accumulated practical wisdom that comes from seeking emergent patterns in the data, rather than simply imposing pre- conceived ideas. And Fern’s data are, in a sense, us, the nonmonogamous: this is a book about our real lives and real loves, as represented in the kinds of challenges that came up repeatedly for her non-monogamous clients and interviewees.
The practical and the theoretical are integrated seamlessly in this book, just like in real life. Many of us will be visiting the wisdom of Polywise over and over again as our relationships grow and change, like the living things they are."
—Carrie Jenkins, professor of philosophy at the University of British Columbia and the author of What Love Is (and What it Could Be) and Sad Love: Romance and the Search for Meaning, and Nonmonogamy and Happiness.
“As someone who’s experienced a multitude of relationship transitions throughout the course of my life, I found Polywise to be incredibly profound. This book moves past the polyamory 101 manual into graduate-level territory. It’s an exceptional achievement that will be required reading for anyone practicing consensual nonmonogamy, from seasoned veteran to timid newbie alike.”
—Emily Sotelo Matlack, co-host of the Multiamory Podcast and co-author of Multiamory: Essential Tools for Modern Relationships
“So often advice about nonmongamy feels like it is addressing the visible issues at hand—jealousy, boundaries, communication, etc—so relationships can survive. In Polywise, Jessica Fern and David Cooley help readers understand the often unseen root causes of those symptoms and give them the strategies they need so their relationships can actually thrive."
—JoEllen Notte, author of The Monster Under the Bed: Sex, Depression, and the Conversations We Aren’t Having and In It Together: Navigating Depression with Partners, Friends, and Family
“Jessica Fern is a genius and she is really rocking our (poly) world! Most of us are thrilled if we can manage the logistical and emotional challenges of polyamory without murder or mayhem. We are content to ‘make polyamory work’ in our lives and keep ourselves and our partners reasonably happy. Jessica is taking us far beyond that to a much deeper level of understanding of our psyches and the underpinnings of our relationship dynamics. She and her co-conspirator David Cooley have bared their souls about the evolution of their own poly lives and relationships, as well as sharing countless illuminating stories about their clients' struggles. They have truly pulled back the curtain to expose the real truth of how things can go so horribly awry, and exactly why poly relationships can so often spiral down into Poly Hell.
There were many times when I wanted to stop reading, because I wasn't sure if I really wanted this level of brutal honesty. This is truly Poly 4.0, and it may be too much for a mere mortal like myself to ever become this highly evolved as a human being and as a relationship partner. But if I decide I am up to the challenge, Jessica has given me a roadmap to get there. Required reading and a must-have for your poly bookshelf!”
—Kathy Labriola, counselor, nurse, and author of The Polyamory Breakup Book
"This book is thorough! There were so many useful tools, concepts, exercises, and prompts for personal inquiry that anyone who reads it can walk away with something they can apply to level up their nonmonogamous journey. And on a personal note, reading the stories from Jessica and her former-spouse-turned-co-author Dave was particularly poignant for me as someone currently separating from my spouse, whom I entered nonmonogamy with. Their compassionate and honest reflections on their relationship with one another were healing for me. I often say there's being polyamorous and then there's being polyamorous well. I believe Polywise can equip you to do just that."
—Evita Sawyers, author of A Polyamory Devotional
“In Polywise’s expansive and eye-opening exploration of the possibilities of nonmonogamous life, Jessica Fern invites us to examine our individual and societal beliefs about love and offers an indispensable guide for newly opened couples’ transitions to their next chapter. If you are ready to think more deeply about communication, codependency, conflict, and repair in your most important relationships, Polywise is required reading. I am looking forward to recommending this guide to clients and students.”
—Alexandra H. Solomon, PhD, author of Love Every Day and host of Reimagining Love