In Love and Freedom, Jorge Ferrer proposes a paradigm shift in how romantic relationships are conceptualized, a step forward in the evolution of modern relationships. In the same way that the transgender movement surmounted the gender binary, Ferrer defines how a parallel step can—and should—be taken with the relational style binary. This book offers the first systematic discussion of relationship modes beyond monogamy and polyamory, as well as introduces the notion of “relational freedom” as the capability to choose one’s relational style free from biological, psychological, and sociocultural conditionings.
To achieve these goals, Ferrer first discusses a number of critical categories—specifically, monopride/polyphobia, and polypride/monophobia—that mediate the contemporary “mono–poly wars,” that is, the predicament of mutual competition among monogamists and polyamorists. The ideological nature of these “mono–poly wars” is demonstrated through a review of available empirical literature on the psychological health and relationship quality of monogamous and polyamorous individuals and couples. Then, after showing how monogamy and polyamory ultimately reinforce each other, Ferrer articulates three relational pathways to living in-between, through, and beyond the mono/poly binary: fluidity, hybridity, and transcendence. Moving beyond that binary opens a fuzzy, liminal, and multivocal relational space that Ferrer calls novogamy.
In this groundbreaking book, readers will learn practical tools to not only transform jealousy, but also enhance their relational freedom while being aware of key issues of diversity and social justice. They will also learn novel criteria to evaluate the success of their intimate relationships, and be introduced to a transformed vision of romantic love beyond both monocentrism and emerging polynormativities.
Jorge N. Ferrer is a clinical psychologist, author, and educator. He was a professor of psychology for more than 20 years at California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, where he also served as chair of the Department of East–West Psychology. He has published several books and many articles on psychology, education, and religious studies, and his work on alternative intimate relationships has been featured in journals such as Sexuality and Culture and Psychology and Sexuality. Ferrer was an advisor to the Religions for Peace organization at the United Nations.
1 Relational Freedom and the Crisis of Modern Relationships
2 Mononormativity, Polypride, and the “Mono–Poly Wars”
3 Sympathetic Joy: Beyond Jealousy, Toward Relational Freedom
4 The Dawn of Transbinary Relationships
5 Relational Freedom and the Transformation of Intimate Relationships
Coda: After Covid-19
Appendix I: Ten Theses on Relationships Styles
Appendix II: The Alpha Male versus the Omega Man
Jorge N. Ferrer's Love and Freedom is a powerful, thought-provoking book, and a very welcome addition to the literature on consensual non-monogamy, and relationships more broadly. Written in a highly engaging and well-informed style, this book contains much of interest to the academic reader while being accessible to activists and general readers as well. Ferrer provides a timely overview on the relationship literature and the ways in which monogamy and polyamory have generally been framed, before heading into binary-busting territory. The divisions between monogamy and non-monogamy, jealousy and compersion, and love and freedom themselves, are all opened up for enjoyable and important exploration and challenge. Drawing on theory and research from biological science through Buddhist philosophy, Ferrer suggests ways in which we could all occupy more fluid and transbinary positions in relation to love, engage in contemplative practices in order to experience love differently, and cultivate relationships which enable both interconnectedness and personal freedom.
Like previous groundbreaking works that have suggested a blurring of established and cherished identity categories, Jorge N. Ferrer’s Love and Freedom boldly introduces the notion of “relational freedom” into the collective consciousness. The central premise of this book is refreshing: the idea that style of connection—monogamous, polyamorous, even asexual or aromantic—might not be fixed or essential personality categories, but rather stops along a long, personal road, perhaps even (for some) facets of more complicated orientations (e.g., monogamish, ambisexual, or Ferrer’s proposed frame of the fuzzy, liminal, queered relational space of “novogamy”). This provocative volume cuts across multiple politics and investments in a way that might cause both monogamous and non-monogamous alike to clutch their pearls, and for that alone it is worth the read.
I read this book with a sigh of relief and renewed energy that the study and living of consensual non-monogamies is not heading down the monogamist track of binary, division, fixity, and hierarchy. All too soon social movements meant to enlarge and embrace fluidity and possibility in our intimate lives may become entrenched in having to pick a new term for one’s relationship and stick to it for life. We know where that too often ends up for too many relationships in coerced monogamy, and we don’t want to repeat that in the exploration of relationship diversity across the lifespan, place, and contexts. Bring on what Jorge N. Ferrer calls ‘novogamy,’ with its freedoms and ethics, its possibilities and care!
The title of the book says it all: Love and Freedom. Too often we equate freedom with being free from the constraints and responsibilities of love. It’s either love or freedom. Ferrer offers a way to have it all—love and freedom no matter what kind of relationships you want or have. For those of you who are perhaps curious about but not familiar with polyamory, consensual non-monogamy, or the “mono-poly wars,” this book offers a cogent and thorough explanation of all those things and more. More important, if you have never given polyamory a second thought or if you’ve been polyamorous your entire life you will find much in this book that both challenges and inspires.
Jorge Ferrer brings a highly creative and original mind into psychology and spirituality going back 20 years to his Revisioning Transpersonal Theory, which I reviewed at the time, and his more recent essays on Participation and the Mystery. He addresses the whole nature and future of intimate relationships from an extensive knowledge of background literature with over 40 pages of references as well as copious notes at the end of each chapter. How best to allow sufficient freedom within love is a key personal issue for all of us, one which has certainly engaged me and forms a context for the Love School at the Tamera community. (www.tamera.org) It is very clear as a culture that we are going through an upheaval in traditional ways of relating. Jorge asks the question: ‘what if, rather than trying to conform to outmoded or inadequate relational structures, people boldly cocreate intimate lives more attuned to their essential dispositions, changing needs and deepest desires?’
Love and Freedom is a valuable book to diverse audiences—scholars, therapists, health professionals, and the general public. In a style unique to Ferrer, it blends a rigorous, well-informed academic voice with a compassionate, nuanced, and personal tone that makes the text readable to non-academics. The original and visionary content of this book ensures that it will become foundational to the development of many new avenues of theory and conversation in the transpersonal field and beyond.