UPDATE May 3, 2020: Interestingly enough, I have a new reason to dislike Franklin Veaux. The Franklin Veaux Survivors “are a group of women and nonbinary folks who have experienced relational harm from Franklin Veaux, a man who has been recognized as a leader and spokesperson in polyamory and has a pattern of using his social capital to cause harm. This site holds [their] stories.” I highly recommend reading their stories. I no longer recommend purchasing this book.
I hate Franklin Veaux.
Now, now I know that people are going to bristle at that, but bear with me here. The co-author of More Than Two: A practical guide to ethical polyamory, a book I absolutely adored, (and highly recommend to those who are new to poly) is a jerk. You are asking me why, I can hear you shiver with antici-
I hate Franklin Veaux because he made me cry. Not just cry, he made me weep.
When Jon and I first started dating, I told him pretty explicitly that I wasn’t very good at monogamy. I told him all the things that could happen. All the ways I was going to break his heart. He was still good with it. He still wanted me. He still loved me. When I told him I didn’t know what to do, because I loved him desperately, but I was still in love with my best friend. I didn’t know what to do, and I was distraught. By the time we had opened things again, we had been together for less than a year. I was entirely sure I wanted to be with him long-term, but I had entered into the relationship thinking that my non-monogamous ways would be cured by being in a “real” relationship.
Obviously that didn’t work for me.
When we opened the relationship up, we didn’t have many rules. The basics of using protection and STI testing were our most important, but Jon had been in non-monogamous relationships before, and I was more used to them than monogamy, so we only had one rule beyond that. Jon was my spouse, and I wouldn’t have any other spouse besides him.
But everything changed when
the fire nation attacked I got sick.
I needed Kai, and I needed Jon and I needed them both to be equal and both to be my points of contact in case something went wrong. Kai and Jon were on equal footing. Kai was, for all intents and purposes, my second spouse. They were equal. Some people found it strange, or horrifying. They didn’t understand that even though I had been together with Kai longer, that I married Jon. They didn’t understand that my relationship with Jon (as a marriage) was no more or less important than my relationship with Kai.
I’m telling you this, because I need you to know where my brain is coming from when I am writing this review. I’m telling you this because I didn’t have the same kind of rules that The Game Changer discusses. In fact, those rules (when applied to me), make me deeply uncomfortable, and I often argue against them. In fact, I’m often a game changer for others (more as an introduction to poly than anything).
The Game Changer is not a happy book. In fact, had Franklin opened the book with “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I would have been better able to handle what came next. What came next was a heartfelt story of how Franklin came into his own relationships. A story of how sometimes, you have to say no. Sometimes, following the rules is detrimental to your health, relationships, and safety.
Sometimes you have to realize that breaking the rules of your relationships is what is going to save them.
If you are a person who believes strongly in heirarchy, this book is likely going to make you uncomfortable. It might even make you a little angry. I strongly suggest you keep reading. I strongly suggest that you find growth through the pain. I am all for people advocating their wants and needs in their relationships. I am all for people finding what works best for them, but if this book makes you uncomfortable, makes you a little afraid I really, strongly suggest that you reflect on why that is.
What are you afraid of?
Which brings me to how Franklin made me cry. In the book he wrote a sentence that resonated with me in a way that nothing else has in quite some time.
[Y]ou do not always get to have a comfortable relationship when you are in love with a dragonslayer.
With that quote, I was completely broken into a billion pieces because I identified so strongly with it. I identified with being the dragonslayer. I immediately understood the heartbreak of being the dragonslayer, and watching someone love you, even when it’s hard. Even when it’s uncomfortable.
After reading that, I closed the book and threw it across the room. I was angry. I was furious at Franklin for making me feel these feelings. I was angry at him for saying something that struck me that way. Angry at someone who has been an idol for me saying something that was so real and true and hit me in such a raw way. I was angry in much the same way that the people who were angry about the Secondary’s Bill of Rights were. But then I realized that I wasn’t angry, I was scared. I was feeling such a strong reaction because I realized how true, and deep it was. I was feeling such a strong reaction because reading that reminded me that my relationships were transitioning, and the fear of my relationships being out of control was overwhelming. Then I started sobbing. I had one of the most restorative cries I’ve ever had. I let out all of the guilt and shame and fear I was holding in. I let it all go, I wept through the pain.
More than anything else, The Game Changer helped me find peace. My relationships have changed and transitioned in ways that I never wanted, never expected, them to. I have had so many times of feeling so alone in where my relationships are. I have had so many times where I hated that I was feeling the way I was, because my relationships didn’t look the way they were supposed to. I hated feeling like a failure in my relationships, because instead of allowing them to change and grow in ways that were healthy for all of the people involved, I fought tooth and nail to keep myself and my partners in miserable dynamics and for what? What was I afraid of? Once I let go, and let the relationships fill their own space instead of forcing them to fit an ideal even within polyamory, I was happier. More importantly, my partners were happier. I found peace in The Game Changer because it let me know that I was not alone in my dynamic. It let me know that I was allowed to love in whatever way I needed, and that sometimes families are unconventional.
Franklin Veaux was a beacon of permission for me.
The Game Changer will completely break your heart, but it will also give you hope that your relationships don’t need to fit a certain mold, regardless of if you’re monogamous, polyamorous, or anything in between. It might even encourage you to change the rules of your own game.
I loved The Game Changer and I think you will too. The books isn’t officially out until September 23, but there’s one last chance to get an early copy. If you back Emily Bingham’s Indiegogo at the $35+ level before June 30, they’ll be able to get a copy in July. Any of you slackers will need to pre-order your (September) copy by clicking here. Now, Get Frisky, and buy the damn book so you can cry with me.
UPDATE May 3 2020: I no longer recommend purchasing this book.
Until Next Time!
-The Frisky Fairy