Featuring real stories and insights from hundreds of people, Stepping Off the Relationship Escalator explores consensual nonmonogamy, love without living together, deep connections that pause and resume, and much more. The first in a series of research-based books, this introduction to relationship diversity is both accessible and surprising.

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Author Amy Gahran explains the Relationship Escalator in 5 min.


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Monogamy is a popular option for intimate relationships. Why do some people want it? How do partners discuss and negotiate this crucial choice in how their relationship works?

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Friendship: Possibly the Most Important Type of Intimate Relationship

What really counts as a relationship? Especially as an intimate or important relationship? That’s the topic of this month’s free sample chapter from my new book, Stepping Off the Relationship Escalator: Uncommon Love and Life. I ask people about their relationships fairly often (surprise, surprise).  I’ve noticed something interesting that generally holds true, regardless of whether people […]

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Video explaining the Relationship Escalator

I’ve been meaning to do a video to explain what the Relationship Escalator is, and how it affects the kinds of intimate relationships that people have. But, you know, I’ve been busy writing and publishing a book on that topic: Stepping Off the Relationship Escalator. In the meantime, I found this video from 2015, by […]

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What is the Relationship Escalator?

You probably already know a lot about this.

The “Relationship Escalator” is society’s bundle of customs for intimate relationships: monogamy, living together, marriage and more, ideally until death do you part. Beyond this, it might not be obvious what your relationship options are. (That’s the short version; here’s a little more detail.)

From consensual nonmonogamy (including polyamory and swinging), to asexuality, to pause/play relationships and more, this groundbreaking new book offers a wealth of insights, experiences and perspectives on uncommon relationship choices.

This book will help you:

  • Discover less common relationship options that might suit you.
  • Understand why and how people have unconventional relationships.
  • Empower you to negotiate about how your relationships work.
  • Overcome the fear that loving differently means you’re doing it wrong.
  • Make the world a friendlier, safer place for more paths to love.

Based on over 1500 detailed responses to a survey, Stepping Off the Relationship Escalator features real stories and insights from hundreds of real people. The first in a series of books from the Off the Escalator Project, this introduction to relationship diversity is both accessible and surprising.


KGNU Radio (Boulder) Interview, May 2017


KBOO Radio Interview, July 2017


Polyamory Weekly Podcast, February 2017


More Media Coverage →

Resource Guide

Useful links for understanding many kinds of intimate relationships.


COMING SOON! Terms related to unconventional relationships.

Discussion Questions

Talk about the book! Good for book clubs, conversations and introspection.

End Notes

Sources cited in the book, Stepping Off the Relationship Escalator.