Posted By: Niki Payne Date: 06-27-2016 Comments: 0
Years ago, when the last man I had ever loved passed away rather suddenly, I found myself embarking on a journey of self-exploration I never anticipated for my life. Ever since I was a little girl, I imagined that I’d marry young (mostly because I couldn’t wait to change my last name).
After a few years of recklessly trudging through single life, I had reached a point where I started to seriously question what made a good relationship. I wanted to understand more deeply the questions that most of us ask ourselves: What makes people want to stay together, why were they attracted to one another in the first place, and how did some relationships last while others that seemed strong fade away to nothing? Through it all, I learned many great lessons about sex, love and relationships—all the hard way. If I knew 10 years ago what I know now, perhaps I would have lived and loved a lot differently throughout my 20s.
If you’ve been perpetually single for as long as I have, despite a few short-term flings here and there, or you constantly find yourself in tumultuous relationships that never end well for you, I highly recommend the books I’ve listed below. I may not have read every single book on this list, but they are on this list for a reason.
My decade-long journey of discovering who I really am outside of a relationship has led me to each and everyone of these books, many of which have already made me a more compassionate dater. I really think these books will make a profound difference in your love life–as they have in mine–even if you only read the reviews.
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
This book should be required reading for all who enter into a committed relationship. Through the pages of this book, you’ll quickly discover the root of almost all your relationship problems lies in how you communicate and express love to each other.
A Vindication of Love by Cristina Nehring
If you fancy yourself a deep thinker and enjoy historical literature, then you will certainly find this book insightfully entertaining. The author attempts to “reclaim romance for the twenty-first century” by showcasing love in its many forms and asserting that the sad state of our love lives today is a result of a clear lack passion we seem to have lost over the centuries.
Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel
Inspired by the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, this book completely redefines what it means to be in a happy, committed relationship. The leading couples therapist confirms that sex and desire tends to wane throughout the course of a relationship and suggests tapping into one’s erotic intelligence for a more fulfilling love life.
If the Buddha Dated by Charlotte Kasl
While most books on dating and relationships have different sets of “rules” for men and women, this “handbook for finding love” makes no separations between the genders. Instead, the author encourages authenticity, integrity and dating with a Buddhist consciousness while postulating one universal dating rule that transcends gender differences and sexual orientation – honor thyself.
The Art of Seduction by Robert Green
This book introduces you to the secrets of creating allure and attraction by identifying the ten types of seductive characters you’re bound to encounter throughout your journey. Figure out which category you fall under and learn to leverage your natural personality to woo the man or woman of your dreams.
Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
According to the authors, there are three major attachment styles found in relationships: anxious, avoidant and secure. Most of the population have secure attachment styles, while the rest are divided between anxious and avoidant. The good news: you can change your attachment style for the better once you understand where you fall on the spectrum and how it impacts your relationships.
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
One of the most important aspects of dating is being you, which is what this book is all about. It may not be exactly about dating, but it’s very relevant to how you approach personal relationships. Once you embrace who you are, you’ll have more courage to be vulnerable in your relationships, and get back up when we inevitably fall, which you can read about in her follow up books “Daring Greatly” and “Rising Strong.”
Why Him? Why Her? by Helen Fisher
Written by one of the foremost thought leaders on attraction, dating and love, this books explores the impact your personality and temperament has on your love life. Anthropologist Helen Fisher uses brain chemistry to identify four four basic personality types, which you can then use to identify potential pitfalls in a relationship, discover how to avoid them, and create more intimate connections. For more insights on the biology and chemistry of love, check out her other books, “Why We Love” and “Anatomy of Love.”
Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha
For a better understanding of how we mate and why we stray, the authors of this book take a prehistoric look at the origins of modern sexuality. In challenging conventional wisdom relating to sex and monogamy, the book highlights what it all means for the future of relationships as we know it. Given the wide reaction to the book across the spectrum of love and hate, the book is bound to get you approaching your relationships in a whole new way.
Love in the Time of Algorithms by Dan Slater
The dating industry is a two billion dollar business that capitalizes on people’s inherent fears of dying alone. If you think about it, happy customers are bad for business. In this book, journalist Dan Slater explores the growth of online dating and how technology has impacted how we do relationships today, while posing the question of whether or not science can really predict love.
Date-onomics by Jon Birger
Described as the “Moneyball of dating,” this book highlights the real problem with dating – there’s a significant gender gap in favor of men. According to finance and tech journalist Jon Birger, there is an average of four women for every three men nationwide. It’s also worth noting here that historically, men are more inclined to settle down and get married when the population is female dominant. You have to read this book for a fresh perspective of the dating landscape as it exists.
Dataclysm by Christian Rudder
Written by the founder of leading dating website OkCupid, this insightful read builds upon dating research shared on the popular OkTrends blog before it was retired. The premise of the book is that people behave quite differently when they think no one is looking, which the author believes is a much more accurate measure of compatibility than surveys and polls.
Conscious Uncoupling by Katherine Woodward Thomas
The term was made popular overnight when Gwyneth Paltrow announced her split from Coldplay singer Chris Martin, but it originated as a five-week online course for breaking up better taught by relationship expert Katherine Woodward Thomas. Not all breakups need to end on bad terms despite the hurt and despair that comes with ending a relationship. Instead, she provides thousands of couples with a solid framework for managing challenging times.
It’s quite a shame that the education system doesn’t teach children, teenagers and young adults about the importance of healthy relationships in their overall quality of life. Often times, our own parents or even our peers, are not the best examples of what it means to be in a healthy relationship. The wisdom found in books like these are invaluable. Quite frankly, I think all this should be mandated learning.
In retrospect, if you had to teach a class all about how to be in a healthy relationship, based on your own life experiences, which books would you consider required reading?