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If you spend any time scrolling through TikTok and Instagram, you’ll have come across all kinds of relationship advice, attempting to sum up often complex situations in minutes-long videos or 10-slide infographics. But sometimes, you need a little bit more depth (and dare we say it, nuance!) when grappling with the big issues: and that’s where our pick of the best relationship books comes in. From guides exploring how to work through attachment theory, to a lowdown on love languages, to polyamorous workbooks, these are the best relationship books from counsellors, therapists and experts looking to transform your approach to love and commitment. Happy reading…
Best relationship books
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Best relationship books – All About Love
Fancy more love in your life? This is what All About Love, from the late feminist academic and author bell hooks (her name is intentionally not capitalised, btw) is all about. By rejecting gendered stereotypes in heterosexual relationships, she proposes ways of thinking about cultivating love in romantic connections, through active foundations of commitment, trust, communication and care. The major takeaway: that love is a verb, rather than a noun, and needs to be nourished through the things we do.
Best relationship books – The Ethical Slut
This guide to polyamory was groundbreaking when it was first published in 1997 and has since become kind of an “ethical non-monogamy for dummies” tool book. If you’re new to polyamory, or are curious and want to learn more, it’s a must-read, covering how to cope with jealousy, managing scheduling when you have multiple partners, and general etiquette within the world of consensual non-monogamy.
Best relationship books – Attached: Are You Anxious, Avoidant or Secure?
Attachment theory is a popular way of explaining how our childhood upbringing, primarily the impact of our primary care-givers, influences how we approach relationships as adults. There are three main types: secure (you’re unlikely to feel insecure or emotionally distant when dating), avoidant (partners might describe you as “emotionally unavailable”) and anxious (you might feel insecure in relationships). Attached by Dr Amir Levine and Rachel Heller is a best-selling guide which aims to demystify all of this theory, get to the bottom of what your attachment style is and show you ways to work through it.
Best relationship books – The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
Love languages are a way of discussing the way that people want to give and receive love in a relationship or friendship. There are five main love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. This book helps you identify you and your partner’s love language and uses that as a basis towards actionable steps to make your relationship more compatible, loving, and long-lasting.
Best relationship books – Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship
This best-seller from Denver Post Dating columnist Neil Rosenthal, is all about a universal issue: reigniting the spark in a relationship and finding resolutions to recurring struggles in a long-term connection. It begins with a handy quiz to see if you’re sabotaging your relationship, contains advice on spotting potential difficulties before they escalate, and has plenty of practical techniques for opening up, intimacy and overcoming defensiveness.
Best relationship books – Block, Delete, Move On: It’s not you, it’s them
From viral dating expert sensation LalalaLetMeExplain, this handy book is a survival guide for modern dating and shows you signs of ghosting, negging, gaslighting and other red flags. Primarily geared towards heterosexual connections, it helps women parse the ingrained gendered inequalities and expectations which still linger on intimate relationships, all delivered in a frank, no-nonsense tone with a healthy dose of humour.
Best relationship books – Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma and Consensual Nonmonogamy
As explore above, attachment theory is prettyd nowadays when it comes to talking about dating and relationships. However, the majority of the theory caters exclusively to monogamous connections and can be harder to apply when you are dating, sleeping or in a relationship with more than one person. Enter: Polysecurea guide from polyamorous relationship therapist Jessica Fern that comprehensively breaks down attachment theory, explains the different types of polyamory (there are a lot!), and then applies that knowledge towards practical exercises on how to strengthen your non-monogamous connections.
Best relationship books – The Love Secret: The revolutionary new science of romantic relationships
If you’re disillusioned with dating, this book is a great guide to restoring your faith in monogamous connections, making the case that humans are “naturally monogamous, bonding animals” and drawing on recent research in attachment theory. It also shows you how your brain works when you’re in a healthy, loving relationship, which is pretty cool IMO.
Best relationship books – Conscious Lesbian Dating & Love
Often relationship books are written from a heteronormative lens, which can be alienating for queer people looking to work on their relationships or find love. On top of that, the majority of relationship depictions many of us have grown up with – whether in culture or society – are between men and women, meaning that individuals within the lesbian community might not have the same resources for working through difficulties in their relationships , particularly ones which are linked to their identity. That’s where Conscious Lesbian Dating & Love comes in, which aims to give a primer on mindful dating for lesbian folks.
Queer Sex: A Trans and Non-Binary Guide to Intimacy, Pleasure and Relationships
Juno Roche’s Queer Sex isn’t just about sexual connection and sexual exploration (though that is a huge, and vitally important part of it!), it’s also a brilliant guide to trans and non-binary relationships, told through the author’s own experiences and interviews with prominent members of the community discussing their views on dating and intimacy. It’s so rare to see love and sex advice which centers the trans and non-binary experience, making this release all the more important.
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