flame Feb 16, 2021

Let’s be honest… you don’t necessarily learn about love in your typical high school and college classes. We all receive a pretty generic knowledge of the common subjects of reading, math, science, and history, but where do we get our education on love, relationships, and intimacy? Most of what we learn about this subject comes from trial and error (yikes!) or the classic Disney princess fairytales (double yikes), but we can bolster what we know with some handy reading material. While there’s no handbook for the perfect love-at-first-sight relationship, we’ve gathered some “textbooks” to help you identify the relationship you want, how to make it a reality, and then navigate the struggles you and your partner may encounter along the way. 


1. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman

If you’re a fan of personality tests, this book is for you! Based on the Love Language quiz developed by the author, The 5 Love Languages will help you get to know yourself and your partner by finding out what makes you feel most loved and appreciated. First, you’ll find out your primary and secondary love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, or physical touch. Then, the book does a deep dive into healthy and practical ways to express your love for one another, especially when your love languages differ. And make sure to read our own interpretation on why this book is KEY to long-lasting love!


*If the Enneagram test is more your speed, then give The Enneagram in Love by Stephanie Barron Hall a read instead. 


2. The Love Gap: A Radical Plan to Win in Life and Love by Jenna Birch

Author and journalist Jenna Birch has taken a deep dive into a modern phenomenon: men claiming they want “smarts, success, and independence in romantic partners,” and modern women finding those same attributes to be roadblocks in their love life. Combining data and research with in-depth expert interviews and real-life relationship stories, the information inside this book explores the topic of love and its impacts, and drives it home by talking about how successful women can navigate relationships without ever having to settle for less than they deserve!


3. Love Rules: How to Find a Real Relationship in a Digital World by Joanna Coles

There’s no doubt that technology has changed the world of dating. From texting to dating apps, it has become more challenging than ever to develop honest and meaningful relationships in this digital age. A former Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, Joanna Coles knows how to identify and deconstruct the issues women are experiencing in their everyday lives (and love lives) while offering actionable, concrete solutions to their struggles. Love Rules shares how to effectively utilize dating apps in your quest for love, and how to take those connections out into the real world.


4. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

The world got to know Cheryl Strayed through her Pacific Crest Trail odyssey, as it was depicted in her memoir and the movie that followed, Wild (a must-watch if you’re a Reese Witherspoon fanatic like us). But did you know that Cheryl was once the anonymous online columnist behind Dear Sugar, an advice column at The Rumpus? With equal parts compassion and humor, Sugar responded to the difficulties in life and love thousands of readers were experiencing. While reading of their perils in Tiny Beautiful Things, you’ll realize that you are far from alone in your struggles, and you’ll even find some tidbits of advice to take for yourself that you too can utilize for whatever life throws your way. 


5. Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Sue Johnson

For when relationships start to experience some rough patches, Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg developed Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) as a relationship therapy approach to help couples improve attachment and bonding. Learn more about the EFT approach and get the chance to practice the therapy for yourself in the comfort of your own home by walking through its “seven conversations for a lifetime of love.” These conversations will help explore your relationship even deeper, and help you solidify and strengthen the bond you and your partner share. Think of this book as a roadmap for navigating the toughest periods of your relationship, with guidance for how to heal and nurture growth within that relationship. 


6. Loving Bravely: Twenty Lessons of Self-Discovery to Help You Get the Love You Want by Alesandra H. Solomon

This book will lead you down a path to self-awareness that will help open your eyes to how your history, relationship patterns, and individual strengths and weaknesses impact the relationships you form. It’s through these twenty lessons that it aims to “help you explore and commit to your own emotional and psychological well-being so you can be ready, resilient, and confident in love.” By working on yourself first, and heightening your self-awareness, you can start to attract the partner you want, and seek the love you deserve. 


7. How to Fall in Love with Anyone: A Memoir in Essays by Mandy Len Catron

In 2015, Mandy Len Catron’s essay,  "To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This", was published in the New York Times. The essay demonstrated how she put to the test a study where Dr. Arthur Aron made two strangers fall in love in a laboratory by answering 36 intimate personal questions while maintaining eye contact. That essay was the inspiration for her memoir, which uses research and personal experience to explore the romantic myths circulating in society, and how they affect our quests for intimacy. By reading this book, you’ll learn to be critical of the love stories our culture idealizes in order to prevent yourself from rejecting the more unique relationship opportunities that come our way. 


8. Twenty Guys You Date in Your Twenties: (Funny Dating Book for Women, Online Dating Book for Women) by Gabi Conti

Through highly relatable anecdotes from a decade of dating, 20 Guys You Date in Your 20s dives into the joys, frustrations, and hilarity of swiping right on relationships. Comedian Gabi Conti logged thousands of hours on dating apps, conducting research and gathering intel on your behalf. With each chapter focused on a different type of guy she dated (and yes, she interviewed 19 of her exes for the sake of research… from The Guy Who's Great on Paper to The Guy Who Texts "sup" at 2 a.m.), think of this book as the dating “field guide”, filled with charts and quizzes, hysterical anecdotes, and helpful insight from therapists and dating coaches offering advice and humor in equal measure. Don’t miss Gabi’s interview on The SheFactor Podcast for a BTS look into the juicy dating stories that go beyond the book!