5 Love Books That Will Challenge Your Relationships

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Imagine you’re in an airplane. You’re getting ready to fly to the Caribbean for a romantic getaway when you hear a nervous voice come on over the speaker.

“So we’re about to take off. Just so you know, I’ve never flown a plane before. Wish me luck and buckle up!”

What would you do?

If it were me, I’d make a dash for the closest exit. I’d grab that annoying crying baby in the exit row, pull as hard as I could on the red handle, and jump down the yellow slide as quick as I could.

You’d probably be right behind me, huh?

Why would we do that?

Because both you and I know that flying a plane without training is suicide.

But isn’t this what we do in our intimate relationships?

We often attempt to get our relationship off the ground without ever studying a manual on how to fly the damn thing.

Then we sit in the wreckage of our relationship and wonder why we crashed and burned.

None of us received a “Relationships 101” course in school. We’ve just been left to figure things out the hard way.

It’s a no-brainer why so many of us struggle to be happy and satisfied in our relationships.

As a relationship coach, I do my best to teach you the skills to make your relationship passionate and fulfilling. One of the ways I do that is to share the books I read each month.

In the month of June, I read nine relationship and sex books. You can check out the sex books here. Below are the five relationship books that gave me new insights in how to make our relationships better. I’m sure they will do the same for you.

Love Books

Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain Can Help You Defuse Conflict And Spark Intimacy.

Summary: Our prior relationships shape the person we are today. Wiring us for love. They help us form habits on how we get our needs met or react to conflict. We come into our current relationship with a set of insecurities and a capacity to be emotionally available.

Luckily for us, there has been incredible research that shows that our minds work in very predictable ways. When we are in an emotionally unavailable relationship, we become obsessed trying to reconnect with them. They might ignore our texts and calls, but we keep trying.

We often confuse the anxiety of the relationship as the feeling of uncontrollable passion. It’s not. The science of attachment shows that once we receive security in our relationships, we can begin to get our needs met and rewire our brain for deeply passionate love.

But this isn’t an easy task. Wired for Love allows us to enter into toxic relationships from an objective standpoint. We can watch like a fly on a wall as couples hurt each other. The author, Stan Tatkin, walks us through ways to turn these relationships around. Doing so will require personal growth and mastery, and to face the insecurities that are pushing your partner away.

The book will give you a guide to understanding why you do what you do in your relationships and why your partner does what they do. Attachment Theory is one of the cornerstones of what I teach in my articles and it’s also the foundation of Stan’s book.

Stan also does an amazing job teaching us how to create a couple bubble and fight with our lovers so everyone wins. It’s a deeply moving book that can bring a lot of healing and transformation to your relationships. It’s also why it is one of the top six books I recommend.

Favorite Chapter: Protecting the Couple Bubble: How to Include Outsiders

Favorite Quote: “By loving one another fully, learning how to defuse conflict and make choices that are pro-relationship rather than pro-self, and wiring yourselves for love, you stand the best chance of enjoying a happy, healthy, and ultimately satisfying union.”

3 Ways This Book Will Change Your Love Life:

  1. You’ll get an insider’s guide to your partner and discover new ways to love your partner that will make your relationship more passionate and fulfilling.
  2. You’ll gain insights in how to cultivate daily habits that keep you close and connected.
  3. You’ll discover new ways of fighting that allows both your partner and you to win.

The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures

Summary: The Ethical Slut is an eye-opening book about how to open your relationship and invite others in. When I first started writing relationship articles, I thought polyamorous couples were insecure about being close to each other and needed others to escape. I thought they couldn’t tolerate the boredom of each other, that they were unwilling to see the sexual boredom as a signal that the relationship needs growth to occur.

That view has been changed, both by that book and a few friends who are polyamorous. I am often approached and asked, “should we have an open relationship or keep it closed?” My answer is yes.

Love and relationships are not a coloring book in elementary school. You don’t get graded on drawing within the lines. In fact, no one grades your relationship. That’s how it should be. As a relationship coach it’s not my job to tell you how your relationship should be. My job is to figure out how to create a unique guide to loving your partner and taking the relationship where you want it to go.

The Ethical Slut challenges the status quo of relationships and reminds us that sex and love is up to us. That we get to have beliefs of our own. What matters is not that we agree with the authors or society, but that we question how we are taught relationships should be and decide for ourselves how we want them to be.

Whether you want to explore the world of an open relationship or not, I highly recommend this book. You’ll learn about the cultural barriers we build around our sex, as well as how to be vulnerable enough with your partner to create a deeply fulfilling relationship. You can learn to do that with or without others.

The authors do a wonderful job showing the risk, heartache, and personal growth of having an open relationship. They remind us the importance of non-demanding pleasure, how to tackle relationship conflicts, and handle jealousy.

Relationships are people growing machines. They expose your deepest vulnerabilities and cause you to tolerate the anxiety required to grow. Maybe some of that growth comes from opening up your relationship. Maybe it doesn’t. Either way it’s your relationship and your life. So learn. Grow. Explore and figure out what works best for you.

Favorite Chapter: Embracing Conflict

Favorite Quote: “The only thing in this world that you can control is yourself – your own reactions, desires, and behaviors.”. Bonus: “NOTHING BUILDS INTIMACY like shared vulnerability.”

3 Ways This Book May Change Your Love Life:

  1. Open you up to exploring the potential of your intimate relationships with multiple partners.
  2. Teach you how to question the status quo and decide what you’re open to trying in your relationship.
  3. How to be vulnerable, work with jealousy, and explore new cities in the world of sexuality.

Note: While this book is about polyamory, you can learn a lot if you only want a monogamous relationship. I have no desire to open my relationship, but I still found value in the book.

The Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating

Summary: Moria Weigel puts the reader into a time machine as she explores the origins of dating in America. The first dive bars and dancing spots are like our modern day Tinder. A bar is a form of dating technology because it brings strangers together and allows them to pair off.

As the author points out, the ways in which we spend our time and make a living have always shaped our culture and how we date. “I’ll pick you up at six” made sense when people got off work at five.

Moria also takes time to explore the cult of self-hatred in dating in the book The Rules & the book The Game. The Rules gives advice such as “don’t call him, and rarely return his calls,” and “don’t see him more than once or twice a week.” The Rules tactics dominate the female side, while men are taught to use a tactic called negging. This means lowering a woman’s self-esteem while actively displaying a lack of interest in her…even if they are.

While these strategies do make you attractive, what the authors don’t tell you, cause they are ignorant of attachment science is that they make you attractive to the wrong person. If you’re a woman and you follow The Rules, you’ll push away any guy who is emotionally available and enjoys closeness. You’ll attract a man who appreciates distance and disrespects your needs.

If you’re a guy who follows The Game, any secure woman will walk away from you when you neg her. As a result, the only women you will have success with will be with a woman who is insecure and willing to tolerate your manipulative behavior.

I highly recommend this book if you’re a nerd who is interested in understanding the why of what we do in dating. The author is downright fascinating. Also, if you’re interested in understanding how our culture has been shaped by the past, I highly recommend reading Manhood in the Making, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, and Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Society.

Favorite Chapter: Help

Favorite Quote: “If marriage is the long-term contract that many daters still hope to land, dating itself often feels like the worst, most precarious form of contemporary labor: an unpaid internship. You cannot be sure where things are heading, but you try to gain experience. If you look sharp, you might get a free lunch.”

3 Ways This Book Will Change Your Love Life:

  1. The book will give you powerful insights into the cultural trends that shape dating.
  2. You will learn about the different ways people try to attract a partner.
  3. Learn how the changes in the economy shifted changing the gender roles and relations (for the better).

Deeper Dating: How to Drop the Games of Seduction and Discover the Power of Intimacy

Summary: Many of us have been in bad relationships. I know I have. One of the biggest question I have asked myself before I started this site was, “why was I attracted to people who made me feel insecure?” Luckily my research, my work in therapy, and reading books like Deeper Dating changed all of that.

Deeper Dating is one of those books that provides new advice that causes deep introspection and change. Ken Page, the author, guides you on a path to meeting your true self as much as meeting the right person. By understanding yourself, your needs and your insecurities, you open yourself to finding someone who will cherish you for who you are, not who they want you to be.

Ken explores why we are attracted to people who put us down and how to find someone who cherishes us. He explores the negative and positives of attraction. He does this in a way that doesn’t shame you like so many self-help and self-improvement dating books do. He understands that we all have faults and asks you to understand them, not as something bad, but as something you have.

The book intentionally makes you more conscious of who you are, what you have to give, and what you need in your relationships. I enjoyed this book because he cuts to the heart of what it takes to find a healthy, lasting relationship without the stupid dating games people play that lead to insecurity and loneliness.

Favorite Chapter: Attractions of Inspiration and Attractions of Deprivation

Favorite Quote: “It was a real problem: the people she was attracted to weren’t marriage material, and the ones who were marriage material didn’t excite her.”

3 Ways This Book Will Change Your Love Life:

  1. You’ll quickly see the power of your insecurities and stop shaming yourself for having them.
  2. You’ll discover ways you attract people who make you feel deprived rather than people who inspire you to love deeper.
  3. You’ll learn profound insights about yourself that will change the way you date forever.

When The Past Is The Present: Healing The Emotional Wounds That Sabotage Our Relationships

Summary: Have you ever had someone treat you in a way that feels out-of-place? Maybe they blamed you for not being spontaneous, even though you’d only gone on two dates together. Or maybe the person treats you like you’ve cheated, even though you haven’t.

David Richo’s book When The Past Is The Present explores how we transfer feelings from our childhood or prior relationships on to current partners. The problem with transference is we treat a present person in our life, like a person in the past. Who they are doesn’t come into play because you are giving them a role in the movie of your past so it can be replayed again and again. This loop reinforces what you believe about your relationships and yourself.

Transference prevents us from loving someone as they are and allowing our relationship to grow. All of us have a tendency to transfer feelings, needs (or expectation of a lack of unmet needs), and beliefs from our pasts onto the people in our present life.

When The Past Is The Present is a fantastic book that dives deep into the psychology of relationships and the way we carry our baggage. If you want to become aware of the destructive patterns you bring to relationships and ways you can recognize and take steps to unpack your emotional baggage so it stops weighing your relationship down, then read this book.

Favorite Chapter: The Real You, The Real Me

Favorite Quote: “We realize that in most of our relationships we have been seeing reflections, and we make the choices to pass through the looking-glass to the reality of who others really are and can be.”

3 Ways This Book Will Change Your Relationship:

  1. Learn how childhood wounds affect your adult relationships and why this is a gift.
  2. Heal emotional wounds from the past so you can stop sabotaging present-day relationships.
  3. Learn how be mindful of your baggage so you can stay present and cultivate authentic intimacy between two people.

Was this love books summary useful to you? Let me know by shooting me a message here. You can check out my two other book reviews below, my resource page for my top six recommended books, or check out my library of over 200 books to help with all aspects of your life.

Dedicated to educating you on how to cultivate healthy, passionate relationships,
Kyle Benson

Other Book Reviews:

4 Sex Books You Must Read To Understand Sexuality & Orgasm

5 Relationship Books That Will Profoundly Change The Way You Love

Kyle Benson

Kyle is a healthy relationship coach fascinated with the science of love & relationships. He loves helping couples revitalize relationships in the bedroom and out. Salsa dancer. Traveler. Power lifter. Learn more here.
5 Love Books That Will Challenge Your Relationships
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