Happy early Valentine’s Day to everyone to celebrates it!
I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day, but I do have a short list of helpful nonfiction books about creating better relationships, whether they’re with friends, romantic partners, family members, or other people you know.
Yes, some of the information in some of them is specifically written for certain types of relationships like a romance or dealing with a pushy mother-in-law, but the principles in them can be applied to many other situations as well.
Some of these books were written for specific groups like Christians or people who are polyamorous. I encourage you to check them all out even if those specific labels don’t apply to you. Just like with the different types of relationships, there are far more similarities between these groups than you might originally think. We’re all human, after all!
I mean, every relationship should include things like clear communication, setting boundaries, compromising, kindly handling conflict, and giving/receiving emotional support no matter who you are, how you identify, or whether the person you’d like to get along with better is your spouse, best friend, mother-in-law, or coworker.
1. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
What I Like About It: Not everyone values the same methods of showing affection. I think there’s something to be said for figuring out what makes people feel appreciated and doing those things as much as you can.
2. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud
What I Like About It: Setting boundaries can be tricky for me sometimes, but it’s important for every type of relationship. This book is filled with examples of how to figure out what you can offer someone and how to say no to the rest. It was also cool to see what specific phrases they recommended for people who have trouble saying no.
3. The Polyamory Breakup Book: Causes, Prevention, and Survival by Kathy Labriola, Dossie Easton
What I Like About It: I believe that we should all be methodical about who we invite into our inner circles and move slowly when dating, making new friends, or even deciding where we’d like to work (if possible). This book goes beyond picking out red flags for more obvious things like abuse and encourages the audience to figure out exactly what we want out of all of our relationships and who we are (and aren’t) compatible with.
You can prevent a lot of heartache if you move slowly in the beginning of any sort of relationship and pay close attention to how you are (or aren’t) matching up with your potential romantic parter or friend.
I also loved what it had to say about gracefully ending relationships that aren’t working for whatever reason. There’s no need to demonize anyone if you find that you’re not actually compatible with them. Some relationships simply weren’t meant to last, and that’s okay.
What I Like About It: While attachment styles can be changed with time and hard work, they are part of figuring out compatibility for many different types of relationships and learning how to communicate better.
For example, I tend to have a bit of an anxious attachment style, so I know that people with avoidant attachment styles are not a good fit for me at all. (Although I do wish them the best!)
5. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman
What I Like About It: Emotional intelligence matters in every sort of relationship we have as human beings. There are ways to approach difficult subjects that can make it much easier to discuss and hopefully resolve. A harsh phrasing of the same sentiment might lead to nothing but an argument that goes nowhere.
Which books would all of you add to this list?