Relationships take work even when they’re going well, but what about when they’re not? How do we forge relationships when people only seem to be becoming more distant? How do we make our relationships not only deeper, but more long-lasting? Take a look at these 10 books on relationships and discover how to do anything from cultivating new ones to improving—or pruning—the ones you have.
By Melissa Urban
Balance is important in relationships—but sometimes, we self-sacrifice or easily capitulate, and that balance becomes skewed.
Once we’re used to a certain way of living, it’s often difficult to break ourselves out of that pattern—even if it’s for our own benefit. That’s why Whole30 co-founder and author Melissa Urban is here to help you set some boundaries in your life and relationships. Full of pre-written scripts, advice and techniques for communicating your needs, avoiding pressure from those around you and setting boundaries that serve your well-being, The Book of Boundaries provides an invaluable guide for those who need to learn how to say no.
By Brené Brown
Our emotions and experiences are integral to who we are and how we interact with others, but that doesn’t mean we need to stay stagnant in our negativity. The most important tool for change or acceptance is understanding, and author Brené Brown provides plenty of examples of human emotion in order to allow us to do so—87 of them, in fact.
Such a vast variety of examples allows us to not only gain a deeper and more specific understanding of what we—and those around us—are feeling, but also to work through those emotions accordingly. Alongside tips including how to be vulnerable with those around you and the importance of verbally communicating your feelings, Atlas of the Heart creates a truly in-depth guide to understanding emotions and using that knowledge to better yourself and your relationships.
By Jennie Allen
Self isolation may feel good in the short-term, but in the long-term, loneliness can have a detrimental impact on our sense of well-being. Whether we’re introverts, overly self-reliant or just plain bad at connecting with people, author Jennie Allen argues that community and connection are an important and essential part of a full life.
Of course, nothing worth having comes easily. Loneliness may not have a quick fix—particularly when it’s self-imposed—but that doesn’t mean we’re alone in the struggle. Allen shares her own story of isolation and loneliness alongside the stories of others, creating a small community of commiseration within the pages of her book.
A book called Find Your People can’t all be about how hard it is to do so, however, and it doesn’t disappoint. Allen continues on to discuss topics ranging from what kind of friend is best suited to you to forming authentic relationships, offering an intriguing guide to finding connection in an isolated world.
4. How to Break Up with Your Friends: Finding Meaning, Connection, and Boundaries in Modern Friendships
By Erin Falconer
Cultivating friendships is important, but we have to be willing to be honest with ourselves about which relationships need nurturing and which need to be pruned. Erin Falconer, author and editor-in-chief of self-improvement website PickTheBrain, provides a guide for doing just that.
In How to Break Up with Your Friends, Falconer discusses topics including how our first friendships affect our current ones, the importance of working through conflict and using it to grow, and making friends as an adult. Alongside tips and tools to help you make or break a friendship, Falconer provides an invaluable guide for not just understanding how to improve your relationships, but how to learn from them as well.
5. The Lost Art of Connecting: The Gather, Ask, Do Method for Building Meaningful Business Relationships
By Susan McPherson
Connecting with people in our personal lives isn’t the only thing we can struggle with—it’s equally difficult to build and maintain business connections. To make matters worse, Susan McPherson, author and founder of communications firm McPherson Strategies, would argue that our current methods of building business connections are only serving to make us more disconnected. From sites like Twitter to LinkedIn, we accrue business contacts and connections, but with the ease of instant messaging comes the downside of having primarily surface-level connections and conversations.
In The Lost Art of Connecting, McPherson discusses topics like being intentional about your goals, becoming truly curious about others and learning to enjoy meeting new people, all against a backdrop of her methodology: “Gather, Ask, Do.” Interspersed with stories of her own experiences in making connections—as well as those of other experts like Tiffany Dufu and Adam Grant—McPherson creates a guide on how we can learn to enjoy connecting again in order to deepen our relationships and enrich our lives.
By David Bradford and Carole Robin
Exceptional relationships—those which allow us to feel truly understood and accepted—seem rare; and perhaps, depending on how much of ourselves we are willing to share, they are. But authors David Bradford and Carole Robin believe that the secrets behind these blue-moon relationships can be taught, allowing us to forge new relationships or improve current ones.
Using methods taken from “Interpersonal Dynamics,” the Stanford University course the pair taught, Connect delves into topics including key aspects of exceptional relationships, the “15% rule” of self-disclosure, and the necessity of being willing to both give and receive constructive feedback. Tips for the practical application of the various lessons taught throughout the book are the metaphorical cherry on top of this in-depth discussion on how to create stronger and more fulfilling relationships.
By Kelly Corrigan
Sometimes in an emotionally charged situation, we don’t know what to say. Sometimes we do, but those right words can be more difficult than the wrong ones. Whatever the case may be, author Kelly Corrigan is here to show us that we’re not alone in the struggle.
Tell Me More is a collection of 12 essays, each with titles like “No,” “I Was Wrong” and “Tell Me More.” Each phrase connects to a personal story from Corrigan’s life, and like many of the best stories, contain lessons or realizations about ways we can change our lives, relationships and reactions for the better. It may be difficult to find or to say the right words, but Corrigan’s book shows just how important it can be to use or know the right words when it counts.
Many relationship books focus on forming connections, or are aimed toward women who already have a partner and would like to keep the relationship going. Block, Delete, Move On, however, has a different goal in mind—helping women to recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship so they can get out of it quickly, or avoid it entirely.
Written by Lalalaletmeexplain, an Instagram dating educator and social worker, the book utilizes data and Lalalaletmeexplain’s own experience to deliver an informative, compelling and lighthearted guide to recognizing both red flags and green ones in people and relationships. What readers do with the information is up to them, but the book encourages women to use their newfound knowledge to both avoid getting into unhealthy relationships and to recognize healthy ones.
By Stephanie Barron Hall
The Enneagram has many uses, from creating the most beneficial new year’s resolutions to learning to embrace your strengths and let go of your self-sabotaging habits. It is unsurprising, then, that your Enneagram type can impact your relationships.
The Enneagram in Love provides a guide for readers to understand exactly how their Enneagram type affects their love lives. From the benefits and pitfalls of each type pairing to understanding how to fix any problems in your relationship, author Stephanie Hall, speaker and Enneagram coach, walks readers through how to improve current relationships using the insights gleaned from knowing your—and your partner’s—Enneagram type.
By Edward Brodkin and Ashley Pallathra
In any of your relationships, how often do you really listen to what others are saying? How often do you retain that information, and use the knowledge to build an understanding of the other person? We might have a multitude of relationships, but how many of them are actually built on true connection?
Authors Edward Brodkin and Ashley Pallathra are here to help solve that problem. In Missing Each Other, the pair discuss how to truly connect with people and the benefits that connection can have, not just for our relationships but also for dealing with issues like workplace conflict. The necessary component of achieving that connection? A process called “attunement”—quite literally being “in tune” with both yourself and the feelings of the individuals you’re interacting with.