It’s time to go all “Reading Rainbow” on your romance.
So, you’re in a happy, healthy relationship for this Valentine’s Day.
That’s great! Good for you.
But the big question you should be asking yourself is — will this relationship still be around for NEXT Valentine’s Day?
Will you still be a happy, healthy couple in a year’s time? Will you still be in love?
You shouldn’t second-guess your current love to death, but you DO always need to be looking ahead in a relationship.
You need to ask yourself if your relationship is sustainable. Are you constantly making excuses for each other? Is there something that truly bothers you about your partner that you’ve been able to ignore, but you don’t know if you can take another 3/6/9 months of it?
If you want your love to last, you need to work on it. You have to care for it, maintain it. You can’t be complacent, particularly if you seriously think this might be the love of your life.
But how do you do that? In my experience, the best thing you can do is seek out the advice of others. Fortunately, very smart people have been discussing and analyzing love ever since human beings first developed the capacity for language, so there are many wonderful insights on love out there that can help you understand your own relationship better.
Here are five truly amazing books about love that can teach you more about romance, help you build a firmer foundation to your relationship, and make sure that you and your significant other will still be going strong when next Valentine’s Day comes around.
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
SO many comedians write funny books that are, essentially, just written-down versions of their stand-up acts. Aziz Ansari, however, created something remarkable with Modern Romance. Not only is the book hilarious, but it is also backed up by some incredibly compelling social research as well. Aziz expanded on his own comic riffs on the evolving nature of romance in the 21st century by teaming up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg to back up his conclusions with case studies and hard behavioral data.
This is not just a comedian telling jokes about dating. This is a comedian telling AMAZING jokes about dating AND enlisting scientists to help expose the truth behind his comments. If you’re struggling to remain romantic in the world of emoji love letters, you need to read this book.
Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love by Andrea Miller
This upcoming title from the founder of YourTango (now available for pre-order) is all about one of the hardest parts of any relationship — loving a person’s unlovable parts. “Radical acceptance” is a, frankly, radical way to think about how we interact with the people we love. Through case studies, scientific evidence, and first-person insights, In Radical Acceptance, Andrea Miller shows readers how they can strengthen the bond of their relationships by bringing more empathy and less judgment into their everyday lives.
If you’re not sure if your partner’s quirks are lovably annoying or a legitimate reason to walk away, this book will help A LOT.
If you want to be in a truly meaningful long-term relationship, you have to learn how to be vulnerable with the person you love. But how do you do that? It’s a). scary and b). we’ve all been taught for most of our lives that being vulnerable is a bad thing. Instinctively, we want to protect ourselves and resist the urge to wear our hearts on our sleeves, so how do we get past that?
That’s why Daring Greatly is such a powerful book. Dr. Brené Brown, the renowned researcher and author, does a fantastic job of spelling out exactly why being vulnerable is one of the strongest things that a person can do. It empowers us to reveal our “true selves” to the people we love AND it leaves us open to receiving more love than we’d ever imagined possible. If you’re afraid to show your partner the “real you,” this book will be a remarkable resource.
The downside of being in love with someone for a long time is that it means you will have ample opportunity to get really, REALLY mad at them. Like insanely, over-the-top ANGRY. When you choose to love someone, unfortunately, it also means that person has the potential to make you angrier than almost ANYONE else in your life. (Because you actually care what they think.) This can doom certain relationships that simply can’t handle how intense their disagreements can get.
That’s one of many reasons why couples should seek out Judy Ford’s Getting Over Getting Mad. It talks about relationship anger in relatable, understandable ways AND it focuses on preventing couples from getting to the point of no return in their arguments. If you’ve ever worried that your love might end over a fight about assembling IKEA furniture, this book is an essential read.
This is one of THE canonical books about love and relationships — and it was just updated and expanded in 2016. In 1992, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher first released this groundbreaking work on the science behind love. If you’ve ever wondered why you love the people you love, why we cheat, or why men and women seem to think SO differently, Fisher provides compelling answers, backed up with a ton of research and scientific data.
But, beyond the science, Anatomy of Love is filled with insights on how we keep relationships together. Fisher shows how the brain functions when we’re in happy, loving relationships and explains what those findings tell us about empathy, expectations, and communication. If you want to understand WHY we make the choices we make when we’re in love, this is the book for you (and your partner).