- Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix
What You’ll Learn: Why all your relationships seem to be fucked up in the exact same way. Why you keep dating people who act like your mother/father. Why most of your fights are about stupid and silly-seeming shit that you just can’t let go of.
Why It’s Good: I read Getting the Love You Want about 10 years ago and it blew me away. We are all vaguely aware of the Freudian idea that we end up dating our mothers/fathers and are doomed to repeat our childhood traumas in our adult relationships. But, at the same time, that idea has always felt like some superstitious bullshit. But then you grow up and get into a serious relationship and you start noticing that your partner leaves crap all over the house just like your dad did and holy fuck does it drive you insane because it reminds you of the chaos and unpredictability of your childhood and the point I’m trying to make is THAT IF YOU FUCKING LOVED ME YOU WOULD KNOW WHERE YOU LEFT YOUR KEYS GODDAMNIT!
2. Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson
What You’ll Learn: How to not make your relationship problems worse; when to shut the fuck up and listen to your partner; how to not be such a selfish asshole? Maybe? (OK, maybe not.)
Why It’s Good: Sue Johnson is the originator of Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT) which has apparently won the Olympic gold medal for “therapeutic method that unfucks the most relationships”. Out of all of the forms of couples therapy and marriage counseling, EFT apparently has the highest hit rate of them all.
3. 7 Principles That Make Marriage Work by John Gottman
What You’ll Learn: That fighting is natural. That not all issues need to be resolved. That the silent treatment is often as bad (or worse) than screaming your throat out. Basically, this book is a great primer on what actually makes a relationship work.
Why It’s Good: Gottman is like the Marco Polo of relationship research. He set off into territories unknown and brought quantifiable metrics and scientific rigor to an exotic academic subject: relationships. Before Gottman, all we had was grandma wisdom and the fucked up shit that Freud said. But Gottman trail-blazed his way to some of our first solid academic answers about what makes a relationship work and what causes them to break.
4. 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
What You’ll Learn: A simple tool for understanding how people express and receive love. (SPOILER ALERT: Not everyone expresses or receives love in the same ways!)
Why It’s Good: 5 Love Languages is like the Harry Potter of relationship books: everyone’s read it (or they lie and say they’ve read it) and Gary Chapman is living in a secluded $100 million castle somewhere wiping his ass with royalty checks. This book has sold more copies than anyone knows what to do with, and it’s easy to see why: Short book. Simple premise. Powerful idea. And that idea sticks because it’s incredibly useful.
5. Models: Attract Women Through Honesty by Mark Manson
What You’ll Learn: I know it sounds like a “yo, pick up moar chicks, brah” book, but most of the first third of it is about how to develop emotional maturity and basically get your shit together and be a better human being.
Why It’s Good: OK, I know it’s awkward to hype my own shit. But this is my site, my article, so fuck it. I’m hyping my own shit! Besides, Models has been the bestselling men’s dating book for like six years running. Women and LGBT people have also read it and said they love it.