The quasi-cliched statement espousing that communication is everything in relationships may seem like a redundant dictum, but if you’ve ever been in a relationship (whether romantic, platonic, familial or what have you) you’ve probably come to accept the fact that this phrase really does ring true. Loving someone and being in a relationship is a constant learning process, and there’s no handbook or tried-and-true formula to ensure success.
However, there is a slew of relationship advice books written by relationship gurus, from marriage and family therapists to behavioral scientists, that can help you practice being a better partner, and you communicate better in general—whether it be with your S.O., your boss or your mom.
These communication books cover the gamut of relationship-focused discourse, whether it be learning how to manage heated fights better, enhancing your sex life by learning how to ask for what you actually want, and outlining ways to discuss frustrations in an effective and nurturing manner. Coming out of a recent breakup in which weak communication on my part was the culprit of the relationship’s messy demise, I wish I’d read these a little sooner, rather than picking them up when it’s now too late to make amends with my ex. But the truth is, whether you’re single, attached or stuck somewhere in the ambiguously in-between stage of dating, these relationship-enhancing books are not just a great way to learn how to handle interpersonal relationships better, they’re also a great way to learn more about your self, as well.
From attachment theories illuminating ideas about how our childhood may impact our adult partnerships to learning how to communicate based on yourself and your partner’s personal “love language,” these insightful books will not only help strengthen the bond with your current or future partner but they’ll also help you communicate better in general as well.
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1. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
Whether you prefer acts of service or quality time, Chapman’s helpful book explains in great detail the different types of love languages that leave us feeling fulfilled in romantic partnerships, and provides practical steps and ideas (articulated by both himself and his clients real-life experiences) for expressing them in a healthy manner.
2. Attached: Are you Anxious, Avoidant or Secure?
Articulating ideas surrounding Attachment Theory, psychiatrist and neuroscientist Levine and psychologist Hueller explain the way our individual attachment styles (anxious, avoidant and secure) dramatically impact our relationships (especially how we communicate). The authors reveal how the ways in which we were treated by our parents during early childhood forms the basis for the style we identify with, and the book outlines how we can interact and strengthen the bond with our partners who have different ones from our own.
3. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
Author and PhD Marshall B. Rosenberg discussed the ways that violent communication (including finger-pointing, name-calling, and acting defensive) can have a severely negative impact on our relationships, whether romantic or otherwise. He uses real-life case studies and experiences from his workshops to illuminate ways in which we can easily implement kind and compassionate ways to communicate that foster healthy dialogues and fulfilling partnerships that last.