I remember the time a book saved my life.
It was called, My First 2,000 Men, by Liz Renay. At the time, I was in an abusive relationship with someone who would slut-shame me for having lovers in my past. Today, I would have gotten up and left. Since I was only 18, I didn't know any better.
I assumed I was a horrible person, he and his parents told me so. I did everything possible to try to please them, but the truth is that it was a losing battle. Back then, I worked as a librarian and stumbled across the book, cracked it open, and gave a good, long look at my life.
You see, Liz Renay was a gun moll who had slept with 2,000 people. She was still desired. She still married, multiple times, too. In the book, she laid it out for me, plain and simple: a relationship is a contract, so look at what you're getting from the contract.
Her words inspired me to look at my relationship with this guy. I gave, and gave, and gave. And, I received... abuse? Shame? Nothing good. Within a day, I dumped him and never looked back. Had I stayed, I probably would have been killed by his abuse.
If anyone knows that people should read books for a healthy relationship, it's me. The right book can change your love life, your dating life, and your outlook towards your partner. Here are my suggestions, and who will find them to be the most useful.
He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys by Greg Behrendt
Let's start with one of the most basic building block books for a healthy relationship, shall we? Before you can actually have a relationship, you need to figure out if your partner is into you for the long haul. One of the best I've seen is He's Just Not That Into You.
This is one of those books that, if followed, forces you to stop excusing away men's bad behavior, and makes you available for the right person. I know that this book works, because every time I have not followed its advice, I've ended up in a shitty, dead-end relationship.
Greg points out that relationships can't be one-sided, and forces you to look at the often not-so-nice truth. Finding someone who's ready for an emotional connection is a huge thing when it comes to a healthy relationship. Reading this will help you on that front.
The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
Everyone has a different way they express affection to their partners. Some are all about telling compliments and opening themselves up emotionally. Others do it by showering their partners with gifts. Even more may do things for their partners like chores, while others focus on sexual intimacy.
With over 11 million copies sold, Gary Chapman's The 5 Love Languages is one of the most popular bestsellers of all time. His book is all about learning how to "speak your partner's love language" in a way that makes them feel loved and appreciated.
This is one of the best books for a healthy relationship dynamic, and has been credited with saving many marriages. If you're feeling underappreciated or "mismatched" with your partner, it may be time to read this, too.
No More Mr. Nice Guy by Robert Glover
Did you know that a lot of people are in sexless marriages, and are constantly searching for a cure for a dead bedroom? It's true. Believe it or not, one of the biggest attraction-killers, that can happen to an otherwise healthy couple, happens when someone bends over backward in hopes that their partner will like them more.
Sound familiar? You might know it as Nice Guy Syndrome, or just "being a doormat." Robert Glover, a certified family therapist, uses No More Mr. Nice Guy to help people who fell into the "nice" trap climb out of it, get respect, and put their relationship back on track.
Because it tends to work out kinks in struggling relationships, I'll suggest this as one of the best books for a healthy relationship. Experts would strongly recommend the read if you tend to try and gain more love by being overly nice or submissive, too.
Leave A Cheater, Gain a Life by Tracy Schorn
Tracy Schorn is a name you might not know, but you may know her nickname: Chump Lady. Her website has helped thousands of people break it off with people who cheated on them, and helped teach them why their partners did in the first place.
A lot of the best books for a healthy relationship aren't really about breaking up with the partner. But, the truth is, I think more of them should be—and Leave A Cheater is a good example of why this is the case. Forgiveness in a relationship can only go so far.
The truth is that you can't have a good relationship without trust. You also can't have a good relationship with a bad partner. Tracy Schon's tough-love yet humorous approach will give you the kick in the butt you need to kick a bad partner to the curb.
He’s Not That Interested, He’s Just Passing Time: 40 Unmistakable Behaviors of Men Who Avoid Commitment and Play Games with Women by Bruce Bryans
Let's say that you're in a relationship, but it suddenly starts to drag. You're trying to keep things going, but something is really quite off. You might understand why Bruce Bryans has penned several great books for a healthy relationship.
His specialty is calling men out on playing games and taking up women's time. If you're not sure whether he's serious in the relationship, or if you feel like you're being strung along, Bryans will have all the answers you want.
The Relationship Cure by John Gottman
You might recognize Gottman's name as the guy who talked about the Four Horsemen of a dead relationship. Though you might know Gottman for that, there's so much more that he's done in the world of bettering relationships.
The Relationship Cure is one of the best books for a healthy relationship with more than just your partner; it works wonderfully with friends, family, and coworkers, too. Using this book will help you identify your relationship issues, and how to solve them proactively. Need we say any more?
Deal Breakers: When to Work on a Relationship and When to Walk Away by Dr. Bethany Marshall
If you want to have a healthy relationship, you're going to have to figure out what your dealbreakers are. Deal Breakers by Dr. Bethany Marshall is one of the most useful books for a healthy relationship that money can buy.
Why? Because she draws lines in the sand and tells you when guys have crossed the line between "decent" and "deadbeat." Once again, a huge portion of how successful you can be in a relationship depends on who your partner is. If he's a dirtbag, you're not going to have a good relationship, regardless of what you do.
Tired of being unable to call it quits? Read Marshall's book, and you'll gain a lot more confidence.
Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum
Ever been with someone who made you say things like, "Yeah, he's great but...?" Well, you probably know the troublesome feeling that comes with being in a relationship that's too bad to keep up, but too good to leave. That's exactly what Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay is all about.
This book is one of the most useful books for a healthy relationship that's on the rocks. If you're not sure whether or not the relationship you have is salvageable, then this book will help you decide. If it is, Kirshenbaum also gives you great advice on how you can work together to save your relationship.
Either way, reading and following the advice put forth in Too Good to Leave will leave you in a better place than you started—even if it is tough advice to follow.
Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex by John Gray
We couldn't have a list of books for a healthy relationship without this classic, either. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus is about as old school as it gets when it comes to relationship advice—but the reason it has stuck around for so long is simply because it works.
This is one of the few books that makes no issue about saying that men and women are different. Rather than tell us to become more like one another, it tells us to cherish those differences, and work with them for a stronger, healthier bond.
If you have been struggling with communication issues, or find yourself dealing with subtle issues causing problems in your relationship, this is a book that will smooth that out in a heartbeat.
A Man's Way Through Relationships by Dan Griffin
Last, but absolutely not least, is one of the best books for a healthy relationship that's specifically designed for the guys. A Man's Way Through Relationships is one of the very few relationship books that's specifically tailored to the inner struggles men face with women.
If your guy has been dealing with hard times when it comes to figuring out his role, or if he's trying to make the relationship work, Dan Griffin's book will definitely strike a chord. After all, ladies can't be the only ones who want to improve their love lives, right?