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10 books that will improve your love life, according to sex and relationship researchers

Published by Business Insider on Mon, 02 Dec 2019


If you want to improve your relationship, elevate your sex life, or up your dating game, a countless number of books promise to do just that.Insider asked researchers who study parenting, sex, consensually non-monogamous relationships, love addiction, and more their top recommendations.These are experts' favorite books for improving your love life.Visit Insider's homepage for more.People often want help navigating sex, relationships, and love, but have trouble knowing exactly how to seek it.Even starting with a simple book isn't so simple, given the sheer number of options that can make discerning the most helpful reads a difficult task.To help you narrow down the best books for improving your relationships and love life, Insider asked researchers who study parenting, sex, consensually non-monogamous relationships, love addiction, and more their top recommendations.These are their favorite books, whether you want more satisfying sex, increased intimacy with your partner, or more fulfilling dating experiences."The Ethical Slut, Third Edition: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love" by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie EastonAmy Moors, a sex researcher at Chapman University in California who studies consensually non-monogamous relationships like polyamory, swinging, and open relationships, suggested this book, which is all about how to navigate non-monogamous relationships in a way that is considerate of your own needs and the needs of your partners.It's a great jumping-off point for someone who isinterested in open or poly relationshipsbut only has experience with monogamy thus far.Buy it here."Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships" by Tristan TaorminoMoors also suggested this book about the challenges and benefits of consensually non-monogamous relationships. To write it, the author interviewed over 100 people in those setups.The book also includes exercises so "you and your partner can fill out different things and kind of talk about desires," Moors told Insider. "You can really jump-start the conversation that can normally be awkward or difficult for someone."Buy it here."Dataclysm: Love, Sex, Race, and Identity ' What Our Online Lives Tell Us about Our Offline Selves" by Christian RudderAmanda Gesselman, a researcher at The Kinsey Institute who studies the intersection of technology and dating, recommended this book from OkCupid's co-founderThe pages are filled with OkCupid data that illuminates singles' online habits when they're dating around."It just has like a lot of really cool, interesting breakdowns of what 'success' means" in the modern dating world, Gesselman said.The book delves into how people's dating profile choices affected who they ended up matching with and what their subsequent messages back-and-forth looked like.Gesselman said the book "shows such an interesting nuance in terms of human behavior and what we evaluate" in prospective love interests.Buy it here."Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead" by Bren BrownChristine Leistner, a relationship health researcher and assistant professor in the Department of Health and Community Services at California State University's Chico campus, suggested this book from Brown, a researcher who studies shame, vulnerability, and the ways these emotions shape our relationships."We know that shame impacts sexuality so much," Leistner said. "So many of my clinical therapist friends talk about how they're just so frustrated because their patients are in good relationships, but they still feel shame about sexuality and it limits their connection with their partners."This book discusses the ways shame can affect everything from parenting to sex to romantic relationships, and Brown explains how tapping into one's vulnerable side can make all of these areas of life more fulfilling and less shame-filled.Buy it here."Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love" by John and Julie GottmanLeistner said she also recommends "any book from the Gottmans," a husband-wife duo that has been researching relationships and sex for decades.This book, "Eight Dates," offers couples exercises to have honest and evolving conversations about finances, family, career, and other factors that affect, make, or break relationships.Buy it here."Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving" by Betty DodsonShannon Chavez, a member of Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality and clinical psychologist who specializes in love addiction, told Insider this book "provides a sex-positive view on masturbation and breaks down the taboos and shame around self-pleasure." That's important, Chavez added, because "you have to know how to pleasure yourself sexually before being able to show a partner how to do it." In fact, Chavez said, she thinks "masturbation is the most important component of sexual health."Buy it here."The Guide to Getting it On" by Paul Joannides Patti Britton, a clinical sexologist and educator, said that though there is no single book that can fully capture the spectrum of human sexuality, she highly recommends this book because the author writes in an accessible and inclusive way."This has been his life's work over several of the past years. He's a psychoanalyst and sex researcher and sexuality educator who does a tremendous amount of research that backs up all of the data in the book," Britton said."It's so comprehensive on so many diverse topics within the broad topic of human sexuality," she added.Buy it here. "The Art of The Hookup: Your Ethical Guide to a Successful Sex Life" by Georgie WolfLinda Kirkman, the Victorian president of the Society for Australian Sexologists, conducts research on sexual health over the lifespan. She told Insider she recommends this book for anyone looking to work on sexual communication."While it sounds like it is just about casual sex, and Georgie says the reader they had in mind was a man 18 to 25 years old, what makes me recommend this book to people of all ages and relationship types is the detail about consent and communication," Kirkman said. Kirkman also applauded the book for its focus on psychological health during sex.Buy it at."Enjoy sex (how, when and IF you want to): A Practical and Inclusive Guide" by Meg-John Barker and Justin HancockKirkman said this book is another great consent-focused guide that takes an open approach to sex."What I love about this book is the wide perspective about what sex is, or could be, and the focus on consent," Kirkman said. "It allows for understandings about sex and sexuality beyond a narrow social script and makes no assumptions that sexual activity is compulsory. It is also written in an engaging and clear style."Buy it here."Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life" by Emily NagoskiStephen Snyder, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, studies relationships and human sexuality. He said this book is a good introductory text to female sexuality."It's written to educate women about their erotic bodies and minds. And it's managed to convince a lot of women who've read it that they're normal and that there's nothing wrong with them," Snyder said.Buy it here."Not Always in the Mood: The New Science of Men, Sex, and Relationships" by Sarah Hunter MurraySnyder also recommended this book, saying it's "required reading" for heterosexual couples.In it, the author, who's studied human sexuality and desire for years, uses her own research to break down stereotypes and expectations about human sexuality.Buy it here.Read more:A therapist needed rectal surgery to treat his HPV, and he said it changed his life for the betterI caught my husband watching gay porn and he admitted he's seen it before. Does that mean he's gay'The one mistake monogamous couples make when considering polyamory, according to a sex researcher
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