There’s plenty of dating advice out there, from pithy quotes on Instagram to the relatives who want you to get a boyfriend/get pregnant/get divorced. But there isn’t much dating advice out there that is actually helpful. Luckily for all of us, there is a handful of carefully researched, brilliantly written books that will get you through the good, the bad, and the very, very sad moments in your love life. Here are several great dating books to start with.
How to Not Die Alone: The Surprising Science That Will Help You Find Love — Logan Ury If you’re single, you’re probably used to getting unsolicited dating advice from people who think they have all the answers. If there’s one person who does have all the answers though, it’s Logan Ury, a Harvard-trained behavioral scientist turned dating coach. This is one of those books that serve as a science-backed, easily-digested guide for how to find and keep love for those who haven’t yet managed to crack the code.
Women Who Love Too Much — Robin Norwood Some books never lose their relevancy, and this is one of them. Written in 1987 by a licensed marriage and family therapist, Women Who Love Too Much is an evergreen read for, well, women who love too much. If you’re stuck in a pattern of falling for people who don’t love you back, this is the book for you. It helps you unlock the psychology behind unrequited love, why you might be addicted to it, and how you can liberate yourself from an unhealthy cycle.
Love and…: Bad Boys, the One, and Other Fun Ways to Sabotage Your Relationship — Jen Kim If you’re looking for a book that feels like your wisest and most candid friend, Love and… will satisfy your needs. Kim writes from personal experience about relationship failures, chasing “happily-ever-after,” and the pitfalls of thinking you’ve found “The One.” But she also uses scientific research to back up her advice, making her more than just your closes confidant. It’s like having a best friend who’s also an entire research database. You can rest assured that you’re in good hands with this one.
Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl — A Woman’s Guide to Holding Her Own in a Relationship — Sherry Argov Of all the dating books on this list, this is the most well-known. Many girls are brought up to be people-pleasers who say “yes” to everything and feel bad about turning guys down when they want sex. We’re taught that advocating for ourselves will make us pushy, rude, and worst of all, unattractive. But Sherry Argov challenges this. In Why Men Love Bitches, she points to evidence showing that men are actually drawn to women who stand up for themselves and refuse to be ignored. If you’re feeling like you’ll never find a man unless you become passive, this book will change your mind.
The Panic Years: Dates, Doubts and the Mother of All Decisions — Nell Frizzell Not only is this book scarily insightful, but it’s also funny. A lot of women move through their 20s and 30s full of uncertainty about who they are and who they want to be. But at some point, no matter how unprepared you are to make a decision about it, everyone with a vagina has to ask themselves: “Do I want kids?” Frizzell labels this period of waning fertility as “The panic years.” If you’ve ever struggled with deciding whether to have kids or feel like you’re always a few steps behind your peers, this is one of the best dating books for you.
How to Date Men When You Hate Men — Blythe Roberson Many women have a love/hate relationship with men. They love the wonderful men in their lives, but hate, for example, the patriarchy. They love the men who stand up for women’s rights, but hate the ones who blithely destroy them. Blythe Roberson’s book is a hilarious and plain-spoken discussion about this ongoing struggle that many of us live every day, and how to accept it without lowering your standards.
More dating books to check out
Modern Romance: An Investigation — Aziz Ansari Dating isn’t what it used to be, and most dating advice hasn’t caught up yet. Comedian Aziz Ansari takes a look at the ways romance has changed in recent years and validates your frustration and confusion. He talks about d*ck pics, having too many options, and the perils of emojis. It’s the kind of book that will make you feel seen.
Ask a Queer Chick: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life for Girls Who Dig Girls — Lindsay King-Miller Unfortunately, centuries of heteronormativity have meant that most dating and relationship books adhere to a strict man/woman, straight-as-an-arrow binary. Ask a Queer Chick is one of the best examples of the increase in queer relationship literature. It sheds light on the absurdity of our obsession with straight romance and offers a guide on how to be queer in a world that still overwhelmingly celebrates straightness.
Pretty Bitches: On Being Called Crazy, Angry, Bossy, Frumpy, Feisty, and All the Other Words That Are Used to Undermine Women — edited by Lizzie Skurnick Speaking of constant, deeply-ingrained bias, Pretty Bitches unpacks the words that undermine women that we take for granted. It’s a collection of essays by eminent writers and commentators, each centered around a single word. Think of how often women are described as “bossy” compared to men, or how people refer to a woman’s beauty as “effortless.” In reality, that woman has probably spent significant time and money to look that way. Each writer calls out the language we use that subconsciously undermines women. While not one of the most traditional “dating” books, it will help you understand the sexism we encounter in daily life, how to subvert it, and how to spot red flags when you’re with a new person.
All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation — Rebecca Traister When it comes to dating books, this is one of the biggest must-reads on the list. 2009 was the first year in American history when married women accounted for less than 50% of the adult female population. Through exhaustive research, Traister examines this phenomenon and finds that, although there are more single American women than ever before, there have always been women who have chosen not to marry, and they have shaped history.
Breakup Bootcamp: The Science of Rewiring Your Heart — Amy Chan The worst thing about romantic relationships is, hands down, breaking up. Chan offers an empathetic, positive guide to heartbreak, affirming the emotional agony while asserting that every breakup is an opportunity for growth. Relationships end for a reason, and Chan helps readers embrace the change and turn it into a transformative experience. Breakup Bootcamp is a must-read for anyone struggling to get over an ex and is one of the best dating books out there now.