I have loved and lost many times. The breakups made even more painful by the intensity and fervor with which I entered into romantic relationships. Yet, despite some pretty heartbreaking experiences, I still want to love and be loved. 
 
During the times I had lost my will to love and swore to myself that I would never love again (who was I kidding?), I turned to my first love, books. 

These five books completely changed what I thought and believed about love. They opened my eyes to all the ways I was  unconsciously preventing myself from experiencing love. They renewed my faith in the transformative power of love. Most importantly, though, they helped me to believe that I am worthy and deserving of pure love. I hope that they might offer a glimmer of hope and inspiration to the hopeful romantic in you.
 
1. Breakups suck big time. I doubt that even the “toughest” people among us are not affected by them on some level. When a relationship ends, we often feel frustrated, angry, sad, confused or a combination of all of these emotions and more. Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You offers practical strategies for dealing with the intense negative emotions of a break up in a healthier and more effective manner. This book is interesting because it draws parallels between breaking up and grieving a loss. The exercises and self care strategies will not only help to get past the break up, but to also use the experience to learn more about yourself and your relationships. 

2. Mars And Venus on a Date: A Guide for Navigating the 5 Stages of Dating to Create A Loving and Lasting Relationship written by John Gray, PhD, applies the idea that men and women are fundamentally different to the dating process. Each section represents a different stage in the dating process (attraction, uncertainty, exclusivity, intimacy and engagement). In each chapter, Dr. Gray discusses how the distinct way men and women approach and think about dating can and and does cause misunderstandings. The uncertainty phase was always a source of confusion for me. I would interpret a man's uncertainty as disinterest and make the mistake of pushing harder, causing the man's feelings of uncertainty to actually increase and ultimately drive him away. Once I learned what I was doing, I made a conscious effort to “fall back” and give guys space. They began pursuing me - a welcome change!
 
3. Self-reflection and awareness are major themes throughout Are You the One for Me?: Knowing Who's Right and Avoiding Who's Wrong by Barbara DeAngelis. Through a variety of exercises, this book will encourage you to evaluate your past relationships to uncover unhealthy patterns and beliefs that negatively affect your ability to develop loving romantic relationships. I'll be completely honest with you. This is a pretty heavy book in that it sometimes requires you to re-experience and re-open emotional pain in order to heal. It's so easy to experience emotional exhaustion and not want to deal with these issues anymore. There were times when I put the book down and didn't pick it back up for several weeks. Know that this is a normal part of the process. Take time to rest and when you're ready, come back to it.    
 
4. The concept behind The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman is that everyone has a specific and distinct way of experiencing and receiving love (i.e their love language). The five love languages are acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts and physical touch. According to Chapman, it is extremely important to know your own love language and to learn the language of your partner in order to experience true love. At the end of the book there is a short questionnaire to help you figure out your own love language. I rated high on words of affirmation, which is completely accurate. This knowledge has empowered me and given me the words to express my emotional needs - an invaluable skill in cultivating fulfilling relationships of all kinds. 
 
5. Enchanted Love: The Mystical Power of Intimate Relationships by Marianne Williamson resonated with me on such a deep spiritual level, it was as if I was remembering things I already knew. The narrative text is interspersed with poems that reveal universal truths about love and relationships. For me, this book expressed a shift that has been occurring in my beliefs about love. The philosophy behind Enchanted Love is that romantic relationships are for the purposes of addressing areas of weakness and becoming our more authentic selves. Williamson suggests that the emotional wounds and scars that are unearthed as a result of being so intimate and vulnerable with another person must be healed in order to ascend to higher levels of consciousness and evolution. This book is extremely powerful and beautifully written.     
 
What books or other resources that have been helpful to you in your relationships?
 


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