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5 New Books That May Help You Improve Your Love Life

How to find a romantic partner, foster intimacy in long-term relationships, and have great sex — at any age

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Ah, love! So wonderful. But so complicated. It can be tough to find, even harder to sustain, and excruciating when it ends. These five recently released books take different approaches, but each is meant to help you navigate the complexities of relationships, whether you’re looking to forge new connections or make the union you have more joyful and satisfying.

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The Love Prescription: 7 Days to More Intimacy, Connection, and Joy

by John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman

If you and your honey have drifted apart over the years, you might consider advice from the Gottmans. They’ve not only been married for more than three decades, they’re also clinical psychologists who’ve spent their careers studying love and relationship issues. Their book, which came out in September, is an easily digestible distillation of their wisdom into a “bite-sized” weeklong action plan for partners hoping to deepen their bonds. One key takeaway? Love is not about grand gestures (“It’s not John Cusack standing outside your bedroom window with a boom box,” they write in a nod to the famous Say Anything scene), but about “little things done often” — predictable ways of connecting that you can design together and count on.

Sex Talks: The Five Conversations That Will Transform Your Love Life

by Vanessa Marin and Xander Marin

The married authors — hosts of the podcast Pillow Talks — have said they learned the importance of communication from their own former sexual troubles, which included “orgasm issues, mismatched sex drives and performance anxiety,” as Vanessa Marin, a psychotherapist, wrote in a recent essay in Time magazine. “Despite my chosen career path, we struggled to talk about our own sex life.” No more, apparently. Their new guide walks readers through five conversations that they believe are crucial to a good sex life and a strong emotional connection, starting with the simple “acknowledgement” discussion: that “sex is a thing, and we have it.” Some couples, the authors note, don’t even speak about what happens (or doesn’t happen) between the sheets. This book, out Feb. 7, gives them a good place to start.

Money and Love: An Intelligent Roadmap for Life’s Biggest Decisions

by Myra Strober and Abby Davisson

It’s crucial to keep rationality-clouding emotions from steering you wrong when you’re trying to make work, love and other kinds of important decisions. So say Strober, a labor economist and Stanford professor emerita, and “social innovation leader” Davisson. The authors advocate using their “5Cs method”: clarify your priorities; communicate with others involved in the decision; choices (consider a wide range of them); check in with others and listen to other perspectives; and consequences, which should be carefully thought through. The idea is that our personal and professional lives are often so intertwined that decisions about love or money need to be made strategically, while keeping both in mind.

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8 Rules of Love: How to Find It, Keep It and Let It Go 

by Jay Shetty

Shetty, 35, is host of the podcast On Purpose and author of the best-selling 2020 book Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day, which offers lessons on living your best life based on Zen principles Shetty absorbed while living in India as a Hindu monk for three years. He offers similarly monk-like wisdom in his new book, presenting love as a daily practice, like meditation, that requires effort and attention. Love is not about “creating a perfect relationship,” he writes, but rather “learning to navigate the imperfections that are intrinsic to ourselves, our partners and life itself.” His first chapter is about finding comfort in solitude; the ability to do so, he argues, is important for developing healthy connections with others.  

Gray Love: Stories About Dating and New Relationships After 60

Edited by Nan Bauer-Maglin and Daniel E. Hood

The editors have compiled a diverse selection of essays by 45 men and women, ages 60 to 94, about the challenges and joys inherent in making and building romantic connections in their older years. They offer a wide range of perspectives. One woman describes how she found a partner with the help of a pricey matchmaker, and a few say they are divorced and happy with their independence. Some express exasperation with online dating, while others say they’ve relished even the fleeting encounters it’s afforded them (a woman who’s been on 39 first dates over nine years, for instance, writes that she got “something from everyone”). And many say they have had the best sex in their life in their later years.

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