Learn to Build Healthy Relationship Dynamics From These Books

Set clear boundaries and ask for what you want!

Learn to Build Healthy Relationship Dynamics From These Books
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Set clear boundaries and ask for what you want!

All my life, I’ve been running.

Running away from getting hurt, protecting my heart at all costs, willingly detaching myself from people so they can’t get close enough.

After all, closeness leads to heartbreak. At least, that’s what I thought.

In my late 20s, I was alone and “protected.” Friends around me were getting married, making bold choices of picking a life partner. That was when I started wondering at the futility, or effectiveness, of my life choices.

How healthy was detachment, when you could open your heart to love and enjoy some of the most fulfilling experiences life has to offer?

Growing up in a dysfunctional Indian family, I never had clear role models of how a proper relationship should look like. Books and movies always focus on the “falling in love” part. All fiction glosses over the real challenge, the part where two people decide to “stay in love.”

I turned to non-fiction for guidance, and these science-backed books helped me a lot in figuring out how to build healthy relationship dynamics and not to close my heart for the fear of being left alone.

These four masterpieces taught me everything about human connections, from behavioral psychology to deeper emotional connections. I hope you enjoy reading about my favorite books on building healthy relationship dynamics.

Games People Play by Eric Berne

Image: Goodreads

Everyone wears a mask in social interactions and you’ll never know what’s going on in their minds. Games People Play by Eric Berne is an eye-opener psychology book that has not only helped me read through people but also identify my destructive patterns.

I was intrigued by the concept of transactional analysis in the book which can help understand the dynamics of human interactions. It’s important to analyze how we adapt and behave in a relationship. The book has wonderfully explained the different types of games we play such as marital games, sexual games, power dynamics, and competitive games.

Earlier, I used to see people and interactions how they appeared to me, but now I see them for who they are. Games People Play helped me realize the manipulative patterns of others and what psychological advantage they want. It’s important to protect your mental energy from such people and situations.

This book discusses the underlying motivations behind playing such games. It helped me identify my unhealthy patterns that affected my relationship dynamics with others. If you want authentic connections and healthy relationships in life, this book is a must-read.

My favorite quotes from Games People Play by Eric Berne

“The eternal problem of the human being is how to structure his waking hours”
“Beautiful friendships” are often based on the fact that the players complement each other with great economy and satisfaction so that there is a maximum yield with a minimum effort from the games they play with each other.”

Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards

Image: Goodreads

Why do you think most people get captivated by a certain person in any social setting like they’re a people magnet or something? They have that positive aura around them and seem to get along with almost everyone. 

Want to know the secret of how they do that? 

They’re the masters of behavioral science. It’s a science of people that anybody can learn, but most don’t. If you wish to become captivating and take charge of your relationships at work, personal life, or any social setting, then Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards is all you need to read.

This book on behavioral science has changed my way of interacting with people and how I present myself. It teaches subtle ways to make a killer first impression and rock any networking event, interview, or date. It explains the laws of human behavior and the impact of body language, non-verbal cues, and emotional intelligence in forming relationships. After understanding these laws, you’ll never interact with people the same way.

Captivate shares insanely helpful tips to build trust and understanding in any connection. Especially, the concept of mirroring, active listening, and empathy has helped me make meaningful connections and meet some beautiful souls in my life. The book also talks about issues that most people face in social gatherings such as anxiety and initiating conversations. 

Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards is an all-in-one self-help book to overcome your social anxiety and make lasting first impressions everywhere you go. Surprisingly, our body language, facial expressions, vocals, and small gestures can significantly impact how people perceive us. Everyone is so consumed in telling their stories that they forget to actually engage in communication with others. If you want people to listen to you, practice active listening and take a genuine interest in their talk. Another aspect of an effective social skill is spreading positivity. This book has mind-blowing tips for becoming confident and approachable in social settings.

My favorite quotes from Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards

“When you try to be the same as everyone else, it’s boring. When you try to fit into a mold, you become forgettable. When you try to be “normal,” you become dull. Just be yourself, because no one is like you. If you’re a little weird, own it. The right people will like you for it.”
“Leading people is about communicating a mission and then letting them take part in it. If you want to motivate a colleague, empower a team, or inspire a friend, all you have to do is figure out how to give them ownership.”
“With a first impression, you are a Triple Threat when you use your hands, your posture, and your eye contact. These are the three nonverbal weapons you can use to pass through all three levels of trust.”

Getting Real by Susan Campbell

Image: Goodreads

The basis of any relationship is honest communication. Most people understand this but still don’t know how to implement it in their relationship. The key is self-realization. 

  • Where do I feel like I can’t be myself or do I have to pretend? 
  • Do I have to sweet talk or just say what’s going on in my head? 

Ask yourself these questions first. That’s what Getting Real by Susan Campbell teaches. You have to be honest with yourself before you expect others to do so.

The book teaches ten truth skills that can enhance your relationships. One most important truth skill I learned is if you want something in life, just ask for it. It’s as simple as that. Be verbal about how you feel. Getting Real also talks about the art of saying no and taking constructive feedback.

Most of the time we lie to ourselves as we want to have a sense of control over situations. We interpret what others say which might always not be true. We put ourselves in painful situations in our heads before it actually happens. Then we shut down instead of sharing how we feel. Getting Real teaches us to be transparent and not make assumptions about other people’s emotions.

I had a real awakening while reading this book. It has taught me to not take everything personally. Sometimes how you feel is the projection of others and their emotions. If someone tries to insult you, be aware that it’s the projection of their insecurities. Understanding these simple things can improve your relationships greatly, help you become humble, and understand others better. This book was worth reading, I would recommend this to anyone who struggles with relationships.

My favorite quotes from Getting Real by Susan Campbell

“Shoulds keep you from owning your power to create the life you want. They keep you in denial about your actual feelings and situation.”
“Busting out of your comfort zone might be the most fun thing you ever did — after you get over the idea that you have to be safe, appropriate, perfect, right — or that you have to be anything.”
“To really experience true contact with another person, you must enter a realm of uncertainty together.”

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Image: Goodreads

Do you believe that showing vulnerability is a sign of weakness? I used to think that until I read Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. This book is a combination of humor, storytelling, and personal anecdotes that kept me hooked until the end.

It’s a myth that vulnerability is a weakness. It’s actually the most courageous act that creates a sense of belongingness and empathy. Whether you want to nurture a relationship or become a good leader, embracing vulnerability can help you. It also encourages the other side to be vulnerable and build trust. It’s the biggest quality a leader can cultivate to make their team feel safe and open to communication.

Daring Greatly is all about embracing imperfections and not feeling shameful or guilty about it. Ultimately, we’re all humans craving for deeper and meaningful connections, which isn’t possible without vulnerability. I loved the concept of wholehearted living in the book. It tells us not to restrict our emotions and be authentic in relationships. So, dare greatly to live open-heartedly and show your vulnerable side unapologetically.

My favorite quotes from Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

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