Intimate Relationships

 Bradbury, T. N., & Karney, B. R. (2019). Intimate Relationships (3rd ed.). New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

This introductory text encourages students to interact with what they read with vignettes and questions at the beginning of each chapter. After chapters on methods and key theories, it focuses on gender and sexual orientation, attraction, personality and personal history, communication, stressors and conflict, interpretation of experience, and interventions.  It also devotes whole chapters to sexual intimacy, infidelity and aggression, and examines relationships across the lifespan, and thus covers those topics in more detail than other texts do.  It is aimed at undergraduates, but it can also serve as a foundation for a graduate course. The body of the text is 538 pages in length, with an additional 64 pages of references.

Dragon, W. & Duck, S. (2005). Understanding Research in Personal Relationships: A Text with Readings. London: Sage.

This book is an introduction to key readings on close relationships in a format that promotes the critical reading of research articles in relationship science. Scholarly papers are presented in an abridged form accompanied by critical comments. The book has a didactic focus, providing to students historical, theoretical and methodological contexts to each article as well as an explanation of key terms and ideas. The twelve chapters cover topics such as reading research on relationships, attraction, love, sexuality, relationship development, social power, relational maintenance, jealousy, conflict in relationships, relationship disturbance, loneliness, the importance of social networks, and cyber relationships.  It is 352 pages long.

Erber, R,, & Erber, M. (2017).  Intimate Relationships: Issues, Theories, and Research (3rd ed.).  Hove, UK: Psychology Press.

After describing the key needs underlying relationships, this book devotes chapters to methods, attraction, self-disclosure, equity, love, attachment, and sex.  Chapters are also given to jealousy, conflict, violence, and relationship dissolution. It is intended for undergraduates, but it may serve as a foundation for a graduate course.  It contains approximately 955 references and is 326 pages long.

Fletcher, G., Simpson, J. A., Campbell, L., & Overall, N. C.  (2013). The Science of Intimate Relationships.  West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.

This book emphasizes an evolutionary perspective to a greater extent than most others do. The biological underpinnings and evolutionary origins of relationships are highlighted throughout.  Partners’ minds and bodies are used as organizing themes in consideration of human nature, attachment processes, mate selection, perceptions of partners, communication, and love and sex.  Relationship violence and dissolution are also considered.  The book is aimed at upper-level undergraduate and postgraduate students.  It contains approximately 855 references and is 396 pages long.

Miller, R. S.  (2018).  Intimate Relationships (8th ed.).  Boston: McGraw-Hill.

This introduction to relationship science is relatively comprehensive and explicitly multidisciplinary. After a first chapter that introduces key influences on relationships—culture, experience, individual differences, and evolution—and a chapter on methods, the book devotes chapters to attraction, perceptions of partners, communication, interdependency, friendship, love, and sex.  Chapters are also given to stressors in relationships, conflict, relationship dissolution, and relationship maintenance and repair.  Unlike most other books, it also devotes an entire chapter to power and violence and provides extensive coverage of nonverbal communication, deception, jealousy, and betrayal.  It is intended for undergraduates, but it can also serve as a foundation for a graduate course.  The body of the text is 441 pages in length, with an additional 101 pages of references.

Ogolsky, B. G., Lloyd, S. A., & Cate, R. M. (2013). The developmental course of romantic relationships. New York: Routledge.

This multidisciplinary text highlights the development of romantic relationships, from initiation to commitment or demise, by highlighting the historical context, current research and theory, and diversity of patterns. Engagingly written with colorful examples, the authors examine the joy, stress, power-struggles, intimacy, and aggression that characterize these relationships. Readers gain a better understanding as to why, even after the pain and suffering associated with a breakup, most of us go right back out and start again. Relationships are examined through an interdisciplinary lens –psychological, sociological, environmental and communicative perspectives are all considered. End of chapter summaries, lists of key concepts, and additional readings serve as a review. As a whole the book explores what precipitates success or failure of these relationships and how this has changed over time. It is 224 pages long.

Regan, P. C. (2011). Close Relationships. East Sussex: Routledge.

This book is a broad introduction to relationship science with multidisciplinary reach. Its first section presents the fundamental principles of relationship science, discussing the key concepts, theories, and research methods of the field. Then relationship development is discussed, including relationship initiation, development, mate selection and marriage. The third part analyzes relationship processes such as communicating and supporting, loving and sexing. Finally, rejection and betrayal, aggression and violence, conflict and loss, and intervention are discussed as relationship challenges. It is intended for upper-level undergraduates, but it can readily serve as a foundation for a graduate course.  It contains approximately 1,260 references and is 387 pages long.

Willerton, J.  (2010). The Psychology of Relationships. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave MacMillan.

This relatively brief book focuses on evolution, attachment, and culture.  Whole chapters are devoted to those influences on relationships and to the development, maintenance, and breakdown of partnerships. An entire chapter is also devoted to the effects of relationships on health, giving the topic more prominence than it is accorded in most other texts. It is aimed at undergraduates, contains approximately 280 references, and is 200 pages long.


Duck, S.  (2007).  Human Relationships (4th ed.).  London: Sage.

This book emphasizes communication and discourse.  It is relatively selective, devoting whole chapters to social networks, persuasion, and the influences of technology on relationships.  It is intended for undergraduates, contains approximately 525 references, and is 296 pages long.

Guerrero, L. K., Andersen, P. A., & Afifi, W. A. (2018). Close encounters: Communication in relationships (5th ed.). Sage.

This text takes a relational approach to the study of interpersonal communication to help students with their relationships, whether romantic, friendship, or family-based.  The authors offer research-based insights and content illustrated with scenarios to show how state-of-the-art research and theory can be applied to specific issues within relationships. The body of the text is 435 pages in length, with an additional 41 pages of references.

Knapp et al. (2013) Interpersonal communication and human relationships (7th ed.). US: Pearson.

This book provides a comprehensive developmental and analytical approach to communication in close relationships. Using both current and classic scholarship, it introduces readers to interpersonal communication principles and theories. The book features examples of relationships with romantic partners, roommates, friends, and parents to help readers better understand concepts. It covers the role of communication in the growth, maintenance, and decay of human relationships and presents research on the importance of communication in developing relationships, factors that influence relational behavior, interaction patterns that characterize the developmental course and outcomes of relationships, and effective relational communication.


Lehmiller, J.J. (2017). The psychology of human sexuality (2nd Edition). Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
Description from Amazon and publisher’s website:
The thoroughly revised and updated second edition of The Psychology of Human Sexuality explores the roles that biology, psychology, and the social and cultural context play in shaping human sexual behavior. The author puts the spotlight on the most recent research and theory on human sexuality, with an emphasis on psychology. The text presents the major theoretical perspectives on human sexuality, and details the vast diversity of sexual attitudes and behaviors that exist in the modern world. The author also reviews the history of sexology and explores its unique methods and ethical considerations. Overall, this important and comprehensive text provides readers with a better understanding of, and appreciation for, the science of sex and the amazing complexity of human sexuality. Key features: (1) broad coverage of topics including anatomy, gender and sexual orientation, sexual behaviors, sexual difficulties and solutions, prostitution, and pornography, (2) offers more in-depth treatment of relationships than comparable texts, with separate chapters dealing with attraction and relationship processes, (3) includes cutting-edge research on the origins of sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as new treatments for sexually transmitted infections and sexual dysfunctions, (4), is written from a sex-positive perspective, with expanded coverage of cross-cultural research throughout and material that is inclusive and respectful of a diverse audience, and (5) includes numerous activities to facilitate dynamic, interactive classroom environments. Written for students of human sexuality and anyone interested in the topic, The Psychology of Human Sexuality offers a guide to the psychology of human sexual behavior that is at once inclusive, thorough, and authoritative in its approach. 


King, B. M., & Regan, P. (2013). Human sexuality today  (8th ed.). New York: Pearson.

Description from Amazon and publisher’s website:

Examines how human sexuality impacts students’ lives today

Human Sexuality Today, 8/e, is an appealing, readable, and humanistic guide to human sexuality, with a sound balance between facts and understanding. Through the authors’ conversational writing style, readers will gain insight into human sexuality, helping them feel comfortable about themselves and their own sexuality.  552 pages

LeVay, S., Baldwin, J., & Baldwin, J. (2015). Discovering human sexuality  (3rd ed.). Sinauer Associates, Oxford University Press.

Description from Amazon and publisher’s website:

Discovering Human Sexuality is an evidence-based, accessible introduction to the study of sexuality and the diverse ways in which it brings joys and challenges to our lives. The backgrounds of the authors--in biology, sociology, teaching, and writing--have made possible a text that is multidisciplinary, authoritative, sex-positive, and a delight to read. Now in its third edition, Discovering Human Sexuality has established itself as a popular and widely praised text that respects diversity both in the sexual world and among the students who read it.
The third edition maintains the overall presentation of its predecessors, but adds coverage of recent sex-related developments in research, medicine, law, politics, and social trends. In addition, the authors have included two substantial appendices: one looks at sex and sexuality from an evolutionary perspective; the other provides additional material regarding the role of the nervous system in sexual functioning. The two appendices have been developed from sections of the authors' other text, Human Sexuality. The intent is to provide options for more advanced learning while leaving the main text accessible to students with more limited backgrounds in biology.  645 pages

Rathus, S. A., Nevid, J. S., & Fichner-Rathus, L. (2017). Human sexuality in a changing world  (10th ed.). New York: Pearson.

Description from Amazon and publisher’s website: 

A contemporary overview of human sexuality that fosters personal reflection and critical thinking  Human Sexuality in a Changing World provides a clear overview of this diverse field, aimed at helping students see the effects of both biology and culture upon human sexuality. In order to foster a more personal and impactful learning experience, authors Spencer Rathus, Jeffrey Nevid, and Lois Fichner-Rathus encourage students to reflect upon their own beliefs and experiences as they proceed through the text. In addition to the latest research, the Tenth Edition has been updated with new content on the ways in which the Internet and digital devices have impacted sexuality in many contemporary societies.  624 pages

Other texts

Lewandowski, G. W. Jr., Loving, T. J., Le, B., & Gleason, M. (eds.) (2013). The science of relationships: Answers to your questions about dating, marriage, and family. Holmdel, NJ: Dr. L Industries.

If you could ask any question about relationships, marriage, family, or parenting, what would you ask? Coincidentally, we have published a book that answers 40 of the most common questions. The book is edited by the creators of ScienceOfRelationships.com, and includes contributions from us and many of our colleagues. The key difference between our book and the other books on relationships out there is that all of our contributors are relationship scientists and teachers at colleges/universities who are true experts on relationships. We take that expertise, add in a little research, and present things in an easy to read format on your Kindle (or other device of choice). 254 pages

Simpson, J. A., & Campbell, L. (2013). The Oxford handbook of close relationships. Oxford University Press.

Description from Amazon and the publisher’s website:

The Oxford Handbook of Close Relationships provides the best, most in-depth, and most comprehensive summary of the study of close relationships. The book is divided into eight sections: introductory comments, major theoretical approaches to relationships, attraction in relationships, models of relationship functioning and processes, daily relationship functioning, psychological and physical well-being in relationships, relationships across development and time, and concluding comments. The 37 chapters showcase the most important classic and contemporary theories, models, and empirical research that have been conducted across three dozen major topic areas within the field of close relationships. Chapter topics range in scope from evolutionary approaches to understanding relationships, the "battle between the sexes," cultural influences on relationships, female sexuality, personality in relationships, intimate partner violence, relationships and health, social development, and adult relationship outcomes. Each chapter is structured around three themes: (1) the most important and foundational principles, ideas, and findings on each chapter topic, (2) the most important and novel emerging themes and issues relevant to each topic, and (3) the newest and most promising directions for future research. Current, comprehensive, and with heretofore unmatched breadth and depth, this volume will serve as a roadmap for future theory and research in the study of close relationship during the next decade.  866 pages