March 5, 2024

Birth Stories for Books: The Joy of Imperfect Love, by Carla Marie Manly, PHD

One of the big bonuses of being a children's book author is getting to know other members of the book-writing community and their books. As a result of my affiliation with Familius, the publisher of my next scheduled book, I've learned about THE JOY OF IMPERFECT LOVE: The Art of Creating Healthy, Securely Attached Relationships, by Carla Marie Manly, PHD (Familius, March 2024).

by Carla Marie Manly, PHD

I recently received an advanced reader copy of this book, and although I haven't finished reading it yet, I didn't want to wait any longer to share it with you. It's the kind of the book that's packed to the brim with valuable information that's meant to be read and re-read, contemplated and considered, pondered and practiced. 

A few days ago I was chatting with a different author friend of mine about some of the less pleasant aspects of the publishing industry, including some past experiences and interactions that have been hurtful and damaging to my tender heart. Dr. Manly's book, although more specifically directed at helping readers develop healthier loving relationships, is rooted in the importance of loving one's imperfect self. It's a perfect book to read and consider for those of us navigating the book-publishing world, and the imperfect path to publication. 

And with that, I will turn it over to Dr. Carla Marie Manly, for a different sort of Birth Stories for Books guest post. Instead of sharing with us how this particular book (Dr. Manly's fourth) came to be, Dr. Manly shares with us some of the key concepts in her book, helping each of us journey forward in love, as we bring our imperfect selves to the page day after day after day, in search of our own Birth Stories for Books. 

by Carla Marie Manly, PhD

Love—and life—are messy! In a world that focuses on perfection, the concept of imperfect love is the antidote our souls need.  Imperfect love allows us to grow and shift for the better by releasing unconscious programming from the past. As we become more self-aware, we can consciously release negative habits and embrace those that bring joy and lasting love. Unlike the myth of perfect, fairytale love, genuine love doesn’t “just happen”; it takes ongoing effort.  When we put our energy into loving well (if imperfectly), we foster the emotional connection we crave. 

As a clinical psychologist, I’ve found that our overall well-being is deeply affected by the love we experience.  If you are feeling stuck, I invite you to embrace a few of the core concepts of imperfect love to begin your journey into self-discovery, connection, and genuinely loving relationships. 

#1—LOVE IS LEARNED: If you didn’t experience unconditional—albeit imperfect—love as a child, healthy love may not be natural for you. We experience love through the love that was modeled for us. We first come to know love by being loved, then by learning to love in return. For better or worse, we are—unless we create a shift—the products of our formative love experiences.  If you find yourself getting stuck in blame or shame, use your energy to create positive change. 

#2—THE IMPERFECT SELF: Knowing and loving yourself from the inside is the key to imperfect love. Self-awareness fosters self-love; as you appreciate who you are as an individual, the pressure to conform evaporates. By embracing your individuality, your self-esteem blossoms. From this centered place of empowered self-awareness, your imperfect self feels seen and accepted. Allow yourself to practice honoring—rather than rejecting—your imperfections. 

#3—SELF-LOVE: Self-love isn’t a given; it is grown on a strong foundation of compassion and self-esteem. Self-love is an equalizer and is available to anyone who fosters positive acceptance and change. Your self-love will grow as you work to hone your strengths and shore up—and accept--your imperfections. Strive to spend a bit of time every day nonjudgmentally noticing thoughts that hold you back from loving yourself well. 

#4—LOVE EVOLVES:  As you embrace your imperfect self, you’ll discover that imperfect love is not a goal but an evolutionary journey that involves five gifts—your feelings, thoughts, mindsets, energy, and actions. As you intentionally use the imperfect interplay of these five gifts, you will feel more secure, aware, and empowered in all of your relationships.  Gently practice noticing and honoring your various emotions as they arise; give them space to be present without judgment. 

#5—FRIENDSHIP: Healthy relationships are built on the seven pillars of true friendship—investment, respect, honesty, kindness, compassion, wise acceptance, and shared vulnerabilities. When mutually fostered, these pillars create profound trust and safety. Healthy relationships don’t expect perfection; they ask for conscientious, devoted efforts that create imperfect, authentic love.  Pause to notice the people in your life who consistently offer the seven pillars of true friendship.  

#6—COMMUNICATION: We experience the bonding power of listening and being heard when we dismantle our defenses and dive into heartfelt, connective communication. And by using the art of healthy conflict, we experience bonding growth. We become more attuned to ourselves and others as we strengthen our communication and conflict resolution skills. In this intentional space, fear recedes as joyful, imperfect love expands.  Allow yourself to notice your helpful and unhelpful communication patterns with various people; embrace the patterns that feel connective to you.

As we discover and embrace the secrets to healthy love for ourselves and others, our lives begin to change.  The journey of imperfect love allows you to find—and embrace—the healthy love you crave and deserve.  There is no better time than now to bring healthy, genuine love into your world. 

The concepts in this article are based on Dr. Carla Marie Manly’s fourth book, The Joy of Imperfect Love

Dr. Carla Marie Manly—clinical psychologist, Imperfect Love podcaster, and author—is based in Sonoma County, California. In addition to her clinical practice focusing on relationships and personal transformation, Dr. Manly is deeply invested in her roles as a consultant and speaker. With a refreshingly direct and honest approach—plus a dose of humor—Dr. Manly enjoys supporting others in the ever-evolving journey of life.  Her novel self-development paradigm builds resilience, emotional intelligence, and self-esteem. Highlighting the importance of loving connection, her work also focuses on helping others create deeply connected and satisfying intimate relationships. Working from a transformative model that honors the body-mind-spirit connection, Dr. Manly offers holistic relationship and wellness seminars around the world.  Her four captivating books, The Joy of Imperfect Love, Date Smart, Joy from Fear, and Aging Joyfully highlight Dr. Manly’s empowering approach and profound expertise.  Dr. Manly’s expertise is also regularly cited in media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Forbes, Oprah, Newsweek, NBC, HuffPost, Reader’s Digest, Psychology Today, Parade, GQ, Women’s Health, Architectural Digest, Men’s Health, and more.  

Thanks so much for sharing THE JOY OF IMPERFECT LOVE with us, Dr. Manly! 

Readers, the best way to thank an author whose insights have been helpful and/or inspiring to you is to support their work. Buy their books. Request them from your library. Read and share them with others. Dr. Carla Marie Manly's books, such as THE JOY OF IMPERFECT LOVE, are available everywhere books are borrowed and sold, including bookshop, your own local, indie bookstore, and directly from Familius


Birth Stories for Books is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is an award-winning author of multiple picture books including, Lucy's Blooms, Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?, and 16 books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series. Dawn is a contributing author to the award-winning book, Oregon Reads Aloud, and a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and educational conferences. Contact Dawn using the form at the left, or learn more at  

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