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How Our Popular Notion of Romance Keeps Failing Us

Eva Illouz's new book, "Why Love Hurts" is an in-depth analysis of the reasons our contemporary understanding of romance fails to satisfy us.

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Why Love Hurts would have to be far longer to account for the way love and courtship play out in varying combinations of class, race and sexual orientation in Western societies. But it’s disappointing that there is little discussion of the ways  relationships, love, childrearing, and gender relations play out among anyone who isn’t of the privileged professional class our culture seems to spend most of its time analyzing, emulating and imagining.

The book itself seems geared towards this class in other ways, specifically the academic-ese Illouz seems to prefer (which is generally more accessible to those who have experienced academia). While Illouz never comes close to the incomprehensible garble of, say, Judith Butler, the audience will always be limited for a book that makes such liberal use of words like “ontological” and “endogamic.” To really challenge the reign of books like The Rules , Illouz would need to write a more accessible book.

And it’s a shame she hasn’t written one. Why Love Hurts has its disappointments, but the essential takeaway is an important one: Stop internalizing your romantic failures. Maybe it isn’t some tragic inner failing that causes your relationships to end. Maybe you aren’t subconsciously sabotaging yourself. Maybe that’s just what happens to most relationships: They end. Mourn, don’t self-flagellate. After all, Stargazer88 is pretty cute.

Jake Blumgart is a freelance reporter-researcher based in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter.

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