Why Love Hurts by Eva Illouz
A Sociological Explanation

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Few of us have been spared the agonies of intimate relationships. They come in many shapes: loving a man or a woman who will not commit to us, being heartbroken when we're abandoned by a lover, engaging in Sisyphean internet searches, coming back lonely from bars, parties, or blind dates, feeling bored in a relationship that is so much less than we had envisaged - these are only some of the ways in which the search for love is a difficult and often painful experience.

Despite the widespread and almost collective character of these experiences, our culture insists they are the result of faulty or insufficiently mature psyches. For many, the Freudian idea that the family designs the pattern of an individual's erotic career has been the main explanation for why and how we fail to find or sustain love. Psychoanalysis and popular psychology have succeeded spectacularly in convincing us that individuals bear responsibility for the misery of their romantic and erotic lives. The purpose of this book is to change our way of thinking about what is wrong in modern relationships. The problem is not dysfunctional childhoods or insufficiently self-aware psyches, but rather the institutional forces shaping how we love.

The argument of this book is that the modern romantic experience is shaped by a fundamental transformation in the ecology and architecture of romantic choice. The samples from which men and women choose a partner, the modes of evaluating prospective partners, the very importance of choice and autonomy and what people imagine to be the spectrum of their choices: all these aspects of choice have transformed the very core of the will, how we want a partner, the sense of worth bestowed by relationships, and the organization of desire.

This book does to love what Marx did to commodities: it shows that it is shaped by social relations and institutions and that it circulates in a marketplace of unequal actors.


About Eva Illouz

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Eva Illouz is Rose Isaac Chair of Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a member of the Center for the Study of Rationality. Her previous books include Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism and Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism. Her book Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery won the American Sociological Association, Culture Section Best Book Award, in 2005.
Published May 20, 2013 by Polity. 304 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Romance, Parenting & Relationships, Self Help, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Why Love Hurts

Publishers Weekly

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Beginning with the premise that "Romantic agony… has changed its content, color, and texture" over the years, Illouz, a professor of sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, offers a complex look at the transformation of love, sex, and marriage in modernity.

Jul 02 2012 | Read Full Review of Why Love Hurts: A Sociologica...

Kirkus Reviews

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Commitment-phobic men, ambivalent men, emotionless men, are men who are troubled by the fact they cannot want relationships in a way that is satisfying to women and to themselves.

Jun 19 2012 | Read Full Review of Why Love Hurts: A Sociologica...


It was you — as you were — all those years ago — in those happy days when we first met, and you loved me.” Her husband responds incredulously that the poems say that the lover died.

Dec 17 2012 | Read Full Review of Why Love Hurts: A Sociologica...

Full Stop

sacrifice instills a level of sacredness and waste carries with it the connotation of spending, as in “spending time together.” Even reciprocity for Illouz is an impossible task because “it takes one out of the realm of love and brings one to the realm of commerce, which is incompatible with love...

Oct 26 2012 | Read Full Review of Why Love Hurts: A Sociologica...

London School of Economics

However, and importantly, by situating all of these ‘other’ women outside the remit of her argument she serves to privilege the heteronormative and coupledom as taken-for-granted with the result that modernity, thus packaged, remains untouched by the lives and loves of these others.

May 24 2012 | Read Full Review of Why Love Hurts: A Sociologica...

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