From the Publisher
"At last, a relationship advice book that will actually work...John Gray, move over. The brilliant Mari Ruti has arrived." Juliet Schor, professor of sociology, Boston College, and author of Born to Buy and Plenitude: The New Economics of Wealth
"This is an eye-opening book that everyone can benefit from. Not just the single girl, but anyone dating in the 21st century." Book Obsessed.
"Groundbreaking...Ruti opens the eyes of her readers so they can love better...A must-read." Nancy Redd, New York Times bestselling author of Body Drama.
"Why play 'hard to get' when you can just get what you want? Mari Ruti's lively research, from Plato to Freud to Gossip Girl to her own bedroom, finally puts an end to playing games, and provides a resource for lovers and the love-scorned alike. A must-read for anyone who has ever fallen in love, wants to, or wants to know what went wrong."
-Arianne Cohen, creator of TheSexDiariesProject.com
According to Ruti, the leaky boat in the turbulent sea of romance self-help is that men and women are different; in order for women to attract men, these books suggest, women must hide their power, feelings, or desires and manipulate men into new ways of thinking. The Harvard-educated Ruti urges women to ignore this advice and redefine how they look for love, what they look for in love, and even why they look for love. Instead of using strategies based in soft science or "emotional intelligence," Ruti taps sources ranging from Lacan to "Gossip Girl"; women, she argues, have worked too hard in their careers to fall prey to 1950s gender tropes in dating. Women should outright dismiss overtly macho, insecure, or otherwise threatened men. Ruti's approach is both funny and thought-provoking, and she moves effortlessly between intellectual and popular sources to provide an extremely refreshing take on an overdone genre. The author manages to strike a superb balance between writing an excellent book for a genre that she persuasively critiques from a gender studies perspective. (Feb.)
Read an Excerpt
Myth: Learning to read the male psyche leads to romantic success.
Fact: There's no such thing as the male psyche.
I got the idea for this book from a course on romantic love I taught at Harvard for a few years. Truth be told, when I first started to teach the course, I used love as a pedagogical carrot. I knew that my students would be willing to put up with the agony of having to wade through an unusually difficult reading list as long as they got to talk about love. I called the course "On Love: Gender, Sexuality, Identity," confident that the combination of love, sex, gender, and self-identity would speak to young folks eager to find their place in the world.
It worked! The course became immensely popular, drawing an audience from poetry majors to lacrosse players, from purple-haired film students to Gap-clad preppies. Best of all, the more I taught the course, the less love became a pretext for more "serious" topics. I came to realize that love is one of the most soul-sculpting experiences of human existence. It's never just a little piece of life. It gathers and cradles all of life in its embrace, touching the sum total of who we are. When we are lucky, it lends luster to the rest of our activities. When we are unlucky, it spurs us to higher levels of thoughtfulness.
Either way, we can't fail. Love is a win-win endeavor, even if it doesn't always feel that we're winning. This is why I'm prepared to make a case for falling in love-why this is a book about the benefits of taking the plunge.
One of the main obstacles to our ability to fully experience the power of love is that most of us have inherited some fairly rigid ideas about men, women, and romance. This is why I made gender such a central theme of my course. I wanted to show that there is a complexity to romance that exceeds stereotypical distinctions between men and women. Not surprisingly, this was the aspect of the course that most energized my students. I discovered that, deep down, many of them were just as annoyed by our culture's dominant outlook on gender as I was. They just didn't have the vocabulary to express their vexation. They sensed that something was wrong, but could not quite put their finger on the problem. My job was to help them do so.
This is also what I'll try to do in this book, for I believe that many of our most basic frustrations about romance are, at bottom, frustrations about gender.
You'll come to see that I'm not a huge fan of our current self-help culture. This culture insists that men and women are radically different. It tells women that to make romance work, they need to learn to interpret the male psyche. This is the first misconception I want to dispel. As a professor of gender studies, I can tell you that there's no such thing as the "male psyche." There's no toolbox of time-tested techniques for luring a man. If the pop psychology section of Barnes & Noble is full of books that insist that such techniques exist, it's not because they actually work. It's because we live in a culture that is struggling to come to terms with a rapidly evolving landscape of gender; we live in a culture that finds it easier to insist that men and women originate from different planets than to admit that we need to adjust to a new order of things.
This is a book for those who are tired of hearing that men and women dwell in two mismatched emotional universes. It's a book for those who suspect that there may be better ways to approach romance than the gender-specific advice of most relationship guides. If you're a woman who is repeatedly wondering what she's doing wrong with men, you're not alone. Most women I've talked to have asked themselves the same question at some point in their lives. This applies to mature, confident women as much as to young women who are still hovering at the threshold of their romantic lives. The main problem with our self-help culture is that it tends to perpetuate women's insecurity about this. It implies that women actually are doing something wrong with men. What I want to do in this book is to liberate you from this mentality. It's a huge drain on your energies. And ultimately it won't get you very far. This is why I'm keen to offer you some new ways of thinking about romance.