Praise for The Case for Falling in Love
"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
"At last, a relationship advice book that will actually work. If you're intelligent, interested in love, and like a book you can't put down, this is it. 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 True Wealth
"Groundbreaking...Ruti opens the eyes of her readers so that they can love better...A must-read."
-Nancy Redd, New York Times bestselling author of Body Drama
"Finally, a book that takes love seriously. Written with passion and verve...I wish I had read this book years ago!"
-Sean Carroll, author of From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time
Are you tired of reading book after book and playing game after game, trying to avoid heartbreak? It seems impossible, and maybe that's because you can't lock up your heart like that-not if you want the real thing. And maybe that's one of the best things about love.
We've been thinking about it all wrong. Our culture's insistence that women need to learn how to catch and keep a man is actually doing much more harm than good. The more we try to manipulate our relationships, the less we are truly able to experience love's benefits and wonders.
Love is a slippery, unruly thing, and trying to control and manage it robs us of its delicious unpredictability.
Sure, letting go of the reins a bit might mean a broken heart, but heartbreak, in fact, offers a wealth of possibilities-creativity, wisdom, and growth-that we need in order to make the most of our lives.
Liberating for women who are frustrated by the idea that they just need to learn the right "formula," The Case for Falling in Love shows that there isn't a method to mastering the madness of love. But that might be exactly what's so wonderful about it.
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About the Author
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.
Table of Contents
Part I Changing How We Think about Men and Women 1
Chapter 1 Saving the Soul of Love 3
Chapter 2 Men Who Ask for Directions Make Better Lovers27
Chapter 3 Bad Science Can't Tell Us a Damn Thing about Love 49
Chapter 4 For Better Romantic Advice, Watch Gossip Girl 73
Chapter 5 Modern Cinderella's Look beyond the Prince's Ball 93
Chapter 6 Why Playing Hard to Get Won't Work 113
Part II Changing How We Think about Love and Romance 131
Chapter 7 It's All about the Thing 133
Chapter 8 Seeing the Extraordinary within the Ordinary 153
Chapter 9 Breaking the Patterns of Pain171
Chapter 10 A Love Failure Is Not a Life Failure 191
Chapter 11 Mourning Well Is Living Well209
Chapter 12 What Is Meant to Happen Always Will 227
Conclusion: The Line in the Sand 245
About the Author 271
Mari Ruti was educated at Brown, Harvard, and the University of Paris. After finishing her Harvard doctorate in 2000, she spent four years as assistant director of the university's program for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. She is currently associate professor of critical theory at the University of Toronto English Department, where she teaches contemporary theory, continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, gender studies, and popular culture. Ruti is the author of two academic books: Reinventing the Soul: Posthumanist Theory and Psychic Life and A World of Fragile Things: Psychoanalysis and the Art of Living. She splits her time between Toronto, the East Coast, and Maui.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Mari Ruti is an associate professor of critical theory at the University of Toronto where she teaches contemporary theory, psychoanalysis, gender studies and popular culture. She brings this educational background to the study of why and how we fall in love and what works and what doesn't for women. Ruti insists that the common advise women are given; to downplay their strengths and to consciously play games to make a make feel more powerful are instead counterproductive. It is unlikely that a relationship based on fantasy will be long-lived or provide what the people involved need. She goes further and says that women should consider each relationship on its own merits and understand that all may not be long-lived. Even a failed relationship can provide benefits. Ruti provides eleven relationship touchstones. They are: 1. Stop trying so hard. You can't force or trick someone into loving you. 2. Stop being so cautious. The benefits of love come only when one is open to them. 3. Stop analyzing your every move. This goes back to the need to not play games. 4. Stop expecting your guy to act like a caveman. Men are not genetically programmed to act this way, although some relationship mavens insist this is so. Men can be truly emotionally involved in giving and supportive relationships. 5. Stop apologizing for being strong. If a man can't handle a woman's strength and competence, the relationship is probably not going to work. 6. Stop being afraid to have needs and vulnerabilities. If a relationship doesn't give you what you need, you need to end it. 7. Stop running after guys who don't want you. You won't be able to change them. 8. Stop looking for a guy without issues. He doesn't exist any more than a female exists without issues. 9. Stop manipulating the guy you love. 10. Stop regretting every false step you took. It is a rare person that doesn't encounter some failed love relationships. It is part of what makes us human and realistic about what love can provide in our lives. 11. Stop looking at loss as a pure loss. Even a failed relationship helps you grow. This book is recommended for women who want to find real relationships, not ones based on artifice and games. It helps deconstruct the myths that exist about relationships and why they work or don't. It frees women to be themselves and expect their men to appreciate their true selves. Mari Ruti has created a useful guide and an unorthodox way of looking at what it takes to have a successful love life and those who read this book will walk away with lots of new ideas to think through and apply in their own lives.
This book is so refreshing for anyone who is dismayed or confused by all the unnerving self-help/relationships advice aimed at women. The author delivers a common sense message with a lively, convivial tone. I was impressed by her high powered academic background, and appreciated that she could also write in a friendly, engaging manner. Ruti is like the best friend you wish you could meet for brunch over the weekend to sort it all out. I highly recommend this one!
The Case for Falling in Love is a useful advice book that talks about broad selection of topics about romantic relationships. The author, Mari Ruti, Ph.D., gives many examples of how women end up dating the wrong men. She discusses men who have trouble committing, and talks about advice offered in other available self-help books that present ideas like men wanting women who appear weak and needy. The book also discusses unhealthy ideas about relationships, such as how men are supposed to be predators and women their prey, and how these ideas are the reason for unhealthy romantic relationships.
I was quite interested in reading this book when I saw it on the February 2011 Early Reviewers list and was excited to hear I'd been chosen for a review copy. Unfortunately, my excitement was to be short lived. Since the book description listed this as being "based on a popular course taught at Harvard", I had high hopes that it would be well researched and intellectually challenging. In my opinion, the author's "research" was less than compelling. At one point, it consisted of e-mailing her male friends for their reactions. To be fair, she does note that using that method is not the most scientific way to proceed, but it's about on par with the rest of it. For the most part, it felt to me that the entirety of her (very repetitive) argument could be summed up as "They're wrong, I'm right." I do have to say that the book is quite accurately named though. Ruti certainly does make a case for falling IN love, but not so much for working at keeping love (or relationships) alive. She seems to believe that if a relationship loses its initial passion, then it might be a sign to move on. It was also frustrating to me that this book was solely directed at female readers. I felt like it would have been very easy to include both genders in the discussion and advice giving as the few good bits of advice she does offer about choosing a potential partner for relationships could be helpful to all. Overall, if you've read many self-help style books in the past and enjoyed them, you'd probably enjoy this one as well. If you only need to be told something once to understand it, then this might be something to pass on or move down on your reading priority list.
This was a very well-written book and very easy for the reader to navigate. Though it is obvious that the author has a great deal of education behind her, she doesn't talk over our heads, but explains things in a manner that most people would be able to understand. This book is a far cry away from the 1950's style of love that most of us have come to believe as commonplace. Far better than self-help books that promote feminine weakness and dependence on a man.
I was slow and reluctant to get into this book, as I might be considered jaded on the subject of love. But, once I got into the material and realized it was not another "how to win the perfect guy" self-help book, I really paid attention and enjoyed the read. I especially liked the second half of the book, which helps figure out where love went wrong. It's an honest and up-to-date look at what relationships are all about. I especially like Ruti's opinion that not all relationships need be life-long commitments, and the failure of one relationship does not make it a life failure. It's also an easy book to skip around in and find chapters or sections that apply to your life right now, or pick it up in the future and find another section that applies to you later in your life.
I have to admit that I haven't read many relationship books. I basically think they're all pseudo-psychology and that they pretend to know the secret of dating that doesn't really exist. Books that tell women to pretend they're stupid and play games don't appeal to me. If you're like me and think those books are ridiculous, you'll really enjoy The Case for Falling in Love. Even if you HAVE read a lot of the other self help books, you may still think they don't have the answer, so check out this refreshingly honest take on dating.
Written for women who have played games, are tired of games and especially tired of myths about what to do to get a man, the author shows us, with examples from television shows and movies, that we can learn better romantic behaviors than we now know. Citing John Gray's analogies of Mars and Venus characters, Dr Ruti points out that we can master the art of love, not with outdated gender stereotypes, but with use of each of our own unique and irreplaceable qualities. The style of writing is interesting,and makes for easy reading, by the use of questions and answers. Dr Mari Rute brings to this book the course that she taught at Harvard and just as she taught students to dispel myths and notions of love, the reader now has the opportunity to achieve lasting love by attracting the right love partner. And if love fails, which it might due to the fickle nature of love, Dr Ruti emphasizes ways to use this normal heartbreak as an opportunity for growth in ways to help refine our character. A must read for today's person who wants to go beyond the old ways of thinking about partners, love and game playing. And for those who want to pursue more information on this theme, I found it helpful that Dr Ruti included a list of the academic texts used when she taught this course at Harvard.
While reading this book, I tried to think about my own relationships. I think Mari has a point here and this book can be helpful to people unlucky in love! I found this book enjoyable to read.