Blending memoir, literary exposition, and revealing case studies, Unrequited is a powerful, surprising, and empathetic cultural and psychological exploration of one-sided romantic obsession.
The summer Lisa A. Phillips turned thirty, she fell in love with someone who didn’t return her feelings. She soon became obsessed. She followed him around, called him compulsively, and talked about him endlessly. One desperate morning, after she snuck into his apartment building, he picked up a baseball bat to protect himself and began to dial 911. Her unrequited love had changed her from a sane, conscientious college teacher and radio reporter into someone she barely recognized—someone who was taking her yearning much too far.
In Unrequited, Phillips explores the tremendous force of obsessive love in women’s lives. She argues that it needs to be understood, respected, and channeled for personal growth—yet it also has the potential to go terribly awry. Interweaving her own story with frank interviews and in-depth research in science, psychology, cultural history, and literature, Phillips describes how romantic obsession takes root, grows, and strongly influences our thoughts and behaviors.
Going beyond images of creepy, fatally attracted psychos, male fantasies of unbridled female desire, and the platitudes of self-help books, Phillips reveals a powerful, troubling, and surprisingly common phenomenon. As she illuminates this mysterious psychological experience, placing it in a rich and nuanced context, she offers compelling insights to help any woman who has experienced unrequited obsessive love and been mystified and troubled by its grip.
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About the Author
Lisa A. Phillips is a professor of journalism at SUNY New Paltz and the author of Public Radio: Behind the Voices. Her articles have appeared in many national publications, including the New York Times and the Boston Globe. A former radio journalist, she has contributed stories to NPR and other public radio outlets.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Unwanted Woman 1
1 Do You Love Me?: The Allure of Unsatisfied Desire 13
2 Holding Out: Following the Script of Unrequited Love 39
3 Erotic Melancholy: Lovesickness as a Label of Shame 64
4 Boy Chasers: The (Fe)Male Urge to Pursue 93
5 Falling from the Stars: Losing Yourself to the Narcissism of Unrequited, Love 118
6 The Gender Pass: Female Stalkers and Their Invisible Victims 141
7 Crush: Unrequited Love as Girl Power 161
8 Primal Teacher: The Transformational Power of Unrequited Love 185
9 Letting Go: How Obsession Ends 208
Selected Bibliography 275