Love Is a Story: A New Theory of Relationships

Love Is a Story: A New Theory of Relationships

Love Is a Story: A New Theory of Relationships

Love Is a Story: A New Theory of Relationships

Synopsis

In this groundbreaking work, Robert Sternberg opens the book of love and shows you how to discover your own story--and how to read your relationships in a whole new light. What draws us so strongly to some people and repels us from others? What makes some relationships work so smoothly and others burst into flames? Sternberg gives us new answers to these questions by showing that the kind of relationship we create depends on the kind of love stories we carry inside us. Drawing on extensive research and fascinating examples of real couples, Sternberg identifies 26 types of love story--including the fantasy story, the business story, the collector story, the horror story, and many others--each with its distinctive advantages and pitfalls, and many of which are clashingly incompatible. These are the largely unconscious preconceptions that guide our romantic choices, and it is only by becoming aware of the kind of story we have about love that we gain the freedom to create more fulfilling and lasting relationships. As long as we remain oblivious to the role our stories play, we are likely to repeat the same mistakes again and again. But the enlivening good news this book brings us is that though our stories drive us, we can revise them and learn to choose partners whose stories are more compatible with our own. Quizzes in each chapter help you to see which stories you identify with most strongly and which apply to your partner. Are you a traveler, a gardener, a teacher, or something else entirely? Love is a Story shows you how to find out.

Excerpt

Like everyone else, I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out why some of my close relationships have succeeded and others have failed. Like many other people, I've read about relationships, seen various media presentations about them, and gone to counselors who promised to help me understand. I've even spent a portion of my career as a psychologist trying to understand what has worked for me and what hasn't. Curiously, even my own theories didn't seem to give me the understanding I was seeking--either of my own relationships or of other people's.

I started studying love in the early 1980s, focusing initially on its structure. Together with a graduate student, Susan Grajek, I proposed a psychometric type of theory of love. The goal was to discover if love could be understood in terms of its structural building blocks, and if so, to discover the nature of these building blocks. According to that theory, love could be understood in terms of a large number of disparate emotions, thoughts, and motivations-- things like caring for another person, communicating well, and being supportive. The problem was that this set of "building blocks" seemed to describe elements of love, but without systematizing them and without suggesting why I or anyone else would love some people but not others.

By the late 1980s, I had proposed a new, triangular theory of love, according to which love could be understood as comprising three . . .

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