Cupid's Arrow: The Course of Love Through Time

Robert J. Sternberg, Author Cambridge University Press $75 (226p) ISBN 978-0-521-47320-0
Love intoxicates, complicates, sustains, blinds: you name it, love does it. An eminent professor of psychology and education at Yale, Sternberg sifts through love's many vicissitudes in search of a few general tendencies. He elaborates upon three components of love (intimacy, passion and commitment) that combine in different ways to configure how we fall in and out of love. Opening with a review of Sternberg's social psychological research, the book in general reads as self-help with a strong scientific twist. Clinical vignettes illustrate how love's three components are present in varying amounts in most heterosexual relationships. For example, when lovers report strong feelings of intimacy and passion but lack a sense of commitment, they have ""romantic love."" Romantic love figures at an early point in a couple's courtship but wanes as passion yields to commitment, and is influenced by cultural and developmental constraints: some cultures celebrate romantic love; others deride it. Sternberg's statistically derived theory turns love into a set of love phenomena: our need for interpersonal attachment; cognitive tasks adults employ to appraise their love life; trends regarding attraction, relationship satisfaction and how relationships change. So, on viewing love's components in perspective, even such distinct phenomena as the frisson of romance and the anguish of a ""loveless marriage"" become predictable--not so mysterious or unforeseeable after all. An energetic chapter on ""love through literature"" further renders love's heartache oddly routine. Readers who translate psychological factoids into tools for introspection will likely find Cupid's Arrow interesting and helpful. Wrestlers and poets may prefer to struggle: ""Stella!"" (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/14/1998
Release date: 09/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 218 pages - 978-0-521-47893-9
Show other formats
Discover what to read next