cover image Love Understood: The Science of Who, How & Why We Love

Love Understood: The Science of Who, How & Why We Love

Laura Mucha. Bloomsbury, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4729-6832-6

British poet Mucha offers a fascinating investigation of how and why people fall in (and out of) love. Curious about why some romantic relationships work and others dissolve, he began the project after her grandfather died (his marriage to her grandmother had been “the only committed romantic relationship I had been able to observe”). The book is arranged thematically, beginning with infidelity and moving on to such subjects as attachment, expectations, commitment, and monogamy. Each chapter includes interviews with people Mucha met on a trip that took her to China, Antarctica, and the Scottish Highlands, among other places. While strolling along a beach in Ireland, she met an 80-year-old man and his wife, who had dementia; the man explained, “Younger generations underestimate the amount of work that’s involved in maintaining a long-term relationship.” In time, the author finds, romantic love often turns into companionate love: “Passion, romance, they do go over time—it’s more about friendship in the end.” Woven in are related studies: in “Looking for Love” Mucha discusses sexual attraction and how the menstrual cycles of 18 professional lap dancers affected their tips in a study conducted in Albuquerque, N.M.. Overall, she concludes that “love is a skill that requires knowledge, effort, and learning.” Lively and entertaining, this book will inspire readers to look more deeply at the authenticity of their own relationships. (Jan.)