cover image THE SEVEN STORIES OF LOVE: And How to Choose Your Happy Ending

THE SEVEN STORIES OF LOVE: And How to Choose Your Happy Ending

Marcia Millman, THE SEVEN STORIES OF LOVE: And How to Choose Your Happy End. , $25 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-688-17200-8

A USC professor who teaches the popular Sociology of Romantic Love course, Millman (Such a Pretty Face: Being Fat in America) offers a clear-sighted and illuminating view of why romantic relationships play out as they do. She contends that all partnerships fall under one (or sometimes a combination) of seven stories: "First Love," "Pygmalion," "Obsessive Love," "The Downstairs Woman and the Upstairs Man," "Sacrifice," "Rescue" or "Postponement and Avoidance." Drawing on personal testimonies, films (from old Bette Davis classics to Pretty Woman) and popular fiction (from Jane Austen to recent bestsellers), she illustrates the timeless and universal themes of these seven dynamics. Unlike many authors in the relationship genre, Millman sees personal needs and desires born of childhood experiences not as pathologies but as clues to self-understanding and potential fulfillment. She explores in great depth how each story can manifest in constructive or destructive ways and provide temporary or long-lasting satisfaction. Whether the partners in a Pygmalionesque relationship find a way to equalize their roles or one partner's rescue of another leads to healthy self-recovery depends, Millman suggests, on the participants' awareness of the dynamic and on exercising "choice and control" to counterbalance each story's destructive possibilities. She also supplies useful advice on how to identify each partner's view of the narrative that drives the relationship, since conflicting stories can spell relationship doom. Nonjudgmental and optimistic, Millman labels specific dynamics between people, not the people themselves or their genders. Readers will find her perspective uniquely helpful. (Mar. 20)