Despite the widespread and almost collective character of these experiences, our culture insists they are the result of faulty or insufficiently mature psyches. For many, the Freudian idea that the family designs the pattern of an individual's erotic career has been the main explanation for why and how we fail to find or sustain love. Psychoanalysis and popular psychology have succeeded spectacularly in convincing us that individuals bear responsibility for the misery of their romantic and erotic lives. The purpose of this book is to change our way of thinking about what is wrong in modern relationships. The problem is not dysfunctional childhoods or insufficiently self–aware psyches, but rather the institutional forces shaping how we love.
The argument of this book is that the modern romantic experience is shaped by a fundamental transformation in the ecology and architecture of romantic choice. The samples from which men and women choose a partner, the modes of evaluating prospective partners, the very importance of choice and autonomy and what people imagine to be the spectrum of their choices: all these aspects of choice have transformed the very core of the will, how we want a partner, the sense of worth bestowed by relationships, and the organization of desire.
This book does to love what Marx did to commodities: it shows that it is shaped by social relations and institutions and that it circulates in a marketplace of unequal actors.
1 Introduction: The Misery of Love 1
2 The Great Transformation of Love or the Emergence of Marriage Markets 18
3 Commitment Phobia and the New Architecture of Romantic Choice (with Mattan Shachak) 59
4 The Demand for Recognition: Love and the Vulnerability of the Self 109
5 Love, Reason, Irony 156
6 From Romantic Fantasy to Disappointment 198
7 Epilogue 238
"Eva Illouz's Why Love Hurts is brilliant – the indispensable book on the social power and meaning of sex and love. And with a bonus: it cuts to the core of the modern emotional condition, all told.". Todd Gitlin, Columbia University
"Eva Illouz's enormous talent to interpret vast empirical material from interviews, statistics, magazines, and novels with sociological imagination and philosophical understanding leads to striking and well–grounded results, such as the increasingly important role of sexiness and physical attraction in choosing mates. A milestone in the investigation of changing patterns of love and marriage.". Axel Honneth, University of Frankfurt and Columbia University
"In this bold and ground–breaking book Eva Illouz argues that there is something qualitatively new in the modern experience of romantic suffering. Readers may not agree with all of Illouz's hypotheses, but none will fail to be provoked by them – and in so doing be forced to challenge their own assumptions about love and modern life itself.". Susan Neiman, Director of the Einstein Forum and author of Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grownup Idealists
"Recently named one of the most important thinkers of the future by German newspaper Die Zeit, Illouz could very well be the twenty–first century's next great public intellectual.". Guernica: A Magazine of Art & Politics
"No one will be able to discuss love without referring to this book.". Die Zeit