Everything You Know About Love and Sex is Wrong, by Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D 8.5
I know, I know… it’s a sociological advice book written by someone named “Pepper”. I, too, initially scoffed at the notion when I saw the book.
But, being deeply interested in literature about relationships and sexuality, I took a closer look at it anyway. As I rapidly browsed through it, I was seeing some really intriguing topics. And, at first glance, I was finding Schwartz’ take to my liking.
So I bought the book.
Lately, having finished a few other books that were in my priority list, I was looking around my shelves for something to keep me company in the bus. I decided to go through my stacks of books on relationships for two reasons:
– I was about to watch a bunch of sex comedies and relationship-related films. I thought that this would tie in nicely.
– I was trying to figure a few things out in my own personal life, and in my heart.
When I chose this particular book, my intention was to challenge my beliefs about love and sex; I can be open-minded about some things, but not so much about others, so I figured that I could do worse than to stretch a little. I felt that a book that claims to debunk relationship “myths” could quite possibly do me some good, help me think outside the box I’ve put myself in.
What I’ve found, however, is that the book was mostly reaffirming much of what I already believed, or was willing to believe. It’s as if I had written the darned book myself under a silly pen name, fell on my head, lost all recollection of it, and then picked up the book innocently and connected with it. (Hmmm… what have been up to these last few months? Gotta look into that… )
I don’t agree with everything the writer says, actually, but what I like is that she only suggests that we reconsider our ingrained beliefs – not that we should be converted to hers. I like that her point is that not every approach works for every person or couple, and that we need to adapt to the people in the relationship and to the relationship itself.
Basically, Schwartz is not telling her readers what to do. She is only telling them that there are many ways to be, and that we should allow ourselves the latitude to choose for ourselves – to not let social conventions, religion, friends or family pressure us into models that don’t work for us.
Anyway, in lieu of actually discussing the content itself, which would take so long to discuss that you might as well read the book itself (it’s an effortless read! ), here is a list of the chapters and beliefs she attempts to debunk:
1. Myth: Your lover should be your best friend
2. Myth: You can’t be in love with two people at the same time
3. Myth: You will know when you have met “the one”
4. Myth: Pick only someone you are madly in love with
5. Myth: When you want to get serious, date only people with marriage potential
6. Myth: You should be similar to your partner
7. Myth: Pick someone who has sown her or his wild oats and is now ready to settle down with you
8. Myth: It is flattering to have a jealous lover
9. Myth: You should never have sex on the first date
10. Myth: Even if sex isn’t fantastic in the beginning, it can be fixed
11. Myth: Masturbation by a partner in a relationship is a bad sign
12. Myth: Women are not into sex toys, pornography, fantasy, or quickies
13. Myth: Men are simply not monogamous by nature; women are
14. Myth: You can’t have really great sex without intercourse
15. Myth: If you desire someone else, something is wrong with your relationship
16. Myth: Never go to bed mad
17. Myth: You can never truly get over even one act of infidelity
18. Myth: You should be prepared to do anything for the person you love
19. Myth: Little annoying habits are unimportant in a long-term relationship
20. Myth: Everyone should cohabit before marriage; it can only help
21. Myth: All committed couples (and especially spouses) should pool their money
22. Myth: You should always be one hundred percent honest with your partner
23. Myth: Divorce means failure; marriage should last a lifetime
24. Myth: Children bring a couple closer
25. Myth: Committed and married people should live in the same house
The ones that I couldn’t digest as easily are chapters 17 and 22. However, I also recognize that this is due to my deep need for trust in a relationship and, for me, this is built on unfailing honesty (some relationships could survive infidelity and dishonesty, but I would never forget, so… ). Anyway, I could easily tread all over her examples with a few counter-arguments, so those chapters weren’t as effective for me.
But, aside from that, I could see most of her points and, although I may choose to not accept alternate models in some cases, I can see how it might work for others. She has also given me food for thought on certain levels (chapters 10 and 17, in particular). And, anyway, just reading the book got me thinking, put my beliefs to the test, and served as fuel. So it was well worth the time.
In light of how closely I agree with much of what Schwartz says, though, I decided to knock the book down from what would probably be a 9.0 rating. I think that a part of me would be tempted to rate it highly because it echoes many of my beliefs; doing so would smell of self-congratulation for being so darned intuitive and/or intelligent. (thank goodness I picked up THIS book, not another, huh? )
But I will give it an 8.5, because I think that it effectively challenges many long-standing beliefs in a very grounded way. I think that Schwartz’ approach is essential in a lot of areas, and I very much like that she doesn’t claim to provide the answers; she simply offers a larger palette of colours to choose from. And that alone can be enough to solve many relationship riddles.
I highly recommend this book to anyone in a relationship, to those contemplating one, and even to those who aren’t but have been – if only to gain new perspectives. It can only help.
Post scriptum: I’ve since requested Schwartz’ ‘Prime’ from the library. It’s her account of dating for the first time after being married for 23 years. In light of ‘Everything’, it sounds like quite a fascinating adventure and read. À voir…
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