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The love between women and men used to be marked by stark inequality. From the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century, the concept of love was overloaded with ideas of chivalry and romance.
Men were expected to defend women, who were considered weaker and could expect a woman’s devotion in return. During this time, the inferiority of women was deeply ingrained in how people conceptualized love.
Since women were considered more fragile, men’s role was to protect them. In this way, love became a way of displaying masculinity and honour, while entrenching gender inequalities.
Imagine you’ve just won the lottery and you go to the mall with your winnings. Now that money is no longer an object, you can buy whatever you wish. Well, in many ways, love today is similar.
After all, previously, economic imperatives were the main factor in making marital decisions. But with modernity, new criteria for selecting mates entered the marriage market. One such factor is attractiveness.
Beauty has become so important that the socioeconomic status of a potential partner can be enhanced or diminished by his or her looks.
Can you remember your last breakup? Did you think it was your fault that the relationship ended? Well, if you did, it might not be about what you said or did. It could be all about your gender instead.
That’s because self-blame for failed relationships is more common among women. Their sense of self-worth is more closely connected to love than that of men.
So, when a relationship doesn’t pan out, women take a blow to their self-regard, causing them to blame themselves. This explains why women are more likely to seek out therapy and self-help books.
Do you keep track of the calories you eat, the steps you take or the number of sexual partners you’ve had? Well, even if you don’t, many people do. Life has become increasingly rationalized, and that goes for love too.
In many ways, love isn’t just a matter of emotions, but one of rational thought. Modern science can explain why.
In earlier times, love was a profoundly mystical experience. But in the twentieth century, the rise of various scientific fields offered increasingly rational explanations. Biology explained love through the lens of reproduction and the survival of the human race.
Imagine you’re planning a vacation. You spend some time online looking at pictures of pristine white sand beaches and book what looks like a lovely hotel room. But when you arrive the beach is littered with plastic bottles and the staff are grumpy.
Well, a similar problem spoils online dating. The internet supports all kinds of fantasies which makes for serious disappointment when the real person fails to meet high expectations.
This issue is largely because Skype, Facebook and online dating sites allow people to feel that the person they’re in contact with is practically in the room with them.
You’ve learned that love is becoming an increasingly rationalized experience in which the obstacles to forging truly loving relationships can seem impossible to overcome and disappointment feels like a logical outcome.
So, in the face of this conundrum, how can you build successful relationships?
The first step is to foster passion and emotion, both of which are vital to a lasting relationship. This is easier said than done as passion and emotion can set people up to feel hurt when a relationship fails, but such feelings are also crucial to building a meaningful connection.
The key message in this book:
Finding love in the modern world can feel like a futile task. Women and men often have contradictory agendas and the search for love is becoming increasingly rationalized through the advent of internet dating. Nonetheless, all people can build successful relationships with real commitment.
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