The Arc of Love

As Valentine's Day fast approaches, this week's review examines romantic love and how it transforms with time

The arc of love: how our romantic lives change over time

Ben-Zeʼev, Aaron. Chicago, 2019
272p bibl index, 9780226633909 $40.00, 9780226634067

This is a wide-ranging work on the nature of love, and how it can change and develop over the course of time. Ben-Zeʼev offers not a theory of love, but an account of the vicissitudes of love and the different issues that become more or less important as a romantic relationship endures. Included in the 14 chapters are discussions of the romantic connection, romantic compromises, choosing a romantic partner, and love in later life. In the chapters on sexuality, there are some original discussions of sexual generosity, friendship with benefits, makeup and breakup sex, and “sex and eating.” The book is thoughtful and witty, and it can be quite funny. It could be read from beginning to end or dipped into—as a kind of philosophical self-help book—for insight on a particular romantic theme. The multidisciplinary perspective includes popular, literary, and scientific views as well as some philosophical discussion. The author illuminates the everyday reality of love, and untangles some of its mysteries with a practical, commonsense approach.

Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.
Reviewer: R. White, Creighton University
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Psychology
Choice Issue: Dec 2019