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176 of 182 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lasting Love
How can love survive despite the vagaries of hectic schedules, work and parenting pressures, aging, and boredom? That is one of the many questions Stephen Mitchell attempts to answer in Can Love Last? While considering the oft-posed questions about "chemistry," real love, and soul mates, he looks at whether you can determine if you've found "the one"; and how to keep them...
Published on March 11, 2002 by A reader

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wanted more...
This book traces, through a variety of case studies from counseling clients, issues relating to love and attachment, and tries to answer, through this path, whether love can last. it addresses various aspects that relate to love and relationships, including romance, sexuality and power, and discusses important issues of how couples through their dynamic can put in place...
Published on January 16, 2010 by M. Hyman


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176 of 182 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lasting Love, March 11, 2002
By 
A reader (Sarnia, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
How can love survive despite the vagaries of hectic schedules, work and parenting pressures, aging, and boredom? That is one of the many questions Stephen Mitchell attempts to answer in Can Love Last? While considering the oft-posed questions about "chemistry," real love, and soul mates, he looks at whether you can determine if you've found "the one"; and how to keep them if you have.
Dr. Mitchell, who died suddenly in 2000 at the age of 54, founded the journal Psychoanalytic Dialogues and was renowned for his work in relational psychoanalysis, which features a more collaborative approach than traditional psychoanalysis. As Mitchell's widow, Margaret Black, C.S.W., points out in her foreword to the book, when it comes to his analysis of relationships, "Freud's formulations have not been particularly helpful, certainly not very optimistic."
A shame, really, since it is love, according to Mitchell, that makes life worth living. But nurturing love is no easy task since, as he points out in his introduction, "Modern life, at all points on the socioeconomic scale, is difficult, draining, and confusing." That's where his book comes in, offering guidance on how to look at the differences between love and desire, and how to have both in a relationship; doing so with prose that is often illuminating and even poetic. Describing the need for both security and adventure in a relationship, Mitchell writes, "Romantic passion emerges from the convergence of these two currents," which are "at once both erotic and sacred."
Based on modern divorce rates, Mitchell argues modern relationships are "based on fantasies of permanence." Although we seek committed relationships for security, in reality, rather than safe, these relationships are actually dangerous. "Love, by its very nature, is not secure;" Mitchell concludes, although "we keep wanting to make it so." The key to Mitchell's approach to making love last lies in acknowledging this danger exists and harnessing its energy to restore desire and passion through spontaneity and romance.
He makes a good point when he argues it is curious how separated couples often resolve to recover their "lost youth" through reckless abandon, when in reality, during their youth they longed for commitment and security. Hence, one's youth was not "lost," but willfully abandoned. And when he takes this premise one step further, it stands to reason that within a relationship, we actually avoid adventure for fear of destabilizing our comfort and security. Subconsciously, it's a Catch-22 situation.
The book can be slow going at times, but only because Mitchell's theories - understandably so, given the complexity of human dynamics - are complicated. But if you take the time to sort through them, the rewards could be significant.
It's a fantasy most of us have shared: the-knight-in-shining-armour boy meets his girl-princess; girl marries boy and they live happily ever after. But in the real world, "back in our imagined castle, both the knight and the damsel, alas, often lose their allure." The most common reaction is to deduce that we have been deceived - that the knight was no knight, or the princess was no princess - which is often the "safest" recourse since blaming the other partner precludes the need to look at oneself.
When a patient not named Carl entered therapy with Dr. Mitchell, he discovered that although he still cherished his wife's many admirable qualities he could no longer tell her so since doing so would leave him vulnerable. To him, it would feel like "begging" because "He had come to feel that his stalwart performance as husband had earned him the right to her love. To approach her appreciatively or seductively would be to renounce those claims."
Coming back to the "danger" in a long-term relationship theme, Mitchell explains "falling out of love" with your partner can be a defense mechanism, and "What is so dangerous about desiring someone you have is that you can lose him or her." Especially revealing is the fact that our "ever-intensifying fascination with celebrities seems to feed our hunger for idealization and our fear of its consequences by glorifying and then exposing and destroying our 'stars.'"
At least one age-old question ("Why do opposites attract?") is finally answered here. According to Mitchell, "Opposites attract because they are inversions of each other, the same thing in different forms." If Harry is attracted to Sally because she is outgoing while he is shy, it could be because Harry also has a desire to be outgoing but has suppressed that desire.
When it comes to other advice, Mitchell says it's okay to be "made for each other" as long as you don't take it too far, for "fantasies of perfect harmony and synchrony can be enormously destructive if taken too seriously, as a steady expectation, rather than a transient, episodic connection." But the answers Mitchell offers to his question, "Can love last?" aren't always altogether romantic; especially his advice that "the capacity to love over time entails the capacity to tolerate and repair hatred."
At last, he suggests that instead of doing something to improve our relationships, "Time might be better spent on reflecting on what one is already doing!" "Spontaneity," he notes, is discovered not through action but through refraining from one's habitual action and discovering what happens next." And although "Desire and passion cannot be contrived," they "occur in contexts, and we have a good deal to do with constructing contexts in which desire and passion are more or less likely to arise."
Many of the case studies in the book - although sometimes perverse - are utterly fascinating, and Mitchell has taken relationship theory to a new level.
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90 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not fade away, October 25, 2002
By 
frumiousb "frumiousb" (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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One of the stressors of my life, and I suspect of many other people's lives is the nagging feeling that somehow we are approaching love wrongly. On the one hand, we want to experience it and we want to believe that the experience is real. On the other hand, our own experience and the experience of others around us inclines us to feel as though it is a little bit foolish past the age of 16 to believe *too* much in the idea of enduring passion.

Does passion always fade? Do we need to choose relationships at the base of the pyramid of needs-- passionless but sustaining, predictable but safe? Can we ever sustain that passion that we feel at the beginning of a relationship?

What Mitchell says (with quiet authority that makes me believe him) is that yes, we can, if we are brave enough to really want that to happen. What he argues is that passion, while desirable, is ultimately quite threatening and that it takes both personal mastery and courage to be willing to let it into your life. Mitchell asserts that it is not romance which is the illusion, it is safety which is the illusion. Romance is the thing which brings the reality of the world to us-- with all its danger and complexity. Safety is a veil which we throw over others potentially close to us to keep them from coming close enough to hurt.

Mitchell created a readable book which should appeal to professionals in the field as well as ordinary folk looking for some answers to complicated problems. He builds his arguments carefully using a combination of prior work and original thinking derived from his practice and patients.

Very impressive, thought provoking, and blessedly free from overly complicated language.
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56 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The last illusion....., February 25, 2002
Dr. Stephen Mitchell was a respected psychoanalyst in New York City prior to his untimely death following the publication of CAN LOVE LAST? THE FATE OF ROMANCE OVER TIME. In this book, Mitchell explores the nature of romantic love -- the love two individuals unrelated by blood can have for each other but lose over time. These couples can be hetero, homo, married or not.
Mitchell suggests most relationships don't last because of romantic love. If romantic love exists at all in a long-term relationship, most of the time it does so in spite of other key factors that hold the couple together. In other words, there are many 'ties that bind' and most if not all kill romantic interest.
The most common motivation for coupling is the perceived need for security most people associate with connectedness to another person. Romance is not associated with security, however, it is associated with risk and unknowing. In the end, the need to acquire security via knowing all the details about the beloved, i.e. objectivity or elimination of the 'unknown', overwhelms romantic love. Generally, individuals who grew up in chaotic situations have an excessive need eliminate the unknown and are therefore very likely to kill romantic love.
Dr. Mitchell provides a number of case histories in his book to illustrate his key points -- ideas others have explored that he presents in a fresh and unique way. In the end, he seems to side with the existentialist Sarte who suggested that security is an illusion since death intervenes in every life. Dr. Mitchell asks, will you regret the things you did or did not do in your effort to secure your life? To truly live, one must work past the last illusion.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wanted more..., January 16, 2010
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This review is from: Can Love Last?: The Fate of Romance over Time (Norton Professional Books) (Paperback)
This book traces, through a variety of case studies from counseling clients, issues relating to love and attachment, and tries to answer, through this path, whether love can last. it addresses various aspects that relate to love and relationships, including romance, sexuality and power, and discusses important issues of how couples through their dynamic can put in place emotional mechanisms that trade away romance for stability or familiarity.

I enjoyed reading the case studies and enjoyed some of the theories about how relationships can go from the early romantic period into a settled period without love or romantic love.

I would have liked the book much more, however, if it provided more depth... from the case studies, what worked and what didn't? what happened to the people? Did they figure things out or not? is there really a way to find the balance, or is it too complex.

In some cases there is just too much repetition or philosophy where i would have preferred more case studies and examples or some science.

some interesting material, but i still walked away without an answer to the line from Born to Run: I want to know if love is wild, i want to know if love is real...

I guess a bit much to ask for from a book
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guide to mature intimacy, April 25, 2012
By 
RD (Braunschweig) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Can Love Last?: The Fate of Romance over Time (Norton Professional Books) (Paperback)
This is an outstanding book on the psychological impediments to lasting intimate relationships which stem from our immature reactions as intimacy inevitably arouses our deepest, most conflicted interpersonal longings and fears.

Don't expect a typical self-help book with a few morsels of useful information embedded in a mass of platitudes and trivia. This book is full of intellectually challenging and stimulating information on the topic, yet it is very accessible to the non-expert. For a book written by an author with a background in psychoanalysis, I found it refreshingly eclectic and balanced. The breadth of information is impressive, yet it always stays focused on answering the central question from the book's title.

It is futile to condense the rich information which is provided in this eloquent book in a few sentences. It enables a multifaceted understanding of the dynamics of intimate relationships and how our immature attempts to bring their frightening aspects under control deaden their vibrancy and richness. It will help you to navigate the risks and rewards of long-term intimate relationships in a much more mature way.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hope for the romantic, May 30, 2011
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This review is from: Can Love Last?: The Fate of Romance over Time (Norton Professional Books) (Paperback)
For those of us who are interested in the deeper layers of romance and desire, this is an excellent book. I am particularly impressed with the author's facility with psychoanalytic ideas both those of Freud and many of his followers. It is written in a language that a non-psychologist can understand. His respect for the human condition comes through in every page.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Where the head and the heart can meet, January 28, 2014
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For thinkers like me, this exploration of the heart is another important trail to choose at the fork in the woods. It's worth the walk through the mind to get to the heart.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, November 21, 2013
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Mitchell writes clearly and intuitively about some of the big questions surrounding the issues of relationships. I found the book to be easy to read and very helpful for me both individually and in y clinical practice.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, June 20, 2013
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Revolutionary book about love. There really is nothing out there quite like this. Recommend it to anyone that wants to view true love the correct way.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars can love last, the fate of romance over time, July 21, 2010
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This review is from: Can Love Last?: The Fate of Romance over Time (Norton Professional Books) (Paperback)
Excellent book. Brings to light the psychology that lies in a relationship. You will understand what may have went wrong in past relationships and learn to love with a greater knowledge of self andother, making future relationships easier.
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Can Love Last?: The Fate of Romance over Time (Norton Professional Books)
Can Love Last?: The Fate of Romance over Time (Norton Professional Books) by Stephen A. Mitchell (Paperback - February 17, 2003)
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