Of course everything you know about love and sex isn't wrong. But Pepper Schwartz and her publisher know how to make a catchy title. Professor of sociology at the University of Washington and coauthor of several books on relationships, sex, and parenting, Schwartz here offers 25 common myths and debunks them. Her goal? "I want to help you take a fresh look at a whole lot of sacred cows." She accomplishes this, although only a handful of these 25 cows are grazing in the sex field. An example: "Even if sex isn't fantastic in the beginning, it can be fixed." Not true, Schwartz cautions; if you're disappointed early on, bad sex can derail love, bonding, and commitment--and practice won't make perfect.
Most of the myths she includes are about relationships, as in "you will know when you have met 'the one,'" and "your lover should be your best friend." In the "Never Go to Bed Mad," chapter, she denounces the practice of "venting": "The idea is that, like a vent, you can let hot air out and make the temperature cooler. But what scientists find is that anger builds up more anger," fostering "the kind of adrenalized conversation that encourages couples to say things that they never should say."
Schwartz's Ph.D. seems to be in pragmatism. In the chapter "Everyone Should Cohabit Before Marriage," she warns, "If you eventually hope for marriage, don't live together for over a year. Let's get real. You know everything you need to know by then, and if you think you don't, you are kidding yourself." And on lusting after someone other than your partner: "Attractions are more often an artifact of the circumstances than of the person--and so many people can be fascinating for a short period of time."
Whether on flirting or fantasizing, each chapter reads like a quickie column (she's written for Glamour and Playboy), and superficial advice is all she can squeeze into a few pages on such heavy topics as infidelity. While this is not a deeply analytical look at complex issues, it would be helpful for anyone just beginning to challenge longstanding relationship assumptions, or wanting to reconfirm values and ideals. --Rebecca Taylor
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"I love this book. I couldn't put it down. So many people guide their lives and make major decisions based on myths that are unstated and even unconscious. Pepper Schwartz's delightful book clears away the cobwebs from clouded minds and gives us the power to see things as they are." John Gottman, author of The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work