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Everything You Know About Love and Sex Is Wrong Paperback – October 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews Review

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

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Books; Reissue edition (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399527125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399527128
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,941,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I didn't find this book to be particularly enlightening, but I can see where it would help people to examine their beliefs around love and sex and adopt more conscious beliefs as a result. On the other hand, I wasn't impressed with much of the advice. In fact, I would say some of it was irresponsible and in some cases was contradicted later in the book.

Overall, this was an interesting read and it openly explores territory that other writers don't want to venture into such as jealousy, affairs, lying, etc. However, the examination of these areas is not necessarily deep, consistent or based on any type of real research. However, she does through in an occasional citation to back up her opinion, but not very often.

Much of the thinking in this book seems to be driven by a narcissistic worldview. In other words, the right thing to do is the thing that gets you want you want with minimum risk. I'm not sure I would be particularly proud of myself or my life if that was a code that I adopted and over a lifetime it turned out to be my legacy.

On the other hand, the author takes a practical view of difficult to discuss topics and examines many of the disconnections between what people say they believe and what they actually do. This can be a real eye opener for many. The author also offers some good advice and insights, but philosophically I diverge from her core beliefs and don't accept the assumptions they are based on. I realize others might find more congruence.

I was particularly disturbed by author's advice about lying. While I can see where lying might save a relationship or spare people conflict, it may also spare them badly needed personal growth and a sense of responsibility for their actions.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Harold McFarland HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
It seems that from the time we are very young we start to develop ideas of what love, marriage and relationships should be like. Generally, it is not that we actually see those relationships but through the influence of media, family and friends we are taught that the ideal relationship contains certain particular traits and anything less is not good enough.
Schwartz looks at twenty-five myths about relationships and how they keep you from achieving a happy and contented relationship. Some of the myths she challenges are holy grails of what relationships "should" be. For example, that your lover or mate should also be your best friend.
I don't agree with everything she says but she has compelling arguments for her positions and encourages us to challenge our preconceptions to see if they fit for us.
Not a deep book filled with psychological studies and analysis by any means, it is filled with practical advice and new ways to look at relationships. A recommended read for anyone with a history of relationship problems, entering into a new relationship or just questioning the values that they grew up with.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. Pepper Schwartz pulls no punches and isn't afraid of any topic. Once you pick this book up, it's almost impossible to set it down. Schwartz challenges some of our basic assumptions of what makes a relationship work--and she wipes off all the romantic gloss so we can function more easily. What makes this book so much fun is, you don't have to agree with everything she writes. But by going for the jugular, Schwartz asks us to challenge everything we think. This is a great gift for the reader.
Schwartz has a zippy, fun, unpretentious style. It's an invigorating read. Never once to you feel the pace lessen or that Schwartz takes her foot off the accelerator. She illustrates her points with an invigorating mix of her own anectdotes and stories of others.
Obviously, Schwartz had a ton of fun exploring these myths--and so do we as we follow her mind at work. Enjoy!
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By P.W. Reader on January 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Schwartz does a great job of picking out 25 ideas about relationships and presenting informed views of why they may not necessarily be right for everyone. For example, we are taught in movies, our friends, and possibly even our parents that we will always know who "the one" is when we see them, or to date only people who you think are marriage potential when you want to get serious. She describes the "instant love" feeling as mostly a hormonal reaction to a quality you might see in the "one" that you desire and appreciate...and also cites that if you date people you know you won't marry, you would loosen up, be more relaxed, and learn something about yourself you never would have otherwise with a person who only fits your "type".
I was quite surprised when I read the view by Dr. Wilcox on how men will beat up on women who don't show pleasure during sex. I know a number of counselors (because my mother works with people in the field), and every one of them has said that abuse is rarely if ever about sex, it is more about power and control. It was not Dr. Schwarz's entire point in this book to say that women must like porn because they get aroused, she merely offers womens responses to XXX videos as a different viewpoint and relationship possibility, the same as she does with the other points she cites. I can personally vouch that I and my girlfriend love erotica, both in book and film form, and often use it as a way to enhance our healthy sex life. And I don't expect my partner to act as porn actresses do and feel pleasure every time, and if she doesn't I don't become violent...instead it gives us more an opportunity to talk and touch and cuddle.
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