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Love is a Story: A New Theory of Relationships Hardcover – February 12, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0195106428 ISBN-10: 0195106423 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (February 12, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195106423
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195106428
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.1 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,028,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

We've all seen them: that annoying couple that is always bickering, always arguing, always seeming to be on the verge of a breakup (think Ethel and Fred Mertz), yet somehow, keeps the relationship going, actually staying married till death do them part. And then there's the couple that's simply perfect for each other. Maybe he was the captain of the football team and she was the prom queen. They finish each other's sentences. They habitually exhibit public displays of affection. Somehow, though, they're unable to keep it together and end up splitting up, frequently not even sure themselves why it happened. How do these things happen? What is it that determines which relationships will work and which are destined to fail? Robert J. Sternberg, a professor of psychology at Yale University and author of Successful Intelligence, has developed the theory of a "love story" to help explain how relationships function, which he explores in his groundbreaking book, Love Is a Story.

Sternberg purports that each one of us creates a love story for ourselves. These stories are created unconsciously and usually at a fairly young age. When we get older, Sternberg tells us, our relationships are dictated by the kind of stories we have created, often causing difficulty when our partner's stories are incompatible with our own. In his illuminating work, Sternberg first briefly explains where our stories come from and how we formulate them. Then, in the bulk of the text, he identifies 26 different kinds of love stories, giving two case studies for each one. The types range from the war story to the house and home story to the science-fiction story. The positive and negative attributes for each are given, plus a small questionnaire to determine if you fall into a particular pattern. The last section of the book examines the implications of what you've learned.

Sternberg has some interesting points in his book--and certainly learning what kind of unconscious love patterns you hold onto is helpful--but at times the view seems rather bleak. All of the stories seem to have significant downsides to them, perhaps making the reader reluctant to identify with any particular group. Also, as you are sure to be more multidimensional than the rather flat characters in the case studies, you are likely to fall into more than one group, which, Sternberg permits, is a possibility, but it makes it more difficult to attack the problems at hand. His book, however, is a unique study presenting new ideas that make a lot of sense and could explain your relationship trends. Love Is a Story just may give you valuable insight into why your relationships may or may not be working and give you the knowledge you need to help you find the right person. --Jenny Brown

From Library Journal

Why are people romantically attracted to certain individuals and not to others? Why do some love relationships last and others fail? Fascinated with these and similar questions, Sternberg (psychology and education, Yale) conducted extensive research with couples and developed a novel interpretation of relationships. According to Sternberg, each person (usually unconsciously) sees him- or herself as the protagonist in a love story. Friction arises when partners hold differing stories. Sternberg has identified 25 romantic themes or stories applicable to short- and long-term relationships, ranging from the fantasy fairy tale ("happy ever after") to the business partnership. For each story, case studies are given, dynamics explained, and the benefits and disadvantages of the story discussed. Also included are statements from an inventory developed to identify story themes. Sternberg holds that relationships can be improved by becoming aware of our stories, understanding the role they play in our lives, and revising our stories to meet our needs. Recommended for popular psychology collections.?Lucille M. Boone, San Jose P.L., Cal.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you ever question why we fall in love, why we choose our romantic partners, why we stay in relationships, the author has answers that will shock and haunt you -- or at least that was what I found upon reading this book. And it all made sense, especially in the weeks after reading it, when I considered and reconsidered all that was said. Every possible love relationship is studied, and every possible explanation emerges. You will understand yourself more and understand others as well. Just fascinating, and as you practice what the author has preached, you'll start to discover that he is right.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ta-Wei Wang on January 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Many couples end up with fight, conflict, or separation. Probably it is because they have different Love Stories which can not match perfectly. Robert J. Sternberg is a leading schalor on the psychology of love. Barrowing from the latest view of narrative psychotherapy approach, Sternberg uses qualitative study to interview people and finds out several kinds of common Love Stories. You may belong to one or more Stories. The most important implications of the book is that you have to find the right one whose love story matches yours. I find the ideas very useful in my work of counseling college students. Love and relationships are the core issues during this developmental stage. I recommend it to all who are troubled by their own intimate relationships. Counselors and therapists will also gain a lot of insight reading this book!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
As a Psychologist,I've been using this book with many of my clients. It is great for getting people to consider their own part in ongoing relationship problems (i.e. figuring out their own love story), as well as for helping people assess their partner's role in the problems (i.e. assessing their partner's love story). I am getting excellent feedback for my clients regarding the book's helpfulness.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
I love this book. It isn't THE answer but it fills in an essential part of the equation that we call "relationship." Sternberg gave me a great deal to think about and a new perspective on my own relationships.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ahmet Celebiler on May 17, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have recommended this book and given it as presents to people with broken and/or problematic relationships, and to young people considering new relationships. "Love is a Story" provides a different perspective to understanding relationships without accusations and remorse. The book allows one to review past and current relationships calmly and dispassionately.
However, unfortunately, most people prefer ego trips, finding scapegoats and blaming a partner. If you have already made your final analysis of your partner and your relationship, this book will probably not convince you that the situation is also part of your making and that there is a high possibility that your next relationship may follow a similar pattern.
But, if you are able to view objectively, the book will give you the means of analysing your part, your partner's part and the resulting story of the relationship, so that you may discuss things with your partner on the same basis and not fall into further traps.
I recommend the book strongly to psychologists, psychiatrists (not psychoanalysts)and people who are into new relationships (and have some doubts,) as well as amateur and professional life-coaches. You may find it fun to read and discuss with your partner even if you have a terrific relationship. It may give you a good feeling to be able to say, "This is our Story, isn't it wonderful!"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Fernan Arana on April 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sternberg's new -ok, not new, let's say last- theory of love as a joint narrative between partners sounds promising. The stories per se are good with a lot of vignettes as examples. Perhaps i would miss a lot more on the final chapter which discusses the research isssues and its possible applications. But it is a good book for regular people and for researchers who don t want self-help books of love.
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