Why Love Hurts Book Summary - Why Love Hurts Book explained in key points
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Why Love Hurts summary

Eva Illouz

A Sociological Explanation

3.5 (58 ratings)
12 mins

Brief summary

Why Love Hurts by Eva Illouz is a thought-provoking analysis of the romantic experience in modern societies. It explains how love is now often enmeshed in consumerism, individualism and capitalism and explores the consequences of these cultural trends on our emotional lives.

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    Why Love Hurts
    Summary of 6 key ideas

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    Love between women and men was long characterized by inequality, but now things are improving.

    If you walk into a bookstore, you’ll find shelves loaded with self-help books about love and marriage. This proliferation of literature suggests that people are having an increasingly difficult time finding and keeping a suitable mate.

    But why is that?

    Well, it might be psychological. Some people are too shy to approach potential partners, or may have had poor relationship experiences in the past. But there are also social reasons for the increasing difficulty of dating – and these social factors have a long history.

    Love between women and men used to be marked by stark inequality. From the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century, the concept of love was overloaded with ideas of chivalry and romance.

    Men were expected to defend women, who were considered weaker, and could expect a woman’s devotion in return. During this time, the inferiority of women was deeply ingrained in the way people conceptualized love.  

    Since women were considered more fragile, men’s role was to protect them. In this way, love became a way of displaying masculinity and honor, while entrenching gender inequalities.

    Thankfully, inequality between men and women has decreased with modernity, which has also transformed the nature of love.

    This change was especially marked during the 1960s when heterosexual relationships were reshaped by the sexual revolution and a new wave of feminism. The result has been a dramatic movement toward gender parity and a division between sex and emotions.

    At the same time, socioeconomic shifts made love more important in marriages. In the past, socioeconomic compatibility was a precondition for love because marriage was seen as a strategic decision to form alliances and reinforce two families’ finances. But as forming alliances became less important, love became central to marriage.

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    What is Why Love Hurts about?

    Why Love Hurts (2012) is about the history of love, romance and relationships. These blinks detail the gender differences, cultural expectations and social structures that shape our conception of love and make it one of the more difficult emotions to experience.

    Why Love Hurts Review

    Why Love Hurts (2012) by Eva Illouz discusses the complexities of love in modern society, making it a book that should be on everyone's reading list. Here's what sets it apart:

    • With its sociological perspective, the book analyzes the cultural and historical influences on our romantic relationships, providing valuable insights into the challenges we face.
    • By exploring the intersections of love, capitalism, and individualism, Illouz offers a thought-provoking critique that encourages readers to question societal norms and expectations.
    • Through its blend of personal experiences and academic research, the book strikes a balance between relatability and intellectual rigor, ensuring that it remains engaging and enlightening.

    Best quote from Why Love Hurts

    Men need womens recognition less than women need mens recognition . . . , men and women both need other mens recognition.

    —Eva Illouz
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    Who should read Why Love Hurts?

    • Men who are fed up with being called unemotional
    • Women who are tired of being considered clingy
    • Singles who struggle to maintain relationships

    About the Author

    Eva Illouz is a professor of sociology and anthropology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She researches the history of emotions and capitalism’s impact on our private lives. Her recent titles include Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism and Saving the Modern Soul. Therapy, Emotions, and the Culture of Self-Help.

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    Why Love Hurts FAQs 

    What is the main message of Why Love Hurts?

    The main message of Why Love Hurts is an exploration of the modern nature of love and its inherent difficulties.

    How long does it take to read Why Love Hurts?

    The reading time for Why Love Hurts varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Why Love Hurts a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Why Love Hurts is worth reading for its insightful analysis of the complexities of love in the modern world.

    Who is the author of Why Love Hurts?

    The author of Why Love Hurts is Eva Illouz.

    What to read after Why Love Hurts?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Why Love Hurts, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Erik Klinenberg
    • 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do by Amy Morin
    • Radical Humility by Urs Koenig
    • The Storyteller by Dave Grohl
    • Love Unfu*ked by Gary John Bishop
    • Come Together by Emily Nagoski
    • Raising Mentally Strong Kids by Amen MD Daniel G. & Charles Fay