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 [via]