So when Dr. Marti Ruti, author of The Case for Falling in Love: Why We Can't Master the Madness of Love--and Why That's the Best Part offered to write a guest column for our Boomer brothers and sistas, we were happy take her up on the offer.
The Case for Falling in Love is aimed at women who are tired of hearing that they need to learn to read "the male psyche" in order to have successful relationships. Dr. Ruti rails against that gender-specific advice of many self-help guides and dismantles the tired notions that men and women are "wired" differently, and that men therefore need to be "tricked" into love and marriage.
Here's what she had to say on the subject:
Beyond Mars and Venus by Mari Ruti, Author, The Case for Falling in Love
Most boomers are probably well-versed in the Mars/Venus mentality that permeates our romantic culture. This mentality is meant to bridge the differences between men and women by helping us understand why men "need their caves," and why women "need emotional connection" (among other clichés).
In The Case for Falling in Love, I argue that it's time to move past such stereotypical thinking. I do so because I believe that gender formulas cause us to focus on the most superficial aspects of love (what men are "supposed" to be like, what women are "supposed" to do) so that we no longer see our partners for who they actually are. We overlook what is most distinctive, most alive, about them because reaching for the formula is easier. In this sense, stereotypes make us psychologically lazy.
The trouble is, authentic love isn't in the least bit interested in our gendered games. It couldn't care less about our poker-face. It aims at the very core of our being - at the spirit that makes each of us a unique and irreplaceable creature.
What's so sad is that the more we let gender stereotypes rule our romantic behavior, the less likely we are to release this spirit. And why, for heaven's sake, would any woman want to date a guy who falls into the stereotype - who thinks that women are "prey" to be conquered, or who claims that it's in men's "nature" to stray, fear commitment, forget your birthday, or fail to understand emotions.
Why are so many self-help gurus trying to sell us a guy like this? My advice would be to run in the other direction.
We are used to thinking that love's task is to make us happy, and often it can; it can make us happier than pretty much anything else. But this is not its only mission: it may be trying to teach us a lesson that we can only learn through its failure.
So when things don't work out, it's not because we failed to play the game correctly. It's because love is inherently fickle and volatile. A lot of times it's not meant to last. And the more we try to control and manipulate it, the more we stifle what is most magical about it.
When we replace the deep mysteries of love by stale gender formulas, we destroy the soul of love. This is why one of my goals in The Case for Falling in Love is to show that there is no clear correlation between effort and happiness - that when it comes to love, what is meant to happen always will.
Mari Ruti, Ph.D. was educated at Brown, Harvard, and the University of Paris. After finishing her Harvard doctorate in 2000, she spent four years as assistant director of the university's program for the study of women, gender, and sexuality. She is currently associate professor of critical theory in the University of Toronto's English Department.