Why Love Hurts

02/06/2013 07:17 am ET Updated Apr 08, 2013

In Why Love Hurts, my aim is to do for love what Marx did for commodities: to show that it is shaped and produced by concrete social relations; to show that love circulates in a marketplace of unequal competing actors; and to argue that some people - principally men - command greater capacity to define the terms in which they are loved than others.

Below this top-level ambition, I explore the ways in which we experience love and its pains - how our sense of self is increasingly bound up with, even constituted by it; how the possibility of infinite choice makes choosing and committing more, not less difficult; and how irony has become a self-protective layer, the mode par excellence of knowingly expressing modern love and insulating oneself from disappointments.

In the book, I use evidence from great classics of nineteenth-century fiction - Jane Austen in particular - to help measure the distance we have travelled from pre-modern modes of loving. And, equally tellingly, I make use of the frank admissions of contemporary interview subjects to shed light on love as it is experienced today.

Why Love Hurts