A Book About Love – an Interview With Jonah Lehrer

interview with jonah lehrer

Want to understand how to choose a long-term partner that’s meant to last? Join me on this special Love U podcast with Jonah Lehrer about “A Book About Love.” Lehrer has written a seminal book for any woman who wants to know what really matters in relationships.

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  1. 1

    this does not describe me at all. I still   recount gleefully about the purchase of a coat I made 10 years ago, or something I have had for years.  

    1. 1.1

      Hi Claire,

      This was such a great podcast that I am kind of sad that more people are not commenting on it.

      Jonah was speaking about men and women in general, not every man and woman will fall in the exact category that the majority do.

      Plus I think their is a thing with us Americans (or dare I say we western nations in general) that romanticize love. So the thought that we could fight so hard for something and someone to just get bored with them is unthinkable.

      Especially on this site where women admit to dumping guys who are great partners except for the fact that he doesn’t want to get married. How well he treats you, how much he cares for, comforts, and gives to you doesn’t matter if he will not marry you. It seems to be acceptable and even encouraged to dump that good guy for a guy who is less than your previous partner but who will at least marry you.

      And what is the justification: the right guy will happily marry me. It seems that the goal is marriage not the happy, healthy relationship.

      Not the (specific you) but the general you.

      Yet now this author is saying that science tells us that the guy who you married will just end up as a “friend with benefits” in the long run is very uncomfortable to a lot of women who see marriage as a fairytale goal.

      1. 1.1.1

        No, marriage isn’t the goal.   It is the means to the desired goals…the means that a non-committed relationship don’t give.   We make assumptions that the relationship in and of itself is the desired goal, but those assumptions are often wrong.

        1. Adrian

          Hi Jeremy,

          It’s a slow work day and I’m bored- So I think I am going to “play the devil’s advocate” and push back at you on this one. (^_^)

          You generally state that the goal is relationships (children, family, etc), validation, novelty, or… I can’t remember the rest (^_^).

          But these are all things that these women receive in those relationships while just dating (except for maybe novelty). So to say that marriage is a way to get them those goals I disagree with.

          Marriage is the goal! Marriage is like a status symbol or like a   piece of expensive clothing, or car, or house, or etc… It is something to show off to some people.

          To others it’s like the saying about people who are more in love with the idea of being in love than actual love. I think people are in love with the idea of marriage more so than the actual relationship because marriage is just a title.

          A man who will cheat will cheat when married like a man who will not cheat will not cheat while just dating. So I don’t see how marriage is the “ultimate” form of commitment.

          Plus our current divorce rate in the U.S is about 50%, so half. Yet many women will still leave a good man and a good relationship simply because the man won’t marry them after a certain time limit, to end up marrying a man who isn’t as good (or desired by her) but willing to marry her.

          …     …     …

          Anyway I could be wrong, I just have always struggled to understand women who end great relationships because a man won’t marry them. I could understand if he was lacking emotionally, physically, or mentally in the relationship but many women can be with a man who makes them happy, a man who they desire sexually, a man who is financially well off   but because he won’t marry them within a time frame they leave him.

          That’s why I think the marriage and not the quality of the relationship is the true goal.

        2. Jeremy

          You are again conflating sexual goals with relationship goals. The meta goals you listed are descriptions of sexual goals and have little to do with why a person would marry. I mean, think about it – why codify a relationship in law and set penalties for dissolving a union if love or sex become non existent? Answer – because we either want something or fear losing something.


          The most common marriage meta goals for women are security (physical, financial, and emotional), children (and stability and legitimacy of raising them), societal status, physical touch, and companionship. And now that emotional security and companionship are usually better provided by female friends and relatives than by husbands.


          The most common marriage meta goals for men are regular sex, children, emotional comfort, social life, and companionship.


          We marry, as opposed to just having long term relationships, because we want these things and fear losing them. We divorce amen we either don’t have these things or no longer fear losing them because we no longer want them.

      2. 1.1.2

        There aren’t any facts  to back up what you say. It “seems” women will leave a great relationship for a lesser one if it means marriage for her. Perhaps  it  “seems” that way because you  have focused on those instances to bolster a bias which is serving  you in some way?

        It seems to me that the nature of a relationship changes  with marriage. I’ve seen this with couples who lived together awhile prior to  marriage. It was more than just a party and a contract. Their dynamic changed (sometimes for better, sometimes for worse).

        Marriage is not merely a formal legal contract for many. It has  spiritual significance, and many may recognize that this affects you psychologically and emotionally and deepens the bond  and commitment. Ceremonies and symbols impact us. Language impacts us. So you have a formal rite of passage symbolizing your commitment and verbalizing it in vows – -> impact. You call it marriage and each other husband and  wife – with all the implications it holds –>   impact.

        Marriage saye  you’re in it through good and bad. Living together says you are there as a convenience. Easy divorce undermines this, sure, but it doesn’t change the value of marriage for many.

        Women’s  motivation for marriage is not much different from  men’s.  You could say  all of it is possible without a legal contract or ceremony, but these emphasize  the meaning of it all, perhaps add a new level of meaning, and that has an impact which influences the nature of the relationship and commitment.

        1. Adrian

          Hi Michelle,

          You are correct I do not have any facts just anecdotal evidence from reading lots of comments on this blog or hearing numerous stories from women.

          If you have never heard of a woman wanting to leave a man because after dating him for 3 years he has still not proposed than I can not convince you that this happens with stats or research data.

          So in conclusion if in your world women never leave men for not wanting to get married then there is no point in us speaking about it because I can’t convince you that something you’ve never seen happens like I can’t convince some people that the earth is round.

  2. 2


    My sister is a family law attorney and she once took on a pro-bono client who was the stay-at-home-mom of two young kids while the kids’ father supported them.   Sadlyher cohabiting partner died suddenly and without a will.   When a married man dies without a will his estate automatically goes to his widow.   Although his estate was pretty small it all reverted to his parents since they hadn’t been married.   As his blood relatives the children were legally entitled to some of the estate but his parents didn’t want to share, and so the mother had to go to court to fight for her kids’ inheritance.   My sister also had to tell her that if she’d been a widow she’d have been legally entitled to collect his Social Security when she retired, but live-in girlfriends don’t get that benefit.

    And this isn’t just a problem for mothers or Americans.   If you’re really bored look up the legal mess over the estate of the Swedish author Stieg Larrson.   He died unexpectedly of a heart attack, without a will, and despite being with her for 32 years he’d never married his girlfriend so the legal rights to his estate and the millions of dollars his books made went to his father and brother.

    1. 2.1

      Hi Kitty,

      I agree with your story.

      1 point for the pro-marriage side! (^_^)

      And if a guy dated a woman for 32 years and never married her or put her in his will… then well I think that says something about their relationship-I’m just not sure what it says exactly.

  3. 3

    I’m just not sure what it says exactly.

    Well, most women who value marriage would interpret that is showing that he didn’t care enough about her to draw up some relatively simple legal documents to assure that she’d be provided for in the event of his death.   Either a marriage license or a will would have sufficed, and it’s easier and cheaper (at least in the US) to get a marriage license than to have a lawyer prepare a will.

    Or, more charitably, he was too immature to consider the possibility that he himself might die suddenly and unexpectedly even though he surely saw that happen every day.   He probably thought he had more time to write a will before the Grim Reaper showed up.   Stieg Larsson was quite a character; he had a heart attack at the office and as the EMTs carried him away he gasped to a colleague   “I’m 50 for Christ’s sake!”   Those turned out to be his last words as he died that hospital shortly thereafter.  

  4. 4
    MS Lusk

    I stayed with my  love for  30 years.   My prior marriage had made me afraid of ever marrying again.   I felt that since I was capable of working, and we did not have children, marriage was not necessary, even though we loved each other.

    He was frightened of doctors, so did not catch the cancer that ultimately traveled through his body and killed him.   He also developed dementia.   He was so scared of death that he could not make himself write a will.

    Six months before his death, the company I was working for went under and disappeared.  At least I could  stay home and take care of him until the end.   I thought I could eventually get another job.   What I did not count on was the attitude of the hospital.   The doctors were fine about listening to my input.   But the hospital lawyers did not want to let him stay in their bed more than 10 days.   His brother would not do his duty as a blood relative and sign him into hospice.   Brother went through his things and  took all things he labeled as “family”..Thank goodness  my dear one  died at that point in the calendar, or the lawyers  would have transferred him to a nursing home that had a horrible reputation.

    I can survive without  my love’s   life insurance he had left to his (dead) parents.   It would have  been helpful,  as I get older. to have a widow’s retirement benefits and health insurance to bolster my savings.

    But I am grateful I could be there for his last breath, to hold his hand and let him know that he was not alone.

    If I am so lucky to find another sweet man like him, the trust I built in him might make it possible to not be so afraid of marriage.   It gives each partner more control over the more unfortunate things that can happen at the end of life.   Just a thought.

  5. 5

    Wow, I’m about to listen to the podcast but these stories about money-grabbing family members are quite sobering.   I’m the one willing to sign a pre-nup. That’s about anything we made before the marriage.   Anything we thing build together I feel should be acknowledged as both of ours when we die.   It would be like denying a child we created wasn’t equally ours.

    Another thing no one mentioned is being a spouse allows you to make medical decisions for your partner and vice versa.   If you’re with someone for decades you know if they want intervention or not, if they are incapacitated.   We have to get better at discussing and managing our choices about death and illness.   Yes, it’s scary but one has to think about those you love and leave behind.


    – Judge your partner by how they are on your worst day, not your best day.

    – Telling a positive narrative about your relationship.

    The end points, hey if a woman can go on a yoga trip to Bali, she should go! You can’t put your life on hold waiting for something that you don’t have full control of making happen. Live life, just don’t give up on love.   That’s not what the speaker said,that’s what I’m saying. 🙂   He had a wonderful wife to help him through his tough times. And no, Bali isn’t the same as having a spouse.     But we have to do the best with what we have until we find the right person. And I mean the best.   Love is definitely so important.   But you have to have a full and happy life with love (maybe not a romantic partner but definitely with love) until you meet that person.

  6. 6

    I was wrote on another dating blog, that if love came along at a time when I wasn’t ready, I wouldn’t accept it. I wrote that four years ago. I don’t know if I feel completely the same way now. I mostly feel that way.   After putting out a lot of effort for five years, I’m tired.   I don’t think tired is the best place from which to start a relationship. I know I have many years left, but again, if you’re tired and needing a break, it doesn’t matter what age   you are or what your SMV is.   If I’m not ready to date and don’t want to do it, all that stuff is meaningless.   The most beautiful woman in the world is meaningless if she doesn’t want to be with anyone and says no, no, and no to every offer because she’s quite sure what she doesn’t want.

    I’d rather have less market value and be ready and willing.   I don’t know if men understand that.   Where a person is inside is their real value.   If they are willing to put forth the effort that Jonah describes here.   Because when chips are down if they don’t have that type of value there aren’t helpful.

    Timing is not everything, but it’s very important.

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