Audio book giveaway!

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Tantor Audio is giving away a CD of the Unrequited audiobook! Karen White, one of the top voices in the biz, narrated it and had some very kind words to say about it:

“It’s one of the most unique books I’ve ever read, and it totally works. Phillips has skillfully woven together her own life experience with that of other women who’ve done surprising things while in the throes of unrequited love, put them in perspective using the sciences and history and myth to create a very readable (and hopefully listen-able!) final product. It had me thinking about some of the crazy things I’ve done in the name of love (endless letters to that director from London, making my friends ride by the house of that boy I was obsessed with in 8th grade, etc.). The most important thing Phillips does is challenge us to find the deeper drive behind the obsession – what in ourselves are we trying to create, find or heal, that we have projected onto this man? Fascinating stuff!”

Reading in NYC

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My new book, Unrequited: Woman and Romantic Obsession, goes on sale January 27th. I’ll be giving a reading at the Barnes & Noble on 82nd and Broadway on Wednesday, January 28th at 7:00 p.m. Appearances in Woodstock and New Paltz to follow.

Love and Addiction Revisited

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Wise words from Stanton Peele on addiction in Pacific Standard:

“The primary development since 1975 is the realization that addiction is not a byproduct of drugs, but applies equally to every powerful involvement.”

He goes on to say that when he published his groundbreaking book, Love and Addition, in 1975, the only thing considered addictive was heroin. “Love and Addition instead addressed addiction as a life issue. That a love relationship could be exactly as addictive as heroin meant that addiction didn’t spring from a drug’s chemistry. Rather, an addiction is an overwhelming destructive involvement with a powerful experience that provides essential emotional rewards for the addicted person.”

A must read if you’ve ever felt consumed by an addiction to someone else.

Now blogging at Psychology Today

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Very happy to announce that I’m now an expert blogger at Psychology Today, a publication I’ve been reading since I was 11.

My first post, Stalking is Not Strength, on the Monica Wehby stalking allegations, was named a Top Post for the week of June 14-20.

I’ve just put up another, on what the latest princess revisionist movies, Maleficent and Frozen, can teach us — and our kids — about rejection and unrequited love.

I’ll continue to blog here, but most of my longer posts will be at PT. Tweets and shares appreciated!

Stalking from Fact to Fiction, from Male Victim to Female

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A 2012 article from The Telegraph. But I think it’s interesting that crime writer Peter James takes literary revenge on his female stalker by writing a book about a female film star who is being stalked by a male.

From Peter James: how I hit back at my stalker

“Pretty well every book I have written has come out of something that has touched a nerve for me,” says James, who went to film school and spent decades writing, producing or financing movies. Al Pacino and Sharon Stone are in framed photos on his wall.

“I worked with a lot of A‑listers, from Peter Sellers to Charlize Theron. I’ve seen the way they crave their public. There is a desperation to have the adulation. The bodyguards are there, but you can be sure their publicist will phone the paparazzi to say where they are going to dinner.”

There is, however, another more unsettling reason why this book is personal. It’s a challenge to his own stalker.

“It started about 10 years ago when I saw this woman at a book event in Glasgow, smiling as if I knew her.” She began to appear at events all over the country, without approaching him. Then came an email, praising what he was wearing and thanking him for smiling at her.

“I did reply, at first, but then stopped. I was spooked but she seemed harmless… until she sent me a photograph of her Peter James shrine. It had all my books, but also photographs I didn’t know had been taken, of me getting into a car or coming out of a restaurant. They were flanked by candles, burning.”
The police advised him to be vigilant.

Him (spoiler alert)

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Before I headed out to (finally) see the Spike Jonze movie Her, a friend joked that it really should be called “Him.” So true. Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore is going through a very personal journey, trying to recover from the funk he’s been in since his wife left him. Scarlett Johansson’s Samantha, the computer operating system he carries around in a business card-sized device, is the cheerful, smart, and funny (sort of…she grates after a while but the point is that he finds her funny) “L.A. wife” that his ex-wife never was. Samantha elevates his mood, encourages him, inspires him to feel joy. She makes him a new and improved him, and it’s all very narcissistic, because she’s not going to make real girl demands, like the too-needy-too-soon woman he goes on a date with early in the movie. I squirmed in my seat at all the scenes of Theodore’s lovestruck antics for the throaty voice in his ear (via what I have to say looks like a butt plug type earpiece). He’s alone, dancing, telling stories, blissed out, all for “her.” I was worried for a while that the movie was actually going to affirm the value of the relationship with Samantha for the sake of “joy.” Carpe Diem with computer, you know? But in the end Spike Jonze gets it right. Unrequited love, as one therapist I interviewed told me, can be beneficial as a transitional experience. It lifts you out of yourself and shows you what you can become. But it’s ultimately only as a passageway. The joy of loving your OS can’t last.

Sexism and Assertive Courtship Styles

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No big surprise here: A study published in Sex Roles found that when a man uses assertive tactics to get a woman into bed, he’s more likely to succeed if both he and the women hold sexist views about women and are generally open to casual sex. I come across lots of social science research for my book Unrequited (out from HarperCollins in Feb. 2015, just in time for Valentine’s Day!). I probably won’t use this study, because it’s about casual sex and my book is about women who want love. But I am interested in how we essentialize the male pursuer role in courtship — and this may hint at one reason why. If we believe men are better than women and should take care of women because they’re helpless, of course we’re going to want men to take the reins when it comes to initiating relationships, whether short term sex or something more serious. The researchers point out that there may be some scary implications to all this — male authority in sex and relationships can lead to rape culture thinking (“No means yes”) and other controlling and aggressive behavior.

I often come across arguments (usually in advice books) that men should take the lead in sex and relationships because it turns them off to be courted by a woman. Anecdotally, I’m sure most of us know of stories that disprove this. But it’s never been studied. Jeffrey A. Hall and Melanie Canterberry suggest that we might want to take a look at women’s assertive courtship strategies, men’s receptivity to them, and how these things relate to attitudes about men and women. A very good idea.