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Alternative Culture Magazine

Love is Not a Game

(But You Should Know the Odds)

--The Search for Quality Love Relationships

review of a new book by Randy Hurlburt

amor by Jeniffer Zimmerman

Looking for something special in a love relationship? Want satisfying sex? Then you need to know the "Secrets of the Love Dice." The Love Dice explain sex, fantasies, romantic chemistry, emotional maturity, fear and more, all with compelling clarity and simplicity....This book will challenge you to re-think the beliefs that keep you from having the quality love and lasting sex that you deserve.

With a blurb like that, and a life between relationships, I was certainly ripe for reading this provocative book by relationship coach Randy Hurlburt. And I was not disappointed, as I read chapter after chapter with titles like:

  • Power and Magic (Romantic Chemistry)
  • Gyro Stabilization (Emotional Maturity)
  • Kissing Frogs (Why is it so Hard to Find a Lover?)
  • The Spaceship (All Systems Go)
  • Diamonds Take a Long Time to Grow (Can People Change?)
  • Sex is Like Water (Emotional Closeness is Like Food)
  • Enjoy Sweet Distractions (The Safety Net)
  • Look for the Rainbow of Values (Friendship Plus)
  • Without Fear There Would be No Courage (Fear Means It's Real)
  • If You're Trying to Relax, Don't Ask Questions (Let it Be)
  • Discover the True Meaning of Fantasies (Genuine Acceptance)
  • Trust the River (Spirituality)
  • Aside from a few mixed metaphors in the above presentation, the central and highly effective image of the book is the love dice. There are two pairs of love dice (that actually come with the book, or can be ordered free): red and white. The red pair guages romantic chemistry, and the white pair guages emotional maturity. These are the two keystones of relationship, and without high numbers (fives and sixes) on the part of both partners, trouble is inevitable down the road. Meanwhile, the fear factor is also crucial, as fear of loneliness or rejection often compels people to settle for lower levels of chemistry and maturity than we deserve. On the plus side is the possibility of change: not so much in the romantic chemistry department--which is basically apparent "at first sight"--as in the capacity to grow stronger emotionally.

    Each chapter features case studies of couples with various combinations of numbers using the love dice, and correspondingly promising or limited relationships. And at the end of each is an "assignment" which challenges the reader to evaluate and take action.

    Now when I'm feeling blue, I have only myself to blame for not doing my homework! So with a deeper study in mind, let's take a closer look at what needs to happen.

    Dr. Harold Bessell, psychologist and author of The Love Test, has provided two important tools for mutual and self-evaluation, available in the appendix of Randy Hurlburt's book: a Romantic Chemistry Questionnaire and an Emotional Maturity Rating Form. Also there is Dr. Bessell's helpful chart distinguishing infatuation and sex from "true romantic chemistry." Infatuation, for instance, typically burns out after only 3-4 months. Similarly, sex or other positive attractions can be one-dimensional and create the illusion of true romantic chemistry--"a permanent force" which contradicts the popular wisdom that "romance always fades."

    To highlight the importance of romantic chemistry and to distinguish it from its more limited disguises, we are assigned the task after the very first chapter, to cultivate a non-sexual friendship with someone for whom our romantic attraction is a "6"--for two years! It is not required that the person feel the same height of attraction for us. This is a tall order indeed, as the author acknowledges. But it drives home his points about what is important in this whole game that is not a game.

    The assigments continue through a list of tasks ranging from emotional self-help to having a conversation with a sex worker. This is no vanilla relationship book for mallgoers. It gives almost scientific advice: the odds of finding your soulmate are 1 in 1296; but those odds improve to 1/27 if your emotional maturity level is already high. Then Hurlburt takes a modern marketing approach to finding love: you just have to improve your odds by "kissing a lot of frogs." Kiss, say, 20 a year (while also working on emotional maturity issues), and you too can be rich--er, happily in love.

    The way to that particular brand of paradise may require some sacrifice, however: either patience or compromise. The good news is, you get to choose.

    Hurlburt could be on the cutting edge of relationship work with such approaches as "Friends Plus." Such a friend would say to you, "As your friend I am committed to your emotional health including your sexual health. ...If you are my friend and you are not getting sexual fulfillment, then I will give it to you." This category fills in the often challenging no-man's land between conventional modes of friendship and sexual partnership. Here "'commitment' does not mean the same thing as 'exclusivity.'"

    The author coins a few other catchy phrases for the new model of relationship-building. He writes of a "safety net," an "emotional investment portfolio," and a "rainbow of values," individuals, and relationships in one's life at one time. This "value network" describes a multitasking approach to dating, replacing the old single-serial dating model, which just takes too darn long to process the numbers of people required to bring our emotional life to reliable satisfaction.

    While the appeal of Love is Not a Game appears to be all about sex, love, and dating, the bottom line is always emotional health. So when single, "the purpose of distractions ['irons in the fire'] is emotional stability." And once that lover is found, "The highest purpose of sex is emotional closeness." The author quotes some fairly controversial advice about reaching that state--with some ironically old-fashioned advice about "sexual surrender" and the woman's role in "pleasing her man." But it's hard to argue if the results are happy for everyone. It's really all about turning each other on. That takes trust, confidence, and yes, surrender by both partners to the love-force.

    If you don't yet have a partner to love fully in this way, this book will jump-start you.

    --review by Nowick Gray

    Love is Not a Game website

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