Philosopher Erich Fromm on Why People Fail at Love

By Barry Brownstein

Seeking advice about the qualities he should look for in a mate, an unmarried man in his 30s posted at the online sports forum of my alma mater. He invited comments on his list of top attributes: looks, camaraderie, cooking ability, love of the alma mater (this man attends every game), and patience.

He thought his problem was finding a woman with the right qualities to love him.

His post generated a lengthy thread—many men at the forum had strong opinions on the most desirable traits in a mate.

Most of us would say love is important. Indeed, social psychologist Erich Fromm in his classic book The Art of Loving writes many “are starved for [love]; they watch endless numbers of films about happy and unhappy love stories, they listen to hundreds of trashy songs about love.”

Are we asking the wrong questions about marriage and love?

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