Sad Love: Romance and the Search for Meaning
Sad Love: Romance and the Search for Meaning

Carrie Jenkins

Sad Love: Romance and the Search for Meaning

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From the author:

What if your happy ever after … isn’t?

This book is about sad love. Or, more accurately, it is about eudaimonic love, which has room for the full gamut of human experiences, both “positive” and “negative.”

Eudaimonia, in the old sense (older than Aristotle!), was about benevolent spirits. In a contemporary setting, I frame eudaimonia in terms of how we are influenced by the people, environments, communities, and networks around us. As I see it, a proper understanding of eudaimonia demands that we take into account the deep and dramatic implications of our interconnectedness: we find meaning in collaboration and creation, and meaning is what makes life worth living for us.

Eudaimonic love is collaborative, creative, and dynamic. It grows and changes. It orients us towards living a meaningful life, but away from the “pursuit of happiness,” including the romantic “happy ever after.” When we centre eudaimonia rather than romance, we can see why sad love is not necessarily a failure condition. Sadness – and other “negative” emotions – can be a legitimate part of a meaningful love story.

Sad Love furthers the work of What Love Is in critiquing and dethroning culturally dominant romantic ideologies of love, especially the idea that love is defined by certain kinds of feelings. I have stopped asking how to be happy ever after in love. That question doesn’t interest me anymore.

Paperback, Polity Press, June 2022, ISBN: 9781509539598.


“This book will transform the ways people think about their love relationships.”
Myisha Cherry, author of The Case for Rage

“Do you ever get that feeling that a book just sees you? That was how I felt reading Sad Love. Jenkins deconstructs popular notions of happiness and romantic love with her characteristic combination of compassion, originality and rigour, challenging us to reconsider our foundational assumptions about what our relationships should even be for. I want everyone to read this book.”
Eve Rickert, co-author of More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory

“Sad Love zings with frustration at fairy tales, Valentine’s cards, romance novels and the ‘happy ever after’.”
The Sunday Telegraph Magazine

“Jenkins […] brings a light-touch speculative air to her ruminations.”
London Magazine

About the author

Carrie Jenkins is an award-winning philosopher, novelist and poet. She is also Professor of Philosophy and Canada Research Chair at the University of British Columbia.