Rewriting the Rules: An Integrative Guide to Love, Sex and Relationships (Paperback) book cover

Rewriting the Rules

An Integrative Guide to Love, Sex and Relationships

By Meg-John Barker

© 2013 – Routledge

198 pages

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Paperback: 9780415517638
pub: 2012-08-02
Hardback: 9780415517621
pub: 2012-08-02
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pub: 2012-11-12
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We live in a time of great uncertainty about relationships. We search for "The One," but find ourselves staying single because nobody measures up. The reality of our relationships is not what we expected, and it becomes hard to balance it with all the other things that we want out of life. At the same time that marriage shows itself to be the one 'recession proof' industry; the rates of separation and break-up soar ever higher.

Rewriting the Rules is a friendly guide through the complicated - and often contradictory - rules of love: the advice that is given about attraction and sex, monogamy and conflict, gender and commitment. It asks questions such as: which to choose from all the rules on offer? Do we stick to the old rules we learnt growing up, or do we try something new and risk being out on our own?

This book considers how the rules are being 'rewritten' in various ways, for example the 'new monogamy', alternative commitment ceremonies, different ways of understanding gender, and new ideas for managing conflict and break-up where economics and child-care make complete separation a problem. In this way Rewriting the Rules gives the power to the reader to find the approach which fits their situation.


"We all struggle with relationships but now the rules have changed. We need a new rule book, and this is it." - Dorothy Rowe, Psychologist and Writer

"Meg Barker reveals, step by step, how unpacking and rewriting the 'rules' can not only free our relationships from the ties that bind us, but also offer a path to deep self-knowledge and acceptance. A beautifully explicated journey to the heart of loving." -Dossie Easton, Marriage & Family Therapist, Co-author, The Ethical Slut

"To tackle the dos and don'ts that flood intimate relationships advice, Meg Barker's sharp, insightful, open-minded and friendly guide is here to help you navigate the mazes of modern love. Meg's pen is like a benevolent friend who's hand you don't want to let go. Hold on to Rewriting the Rules" - Esther Perel, Author of Mating in Captivity

"The publication of the rule-debunking book Rewriting the Rules is justified by its appeal to this massive audience looking for rules that work. Author Meg Baker subtly and seamlessly winds her way through the reader's psyche, deconstructing the search for rules that ward off the loneliness many people feel both inside and outside of relationships. Barker's concepts are well rooted in psychological theory and research, yet her use of popular media to illustrate the sources and the fallacy of relationship rules makes the book user-friendly for the general public. The author invites readers to consider the normalcy of confusion and uncertainty in life and relationships as they try to resolve the tension between how to find a connection with another human being and how to deal with that connection once in a relationship." - Suni Petersen, PsycCRITIQUES (Vol. 58, No. 24)

"Meg Barker clearly has a lot of experience in the field of love, sex and relationships, and this book is full of priceless nuggets of insight into the complexities and uncertainties of intimate relationships in contemporary Western culture. … It offers information and advice in a jargon-free, friendly style, including many references from popular Western culture which non-therapists and non-psychologists may find accessible. There are questions to ask yourself and also useful diagrams simplifying complex ideas." - Suzanne Keys, Self & Society (Vol. 41 No. 2)

"Barker does have a real talent for challenging disturbing and rigidly held assumptions in our society and exposing their darker side and how this affects relationships. … Many outside of our profession who are experiencing relationship problems would benefit hugely from reading this insightful book. It is also an essential read for all therapists, not only to develop their understanding of relationship issues and their social implications but also for their own personal development." - Angela Cooper, Therapy Today (April 2013)

Table of Contents

Introduction. Rewriting the rules of yourself. Rewriting the rules of attraction. Rewriting the rules of love. Rewriting the rules of sex. Rewriting the rules of gender. Rewriting the rules of monogamy. Rewriting the rules of conflict. Rewriting the rules of break-up. Rewriting the rules of commitment. Rewriting your rules.

About the Author


Meg Barker is a senior lecturer in psychology at the Open University and a therapist specialising in sexual and relationship therapy. Meg has previously published books on sexuality and counselling and is co-editor of the journal Psychology & Sexuality. You can read Meg’s blog to accompany this book at

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / General