In some ways, How to love (Hachette, 2009), is in a similar vein to Gordon Livingston’s other books that I have read (Too soon old, Too late smart & And never stop dancing). They all provide practical advice about life and love. However in, How to love, Livingston is primarily concerned with how to discern who it is best to avoid in relationships and who is safe to trust. So much of the book is devoted to describing the character traits of those people to avoid. Of course, many of these traits are evident in a small degree in our own lives. Knowing how damaging the traits can be in a relationship helps us to avoid them in our own lives.

I do wonder however, how helpful Livingston’s advice is to those who are already in a relationship. We often look at our prospective partner through “rose coloured glasses” and initially overlook potentially destructive character traits. So really the book needs to be read before one meets their prospective partner. Yet, I don’t imagine we are that analytical, we tend to go with our first impression with little conscious thought about a person’s character traits. Nevertheless the book has much value for those prepared to be objective.

The book also has value for non-romantic relationships. Sometimes we are not as discerning as we could be in our choice of friends.