A Mating Game is a Relationship Game
The Mating Game: A Primer on Love, Sex and Marriage, 2nd ed., By Pamela C. Regan,
Thousand Oaks, Calif., Sage Publications, 2008. 347 pp. $44.95 (paperback).
Published online: 12 March 2009
Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009
The Mating Game was fun to read! As I read, I eagerly
anticipated what was coming next. Such anticipation is not
common in perusing textbooks for a field one knows well. I
think the conciseness of the chapters helped. The volume
has 275 pages of actual text in 16 chapters, averaging about
17 pages per chapter. Pamela Regan’s writing style moved a
chapter along at a brisk pace, but by chapter’s end I felt that
the topic had been covered fully and relatively completely.
Many references were cited, but they did not seem to intrude
into the pace of the story line. As a seasoned professional in
the area, the book was an excellent review. Although it is
always nice (for author and publisher) if a reviewer likes the
book, it is much more important that students and instructors
like the book. In one way or another, the remainder of this
review will address the suitability of the book as a course
There is no question that The Mating Game is intended
as a course textbook. Each chapter begins with a brief
outline, and concludes with a summary. In addition, each
chapter has a list of key concepts (with page number given
for each concept), a list of class discussion questions, and a
list of recommended readings with associated commentary.
These features help make the volume user friendly, and
both students and instructors will appreciate them.
It is legitimate to wonder about the kind of course for
which The Mating Game could serve as a legitimate text.
The back cover states that the volume “is the only
comprehensive, multidisciplinary, introductory text about
human mating relationships aimed specifically at a univer-
sity audience.” In a narrow sense, the book is about human
mating. But the word “relationships” in the cover quotation
gives a possible broader interpretation of the book’s content.
My own careful reading suggested that the volume’s basic
coverage is the field of close relationships, especially
romantic relationships. The focus on mating via love, sex,
and marriage provides an interesting scaffold on which one
may happily unfold the story of close, intimate relationships.
If I am correct that The Mating Game is really a general
relationships text, what courses could adopt it as a basic text?
Courses on close relationships, courtship, marriage, etc.
would be appropriate in disciplines as diverse as psychology,
communication science, sociology, and family studies,
among others. Because of the book’s brevity, instructors
might wish to supplement with readings, such as those con-
veniently suggested by Regan at the end of each chapter.
Despite the title, I do not think the book would have large
adoptions in undergraduate courses on human sexuality be-
cause that is a saturated market with many voluminous texts.
The 16 chapters of The Mating Game are divided into
four parts. A first glance suggests a peculiar organization of
the chapters, but I found that it worked really well. Part I,
Mating Relationships provides a kind of “natural history”
of a romantic relationship in six chapters: Mate Preferences,
Attraction and Courtship, Relationship Development, Mar-
riage and Mate Selection, Conflict and Dissolution, and
Intervention. All of the relevant topics get covered in just 116
pages. The topics are covered selectively but well, and it is
the sweep across the breadth of a romantic relationship that
provides the sense of a fast pace. As one example, in Chapter
6, Intervention, four types of couple therapy are discussed in
four pages. But that was enough to give a sense of what each
therapy was about, and how the four types differed from one
another. These four types of therapy are followed by a two-
page section “Does Therapy Work?” The nuanced, sophis-
ticated answer is that yes, it does, at least sometimes.
Sex Roles (2009) 61:140–141
C. Hendrick (*)
Texas Tech University,
Lubbock, TX, USA