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Intellectual Foreplay: A Book of Questions for Lovers and Lovers-to-Be

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This solutions-oriented guide offers problem solving and behavior changing strategies for people working on their most intimate relationships. The book provides readers enhanced knowledge of their own and their partners' beliefs, values, habits, desires, goals, likes, and dislikes; ideas for opening communication and deepening a relationship; skills for making healthy decisions about lifestyles and boundaries; an in-depth understanding of the role of self-esteem in relationships; increased ability to let go of the past and embrace the present; and the knowledge that it is important not only to choose the right partner, but also to be the right partner. What distinguishes Intellectual Foreplay from similar titles is that it includes guidelines on what to do with the answers it gives. This makes it useful in both creating and sustaining a relationship.

290 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 20, 2000

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5 stars
76 (34%)
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75 (33%)
3 stars
57 (25%)
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Displaying 1 - 23 of 23 reviews
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
460 reviews
July 17, 2013
While browsing the shelves at my public library, I came across this very interesting book. I had been poking around the relationship section looking for something fun and/or helpful to read. I had already picked up one of those “how well do you know your significant other” books, but this one intrigued me more. Mostly because the title was interesting. lol

Some backstory: I’m really bad about asking deep, probing questions, especially about personal matters. It’s just not something I like to bring up in casual conversations because asking something like “what are your values?” or “do you believe in God?” can get awkward fast. So unless those sorts of topics come up in casual conversation, I avoid them.

Which is why I needed this book.

There is so much I still don’t know about The Carpenter, even after almost 8 months of dating. Certain questions and topics for discussion had been swirling around my mind for awhile, but, like I said before, I feel awkward bringing them up over the dinner table. When I found this book and started flipping through it, I realized it was exactly what I needed.

I texted The Carpenter immediately to see if he’d be up for doing something like this. He thought it was a great idea.

Last week, we went out for ice cream and I brought the book with me. While the book suggests that you go through it chapter by chapter, we found that to be a little dull, so we took turns flipping to random pages and asking each other whatever question we like on that page. It was great fun and was probably one of the deepest, most interesting discussions we’ve ever had. At one point, the book lay forgotten between us as we talked. I think we were at Yogurt Mountain for almost 3 hours. :)

We’ve done the same thing two other times, and I honestly say I know The Carpenter so much better. Nothing he said came as a shock to me (which was great because I was a little worried) and the fact that we could talk openly about some really personal stuff makes me think we are actually good for each other.

But back to the book…I highly recommend this book. It’s very inclusive and claims (I agree) that no matter where you are in your relationship, or even if you’re single, you can get something out of this. As someone who was single for a very long time, I think this would be a good way to clarify what it is you want in a person. And it’s a great way to learn some things about yourself that you may have never considered. While I would never advocate making a list of qualities and only choosing partners who fit those standards, I think it’s good to know what you want and what your deal breakers are. It could save you some heartache in the future. For couples, no matter if you’re just starting to date or have been married for 15 years, I think you’ll find something. If anything, this is an excellent jumping off point for discussion and something interesting to do if you’re bored.
Profile Image for Ruth.
838 reviews17 followers
February 25, 2022
I smile when I recall thinking my soon-to-be-husband and I would be able to get through this book pretty quickly! Ha! Four months and many conversations later we finally made it through. And how glad I am that we persevered. We felt compatible before, as now, but in the meanwhile we have learned so much more about each other. What a great journey and worthwhile read!
Profile Image for Yinzadi.
184 reviews52 followers
April 2, 2020
Most of the book is the author's relationship advice, which I found lacking in insight. The actual questions were mostly good, however. I listened to the audiobook, but if I had it to do over again I'd get a paper copy or the ebook and just read the questions and skip the commentary.
Profile Image for Holly.
64 reviews
July 20, 2015
great book! A MUST for two people getting involved. Shoulda read this bad boy a few years ago....lol
Profile Image for Jaclyn.
563 reviews27 followers
March 5, 2012
This is a great book for anyone who really wants to develop their relationships. It's designed specifically for people who are thinking about becoming, or already are, romantically involved. However, the author also notes that there are certain sections that are really good for any relationship, and there are some that are also appropriate, and even important, for roommates and people thinking about living together.

I love getting to know you type books, and I particularly like this one because I find it to cover a very broad range of topics. Some of the questions are fun and seem a little silly, and others can generate very deep emotional conversations. I have found myself using this book in some capacity or another in my past couple of dating relationships, and I will continue to do so when I ultimately find my future spouse. This is a great book to help people looking for a meaningful relationship to quickly get to the important things that will help you both decide if you are ultimately right for each other or not. It has saved me a lot of time pursuing Mr. Wrong that's for sure. But it has also help stimulate a lot of very fun and interesting conversations that I would not have had otherwise.

I definitely recommend this book, and will continue to use it long after I've "finished" reading it myself. It's a book that never get old or outdated.
Profile Image for Michelle.
26 reviews
August 21, 2016
Very thorough questions. Sometimes the passages were a bit lengthy. Overall, my boyfriend and I enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend to other couples or potential couples! I think we are both even more confident in our compatibility and our relationship as a whole.


It's been a year since we went through this book together, and we're to be married this November! This book made it very clear to us how compatible we are and I'm so certain that we're a great match! Recommend this book to anyone considering a serious relationship or marriage.
Profile Image for John.
20 reviews3 followers
April 21, 2007
Great book for people wanting to establish or round out a relationship. It's filled with questions dealing with married life. The idea is that potential spouses take time to ask the questions so that they can determine how they both see the answers. This can help to identify potential problems and bring both people closer as they work out a solution.

Great read for anyone dating and wondering if this is the one or a married couple who needs to discuss things.
Profile Image for Jim.
35 reviews4 followers
July 14, 2010
An interesting approach to new or existing relationships. The premise is that people usually spend more time and effort researching and buying a house than they do when looking for a partner. Poses questions to ask a potential partner that may help one to really understand who the other person is and how well a relationship with them might work. Good reading, and I've used the questions in practice with varying success.
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 26 books24 followers
November 30, 2015
Difficult book to rate for me. I think a lot of the questions are very good and important, but they are questions I've already asked or been asked for the most part. Does that mean they are obvious, or does it mean that when you're in a long-distance relationship these sorts of questions tend to come out? I don't know.

So, I'll recommend the book with the caveat that the questions might be really helpful OR really obvious.
59 reviews
March 15, 2013
While it's a little touchy feely and has a definite hippy vibe, I like the premise. "Here's a bunch of questions you can ask before you jump into bed with someone"

The advise is pretty good in terms of how to approach the questions and how to work them into conversations. The anecdotes support the text fairly well, and the narrative of the method works out pretty well.

We're pretty deep into our marriage, so a lot of the questions weren't relevant, but a couple provoked some thought.
Profile Image for Roxanne.
Author 1 book52 followers
Shelved as 'unfinished'
September 28, 2011
F and I have two copies of this book--we started reading it together when we were long-distance, talking about the questions over the phone. It was really interesting, but then we got engaged and he moved here before we could finish it, and now we're well on our way to knowing everything about each other.
Profile Image for Anaïs.
53 reviews6 followers
November 9, 2017
Although the beginning was repetitive and hard to got through, there were many great points (and questions) made throughout the book. I did fond myself skimming a lot of areas I felt didn't apply to me, however, I would recommend to anyone entering a relationship or looking to deepen a current relationship.
Profile Image for Jaya.
16 reviews
October 24, 2019
Good questions for people who don't know each other yet. But if you're really meant to be together, you'll probably talk about all these things naturally. If this book is your main method of communication, then I'd reconsider the relationship.
Profile Image for Mauri.
885 reviews22 followers
December 17, 2019
Interesting concept, maybe a little dated in...style? Setting? It was weird to read so much about relationship examples that were obviously pre-social media and even email. I wish I had time to actually go through and figure out what my own answers would be to a lot of these questions.
Profile Image for Craig.
43 reviews
June 6, 2015
Quirky title but a good book. Wish I'd had this material a long time ago.
Profile Image for Brotha Man.
36 reviews
March 29, 2020
Very heavy on self-reflection which I appreciate. Good read, even coming from a single man not really looking at the moment.
Profile Image for Michele.
758 reviews
May 17, 2020
This book presents a lot of valid and important question. I was very pleased my bf and I have already discussed a large portion of these:
Profile Image for Andrea Martin.
46 reviews7 followers
February 20, 2021
Fantastic and eye opening. I only gave it 4 stars because it was published twenty years ago and thus could use some revision and updating.
Profile Image for Dmitry.
719 reviews70 followers
May 31, 2019
(The English review is placed beneath Russian one)

Довольно нудная книга, которая казалась бы, могла бы быть намного более интересной в силу довольно примечательной идеи. Авторы пишут о важности сходства. Т.е. когда пара, перед тем как начать серьёзные отношения, начинает, с помощью сотен различных вопросов, производить анализ своих предпочтений, т.е. того что им нравится и что наоборот не нравится. К примеру, разделяет ли партнёр мои духовные предпочтения или он вегетарианец или какой тип фильмов/книг он предпочитает и так далее по всем темам, которые только существуют. Как пишут психологи, нас притягивает то, что мы сами любим и что мы знаем. Чем больше сходства мы находим в других людях, тем больше они нам нравятся. Как я понимаю, это основная идея книги. В целом, я согласен с этим посылом, но как мне всё же кажется, он из разряда самоочевидных. Почему-то мне кажется, что все люди, при завязывании романтических отношений, проводят подобный анализ предпочтений «по умолчанию». Всё же намного лучше заранее узнать, что предпочитает твой партнёр, чтобы далее это не стало неожиданным и возможно даже неприятным сюрпризом. Однако нужно признать, даже несмотря на такую важную и интересную идею, я всё же нашёл книгу довольно скучной. Возможно, она просто плохо написана, а возможно, авторы не смогли как-то интересно раскрыть тему. Возможно также, что я не понял остальное, т.е. помимо основной темы. Ну, если честно, когда авторы непосредственно не говорили о вышеназванной теме, текст был очень и очень водянистым, какие-то общие слова, ничего конкретного. Поэтому я не думаю, что там было что-то ещё, помимо основной темы.

Quite a tedious book, which could be much more interesting because of a rather remarkable idea. The authors write about the importance of similarity. That is, when a couple, before starting a serious relationship, starts to analyze their preferences with hundreds of different questions, i.e. what they like and what they do not like. For example, whether the partner shares my spiritual preferences or is a vegetarian, or what type of films/books he or she prefers, and so on, on all the topics that exist. As psychologists write, we are attracted to what we love and know. The more similarities we find in other people, the more we like them. As I understand it, this is the main idea of the book. In general, I agree with this message, but I still think it is self-evident. Somehow I think that all people, when they start a romantic relationship, do a similar analysis of their preferences "by default". Still, it is much better to know in advance what your partner prefers, so that it does not become an unexpected and perhaps even unpleasant surprise. But I must admit that even despite such an important and interesting idea, I found the book rather boring. Maybe it's just badly written, or maybe the authors couldn't reveal the topic. Maybe I also didn't understand the rest of it, i.e. besides the main topic. Well, to be honest, when the authors didn't speak directly about the abovementioned topic, the text was very, very vague, some general words and nothing specific. That's why I don't think there was anything else besides the main topic.
Profile Image for Jen.
2,396 reviews41 followers
October 19, 2014
I'm on page 61, and actually, it's really helpful so far!
Displaying 1 - 23 of 23 reviews

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