The ABCs of Intimacy

Psychologist Robert Epstein, who believes there is a logic to finding love, brings the search to a UCSD classroom

By stereotype, the University of California, San Diego is where the "smart" kids go. Being smart doesn’t presuppose you're also nerdy, but face it: The traits coexist in abundance. Note: This is not a knock; learn to own your smart nerdiness and you’ll be cooler than any quarterback or cheerleader (see TV’s "The Big Bang Theory"). 

So if you're smart and nerdy, as Hollywood shows us, you're also unlucky in love. Enter Robert Epstein. The controversial author and visiting scholar is teaching Psych 158 at UCSD, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. The class uses "intimacy building" exercises to explore interpersonal relationships. Pencils down, please -- students stare deeply into one another's eyes and do aura searches.

Epstein is a former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today and the infamous founder of the ill-fated "Love Project." In 2002, the Harvard-educated researcher decided he could find a woman -- practically any woman -- and learn to fall in love with her through counseling and assimilation. Women from all over the county applied to be his consort. Epstein picked a Venezuelan ballerina who spoke five languages who he met on an airplane. The relationship fizzled.

Epstein has written 14 books, including "The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen." In it, he argues that teenagers are unfairly shackled into an adolescent state by society and argues for more rights in all areas of life for youngsters.

Including the right to explore intimacy. This kind of course could create havoc if presented to less academics-oriented local frat-boys: "Hey, professor, do I get extra credit if my lab partner gets knocked up?"

The UCSD class is unconventional but was approved by the chair of the school's psychology department. Epstein's eternal quest to find love through logic ultimately seems Quixotic. But while intimacy exploration sounds like a plot point from "Van Wilder," at UCSD, it could be the equivalent of walking into the school dance and prying the boys and girls off opposite sides of the gym.   

Ron Donoho, formerly executive editor of "San Diego Magazine," is a regular contributor to who covers local news, sports, culture and happy hours.

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