Are Romance Novels Bad for Your Relationship?

Posted by on Apr 15, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Are Romance Novels Bad for Your Relationship?


It’s a genre that’s been around forever.

Romance novels account for over 50% of all fiction book sales, and 90% of readers are women. Traditionally, the stories told the tales of young, naïve virgins falling in love. Recent versions, however, do a much better job of depicting reality.

Today’s romance protagonists work and live independently, and have some sexual experience of their own by the time they find Mr. Right.

Still, a romance novel formula exists:

The characters

  • The heroine perceives herself to be average.
  • The hero is an alpha male. He is undeniably attractive, cold and distant. His manner is rude and arrogant, due to the emotional scars he bears.

The romance

  • The hero thinks the heroine is amazing. Though he resists love, eventually he realizes she’s “the one.”
  • The hero is transformed by love into the heroine’s dream man: adoring, sensitive, monogamous, and family-oriented.
  • Though the heroine waffles initially, she tosses her concern to the wind for a life of passion.

Of course, there are variations on the theme, but generally, that’s how the story goes.

Is there really any risk to your real-life relationship that comes from a good romantic read?

Well, there are some common relationship myths you might be susceptible to:

Relationship Myths Perpetuated by Romance Novels

  • Her love changes a cad to a dad.

Do self-absorbed jerks become sensitive, caring fathers for the love of a good woman? The research says no. Our mating styles are deeply ingrained. Bad boys just don’t tend to become highly committed partners.

  • Sex is always awesome.

The hero is always more sexually experienced. He teaches her the pleasures of sex and lovemaking. Of course, the experience is the best either of them have ever had…and it  just gets better from there.

In reality, sex is a skill. Rarely spontaneous, desire waxes and wanes. The linear path from desire to orgasm often just doesn’t materialize. Romance novels can set up a false expectation of sex in a committed relationship.

Unfortunately, 1 in 10 romance novels depict heroines refusing condoms and safe sex, for the sake of the full experience or feeling. Obviously, a bad idea for your health and safety in real life.

  • It’s all smooth sailing after the commitment is made.

These novels often show characters in subsequent editions of a series. Though they are now  immersed in family life, they are still enamored with each other.

The truth is, relationships take work and sexual desire fluctuates. The initial rush fades. Real love and relationships require maintenance supported by friendship, caring, and respect.

If novels are so inaccurate, what’s the appeal?

Romance novels appeal because these romantic ideas are everywhere. The media is saturated with magical, romantic possibilities permeating movies, music, and the Internet.

Romance novels are a sweet dose of brain candy. There are no concerns regarding cheating, pregnancy, or STDs. Yet, the reader is still allowed to enjoy the seduction and rush of falling in love.

So, is there a relationship downside to the fantasy? It depends.

Yes, Romance Novels are Bad for Your Relationship.

  • If you use romantic fantasy as a relationship standard, you may miss or undermine good, real life relationships.
  • If you overdo it, you may find yourself substituting romantic fantasies for real intimacy.

No, Romance Novels are Not Bad for Your Relationship.

  • Most readers are mature enough to see romance novels as a fun escape, taken in moderation. They are no more risky than genres like science fiction, or other fantasy-based reading.

Used as a relationship model, romance novels can be problematic. However, under the right circumstances, romance novels can be a fun and entertaining way to spend leisure time.

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