I used to love romance novels when I was younger. Fairy tales, too. Really, anything with a big ol’ Hollywood “And they lived happily ever after” ending. I just loved the idea of two people meeting and overcoming whatever personality conflicts they had to realize they loved each other. But as I got older, I realized how potentially damaging those kinds of stories are. In fact, I just finished reading one and found it so hokey and unrealistic, that it was very hard to finish.
First off, unlike what those kinds of stories would have you believe, very few lasting relationships derive from the hero saving the heroine from whatever catastrophe threw them together in the first place. After the endorphin from that scenario wears off, most people realize they have nothing in common. And secondly, making love is NOT the same as being in love. I now truly despise any movie where the romantic duo have sex and then “realize” they’re in love with each other (I’m looking at you Failure to Launch!). Real, loving relationships take time, perseverance, and a willingness to be vulnerable to the person you’re partnering with. You can’t have REAL love unless you’re willing to get real yourself.
One of the other “lies” that heterosexual romance novels perpetuate is that the guy somehow knows exactly how to drive the woman crazy, sexually. He knows just the right places to touch her in just the right ways; in many cases, even better than she knows how to herself. And these sex fests always end in a mind-blowing orgasm for her, and oftentimes he climaxes at exactly the same moment she does. You read too many of those kinds of stories and it can truly distort your expectations of what love and sex is, or should be.
Like with Craig . . . we have what I feel is a truly loving, honest relationship. I know he loves me, and I think he knows how much I love him. And our sex life is amazing . . . when we can actually get it in (no pun intended). But I’ve still got a TON of emotional and sexual baggage that we’re sorting out, some of which was caused by my years of reading these books that are truly nothing more than fantasy. While reading this recent romance novel, I actually found myself thinking that my marriage was somehow lacking because we weren’t having sex every time we saw each other (like in the book). I quickly realized there was nothing wrong with Craig and I, and it was shortly thereafter that I started thinking the book hokey and unrealistic.
And it’s just as bad for the “fantasy” books and movies that cater to men. Porn usually depicts completely unrealistic situations that–if viewed too often–can make someone believe that the hot pizza delivery guy will get laid by every sorority girl when he delivers their pizzas for the pillow fight in their baby doll nighties that ALL college girls have. *insert eye roll here* Or what about the girl who is a virgin, but magically likes to do every nasty little sexual thing some sweaty pudgy guy wants to do to her? *second eye roll* Then there’s the one about the lesbian lovers who are so turned on by some random guy that they want to have a menage a trois with him. *violent eye roll that makes my eyes stick that way*
Anyway, these kinds of stories are fine and dandy when they’re treated as the mere fantasies that they are. But I think there are too many impressionable young men and women who come to view these as real possibilities, which then causes extreme disappointment when they’re faced with the reality of life and love. I’d like to see more movies and books that discuss a realistic and healthy outlook on love and sex, but sadly, I don’t think they would be as successful.
Maybe if we as a country were more willing to discuss things like that–had better sex education in schools and didn’t consider the topic of sex to be so taboo (as well as discuss emotional health)–we’d be able to raise a new generation of people who didn’t look to their significant other to solve all their problems.
I don’t know, I’m just spouting here. But I can tell you one thing . . . I won’t be picking up any Harlequin Romances anytime soon.