If you’re an avid romance novel fan then we wouldn’t be surprised if you greeted the title of this post with a few eyerolls, headshakes and a deep sigh. Don’t worry, we did too. Until it was bugging us so much that we absolutely had to have a think.
Is it possible that romance novels could be bad for you? How? It’s not like spending too much time reading will have the same negative effects that being engrossed on your phone or tablet does. And why specifically romance novels? To understand these questions we need to look at the general reading population as a whole.
Escaping Reality: Healthy Or Unhealthy?
Why do you read? Is it simply your favourite pastime? Perhaps reading is your number one hobby, maybe you only read because it’s part of your college or work curriculum. Regardless of your reason there is one undeniable fact: Book reading acts as a form of escapism for many, many people. For people that want to be distracted from their own lives, escape their own reality and find some sort of safe haven and relief, a book has always been there to provide that for them.
But where do we draw the line between fantasy and reality? Are too many of us now holding unrealistic expectations thanks to wonderfully complex, compassionate and idyllic fictional characters? Are our hopes and dreams for our future partners and current relationships simply wishful thinking because we’ve allowed novel after novel to shape our desires? It’s possible. And it’s becoming more and more the norm.
Being able to relate and identify with a lead character in a romance novel has great advantages. But when you’re reflecting back to this character during everyday life situations for their fictional guidance and advice, it’s possible we’ve taken things too far. This becomes a serious issue when we look at relationships. Whether you’re in a relationship currently or not, you may be basing your standards subconsciously on the ideas you’ve picked up from romance novels. A lot of reviews nowadays are classing romance novels as women’s porn – addictive, but most of all, unrealistic!
Men Are Not Psychics
A lot of men feel pressured by their partner’s emotional desires, and this is commonplace in women who read a lot of romantic fiction. They attach to the characters very easily and expect certain book norms to take place in real life. One of these is mind reading. Yes, seriously. Imagine every argument you’ve had with your other half and then think back to all the times you wish he just ‘knew’ what you meant or just ‘got it’ without you having to explain.
Now, in fictional books this usually happens as it’s written for the delight of the reader. So now, in the real life scenario of the argument, people who really internalize these romantic fiction writings may be overly frustrated and upset over the lack of blind empathy they aren’t receiving. It may sound a little crazy at first, but when we think back to how much we wanted our partners to understand us as much as Edward just ‘got’ Bella in Twilight, we feel a little bad for expecting so much.
How Many Realities?
It’s not realistic for you to think your partner will unconsciously know exactly how much space or attention you need, what you’re worried or stressed, about and what isn’t fulfilling you in the relationship. In real life, it’s all about the communication.
Virginia Woolf novels express this perfectly. She often talks of how there is more than one reality happening at once. Take for instance, someone on the phone to their husband. Now in one reality you have the wife, what she’s saying and expecting of her husband. You also have her husband receiving the call, what he says, thinks and what is going on around him. You then have both of their imaginations, the things that go unsaid, the emotions. In a book, you read all of this, in real life, you don’t… and that’s where the line needs to be drawn.
Are Romance Novels Bad For You? The Verdict
We love romance novels and we won’t stop reading them for anyone or anything. With that being said, it’s always good to see different opinions on the matter and throw some conflicting perceptions into the mix. Our conclusion is that it’s always good to reflect and realize that fiction books are exactly that, fiction! We don’t believe they pose any real harm. Aside from the fact that we lose hours of sleep finishing them…. And spend all our wages on the latest releases… No real harm… 😉