Is Romantic Fiction Destroying Today’s Romance?

June 11, 2012 2:07 pm

Romantic fiction gives us ideas of whirlwind romances with perfect couples who simply don't exist

It was a couple of nights ago that I was in bed and re-reading Twilight that I recognised those familiar butterflies flitting around my stomach. The problem was of course, was that this wasn’t caused by Meyer’s perfectly beautiful rendering of the sparkly Edward Cullen reminding me of my own boyfriend; as would perhaps be a girl’s normal excuse for getting tummy-butterflies when reading about Edward.

No.

This was not the case because I am rather hopelessly single at the moment.

My hormones were all over the place, I realised, because I am completely and hopelessly in love with the idea of love.

Pathetic, right? That’s what you’re sitting there thinking as you read this. Well that’s what I told myself too. And the worry is, that becoming too fixated on some fictionalised idea of ‘perfect love’ is not going to give me a lot of success in future endeavors. Because men are not perfect. They will not swing you over their shoulder in a way that is fun and romantic, instead it will just make you feel small and rather helpless; and in fact most of the time they won’t swing you over their shoulder at all. Now, I mean that in the least sexist way possible. The problem is we’re all just so afraid of what other people think and of being rejected by them, that both men and women fail to take the initiative sometimes. It takes all the gushy, gooey, romantic surprise out of dating, let alone a relationship.

It’s strange, isn’t it, how in a novel, a woman knows that crying in a man’s lap is going to make him fall for her and not run away screaming, where in reality, the second option is perhaps far more likely. Yet I can’t help but dwell on how wonderful it would be to meet someone who knew which lines they shouldn’t cross, and which ones they should, that will successfully make us women squeal with delight. I mean – does that exist? Or is it something created by female novelists sincerely wishing that was the case?

So that’s what I got so excited about. A man who doesn’t exist.

Sometimes I think we should just burn all of these ridiculous, effusive romantic novels. Curse Mills and Boon! It seems unfair that any woman who picks up one of these books begins to think that she can find a man who will be as though he’d jumped out of the pages of a book.

Not. Going. To. Happen.

People often fall in love with the idea of love in books

It got me thinking too – perhaps today’s idea of love is skewed by fiction. We start expecting things that men only really do once in a blue moon. Is that fair on the male species? Imagine if things were reversed – if the men began to dwell on romantic fiction where men met women with perfect figures and the personality to match. I imagine that women would feel like they suddenly had to meet these expectations because men began to wonder why women weren’t like that. The pressure would be intense, and with the beauty and fashion industry hammering down these ideas of perfection in today’s society, for both men and women, do any of us really need the extra pressure from one of the purest forms of escapism? The very thing we used to escape from the pressure of society is now weighing on us too.

I feel kind of sorry for men. Let them have their squidgy tums and large noses. Not every man needs a six-pack, ladies, though fiction may be beginning to tell you otherwise. After all, as people often say, love is blind – and perhaps all of this romantic fiction should remember that.

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