Reading romance novels is a favorite pass time. So what's the REAL appeal other than erotic lust?
This close to Valentine's day I’ve fallen back into my old reading habit of romance novels. To be honest, I had been leaning towards that anyway because I am a member of a couple of “interesting” & fun Facebook groups, one of which has a romance novel author as a member. I read her books, I liked them. She sent me some more, I liked them too…then I had to ask myself what exactly did I like about these works? Seriously, I don’t look like any of these apple-bottomed, hour-glass shaped, shorter-than-average women on my best day and I’ve NEVER met men who were that well-endowed and extremely “happy to see me”…daily. So what’s the real appeal of these erotic romance stories other than their obvious play upon our lustful fantasies of vampires, werewolves and cowboys? Why are they so addictive?
- Feeling of Safety – In almost all romance novels the man is this big, bulky incredibly masculine love interest who symbolizes one thing: Safety. If a woman doesn’t feel safe in a romantic relationship then she can’t truly be herself. Lies and manipulation create a toxic environment where nothing survives.
- Lovers who respect our strengths – The lover that can relish a woman’s strengths shows that he’s comfortable enough in his own skin to respect and even gush about his wife or girlfriend’s successes. Gone are the days when the woman waits at home reading Proust, longing to be rescued. In fact one of the stories I read was the opposite: she was protecting him. While the kind of tension that can bring moves a plot along, having it as a permanent part of the story can create resentment. We have moved beyond the “weaker sex” and have power in our own right. As a result the men in these romance stories find these women highly attractive and even gush about them to their friends.
- ...and treasure our “weaknesses” – I have never met a woman who fully liked every aspect of our body. We’re either too fat, have too much cellulite, our stomach jiggle too much or hang, our breasts are too flat…the list is endless. Men who are truly in love with these women see those weaknesses as delightful treasures. That kind of acceptance helps the woman to be kinder to their bodies and themselves.
- Supporting our success – It’s not about “letting us” do something anymore. It’s about us doing for ourselves and in these romance stories, that’s one of the most charming underlying themes. Having a man who is so in your corner that he will do what he feels he needs to to help his lover success is a trait whose existence we hope for but doubt except in these steamy romance novels.
- Understands the importance of communication – The power of communication is all over these love stories. The word “nothing” no longer goes unnoticed. Both characters are laying everything on the table, talking about what’s wrong and negotiating how to make things right again.
- Powerful commitment - Along with strong communication, there’s this feeling that giving up on this love experience is not even an option. That’s not to say you’re trapped and can’t get out but that the both people have found something, know it’s value and feel that it’s worth having and, if needed, fixing.
- Feeling of Home – The days of “You complete me” are (thankfully) gone but the feeling of having that soft place to fall is far from extinct. Home is more than just four walls and a roof; it’s that combination of all the other traits that make up that intense romantic love experience plus that feeling of peace that comes with being loved completely.
The romance stories I’ve read has all of these underlying themes in addition to full blown toe-curling love scenes. Maybe it’s just age talking but once I understood why I had become addicted to romance novels, I allowed myself to indulge in that one luxury we single people feel we need to deny ourselves: Hope.