I'm Addicted To Dark Romance Novels

Why dark romance has slowly taken over my life.

Revealing Things I Learned About Myself From Reading Dark Romance DNY59, sakkmesterke, Oneinchpunch | Canva

The rise of dark romance on social media has not only gained the attention of many within the online book community but also the scrutiny of many outside of it. Dark romance is characterized by the exploration of complex romantic relationships, which showcase themes of power dynamics, intense emotions, moral uncertainty, and sometimes violence. 

Transgressive fiction author Neda Aria wrote that the backlash to both dark romance and transgressive fiction says more about society at large than it does about the individual. These two genres often challenge the themes that political and societal sensitivities state are to be suppressed and ignored. 


The same sensitivities also misrepresent the psychological impact that these kinds of novels can have on the reader as being unilateral across the board. This is not true for everyone — I, for one, love dark romance and have only seen a positive psychological impact on myself.

Here are 5 things I learned about myself from reading dark romance:

1. Possessiveness isn’t all that toxic … right?

I can count on one hand the number of times a romantic partner showed any semblance of want for me. And maybe this is why I find the idea of possessiveness as a trait in a partner appealing. 

Possessiveness encompasses feelings of being wanted, valued, and safe — positive sentiments that may outweigh the negative connotation of the word. Even in the books I read, the heroines who fight to hold on to their perception of freedom and autonomy eventually reach an understanding with their morally grey partner.

@bailees_bookshelf This rant is brought to you by people who say dark romance books are just spice #BookTok #fyp #foryoupage #darkromance #darkromancebooks #books #reader ♬ original sound - Bailee 📚🧚🏻‍♀️

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2. Let's talk about consensual non-consent

If you’re familiar with popular titles in dark romance, you probably have heard of the highly controversial and commonly banned novel, Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton. The morally gray main male character Zade Meadows first catches a glimpse of Adeline Riley through the window of a bookstore. Less than a quarter of the book goes back and forth from Adeline and Zade’s POV as Zade stalks Adeline and slowly invades her life. (And before you get worked up, the ones who have a fierce dislike of Zade are also the ones who binge-watched You on Netflix and romanticized Joe.)

Zade is one of the most worshipped fictional men on BookTok. You might find it surprising to learn that the consensus of stan-ship has nothing to do with stalking and everything to do with his day job of dismantling sex trafficking rings. Should that excuse his stalking or make it okay? No … but again, Joe from You. Through this realization, I fell into a rabbit hole of similar novels that take it a step further into consensual-non-consent.


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3. The "toxic" relationship label is overused

Labeling a relationship as toxic sounds to me like a tactic used by a father who’s the town pastor. It’s a label given to your relationship by an outside opinion. But, there’s an intensity that comes with these types of relationships where an emotional connection and intimacy can be all-consuming. Does the abuser apologizing make the abuse OK? Absolutely not. The point is to communicate before things escalate to that point. 

Take possessiveness, for example. In a perfect world, if a partner explained to me where the possessiveness was coming from, it could become a discussion for clarity. (Again, I stress, in a perfect world.)

4. Everyone is deserving of love

Love, as an umbrella concept, can be applied to everyone and everything with little to no attachment. There are more criteria attached to the love given directly to another person. Whether it’s money, behavior, career, or personality … you don’t love love just anyone Harley Quinn could love a loon like Joker; Adeline could love Zade. Fiction has been telling us for a long time that everyone is deserving of love.


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5. Red flags are green flags?

If I don’t judge your kinks, you can’t judge mine. The new things that I’ve been bold enough to try in the bedroom have been largely in part due to the way the female characters experience during the novel. And before you remind me that it’s fiction, it’s not real, and it’s romanticized on purpose, I know for a fact there's truth behind it. Paranormal dark romance author @katewritebooks explained the extensive research she had to do for a sex scene involving three men. Logistically, there are so many possibilities, but the hyper-specific scene she wrote wasn't randomly plucked out of thin air.

Don't judge a reader who has only consumed dark romance. The scrutiny that the genre faces feels eerily similar to the scrutiny that comes with liking an artist like Taylor Swift. Okay, that might be reaching — but people will hate on you for enjoying just about anything. 


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Monica Robles is a California-based writer and an editorial intern for YourTango.