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One of the reasons people cite for disliking romance is that it creates false expectations about love and falling in love.
Not every relationship ends with happily ever after. Not every man has rippling muscles exposed through a deep v-neck shirt, nor does every woman sport a heaving bosom.
And, not every road trip ends without cell phone reception and a psycho killer chasing you through eerie woods to torture and kill you in a secluded log cabin. Neither are there superheroes, sexy vampires or galactic battles raging across the universe. Last I checked, we don’t live in a dystopic, post-apocalyptic world struggling against an oppressive regime.
So, why is romance scoffed at as a less-than-intelligent form of entertainment because it isn’t realistic? Could it be because it hits too close to home?
We have (hopefully) all experienced the sheer elation at discovering someone we like, likes us back. At some point we have all felt the tingle in our tummy, the escaped giggle, the extra time getting ready because we might bump into our crush…it is magical and promising and exhilarating.
And, perhaps we have also experienced the opposite. The darkness the end of a relationship brings. Humiliation, pain, tears…the promise of never being so vulnerable again…until the next time our tummy flutters. *Sigh*.
All of these emotions are intensely intimate and leave us feeling far more exposed than we care to be with the world at large. So maybe it is easier to avoid being reminded about our losses in love and label anything that brings them to mind as boring, trite, unbelievable and unrealistic because real people don’t behave that way in relationships.
No, we don’t. Life is messy and difficult. Love doesn’t happen quite so neatly. But just like we enjoy being carried away from our real-world lives through fantasy, science fiction and horror without creating the expectations that our lives will reflect those stories, we can also allow romance to carry us away without creating the expectations that our relationships will be steamy, loving and end with happily ever after. We are far more intelligent than that.
I believe romance offers us a break from the effort and compromise relationships require. It does not make us hope for the unattainable, but it helps us to manage the reality of love and relationships by easing stress and boredom so we can navigate our relationships with a little more fun. And that is something all real people need.
How do you feel about romance stories? Why do you read them? Why do you avoid them?
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