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Every longtime romance reader has heard this question: do romance novels ruin relationships? Many have heard it from people they hang out with or from non-readers who think they are expert on something they have no experience with. Of course, the short answer is no, but let’s dig deeper into where this idea came from and the myriad benefits of romance novels.
Where did this lie come from?
Take patriarchy, for example. Romance is a genre that was mainly written by women for women. Anything a woman likes or appreciates must be inherently silly or fluffy or pink. The patriarchy also wants to discourage anything that promotes feminism that is romantic. Romantic heroines have careers, circles of friends, families, and big goals to work toward. Along the way, they will also find a romantic love for a partner who not only does not stand in their way and demands to give up everything in order to become a wife and mother, but who is committed to them. Romance novels challenge societal norms about what is acceptable behavior in romantic relationships. When women see this as a model in fiction, they are demanding it in their own lives, and people who benefit from the current structure of society do not like it.
Second, Susan Quilliam. In 2011, Susan Quilliam published an article on romance novels that harm women’s health because, “To be dull, [sexual health professionals] like condoms – for protection and contraception – and [romance writers] not. ”Quilliam cited a“ new survey ”on romance novels in which“ only 11.5% of the romance novels examined mentioned the use of condoms ”. The survey she mentioned looked at 78 novels published between 1981 and 1996. So your definition of new is 15 to 30 years before the now ten year old article was written. Susan Quilliam’s main problem with romance novels is that they don’t encourage safe sex practices. She doesn’t even mention a bigger issue: consent. A 2019 study of 20 romance novels found that around 50% practice safe sex and 90% have oral consent. It is unclear how many of these novels were historical novels that arguably did not demonstrate or discuss safe sex practices because sex was not known to be unsafe prior to the HIV epidemic.
As a result, people looking for a reason to attack romance now had an open door. Piece by piece was published and quoted Quilliam. People are still quoting that 2011 piece within the last year.
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Okay, but do romance novels ruin relationships?
Again no. Throughout Susan Quilliam’s article, she advocates the benefits of romance in relationships: “Studies have shown a link between high levels of romance and happy monogamous relationships” and that women use it “to stimulate a sex life they cherish” , not to rely on relationships.
Couples who read together bring their partners closer and report greater satisfaction in their relationships. Reading fiction specifically creates more empathic partners, and empathy is the secret to successful relationships. Psychologists suggest that couples who practice sexual fantasies, perhaps from a romance novel, create novelty and sexual arousal without switching partners. People who have a tendency to idealize their partners are often attacked as the cause of relationship ruin, but are actually linked to less risk of separation, greater satisfaction, and less conflict in relationships.
Many romance novels model cis-het men who communicate openly with their partners and listen to their partner’s needs. In a culture of toxic masculinity that teaches men that anger is the only acceptable negative emotion, seeing masculinity as vulnerable and emotionally open is a good model for readers who find themselves in a similar role. They make readers more emotionally educated, which in turn benefits all relationships in the reader’s life. They open doors to conversations that partners could otherwise avoid.
Jason Rogers is known to have founded an all-men book club that reads only romance novels called The Bromantics. “Romance has given me a more accurate assessment of intimacy,” Rogers said. “It helped me to work out what intimacy actually is. Obviously there is a lot of sex in romance novels, but the books have helped make sex a precursor to true intimacy. Sex is an expression of intimacy, but real emotional intimacy is so much more important. ”Novels like The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams and Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson highlight hyper-masculine, sexy men who are not afraid of theirs To speak feelings.
So could romance novels actually improve health?
Absolutely. Science has shown that the brain’s neurons balance arousal and inhibition in order to stay healthy. The highly emotional experience of reading a romance novel can simulate social interactions that trigger these neurons, which is essentially what trains the brain. Regular brain activity can reduce mental decline by 32%.
Many contemporary romance novels have positive examples of characters in therapy and as mental health advocates. In Emily Henry’s Beach Read, the hero admits he is in therapy after his divorce. Jasmine Guillory’s While We Were Dating has a man in therapy who is working on his personal growth so he can become a better partner. Zaf, the hero in Talia Hibbert’s Take a Hint Dani Brown, is starting a nonprofit rugby league to teach boys healthy ways to express and deal with emotions. Alisha Rai’s The Right Swipe’s Samson is leaving professional football after a concussion and the possible long-term mental health problems that could result from it, despite being roasted for it.
Studies show that reading reduces stress and anxiety, helps depression, and can help people fall asleep at night. Reading can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, and lower your risk of heart disease. One study shows a link between orgasms and longer life, claiming that the risk of death in people with frequent orgasms was 50% lower. Find this one-handed read folks, you are helping yourself live longer. If the problem is that orgasms are elusive, reading arousing material like erotica or more steamy romance novels can increase the reader’s desire.
So, dear reader, I have the receipts. Romance novels aren’t the reason women abandon their partners. They don’t ruin relationships. There is no evidence to support these claims, quite the contrary. If your wife / girlfriend / boyfriend / husband / partner decides to leave a relationship with you and they are a romance novel reader, you need to go into therapy, do some personal consideration, and maybe read a romance novel yourself to understand why they left.