Romance and media

I had a long talk with my mom the other night. My parents had just returned from an extended weekend trip to a very small town on the coast.  We talked about a lot of things and came around to the difficulty my mom had finding a paperback to read on the long road trip back home.

There were plenty of books for my mom to choose from but apparently small town life leads to lonely hearts and most of the books were romance novels.  My mom is more of a crime thriller woman. She was amazed at how many romance novels there were and that they were so popular.

Her opinion, why would she read about romance when she already has love in her life?

My parents have been together for almost forty years and from what I’ve seen the spark is still there. I imagine it’s faded a bit over the years, as would any relationship that has spanned decades, but they are still very much in love with each other. So, why would she read about romance?

I suggested that maybe romance was so popular because many people aren’t as happy in their relationships as she is in hers.

She suggested right back that maybe they’re unhappy in their relationships because they read romance novels.

That was an interesting point and one that I’ve thought about, that media can set people up to have unrealistic expectations when it comes to relationships.

If we grow up surrounded by stories, movies, and tv shows that show huge, romantic tales of love, how are we supposed to be happy in our real life relationships? How could our life ever equal up to Nicholas Sparks, Twilight, or any bodice ripper?

romance s

(Hey, my eyes are up here!)

If you think it sounds silly that media influences our relationships just look through the CraigsList W4M section.  It doesn’t take long until you find several looking for “Mr. Right”, “Prince charming”, or something similar.  Some even mentioned “Dorian Gray”, I had to Google that one.  Many also mention that they are still waiting to be “swept off their feet” by their “white knight”.

First, I think most of the men that read those ads would never think of themselves as “Mr.Right”, and if he does he’s probably anything but.

Secondly, any woman looking for an ideal will be disappointed by reality.

Did my mom think that my dorky, short, balding, furry dad was her “Prince charming” when they first met? In a bar, no less. Did he think he was her “Mr. Right”? I seriously doubt it, yet they’ve been together for almost forty years and are still going strong.

And if a person has already found a good partner, how will their domesticity hold up against a story about a big showy romance? Will they look at their life and find it lacking? Or will they realize it’s just a story and that they’re perfectly happy with a man who does the dishes semi-regularly and usually remembers to put the toilet seat down?

Now, I’m not against the romance genre itself and I love any story that is well told (how many great stories don’t involve a degree of romance?), I just think that some people don’t realize that a story is an exaggeration of real life. The good guys aren’t perfect shots, the killers aren’t as clever, the banter isn’t so witty, the characters are rarely so beautiful, the lovers don’t always have perfect sex or know exactly what to say.

And, I hate to say it, but not everyone finds their happy ending. But that’s especially true if they close their eyes to what’s in front of them and are waiting to be swept off their feet.  If people are comparing their life to any form of media, they’re going to have a very hard time being happy with what they have.

On the other hand, there’s a place for those kinds of romantic tales just like there’s a place for a mystery or thriller.  When looked at like the entertainment it is, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.  I’ve read plenty of very romantic stories and they were fantastic.  And some of them were really sexy too.

These books can also be good for a relationship as long as they’re seen as harmless fun and not a replacement for something lacking.  If she doesn’t hold the relationship up to an unrealistic ideal, doesn’t mind that his body isn’t perfectly chiseled, and is just turned on by a good story then that makes his job a little easier.  Doesn’t it?

The books could add some spice and maybe get her a little hot under the collar.  A good book or movie can get her motor running like watching a porn does for a guy.  If she’s already wet, is he going to care that she’s thinking of Fabio when he’s fucking her?

Just make sure to enjoy your media with a grain of salt.


If you’re looking for some good erotica, I highly recommend Elliot Kay.  His stories are funny, the characters are interesting, and they actually have good plots.  I’ve reviewed two of his books, which is something I don’t do.

Good Intentions

Natural Consequences

7 thoughts on “Romance and media

    • Yeah, I think searching for unrealistic relationships directly lead to crazy old cat ladies. There’s nothing wrong with some harmless fantasy, but it definitely be taken too far.

  1. I agree completely with your mother. The media sets up unrealistic expectations. It also goes the other way with men’s expectations too…especially with the porn industry. I have degrees in human behavior and cognitions and we know from research that people who take surveys about their love interests will change dramatically after watching a romantic film. However, people who are in good relationships will rate their relationships more satisfying after watching romance, whereas people who rated their relationships as poor will rate them worse after watching a romantic film. Great observations from you and your mom. My personal experience…when I am in a dating slump…I don’t want to read or watch anything to do with romance…it is painful. 🙂

    • I can appreciate that. When I’m single I only read or watch romance when I’m in a masochistic mood, and usually when drinking heavily. Now though, they make me sappy and sad at the same time since Ann is so far away.

      • I think what you say is so very true. But I also think that guys who watch porn also begin to have a warped view of women and marriage and relationships in a far more damaging way. And no I don’t mean the once in a while guy I mean the guy watching porn on a daily basis.

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