What no one tells you about reading romance novels

To get back in the swing of things, I’ve decided to start a fight…

cartoon fight

Uh… I mean, a debate about romance novels and if we should be reading them.
(I share the opinion of the three smart women whose thoughts are linked to at the bottom of this post.)

Here’s the debate topic:

Many women will respond to the idea that romance novels are harmful to read with some version of:

“I know they’re fictional stories and don’t let them affect me.”

Do you agree or disagree?

While all three articles listed below are great reads, I don’t expect you to get through them all, stat, and get back to me with supporting comments or slashing criticism.  (I’m totally open to criticism, though.  So slash away!)

What I would love is for us to start a conversation about what, from my casual observation (and book sales reports), seems to be the accepted truth about romance novels.

People love them to the tune of 1.44 Billion Dollar valuation on the industry.

Unfortunately, the opinion that they are just fiction and don’t affect us, while making it okay to read them to our hearts (dis)content, overlooks the science behind how our brains work.

Or, more accurately, how they don’t work.

“Wait a second, lady.  Are you telling my my brain doesn’t work?!?”

Not exactly.

Certainly, with our conscious minds, we are aware that fiction is fiction.  But picture this:

You’re snuggled on the couch with your sweetheart, bowl of popcorn empty but for the buttery, unpopped kernels. For the last hour, you’ve watched a sweet little boy grow up.  Right along side him, his trusty mutt – the one he found shivering and wet under his parent’s porch when he was only a puppy – shared every trial the boy overcame.

Out of the worst trials came the most cherished time between boy and dog.

Now, as the boy, nearing manhood, is about to open a new life chapter full of hope, he steps onto the same parent’s porch and calls the dog to come in.

Time slows down.

The dog’s shaggy body springs – slowly – into motion at the sound of his best friend’s voice.  The music gets louder as the dog runs faster, out from under cover of the neighbour’s hedge.

The camera pans to show the truck moving down the block and then back to the dog, just as he steps into the road.

We all know what happens next.  Out come the Kleenex.

So, if we can separate fact from fiction, how do we explain those sad movies (or books for that matter) that cause us to tear up when the dog dies, the horse breaks a leg or the hero gets shot?

If we know that the dog doesn’t really die, why do we cry?

The answer to that is purely scientific.  It’s because the sub-conscious mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is vividly imagined.

That’s worth repeating.

The sub-conscious mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is vividly imagined.

Photo Credit: romana klee via Compfight cc

Our deep and action-creating beliefs are held in our subconscious mind.  And, anything we vividly imagine – images in particular – will be taken on as fact and be used to create our beliefs accordingly.

There is no such thing as’knowing it’s not true’. If we vividly imagine it enough times, it IS TRUE to our brains.  And we will act on those ‘truths’.

Seriously. How are our men to compete with the ‘perfect cowboy’ if our subconscious minds believe he’s real?

(If you want to know more, here are two great books available through the Life Leadership that explain how our subconscious minds work and how we can work them for our good. The book The Ant and the Elephant is a practical parable. Psycho-Cybernetics is a classic, easy to read, scientific how-to.)

This explains perfectly – though simply – the connection the second article makes between lack of contraception in romance novels and in their readers beds. Anything vividly imagined will be believed.  And acted on.

So, enough romance novels telling us that husbands should be romantic superheroes everyday of the year will eventually cause dissatisfaction with our perfectly wonderful men who miss the mark from time to time.

Personally, anything that will make it harder for me to think well of the most important person in my life is not welcome.

Do I think that no one should ever read from this genre? Absolutely not!

I enjoy the genre as a break from my heavy non-fiction diet.  Some writers have become personal, rainy day, go-to favourties, (Susanna Kearsley, for example), and I plan on writing a romance novel in the not too distant future.

I do think that people need to be self aware, however. Just because alcohol affects some people badly, doesn’t mean no one should ever have a glass of wine.

Hopefully, this doesn’t anger anyone in the industry but, I feel the same way about romance novels.

Know how they affect your thinking and read responsibly.

I stand on side with these three smart women.  Where do you stand?

Three Smart Women: Romance Novels Can Hurt Your Marriage

  1. Romance Novels Bad For Women’s Health and Psyche, Psychologist Says from livescience.com
    (Even the Daily Mail, UK ran an article online about what this Psychologist says. Get a second perspective here.)

  2. 50 Shades of Grey is Bad for Your Marriage at tolovehonourandvacuum.com

  3. How Christian Romance Novels May Be Affecting Your Marriage at WomenLivingWell.org

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s