TangoMag asked me to write about my definition of romance, so I drew on a whole lot of romance reading to write a short advisory article on how romance novels can help you keep the romance in your life: Why Romance Novels are Smarter Than You Think:
Romance novels can teach you that romance itself is not merely a single gift or a gesture, and it sure isn’t just knockin’ boots. Romance doesn’t even guarantee a happy ending—anyone who has been through a bad breakup can tell you that, myself included. It’s not chocolate or hearts, diamonds or roses, yachts or airplanes. It’s not the gesture itself that creates the romance. It’s the motivation behind the gift or action, no matter what time of year it arrives.
Romance can include sex but it is not just sex. So that itchy uncomfortable g-string you think would be the hottest thing since hot was invented? Maybe not. Romance is when it’s Not All About You. It’s valuing someone else’s happiness as much as, if not above, your own, and doing something merely to make that person happy. It’s not getting some; it’s giving some.
One thing that drives me barmy is the accusation that reading too much romance can mislead women into unrealistic expectations of real life romance. I will admit that sex in a romance novel can be among the most bizarre experiences and certainly can demonstrate a disconnect with How Real Life Works, but romance? Routine care and encouragement of a relationship? There is a lot to learn about love and relationships in your handy romance:
Reading romance helps me, for example, recognize truly elegant and heartfelt moments when I find them in the real world, outside the pages of fiction. Romance is neither the Fabio hair nor a grand, sweeping moment with a crescendo of music and flowers raining from the sky. Romance is a lifelong habit present in the way we treat those we love and choose to be with. Most importantly, romance is found in how we treat ourselves.
(I have no idea why the stylesheet doesn’t load at that site when I look at it – but the words are there, though in funky format. Hope it looks better from where you’re sitting. It’s probably just me.)