Vaginal Fantasy Book Club discussion

Book Discussion & Recommendation > do romance novels destroy relationships?

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message 1: by JoAnna (new)

JoAnna | 26 comments i just started to read this genre thanks to felicia day. my first romance novel was desperate duchesses by eloisa james. i cannot get away from romance now. i am 25 and married with no children except 3 cats and a puppy. now i have fallen in love... well maybe fallen in lust for most of the strong male characters in these novels and have started to wonder why my husband is not more like these men in our books. i love my husband and i am not necessarily complaining about him but it lead me to question whether reading romance novels have an affect on relationships? are there really such relationships that exist that are all fire and passion? or is this simply a fantasy? is it wrong to compare your partner to the characters in these fictional romances? should i strive to be more like these characters? reading these novels certainly has sparked many questions in my mind that i have yet to see discussed. does anyone else feel or have the same thoughts as i?

message 2: by Kirsten (last edited Sep 08, 2012 01:01AM) (new)

Kirsten Bailey (klbailey) | 86 comments That's an interesting question. I think my husband usually likes it when I read those sort of books, because he usually gets the benefits ;)

I would suggest you really think about what living with the guys in these books would be like. Sure, the alpha male thing is sexy in a book, but if a guy in real life started ordering me around like that? I would probably kill him. I don't think relationships like the ones in these books really exist, because in most of the books I've read the people are living only for each other and nothing else. Real life people have real lives, careers, friends and other interests. It would get boring pretty quick if we didn't.

message 3: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments This is an interesting question and my answer is "yes, romance novels affect relationship' when we start having expectations about our reality. We forget those fictional relationship have an 'expiration date' which is the happy (generally) ending. if there would be an all fire and passion relationship, the fire would burn out sooner or later. it's not about letting the flames devour everything but it's about keeping the fire alive even in rainy days since it will need to warm those involved in the relationship till the very end. There is nothing wrong whith having a bit of expectations due to the books one reads, but a bit of judgement doesn't hurt

message 4: by Mari (last edited Sep 08, 2012 01:12PM) (new)

Mari i think romance is good for relationships because it gets our hormones going. :) as far as "why is my bfriend/hubby not like the guys in the books", remember this is pure fantasy. romance books always happen at the beginning of the relationship when things are happy and giddy and new. not very many deal with 10 yrs down the line when you have to deal with financial trouble, medical issues, the kids need braces, no time for each other...all the no fun real life stuff. would you want to read a book about a couple going to a finance adviser and complaining how tired they are?
most romance is written for women, by women. and ive never read one that felt like this guy might actually exist.
i dont think its fair to compare a boyfriend/husband to a made up fantasy. if guys wrote romance books for themselves, what to do you think the women would be like? What would you think of the women they fantasized about?

message 5: by Erin L (last edited Sep 10, 2012 12:32PM) (new)

Erin L (wellreadmoose) The short answer: I don't think that romance novels destroy relationships any more than porn destroys relationships.

Fiction books are exactly that - fiction. They don't necessarily portray reality. Or if they do, it's often incomplete.

One of my favorite fantasy series is the Dresden Files. I LOVE reading about Harry and I fall in love with his character because he's awesome. But at the same time, if I had to live with him? He'd drive me insane what with all the laundry and the thinking I couldn't doing things on my own. Not to mention never being home ;)

Romance novels are a great bit of fantasy. It's awesome reliving that falling in love feeling through a book (and much better than in real life if you're married), but that's all it is. Remember when you fell in love with your husband and everything was awesome and amazing? That's what these books are. Trust me, the heroine goes on to find out that the hero leaves towels all over the floor and drinks right out the milk jug. And the hero finds out that the heroine farts in her sleep and doesn't rinse the tub out after she shaves her legs. Oh, and they realize that these things aren't endearing after several years together.

You just don't see that because it all ends at happily ever after.

message 6: by Sonia (new)

Sonia (minnesotamom2) | 10 comments JoAnna,
I agree with pretty much everything said already, but I had to add that yes, reading fantasy books does change relationships, at least for a bit. I have fallen in lust for some of the male leads in the books I've read, and unfairly compared my loving, wonderful husband to them. Kind of like how you might compare your husband or partner to a high school sweetheart. In books, you only have the presented image to think about. You don't have to deal with in-laws, selfishness, work obsessions, or any of the annoying parts of life that come with really living with a person. After a day of mooning over all that my husband isn't in comparison to some created character in a book, I am forced to remember all that he really is - which is a whole lot better for me than some totally alpha male (who seems to always have loads of money... why is it that is always the case? Because it's sexier to have money, be in control and be gorgeous. Tah-Dah. The whole reason the book exists.)

And I think my sweet husband would agree with me, and Kirsten and Mari, that the books do have fringe benefits. And while I don't mind if he's thinking of some celebrity crush he might have, I'm pretty sure he doesn't mind if I'm thinking of a fictional character too. Reality's hard to deal with so we read - to love, to have adventure, to have excitement, to travel, to learn, to find new ideas. And it's all good.

message 7: by Bitchie (new)

Bitchie (matron) My husband loves the added benefits of me reading particularly racy reads. The stuff I've read in the past few years has helped loosen my inhibitions a bit, make me a bit more willing to try new things.

But on the flip side, I have read the odd romance where I felt the connection between the MCs SO strongly that it made my own heart hurt a bit, because I've never really had that. I love my husband, don't get me wrong, but sometimes novels do make me want that huge, grand, all consuming passion, and then I have to remind myself of real life, and be grateful for what I have.

message 8: by Amber Dawn (new)

Amber Dawn (ginger_bug) | 147 comments For me it is not a problem... But I taught myself long ago that fantasy is called fantasy for a reason, and no matter how great a relationship is in real life there are always bad times. Plus I will admit that though I like reading it sometimes I am not attracted to them in the least so that helps.

message 9: by Bitchie (new)

Bitchie (matron) Amber Dawn wrote: "For me it is not a problem... But I taught myself long ago that fantasy is called fantasy for a reason, and no matter how great a relationship is in real life there are always bad times. Plus I wil..."

True. As much as I love to read about alpha males, I don't think I could actually LIVE with one.

message 10: by Leesa (new)

Leesa (leesalogic) The things to come to terms with is that the majority of romance novels deal with the courting/honeymoon phase of relationships where it's all about hormones and less about deep abiding love and affection.

For many relationships, things eventually settle down into more of a comfortable state where we value stability and predictability over being thrown up against a wall and banged silly.

Sometime our bedroom activities are predictable. He knows what works, I know what works, we don't waste time getting there. Sometimes we shake things up.

Yeah, sometimes I want that heart-racing romp through every room in the house practicing the kama sutra, but then I look at my husband and I feel another sort of warmth and will take that any day forever.

Something most romance books don't do very well is be realistic about what's necessary for different women. Too often the scenes are focused mostly on penetration as an instant means to a woman's orgasm, and that just isn't the case for many women. So, even though the romance books are written for the female audience, I still think we suffer from viewing it from the male gaze.

In some ways, I think erotica works better and has more of a female gaze, if only from the perspective that attention is paid to the parts outside a woman's vagina as the way to bring a woman to orgasm. And actually uses the correct terms for these parts at least for some scenes. A woman may not know what is meant by the euphemistic "nub and petals" and thus will be left confused about what's going on "down there." Use the correct terms and at least she can Google. :)

message 11: by Veritas (new)

Veritas (umbra_veritatis) | 44 comments I'd have to say they don't destroy all relationships as my girlfriend got me into reading them as something for us to share. There has been times where I've tried to bring some of the novel ideas to life which was hilarious she was amused.

All in all sharing her love of romance novels has brought me closer to her and has given us hours of chats bout wat we are reading(we try to read same thing at same time)

I was reluctant at first but I'm glad she kept pushing me to try I loved her before we started this now I love and understand her a little bit more

message 12: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 68 comments Leesa wrote: "The things to come to terms with is that the majority of romance novels deal with the courting/honeymoon phase of relationships where it's all about hormones and less about deep abiding love and af..."

Actually 2 of my most fav romances are pretty epic in nature. They're stretched out over a couple of books where they both have to overcome external obstacles and embark on a series of grand adventures.

They're certainly my most favorite because they're not all about the lovey dovey honeymoon stage. You get to see the characters grow and become stronger people, just as they compliment each other and become more of themselves as a coupling.

Their love and union is that much achingly sweeter because of their struggles. It's always fun to imagine what life would be like if you were someone else. And live a little vicariously through the characters.

That being said, while I often compare novels to real life, I'm often thankful that my life is so much less dramatic!

I don't think romance novels destroy relationships... if it was that easy, there was probably something inherent to the relationship in the first place..? But like everything else you encounter, it'll change you. So if you pick up a novel and really admire the way a particular character handles a certain situation. You might want to keep that for your own future reference?

But to be honest, this doesn't just extend to romance novels for me. If I see a movie and the heroine has a really punchy line, it also makes me wish I had feisty comebacks at the drop of a hat! haha.

message 13: by Eliste (new)

Eliste | 111 comments I think romances and erotica can actually be quite good for a relationship. I think it allows healthy outlets and gives you certain things you might not get every day in your "real" life.

I think the danger becomes when you start comparing. I don't think I've ever done that- not from film, not from books, not from anything. I know that fantasy is in my head and while its POWERFUL in my head, that's where it stays.

If anything, I think in many ways it brings myself and my other half closer- even just physically when I finish a nice hot steamy moment and curl up with him and direct my passion in his direction.

And I'm with Lisa, I'm often thankful my life is so much less drama than these books. I've had the storybook romance, the whirlwind, head over heels, all consuming fire. My life was not as good. I was less happy. I'm quite content now without the ups and downs and probably healthier too. I still enjoy reading about it, but I certainly don't want to go there when I know what I'd be giving up.

I think its what you choose to do with whats in your head that will make or break anything.

message 14: by JoAnna (new)

JoAnna | 26 comments I'm not suggesting the romance genre is annihilating my marriage; it was merely something I began to think about. I agree with the redirected passion that everyone has commented about. I do make love to my husband more once I’ve read a thrilling love scene. As for trying to get my husband to read these “girl’s” novels, no chance there in getting him to comply.
If anything, these novels make me question relationships: viability, duration, ups and downs, problems, triumphs, etc. I married my first and only boyfriend so much of what these novels paint, I have never experienced. So in this respect, I agree with Bitchie’s comment.
I understand the distinct difference between fantasy and real life but aren’t we, as a human species, drawn and captivated by fantasy? Movies, TV, books… all that bring us out of our reality. Why do we seek escape?

message 15: by Nicole (new)

Nicole (lunakaos) | 165 comments An escape from reality is a break from it too.
Movies, TV, Books is a way of taking a rest from everyday life and just sitting and relaxing for a time watching someone elses problems.
We seek it because we need it. You can't be working and stressing all the time. It clears the air and it should allow you to go to your partner with more energy and excitment from the break.

message 16: by Eliste (new)

Eliste | 111 comments JoAnna wrote: "Why do we seek escape? "

I think that's the ultimate question as to whether romance novels, or anything else, will affect a relationship or not. The reasons people seek are escape are many and varied, but some of those reasons can hint at issues under the surface.

Personally, I think I seek fantasy because it lets me turn my brain off. I enjoy the vicarious ness of it and occasionally get new ideas to try. But I don't go to fantasy looking for a better reality, just a good time.

message 17: by JoAnna (new)

JoAnna | 26 comments Eliste wrote: "JoAnna wrote: "Why do we seek escape? "

I think that's the ultimate question as to whether romance novels, or anything else, will affect a relationship or not. The reasons people seek are escape a..."

Well doesn't everyone, whether in a relationship or not? If we didn't why would we be captivated by television, books, etc? I wonder what the psychological significance of it all is...

I enjoy reading the books mainly to take up time and to learn more vocabulary... and the sex scenes I admit! I also enjoy the historical romances because if I had to chose an era, I would chose that era. Or the 1940s.

I also wonder why the men and women have a power struggle in these books. The man wants to dominate but in the Stormwalker series and the Ill Wind series, the women fight back. What is the deal with who has the "power" in the relationship?

message 18: by CC. (new)

CC. (clare_costigan) | 1 comments Whaaaaaat? Ugh, NO! I’d say porn kills relationships. I’d say women having to do all the emotional labour inside a relationship kills relationships. I’d say women having to go to work for less pay than men, pay bills, do the majority of child rearing and cooking and cleaning kills relationships (and romance—and the soul). I’d say men lying about visiting prostitutes and strip clubs (for their own pleasure — and to stay in their marriages) destroys relationships. Social media and micro cheating erodes trust and destroys relationships.

A hard working, exhausted woman who reads a sexy, romantic book because it’s a source of pleasure for her? GO. GIRL. GO. Queen. You deserve all the sexy alphas.

One thing I’ve learned from this world is women must reach and a take their pleasure. Claim their joy. Take it and hold it close. The world is set up for the pleasure of rich white men.

Read the book, girlfriend. Enjoy it without guilt.

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