Sex and Relationships

How Does the Romance Genre Affect Real Life Love?

A Deep Dive into Romance Novels

By: Philip Sanzone and Veronica Pistek

Reading with the heart fills the mind. Credit: rd.com

Are you a hopeless romantic? Maybe you’ve read too many romance novels for your own good throughout your lifetime. Perhaps, these novels have created a false sense of love in your heart, showed you unrealistic standards for a partner, or actually revived hope in your love life. 

Either way, romance novels provide us with stories that the real world cannot provide us with. Taking a deeper dive into the psychology behind romance novels can point us to the reason why we are drawn to this genre.

Within the genre of romance, there are several different types. Some romance novels are more detailed in some ways than others. This could be in regards to how smutty, romantic, or lovey dovey they are.

These romance novels can even be a little more atypical or basic in nature, with prince and princess styled characters. Like most genres, the preference is up to solely the reader/consumer.

For instance, alluring romance may be attractive to people that desire an intense and sensual story. On the other hand, more tame works are agreeable for a cute and cuddly type of experience. We also can’t forget the novels that are action heavy.

 Think Fifty Shades of Grey style. 

Ultimately, there are many different kinds of romance novels and ways of writing them, so it’s important to note that there’s always something for everybody.

But in regards to the psychological impact, there is one thing that remains consistent within each type of romance novel: happy endings. 

Romance novels create the opportunity for the reader to optimistically work toward happiness within their own lives.

According to PsychologyToday, “Evolutionary psychologists have studied romance novels and found common elements that seem aligned with the interests of women seeking the perfect mate over the course of evolution.”

Some of these common elements are centered around men who are “wealthy, fit, fertile, and committed, features that would have been aligned with the reproductive interests of women through the last few million years of evolution.” 

So, each type of romance novel is actually more alike than what seemingly meets the eye. Ultimately, the typical romance reader lives vicariously through an unrealistic story to create elements of love within their own lives.

In a way, this genre mimics how people attempt to conduct relationships in real life. 

Potentially, a romance novel can influence how people treat one another, how we define love in our own terms, how we accept others, and how we see others who express themselves in ways we once considered deviant.

According to romance novelist, Christina Lauren, “These are the things that bind a society, and romance novels — books about relationships and reflection — can lead enormous groups of people into places they never thought to imagine.”

In essence, the romance novel can breed unhealthy thoughts about love, but it also can bring exposure to and normalize different types of love– all while connecting a whole community of people who all just want the same thing. 

More specifically, romance novels can help people get more comfortable with their sexuality. By reading about different relationships in an unrealistic setting makes the general idea of dating just a little bit more digestible.

Leaving room for people to interpret the work in their own way helps create another way for people to implement new ideas into their love life. Even romance books that have LGBTQ+ relationship dynamics can help encourage others to try new things; maybe find out something new about themselves.

That’s the great part about romance novels: testing out different types to see what suits the reader. Looking into things closely, picking them apart, and enjoying what we can gain from them is a nice take away.

At the end of the day, most people just want to love and be loved by others. As the romance genre continues to improve and grow from the “norm”, hopefully readers can continue to make positive changes to their own love life.

 

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