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Is Romance in Books Doing a Disservice?

I guess I am in that stage of my life where I am thinking about family, significant others, etc…you know, that there is more to live than just working and writing. I don’t know about you, but that realization was a little shocking to me. Anyway, I began looking at my expectations regarding relationships. I then thought about the high divorce rate and couldn’t help but wonder if books and movies had a hand in this. 

I think I mentioned this before, but one of the comments I remember from my college English classes was an instructor saying Jane Eyre had an unrealistic expectation of life because she spent most of her childhood interacting only with books. There was a good reason for that. She lived with an Aunt who didn’t like her all that much. However, she expected her love life to be like a book. In fact, I contend that she fell for Mr. Rochester as quickly as she did because of her romanticism of how people fall in love. I know I’m using a book to demonstrate my point, but I can’t help it. 

I think books do us a disservice. I used to honestly think that if a boy likes me then he would make a fool of himself proclaiming his love in front of the entire school. After all, don’t they always make a fool of themselves in some way in books and movies? I think there is a push recently for movies to show “reality,” examples being “he’s just not that into you” and “that awkward moment.” But, I think even these “real glimpses” are still romanticized. I used to think if there wasn’t an instantaneous “spark,” then something was wrong. I mean, if there is no camera slowing down as the love-interest walks into the room, then it must not be love. 

Besides the “spark,” I think movies/books also provide a disservice when viewing the true aspect of relationships. I know Ben Affleck was mocked after his Oscar acceptance speech last year when he proclaimed his marriage was hard work, but worth it. That’s something I don’t see in books/movies. Couples fight. Typically fights are depicted as the “sexual tension” at the beginning of a relationship that goes away once they accept their love. Or they are shown as the beginning of the end. I think this leads most to believe if they are fighting then there is a problem. I love the show “Everybody Loves Raymond” because they show how irritated the grandparents could be with one another, but then there are moments that confirm that these two truly love each other. 

I know the balance of reality in books is tough. I don’t want to read about real life, I want to escape it. But I think we can get too “fairy tale” as well. The trouble is when everything starts to depict that as the norm.