What is love?

Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me. No more.

Sorry, couldn’t resist. 🙂

Seriously, what IS love? As a romance author, I’m immersed in the different representations every time I write. Heck, every time I read. What bothers me though is when people say romance novels are bad examples of love and skew girls/teenagers/women’s views and expectations. I say, sometimes.

I’ve read so many books I can’t remember the titles or authors of over half of them. I read voraciously in high school. Romance after romance. Did I really think I could tame the bad boy? Not really. Did I wish I could, hell yeah! Did I want to be swept away by a foreign prince and taken to some castle far away over looking the ocean or a pristine mountain lake? Absolutely. Would it ever happen? Never in a million years. I’m not really “royal marriage” material.

If I know these things are never going to happen, then why read romance? Why indeed! Well, I’ll tell you why since you asked. I’ll tell you even if you didn’t! LOL I’m passionate about romance books.

Why read romance. Well, because of the story. If the characters are well developed, they learn. Learn how to discuss misunderstandings. Learn that we can’t control others – their feelings, their reactions, their person. Learn to observe. Learn to communicate, Learn to compromise. And most importantly, learn to love.

Why read romance? Because we’re all worthy of love. But most of the time, we have to learn to love ourselves or at least accept ourselves, before we can let that truest of loves in. The one you’re willing to work for. The one where you can say I love you with all my heart but I don’t like you (or your actions) right now. that love where you know the person will still be there for you no matter what.

What else have I learned from romance? That’s it’s perfectly okay to have high expectations for myself. Didn’t expect that one, did you. I read my first romance novel the summer before I started high school. That time of raging hormones and for some, sexual experimentation. I had a few guys ask me out that were, oh how to say this nicely, not someone you would necessarily want to take home to mom…or dad for that matter. When I said I didn’t want to go out with them, one guy said quite a few mean things too me then started a few rumors at school. Or tried to. His sister asked me why I didn’t go out with him. I said I didn’t like him that way.  I’m pretty sure she called me a witch (with a B) and walked away. Just strengthened my resolve. If they were that mean just being friends, what would have happened if I’d dated him then broke up? He had a reputation of pushing a girl into a physical relationship and I just wasn’t ready. Part of my resolve came from a talk with my mother, but I fully feel some of it came from reading romance.

What else have I learned from romance? Sometimes a person has to live alone for a while before they embark on a partnership. Everyone – male or female – should be self sufficient. I don’t believe in the whole ‘That’s a girls job’ or ‘I couldn’t do that, my man will fix that’. We should all know how to do the basics. Then when you’re in a partnership, relationship, marriage, you can figure out each others strengths and weaknesses and fairly divide the duties. If you like changing the oil, but so does your man, go help! If your man knows his way around the kitchen, help clean up while he cooks.

I think the main thing reading romances taught me is that both people in a relationship must be willing to communicate and compromise. I’m not saying throw your values out the window and adopt his or hers. I’m saying each person must respect the other. Tell them how you feel. Misunderstandings are usually easily cleared up if you communicate.

Now you know why romance authors get a little feather-ruffled when people bash the genre. Romance, true romance, novels are so much more than pounding hearts and heated encounters. It can be a blueprint for future happiness.

Melanie

Oh, in case you needed to hear the WHOLE song…here you go!

What is Love?

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