Confessions of A Recovering Romance Novel Junkie

About 10 years ago I heard a woman talk about romance novels and soap operas as porn for women. While I didn’t care much for soap operas, I was consuming at least one romance novel every two weeks at the time, sometimes even one a week. I didn’t see the harm in them. Most of them weren’t the trashy kind anyway so clearly they couldn’t be considered porn. I just liked reading them because they were quick reads and they made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I would get lost in the intense passion the characters had for each other and the certainty that there was a happily ever after for them. I imagined that was how it really felt to be in love. When I’d finish the book the reality of a passionless marriage and the uncertainty that I was with the right person set in. I couldn’t see a happily ever after in my future. I’d even question if something was wrong with me? Why didn’t I feel that way about my husband? Why hadn’t I ever felt that way about anyone? My belief that being in love was a possibility turned into a theory that there was no way that level of passion could be real in a long term relationship. Of course there is passion and a feeling of infatuation in the beginning of most relationships that’s mistaken for ‘being in love”. This I knew from experience. How many times had I “been in love”  with someone only to lose interest a few months later? It was just something movies and books created and endorsed to sell their products. That perfect love between a man and woman couldn’t really exist!

Regardless, I kept reading and the books turned into an escape from my lacking reality. They made me yearn for something I knew I could never have. They became an addiction. Nothing my husband said or did was as good as what I read. I mean, you know it’s bad when you read a romance novel to get in the mood for your spouse! That’s when it clicked. The reference to romance novels becoming porn for women made sense. And it didn’t stop at novels. I would watch any rom-com I could get my hands on. Anything to give me that borrowed high from another (very fictional) characters completeness in the love they’d found.

Did the addiction to fiction lead to the dissatisfaction of my marriage? NO! There was plenty of that before my one a week habit started. But it didn’t help make my marriage any better either. Instead it intensified the dissatisfaction and created unrealistic expectations for my marriage. There was no way my  husband was ever going to say the right things or act the right way because first, he wasn’t built to talk and act that way since he was a real person, and second, because he wasn’t reading the books and had no frame of reference by which to even understand my misguided ideals.

Do I think all women should stop reading romance novels because they create unrealistic expectations for relationships? No. I think it’s a personal decision. For some, it doesn’t affect them the way it did me. I do think it’s wise to understand that the relationships in books and movies are fictional. If they cause an increased dissatisfaction in your committed relationship, it may be time to set aside the media form you are devouring and pay attention to the work at hand (i.e., your marriage).

That said, my habit is thankfully not an issue anymore. And not just because my unhappily-ever-after marriage is over! The desire to read about/watch the love lives of others, no matter how fake they are, is almost non-existent thanks to the happiness I have in my current relationship and my resolve to live my life. I was given a second chance. I know that’s not the case for everyone. However, I am still a firm believer that two people who are committed and choose to work on their relationship together, can have a stronger more satisfying relationship than any book or movie! My earlier theory has sufficiently been proven wrong by my own experiences.  It may be the only time I’m glad I’m wrong (at least that I’ll admit).

That’s it for my ponderings today. Please add your thoughts on the topic of romance novels/rom-com movies below.

Tight Rolling

Thanks to my youngest son’s fashion sense (black hi-top sneakers with neon green accents)I coerced my co-workers into a conversation the other night about fashion repeating itself. I’m a firm believer that there are just some things that should be left in the 80’s and 90’s, although I have to admit, E (said son) can totally pull off the neon. There is actually only ONE thing I dread returning to the fashion world and that’s tight rolled jeans. Apparently, I have felt this way a LONG time because I just stumbled upon a post I wrote in 2008 about exactly that. So I decided that tonight I am going to re-post my 5 year old rantings because they still apply. Enjoy!

Yesterday, a dear friend of mine was trying out a new style. She is a beautiful young woman and she totally pulled it off. She was wearing skinny jeans that were folded at the bottem so that they almost looked rolled up. Like I said, she looked great but it immediately brought back images of junior high (late 80′s, early 90′s) and tight rolled jeans. I said as much and everyone looked at me like I had gone batty (which is a look I receive often enough to know what it means). So, my question is: does anyone else remember that horrific time in fashion, besides myself? And did it traumatize you as much? I made the statement that if the tight rolled jean look repeats, as fashion has a tendency to do, I am leaving the planet. I hope no one in that room holds me to it however, since the technology is just not available to sustain life on the moon at this time.

It did bring up another question though. Why does it seem that only the fashions from the 60′s on are repeating? There are so many generations before that time that have great fashion to offer. I don’t see any problem in greeting my husband at the door after a long day of work in a 50′s style dress with accompanying pearls and high heels. It’s actually a testament to our femininity that we are able to vacuum, prepare dinner and take care of the kids in said fashion. Or what about the flapper style of the 20′s? Women really broke the mold then, claiming independence from the expected fashion of the day. All this to say to those that have influence in what’s in style….PLEASE don’t bring back the tight rolled jeans!!!!!

I guess I was a little less wordy back then. Anyway, I’d love to know what your fashion fears are, if any, or what fashion you would love to see again. Please let me know in the comments section below. By the way, I hear Fanny Packs are BACK!

Would The Real Knight-In-Shining-Armor Please Stand Up

To say that I’m a scardy-cat would be an immature thing to say but it would also be mostly accurate. When I was a little girl I had a fear of someone hiding under the bed or in the closet. My dad used to roll his eyes when I asked him to check for me, but he did it because he knew it was the only way to make me feel safe enough to sleep. That, and it was the only way I’d leave him alone! I’d love to say that this is something I grew out of, but sadly it is not. I don’t necessarily think someone is waiting to get me anymore but I am easily startled. That’s why when B and I came home the other night and the back doors were unlocked, I kinda freaked out. My first response was to ask B to check the house. His first reaction was to be reasonable…I didn’t like that one bit. Not because I don’t think he had a valid point – find out if there is a logical reason they were unlocked and then freak out if not – but because he didn’t do what I thought would make me feel safe right away. He didn’t check under the beds and in the closets, at least not at first. What if someone was there? Was he going to stab him with a paring knife? Or spray him in the face with Windex? Instead he asked me to call anyone (as in relatives) that may have been in the house and left the back doors open. Once I made the calls he checked the house. Thankfully there was not one hiding out, but it still took me a while to feel comfortable moving about.

I had to process through this new way of approaching my fear. At first it seemed all wrong because my feeling of safety was delayed, but that had more to do with what I was used to than actually thinking through the situation. If we had really felt we were in danger we shouldn’t have checked anything in the house. Rather we should have called the police. B was absolutely correct in this approach. And as much of an advocate as I am for individuality and creativity in approaching a situation, I still fell into the that’s-the-way-we-do-things mentality. Tisk tisk Dyana!

It’s one thing if you have this revelation about yourself once in a week, but twice? Now that’s a whole other beast, and one that need to be dealt with.

The day after the unlocked doors incident, I had a conversation with my ex in which he exclaimed “If anything happens to [the boys] you’re gonna get it!” This was his response to me allowing my two oldest sons to stay home by themselves. It didn’t matter that the reason I let them stay home was because he gave one of them a blue pain relief pill that had he read the bottle he would have realized was a Tylenol PM! I thought if they were home at least my son could rest it off. When I relayed the conversation to B he asked with concern “He threatened you?!” Nah, I thought, that’s just the way he is. However the more I thought about it, yes he did threaten me and he’s done it over and over again for years! When did I accept his threatening me as acceptable? Really?! Again, tisk tisk Dyana!

Well, can I just say that B did the most unexpected and possibly the most romantic thing anyone has EVER done for me? The next day he called my ex to discuss why he felt he had to threaten me and what exactly “You’re gonna get it” referred to. When B told me he’d just had a 45 minute conversation with him I couldn’t believe it. B stood up for me! To my ex! From his recounting of the conversation it went fairly well. He was able to discuss the situation with maturity. In this one gesture of love B has made me feel extremely safe and secure, something I haven’t had in any other relationship. And because of his concern for me, he’s also made me realize that even if “that’s just the way things are”, “that’s just the way he is”, “that’s just the way we do things”, doesn’t make it right! Thank you B for this week’s life lesson!