If you’re a fan of romance novels, even more so if you write them, you’ve probably been exposed to the negative opinions people tend to have about them. In my experience, they generally come from people who have never read a romance novel before, and have only heard about that book (you know which one I’m talking about).
But as an avid reader and writer of romance, I’ve been privy to the immense positivity that surround these books. Books which, in a very real way, have shaped my views on life and the world. Here are three important things they taught me:
It’s okay to be a strong woman.
Though we’ve made immense progress over time, strong women still aren’t as celebrated as they should be. Sometimes the culture we live in encourages females – young and old – to keep their opinions to themselves, or to apologise for their successes. There’s an implication that being happy is dependent on whether or not a woman can maintain a man’s interest, which will only happen if she is willing to sacrifice to do so.
But romance heroines are strong, capable women.
They are strong-willed, willing to speak their mind, and are proud of their successes. While love is something that enriches their lives, their happiness does not depend on it. As a young woman reading this, I was excited to learn that being a successful woman and being happy or finding love were not mutually exclusive.
I learnt that I can be strong, I can speak my mind, and I can be successful. And that’s okay.
Relationships take work.
The relationships portrayed in romance novels aren’t easy. Sure, they have happy endings, but the couple has to be committed to growing individually and in the relationship before they can get there.
It made me realise that being in a healthy relationship takes work.
You have to be willing to overcome your personal issues – things like insecurities, difficult family dynamics and past relationship failures – so that you can be together, and be happy. While it was scary, at first, to realise this, romance novels also showed me that working through it was worth it. It led to a happy life with someone you loved.
Things aren’t always going to work out – and that’s okay, too.
Many of the characters in romance novels have difficult pasts. They’ve had past relationships that have left them scarred, careers that didn’t work out, and complicated relationships with their families. Often the romance novel starts right at that point where the main characters realised they’ve failed, or it deals directly with the aftermath of a failure.
This made me feel like not succeeding right away was completely normal.
A lot of things in life – careers, relationships – aren’t always going to work out. But the characters in the romances I’ve read are determined to triumph despite this. It takes work, but they get back on their feet and try again. Their happiness and success after doing so helped me see that the best things happen when you try again.
So next time you’re shopping for a new book, getting a romance novel might not be such a bad idea!
Are there any important life lessons books have taught you? Or is there a specific book that made you realise something significant? Share them in the comments below!