Romance Novels Destroy True Love

Romance Novels Destroy True Love

Written By Amber Haring

I love to read! And yesterday while I was perusing the book section at Target (read- throwing five books at a time into my cart), I noticed the huge section of romance novels. And right next to them was a section on loving yourself and the self-help section and it got me reminiscing on old habits and life lessons. I used to read romance novels all the time! I loved them!

In fact, one summer I read close to 20 romance novels. My bookshelf was full of them! But one day I got to thinking about my relationship with my then boyfriend, and now husband, and how I wished our relationship looked more like the ones I was reading about and I started to become unhappy and dissatisfied in our relationship. I began to have thoughts of “Well, if he truly loved me, he would be doing this or that” or “He would understand me in this way,” just like the “love stories” I had been reading.

Then it hit me square in the face- it’s all a lie! Their love stories that seem so perfect, and how the women all get butterflies with the sweet nothings whispered into their ears by the men, and all those feelings that you get when you read romance novels- it’s all a LIE! Romance novels are all based on feelings. True LOVE is based on a CHOICE! Because the truth is, you’re not always gonna get butterflies when you look at your spouse, or have those mushy feelings about them. In fact, sometimes you won’t even like your spouse.

But true love is a choice you make day in and day out to love them even when you don’t like them. There’s nothing #relationshipgoals about romance novels. Relationship goals should be the couple who’s been married for 70 years and still flirts with each other like they did when they were 17, or the couple who has experienced tremendous loss and been through trials that would have torn apart the average couple, but instead of faltering, they come out stronger than ever.

Those relationships are REAL. And just like pornography puts unrealistic expectations on relationships, romance novels and movies do the same thing! So let’s call them word porn. And when you replace the reality that is your love for your spouse with the lies that are romance novels and movies, and you hold your spouse to these UNREALISTIC expectations, you are in my opinion dooming your relationship! The relationship in the book is made up. YOURS IS REAL!

And most of the time, in those romance novels, the feeling is LUST and not LOVE! But oh how easy it is to confuse the two! If people spent half the time cultivating their LOVE for their spouse that they spend exposing themselves to the lust-filled lies that are the majority of today’s romance novels and movies, I believe more relationships would flourish. I am a firm believer that what you put in you will get out. This includes what you eat, what you read, what you watch, and what you listen to.

When we constantly fill our minds with romance stories filled with lust portrayed as love, and unrealistic expectations of what love is “supposed to be” then we begin to believe it- whether we realize it or not. It’s not just a book or a movie. It becomes a part of who we are and what we believe, and THAT is where it impacts our relationships. When I started focusing on our REAL relationship instead of my fantasy of what our relationship “should be” that these books and movies had placed in my head- THAT’S when our relationship really started to flourish and THRIVED!

Whether you’re single or have been in a relationship with the same person for 30 years, if you’re filling your head and heart with these “love stories” you’ll spend the rest of your life searching for something that simply doesn’t exist, whether it’s a conscious effort or not. So I challenge you to take a break from romance novels and movies. Start focusing on your own love story, work on making it beautiful, and I guarantee you that the next time you watch a romance movie, or want to get ensnared into a book, you’ll look at the relationship with a new perspective and say that relationship doesn’t hold a candle to mine!

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us.
Ephesians 5:1, 2

22 thoughts on “Romance Novels Destroy True Love

  1. They set up unrealistic expectations of what a true life long partnership is. Passion alone is weak, devotion, loyalty, fidelity and such make true marriages work! Also, many now have a feminist bent and do not uphold traditional virtues!

  2. So true! They are also dangerous as many are filled with violence. They can train impressionable minds to look for or expect violent relationships. But unlike in books, you can’t control real violence and real violence is not titilating but horrible.

    But even the “Christian” romances have the effect Amber Haring was talking about which is setting up unrealistic expectations. The gap between expectations and reality is always filled with frustration/anger. Frustration and anger make for a bad spouse. The Duggars have said with much wisdom that it is best to not have any expectations therefore you will be freed to love more unconditionally. I have found that advice to be true.

    1. Amen, M! The less expectations the better. Many young women are attracted to be “bad boys” but they need to be taught not to be. With so much violence in our culture and in relationships, they must be taught to marry young men who don’t have problems with anger since it seems most violence comes from a deep-seated anger. I am so thankful I married a man who has never struggled with anger!

  3. Really good post and challenge for women to be careful what they feed their minds and hearts on. I agree that romance novels and movies place unrealistic expectations on a spouse and a growing discontentment with reality. The Word of God offers us a wonderful exhortation in Phil. 4:8. Thanks for posting this.🙂

  4. Couldn’t the same be said of ANY fiction book, though? One might read a thriller, or an action story, or a sci-fi novel, and wind up asking themselves why they aren’t as thin, as pretty, as rich, as the people in the book, or why their job and their life aren’t as exciting as the characters’, etc…

    But for some reason romance is the genre that always gets thrown under the bus.

    Feminists deride romance novels, too, because they “reinforce traditional gender roles” and make it seem as though hetero relationships, marriages, and children are good things. Well, guess what? These are some of the reasons I *like* romance novels! 🙂

    I also appreciate that they are happy stories. There is so much darkness in the world and in today’s media. At least a love story is positive. And in historical romances, people have manners and dress nicely. You’ll certainly be hard pressed to find strong men and submissive women in any other genre or medium.

    Anyway, my husband doesn’t mind me reading these books. He actually tells me he’s glad. I think he sees it as a feminine thing to do. And he knows I’m completely head-over-heels in love with him :). The books don’t make me pine for something I don’t have, they make me grateful that I do have it. I’m happy, and I like to read about other happy people. There don’t seem to be that many around.

    1. If they are decent love stories and you are a mature believer who doesn’t allow them to make you have unrealistic expectations in your own marriage, then there is no harm in them, Liz. I watch Hallmark movies. I get tired of all of the women being high-powered career women and I won’t watch those who have complaining, nagging women but I do love a good love story. For most young women, however, these along with romance novels and Hollywood movies can be very damaging as they give unrealistic expectations. If we know that love is a choice and a commitment, then decent love stories won’t harm us BUT if we think that love is all about emotions and feelings, theses loves stories will cement these lies further into our minds and be destructive.

      One thing I do want to add is that we should mostly be dwelling on the lovely and the good NOT on romance novels or TV shows/movies. Every once in a while is okay but if this is all a young woman reads and dwells upon, it’s very harmful even if she knows that love is a choice and a commitment. We are to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and not be swept away in these make-believe stories often. Read biographies/autobiographies of Christian missionaries or other solid Christian non-fiction books that challenge and convict you. They are MUCH more productive than any romance story no matter how innocent.

  5. Many years ago I had a subscription to a “Christian” romance novel book club. At the time I really liked them but over time I got just had a sense something wasn’t right about them. Then I got into Amish romance novels and that was worse! These novels were written by women who know nothing about the Amish and they almost always made them look bad. Then I started to wonder why my husband wasn’t like the faithful Mennonite husband in the novels. I knew I had to stop reading them.

    I had friends who would try to pass off the books they read off to me and I had to explain truthfully why I don’t read them anymore. I don’t even miss them either!

  6. I have never been a fan of romance novels. They always seemed silly and vaguely insulting; as if women aren’t smart enough to use their brains to think and digest something with more substance. I find myself returning to the truth of God’s word and to wonderful stories of Christian dedication, such as Corrie ten Boom’s book “The Hiding Place”. It is a wonderful, true story of commitment to living out one’s beliefs. I highly recommend it.

    1. ooh, i love The Hiding Place! wonderful book. I like Corrie Ten Boom’ s other books too. she never found a husband but she was greatly used by God. a “spiritual” mother to many.

  7. Porn for men appeals to idealized physical traits of a woman.
    Porn of women appeals to idealized emotional traits of a man.

    The medium (screen, text etc) is irrelevant. Whatever distorts from reality to fiction, delivered to make the individual desire the fiction, valuing reality less.

    1. The Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, books by Gary Paulsen, classics like Where the Red Fern Grows and other “dog” books, Little House on the Prairie books, To Kill a Mockingbird, Little Women, any of the Jane Austen books, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Jane Eyre, Animal Farm, Anne of Greene Gables, any Charles Dickens books, the Phantom Tollbooth, The Secret Garden, the Once and Future King, the Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain, the Swiss Family Robinson, Gulliver’s Travels, A Connecticut Yankee in King Aurthur’s Court, Bud Not Buddy and Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

    2. There are many good books this age group can read that are not fiction. The best missionary stories are ones written a century ago, but they can be found. Bible Truth Publishers have some good children’s books (including fiction). My favorites are those by Margaret Jean Tuininga.

  8. excellent post! by the way, if you want some great Christian fiction, may i suggest Francine Rivers? She writes very realistically about challenges people face in relationships with spouse, family, parents etc. i particularly love Redeeming Love, a retelling of Hosea, which not only paints a portrait of God’s love for us and His neverending forgiveness and mercy but also provides a picture of how a husband cares for his abused wife and helps her heal. so many of us have been battered or abused in some way or another- maybe we had harsh teachers at school, maybe we were molested, maybe we witnessed our parents fighting, maybe we were hit by our boyfriends, or raped….. well, most of us can relate. it is a wonderful book. for intergenerational relationships, i loved Leota’s Garden and A Scarlet Thread.

    i also love her Mark of the Lion trilogy- really inspired me on my faith journey- the courage of the persecuted church in AD1 and what they faced made me re-evealuate what is important in life.

      1. she really is an amazing authour. we need more Christian authours like her. also one can write books from home while looking after the children, so it is a good thing to encourage gifted women to be writers

  9. I’m currently reading The Tightwad Gazette. 🙂 Then, I’ll be reading the two Frugal Luxuries books. They’re always my nighttime reads in January. Refresher courses, if you will.

    I avoid all books with animal or children trauma. I think some of those books popular with English teachers gave me a form of PTSD.

    As for romance novels, I’m not a fan. I love books with traditional roles, and usually that’s in the Amish group. Some have romance and some don’t. I’m more interested in reading about the activities, the cooking, the traditions, etc. And they’re usually set in such nice places, pleasant to imagine. It’s pretty hard to read any kind of a book free of men & women being in love lol.

    Even A of GG has it! I read a series with the 4 seasons being in the titles. Seasons of the Heart? By Beverly Lewis? About a boy that lives with 3 older male relatives & a young woman relative….set in Canada, I believe. One of my favorites. I also loved An Old Fashioned Girl. Again, they all had men & woman, boys & girls. And a little romance. No bodice rippers. Those are ridiculous.

    1. Beverly Lewis is one of those authours who does have experience of Amish, she has links to that community and i believe she was raised Mennonite or Huttite or some other Plain denomination. i love her books. i think what happened is she wrote some great things but other authours jumped on the Amish bandwagon and their novels never quite hit the spot for me. But i never get tired of Beverly Lewis.

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