*originally published on 02/13/2016
Something a little personal to celebrate Valentine’s Day
Say the words, romance novel, and you get an instant reaction. It can be the roll of the eyes, stink face, looks of superiority or the look of stars and smiles. I fall somewhere in between roll of the eyes and look of star and smiles, because I am a romantic at heart but realist in the brain. I grew up with the reality of arranged marriages. 99.9% of my older relatives (grandparents, grand uncles and aunts, aunts and uncles and any one else from that generation) married because they were told to by their elders. In those marriages a few found love, some found hell, but most found compromise. My older cousins were set up by people and went on dates and then very soon were married. There was romance but they don’t talk about it much. I didn’t have much personal guidance in love, romance or sex.
I grew up with a lot of movies, TV shows, soap operas, Hindi movies and every kind of book. That was my education to love. And what I saw was grand passion, crazy stories of getting together despite all obstacles, and having everything work out. The man sweeps the woman off her feet, loves her no matter what and both overlook anything negative.
Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great Years
SO when I pictured my dream guy…which I did pretty early in life as I have always had this desire to find another person that gets me. In Kindergarten I was always in the plastic house rolling my eyes when no one but me knew how “playing house” worked. In grade one I was trying out the wedding thing by getting married at recess to almost anyone willing to do what I say. By preteens I was crushing over whoever was cool on TV at that time. Basically, I knew I would marry and I always knew I would find “the one.”
Sweet Valley High and University Years
Then I hit my teens, no one had asked me out since the fourth grade and I started to see it wasn’t about me and what I wanted…it was about compromise. I have this tendency to fall for a guy who I know is out of my reach or unattainable because I don’t want to be hurt. I’d rather be rejected right away because at that stage I can still pretend like I don’t care. So while I read and tried to be good at school my mind was still on why wasn’t I getting my love story, even if it is the teen drama version.
Bridget Jones’s Diary Years
By my twenties I had the “I don’t care about guys and getting married or having kids” down pretty good that at times I even believed it myself. In my late-20s to early-30s I would try dating but I was scared to take it seriously because romance equals love and me…while I was feeling like I did not have that thing in me that makes guys want to romance me. With that kind of attitude why would they? Now at 35 I look back and think of all the time I wasted letting my head lead my love life.
The Wallflowers Years
I know you are thinking…so romance novels are bad for women? No, they are actually good for women. I was so busy trying to be someone I am not and trying to look smart I am not sure if it got me anywhere. In 2010-11 (approximately) I started to read more romance – contemporary and historical. Two people I met on Shelfari who read similar books and had the same passion for reading were recommending authors that I now enjoy. These two women, my book soulmates, introduced me to smart romance novels (ie: not just Danielle Steel or unrealistic stories) that had storylines that really can happen. They show heroines as smart feisty flawed women who are supported by men just as flawed. I know, some of you want to reach out and pat me on the head…but I am okay. I am not married with kids (yet) but I have better understanding of when it comes around. I won’t settle for less but I am also not reach for the unattainable…I know my worth and my flaws and I am hoping that I someday to get my Mr. Worth and Flawed.
Bottom line: Read a good romance novel where real shit happens and guess what? (Gasp!) You have not lost any IQ points and may have learned something new…just saying.