Is “Love Conquers All” Realistic?

by Jami Gold on February 12, 2015

in For Readers, Random Musings

Close-up of a rose with text: How Powerful Is Love?

Every month or so, there’s an author or blogger or journalist making news by putting romance stories down. “They’re formulaic!” they say.

Uh-huh, and other genres don’t follow a formula? Mysteries regularly end with the mystery unsolved, do they? Or thrillers end with the terrorist’s plot succeeding? No? All righty then…

“They’re unrealistic!” they say. Well, sure, no one would claim marrying a vampire, sheikh, billionaire, or Lord is likely to happen. But then again, plenty of other genres contain unrealistic plot elements too.

Oh, wait… That’s not what “they” meant by unrealistic.

“They give women unrealistic expectations!” they say. Right. Because “they” believe grown women have never matured past the point of thinking they were Disney Princesses? Or is it that “they” think women are too stupid to realize that vampires, sheikhs, billionaires, or Lords aren’t any more available than Princes? How insulting.

No, too often “they” think romances are unrealistic because they end with love and a Happily Ever After. How is that unrealistic?

Do they think true love isn’t possible? Do they think love can’t be fulfilling enough to last? Do they think love isn’t, in fact, powerful enough to conquer obstacles and lead to happiness?

Now that… That’s just sad.

What Romance Stories Really Say

The message behind modern romances is that everyone—no matter our gender, race, ability level, flaws, beauty, brokenness, etc.—has the potential to find, give, and receive love. For those not in a good, healthy relationship, romance stories give hope that even someone like them deserves love. For those already in a good, healthy relationship, romance stories give reminders to appreciate the love they enjoy.

I’ve learned to ignore the naysayers because they don’t know what they’re talking about. A couple of days ago, Kassandra Lamb blogged about the misleading statistics of divorce rates.

I’m not a math person, so I won’t even pretend to understand what her numbers mean. But her point (and the point of the studies she links to) is that there are far fewer divorces than we assume (closer to a quarter or a third than to a half of all marriages).

The eagerness the media and we as a society have to proclaim love and marriage as “a dead end” or “too hard and likely to end in failure” does us all a disservice. Just as it does us a disservice to proclaim romance stories unrealistic.

I love this quote by historical romance author Tessa Dare:

"Women are constantly told it's fantasy to expect fidelity, respect, & orgasms ... It's not."

Yes, this. Those are the expectations a woman might walk away with from reading a romance. Are those unrealistic?

Absolutely not. I personally know too many people who have exactly that in their real life to think it’s not possible—to think it fluffy, stupid, immature fantasy.

It’s disrespectful to call their real life situations a fantasy, as though they didn’t work damn hard for that happiness. We need to respect when things go right in relationships and not just spout inaccurate statistics that lead people to think that it’s just too hard to bother fighting for happiness.

Can Love Conquer All?

I won’t claim that love can conquer all because “all” encompasses an awful lot. Everything, in fact. *smile* And love probably couldn’t conquer things like our sun going supernova and the like. *grin*

But from my parents’ experience, I know for a fact what love can conquer. In honor of Valentine’s Day, let me share a bit about how my parents’ relationship started…

  • My mom and her serious boyfriend had just “sort of” broken up when my dad walked into her life. (So right away, they’re falling into the “rebound” category. They’re doomed, right?)
  • My dad wasn’t looking for a serious girlfriend because he was getting ready to move. (Yep, “not looking” and a long distance relationship if it does continue. Definitely doomed.)
  • My dad leaves, comes back for a visit a couple of months later, and my mom gets pregnant. Cue the shotgun wedding. (Doomed or shot—maybe both.)
  • My mom moves to be with this guy she barely knows, away from her family, friends, and all support for the first time in her life, is pregnant, and doesn’t even know how to boil water. (Gah! This sounds more like a horror movie waiting to happen than a romance novel.)
  • They’re dirt-poor, and I mean that literally. Their kitchen floor actually used dirt in part. (Okay, now they’re just piling on. This can’t be real, right?)
  • Every nightmare you can imagine about rats, bees, fire ants, cockroaches the size of your hand, maggots, dangerous reptiles, etc. comes true while they’re living in their little backwater shack. (In other words, my mom could qualify as “Too Stupid To Live” for not just screaming “uncle” and heading back to her parents.)

So how does this not-so-romantic story end? As I mentioned on Facebook, nearing 50 years later, this was the card my dad gave my mom a couple weeks ago:

Card from my dad to my mom with text: You Are My Life, My Love, My Past, Present, and Future, My Yesterday, My Tomorrow, My Forever

Say it with me… Aww! *smile*

Was it easy? Nope. My dad worked two full-time jobs until I was a teen, and there were times I thought for sure they’d get a divorce.

But they persevered, they compromised, they sacrificed, they overcame, they conquered… They loved. And they still love.

What gave them the power, the determination, the very idea that their problems could be overcome? Love.

Love gave them the strength to not give in when it would have been easier to throw in the towel. Love conquered all those horror stories. They made a choice to love, and every day they keep making the choices that create their happily ever after.

Happiness Deserves Respect

Romance novels and all forms of love are too often denigrated for being formulaic, trite, and generic. As though hardship and suffering are more noble than happiness.

We see similar issues with pessimists being thought of as realists and optimists being thought of as willfully stupid or blind. It’s easy to see the suffering in the world. It’s easy to be a cynic. It takes determination and hard work to focus beyond the obvious.

Courtney Milan has a brilliant rant about the stigma of happiness (emphasis mine):

“It’s easy to wallow in misery. Anyone can do it. Everyone has. It’s hard to do something about it…

I wonder what world these people live in, where they think that throwing up one’s hands and saying, “Oh, well, life is just one unending bitter cup of misery, and then you have to pay taxes on your deathbed,” is somehow hard and worthy and nonformulaic.

No, guys. Getting up off your duff and finding some kind of sweetener to add to that bitter cup of woe? That’s hard. Walking away from something that doesn’t work? That’s easy. Anyone can walk away. It takes a real hero to stick around and try to make things better. It is a thousand times harder to solve problems than create them, and dismissing the triumph of victory trivializes the hard work and heroism that every happy person puts into being happy.”

Happiness is hard work. It would have been so much easier for my parents to walk away from each other. For my mom to throw up her hands, for my dad to not be the rock in her life.

We see this in our stories all the time. Our characters give up at the Black Moment because it’s easier. They have to make a choice to work harder in the final Act, and only then do they have a chance at success and happiness.

Romance novel writers have to make the Happily Ever After ending seem impossible. And then they have to show their characters overcoming everything and doing the impossible. Finding a way to solve the characters’ situation—that’s hard. Romance writing only looks easy because of the “happy equals easy” assumptions from society.

Life is the same way. Every single happy situation, every happy relationship, every happy family, had to overcome their own obstacles. There was no cheat sheet for how they could conquer their unique situation.

We don’t even need a cheat sheet for how to wallow and be miserable. Yet somehow happiness is seen as easier? And stories about overcoming obstacles to reach that point of happiness are seen as shallow?

I reject that idea. It’s damn hard work to be happy. It’s a choice that often takes digging deep into ourselves and figuring out what we value, what makes us tick. Nothing easy or shallow about that.

So on this Valentine’s Day, I celebrate love. I celebrate romance. I celebrate those who have put in the hard work to be happy. And for those haven’t reached that happy place yet, might I recommend reading a romance novel for encouragement? *smile*

P.S. In case it needs stating, not all relationships are healthy and deserve to be fought for, and some books depict abusive situations and don’t deserve the romance label. This post is not about those exceptions.

Do you think romance novels create unrealistic expectations? How so? Do you have any stories of how love has conquered obstacles? Do you think happiness and the hard work that goes into creating it are disrespected? If so, why do you think that is? Do you want to add any points to this rant? *grin*

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46 Comments below - Time to Add your own.

Melinda February 12, 2015 at 7:14 am

Hi Jami,
I believe love can conquer a whole lot of things. Relationships are very underrated in my experience. This country has a throw away mindset. Something doesn’t work, get a new one. P.S. Also not advocating that all relationships are worth working for. It seems to me that the mindset says if you have to work at a relationship, it’s bad. There’s nothing further from the truth in my experience. I’ve been married 11 years now. We’ve had our ups and downs. That’s life. We’ve both had to make compromises on what is tolerable behaviour. That’s a relationship. We both know we’ll get through any hardship that might come up. That’s love. We’ve both had physical and emotional problems, been down to our last $20, driven cross-country twice, eexperienced a lot.But we always know we’ll make it through whatever life throws at us, as long as we stick together.
I’d like to share my story of love the conqueror. My husband is now a retired military man. While he was in the service, we were stationed in Turkey. Shortly after we got there, my vision started going. They sent me to Germany because there was a bigger military hospital that might be able to help me. After 2 weeks in Germany, they decided to send me back stateside for better medical care. I was getting ready to fly back to the states when I told him that I would understand if he wanted a divorce. He hadn’t signed on for a blind whife and mother to his child. His answer, which I treasure to this day, was “What part of in sickness and in health are you forgetting silly?” Anytime things get rocky between us, I remember what he said then. We’ll make it through anything, as long as we stick together, I’m certain of that.
Thanks for the reminder that love is realistic despite what people may say!
Melinda

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Jami Gold February 12, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Hi Melinda,

Great point about the throw-away mindset. I agree that some believe that a “good” relationship is one that you never have to work at, and if you have to work at it, it must be “bad.” As you said, nothing could be further from the truth. Relationships need constant communication and compromise to be healthy. If a relationship didn’t require any work, that would probably mean that one party was getting run over constantly. :/

Aww, thank you for sharing your story! Seriously, I just teared up at that line he said. Having the attitude that a relationship is a partnership adds so much strength. If both are giving 100%, you have 200%, which is far better than we can do on our own. 😀 Thanks for stopping by!

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Carradee February 12, 2015 at 9:10 am

Do you think romance novels create unrealistic expectations? How so?

I think romance novels can create unrealistic expectations—just as anything can create unrealistic expectations if read uncritically, without appreciation for the fact that it’s fiction, or with the assumption that the author’s depicting a utopia.

As ridiculous as it is, I’ve seen people do that.

But women are particularly targeted because we presumably are too emotion-driven to be able to intellectually evaluate things for ourselves. I…I can’t elaborate on that one or give examples. Hitting too close to home. But I suspect all women have experienced at least 1 someone dismissing them and/or their intelligence just because they’re women.

Do you have any stories of how love has conquered obstacles?

Personally? Um, not really. In what I write? Yeah. One pairing, the physical relationship came years before the love.

Do you think happiness and the hard work that goes into creating it are disrespected? If so, why do you think that is?

DEFINITELY. Because people who get stuck on how hard everything is can’t see themselves as any lazier or any less persistent than people who are happy. People who are happy therefore must be naïve and unable to see the negatives/downsides, and we’re too stubborn/rebellious/unintelligent to heed good sense.

…I’ve had that smashed in my face. More than once. One of the many reasons I’m glad to be far away from family, now.

I frankly think the core problem there is an ego issue. Pride. “I have (or have had) it so hard. You don’t appreciate that.”

Granted, that’s also a tactic used in guilt trips and emotional abuse. I could easily be conflating those two issues, since my own personal experience combines several things.

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Jami Gold February 12, 2015 at 5:25 pm

Hi Carradee,

Agreed. Just about anything can create unrealistic expectations. And I strongly suspect you’re right that the attitude specific to romance stories is caused by a belief that women are too emotional to realize that fiction isn’t reality. *sigh* (Don’t get me started… 😉 )

As you said, some might see what they want to see in fiction. But if we denigrated everything that others might misinterpret, we wouldn’t be left with anything.

Some stuck in unhappiness suffer from depression and can’t simply choose to be happy, but others are stuck because of their choices. And too often, as you alluded to, those latter types might also believe in a “misery loves company” idea or making excuses for their choices rather than wanting to work their way through their situation.

I hope those in bad situations are able to fight for their happiness. They deserve it! 🙂 Thanks for chiming in!

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Davonne Burns February 12, 2015 at 11:23 am

I am going to be the first to admit, I used to *hate* romances because they seemed so unreal to me. I’ve realized now that most of the problem I had was because everything I read was geared toward cis gendered heterosexuals and not because there was anything wrong with (most of) the relationships themselves. The thing that most trips me up with romance is my own sexual orientation. I cannot identify with a person who meets someone and a few hours or days later is in bed with them. I personally find it unrealistic and a bit horrifying.

This is why I stay away from mainstream category romance. Too many I’ve read have little reason for the couple to be together other than that they find each other attractive and overcome ‘something’ in order to be together.

I ran across this last year with an editor. My ‘romances’ are very plot heavy and she wanted me to cut most of the plot and focus on the romance between the two main characters. Except there would be no romance between them without the plot. The vast majority of the book is spent with them learning to respect and trust each other through the events of the plot. I guess this is where my own personal experience and identity come into play in my writing.

I find romances which focus on how the relationship grows organically to be the most satisfying to read. Watching people grow together and learn about each other and fall in love without the need to change each other is something I think needs to be shown more often. It seems to me that too often there is a rush to get to the physical part of the relationship because that’s what we’re told people want to read. ‘Sex sell’s’ after all, right?

Not to everyone.

And that, I think, is the biggest hang up. Too many people equate romance with sex and sex is supposed to equal happiness in a relationship. So to have a ‘happy’ relationship sex must be involved. Except that leaves out a HUGE chunk of the population that cannot or chooses not to have sex for whatever reason and tells them their relationships are not valid.

Talk to someone in the asexual spectrum and ask them how they feel. Broken is the most common word used. They think they are broken defective people because society and media tells them they should want sex, that it’s the only true way to be in a relationship. That it’s the only way to be normal and happy. Too many (but not all) romances perpetuate this notion because often sex is the main goal, it’s what ‘consummates’ the relationship and makes it a happy one.

But I digress, I do think that too often happiness and the hard work that goes into it are dismissed.

Sorry to rant :/

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Carradee February 12, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Davonne, I’ve ranted on here plenty of times, myself—about less-pertinent things—so I doubt Jami’s going to mind yours. ^_^

I’ve always felt a bit off-kilter when interacting with others because, whenever I’m enjoying myself, other person(s) tend to think I’m sexually or romantically attracted, and then I have to correct them—and however nicely or definitively I put it, some folks have always taken offense or refused to believe me.

Turns out, I’m a full ace of spades, not even demi or gray. Just realized it in the past 2 years, and I “came out” a year ago. Since then, I’ve had more than one person say I can’t be asexual because I’m attractive (physically and personality-wise). I’ve even been told I can’t know I’m not interested in experiencing sex because I’ve not tried it.

I’ve ultimately written characters on the spectrum without realizing it, and I’ve some planned stories in the works that would feature aces. (Including one where the girl is a socially adept physics nerd.) Stories that would take romance-story setups and end up with friendships, at most. I have some other things to finish writing before I can delve into those overt stories, but I’m looking forward to them. 🙂

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Davonne Burns February 12, 2015 at 1:39 pm

I know a whole list of people who are dying to read such stories. I myself only recently came out as an agender demi and I have also unwittingly wrote characters of the same spectrum. I have two full novels to prove it (fanfiction or I’d send it to my agent).

I have had that exact experience with people getting frustrated with me and thinking I am flirting when I am not. Too often I get accused of being bi or a lesbian (I am afab) when sex and/or romance is the last thing on my mind.

It would be nice to see more ‘romances’ show this broader spectrum of both gender identity and orientation. And show them as the loving, healthy and perfectly natural relationships that they are.

Also, nice to meet you. I don’t think we’ve spoken before ^_^

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Carradee February 12, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Davonne, nice to meet you, too! 🙂

Sounds like Grace McDermott‘s work might match what you’re looking for. (Full disclosure: She and I are friends.)

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Davonne Burns February 12, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Oh awesome! Thanks so much! Look forward to talk to you again.

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Jami Gold February 12, 2015 at 6:28 pm

Hi Davonne,

I hope the growth of the genre will lead to more diversity. As you said, it would be nice to show that happy relationships are possible for all types. 🙂

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Jami Gold February 12, 2015 at 6:04 pm

Hi Carradee (and Davonne),

LOL! Nope, I don’t mind at all. 🙂 And I’m all for diversity of all kinds!

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Jami Gold February 12, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Hi Davonne,

I understand. 🙂 And the great thing about romance being such a huge genre is that there are all kinds of stories. LOL!

I don’t care for the insta-love stories either. My short stories usually have a Happily For Now ending, and my novels take place over months for exactly that “love needs time to grow” reason.

“The vast majority of the book is spent with them learning to respect and trust each other through the events of the plot.”

Yes! Love this! I go for that kind of realism over the high-angst stuff too. 🙂

There are certainly those kinds of romances out there. (And part of my reason for writing my stories is to get more of those out there. 😉 ) But the romance genre is SO big, it can also take a while to find authors that write stories that are a good fit for what we’re looking for. I agree that sex doesn’t equal happy either, so I’m with you in focusing on the relationship as a whole, and not just on the sex aspect. Thanks for stopping by!

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deb February 12, 2015 at 11:29 am

Love was good to me.

The only obstacle to love beginning was me believing it could happen in the first place between two people as unlikely as we were.

Love, once it walked in the door, was easy. Cherishing it, nurturing it was the business of our days for all our time together.

As a result of this great good fortune, I’ve had a hell of a time drumming up serious obstacles and conflicts for my story. I’ve read a baker’s dozen or more in the genre and I’m pretty sure I can tell which authors have been as lucky as I have, and those who haven’t….yet.
It happens all the time if you let it.

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Jami Gold February 12, 2015 at 5:42 pm

Hi Deb,

Yes, but those obstacles can hold some back so completely that they never get over it. I’m glad you overcame them. 🙂

Hmm, and now that you mention it, maybe there’s a reason I don’t write high-angst stuff beyond just personal choice. LOL! Thanks for sharing!

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Marcy Kennedy February 12, 2015 at 11:35 am

I’m less well-read in the romance genre than you are, so I’m not sure if this evaluation is off base of not but…could the “romance novels create unrealistic expectations” stigma be due, at least in part, to the way romance novels were written in the past? Today’s romance novels (in my opinion) do tend to show two imperfect characters struggling to overcome obstacles together. And that message is an incredibly valuable one. But possibly in the earlier days of romance novels, what they created was more escapist fiction where the men involved were perfect and rescued the women from all their problems. I have read older romances where the man involved was unflawed, and I can see how that could create unrealistic expectations in a woman about her husband (who is real, and therefore flawed, just like she is). I know my mom said that she stopped reading romances in her younger days for that very reason.

As for whether happiness and the hard work that goes into creating it are disrespected, the answer is 100% yes. I often take a swing at Valentine’s Day because I think it perpetuates that. Happiness and love are both hard. They both involve day to day maintenance, but that’s often not acknowledged. When you have them, people seem to think you got lucky. That’s a load of rot. It’s like saying I got lucky because my pet is still alive, even though the truth is that I feed and water it, keep it clean and safe, and give it regular vet care. Alright, I’m done ranting now 🙂

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Jami Gold February 12, 2015 at 6:02 pm

Hi Marcy,

Absolutely! The romance genre has changed so much!

I won’t claim that there aren’t still some stories with heroes who could be left over from Fabio days. LOL! I’ve complained about alpha-holes myself. 😀

But the growth of the genre has made it so that there are all kinds of stories now, from religious explorations of faith to gritty motorcycle gangs. And even most of the alpha-hole stories have elements of flawed characters growing and overcoming obstacles together–far more than was standard back in the 70s and 80s. The media have decided it’s easier to keep making the same old tired jokes, however. 😉

” Happiness and love are both hard. … When you have them, people seem to think you got lucky. … It’s like saying I got lucky because my pet is still alive, even though the truth is that I feed and water it, keep it clean and safe, and give it regular vet care. “

Yes! Many happy couples I know don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day at all–saying they celebrate love every day. 🙂 To me, Valentine’s Day seems more like a thing for a couple who’s dating than for a long-term couple, but whatever works. Thanks for sharing your rant!

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Sharon February 12, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Jami, I loved this post, and it so timely. I sent it out to all my non-writing friends to share with their Valentines. The old card sentiment brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing.

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Jami Gold February 12, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Hi Sharon,

Aww, thank you for sharing. 🙂 I’m happy to spread the love!

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Sharon February 12, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Jami, do you realize you’ve just created a new romance template?

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Jami Gold February 12, 2015 at 6:06 pm

Hi Sharon,

LOL! Oh yeah? What template is that? *crosses fingers and hopes for more romances with realistic partnerships* 😀

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Beth February 12, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Hmm. My parents hit 57 years ’til death them did part, yet I still haven’t hit “Mr Right” at an age when many of my friends’ children are hitting reproductive age. But I’d rather read romances and be cheered that I’ll find someone eventually, than wallow in negativity.

My parents met on a blind date and married 2 months later. Then waited 16 years to start their family. So one size does NOT fit all! But love seemed to make for a lifetime of adventure.

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Jami Gold February 12, 2015 at 6:07 pm

Hi Beth,

I’ll be over here rooting for you! As you said, there’s no one size fits all, so people should never say never. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

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Robin February 12, 2015 at 12:55 pm

A nice post for valentine’s day. Thanks for sharing the card. 🙂 awww…

Love is a verb. It’s something that you have to keep doing, every day…
Hmm… maybe the idea that romance leads to “unrealistic expectations” is really coming from men who don’t want to measure up? Because, as you pointed out, in modern romance novels, everybody got a flaw or two.
Or, perhaps it’s coming from folks who have never read a romance novel, and think they know about them based on a several decades old predjudice… But then again, that’s kinda like saying getting information from the library is inefficient because of the problem of the paper card catalogue.
I believe in happily ever after, just as much as I believe in 10 plus years of working at my marriage, every day. Because that’s how you get there. 🙂
Jane Austen taught me a very realistic lesson – if your house doesn’t look like Emma’s house, then Mr. Knightly probably isn’t going to propose, so accept young Mr. Martin. A girl could do a lot worse than a decent farmer! 🙂 Ha!

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Jami Gold February 12, 2015 at 6:11 pm

Hi Robin,

Yes! As a matter of fact, I did a post about “love is a verb” a while back. 🙂

I agree. And I can see men being concerned about measuring up if their impression of romance novels are based on the old Fabio-perfection style. But really, the stories that I and many other authors are trying to put out there now are all about imperfect people learning how to create a healthy relationship. Sure, the cover models might still be muscled hunks, but that’s not at all why the heroine is with him in the end. 🙂

Here’s to the fantastic farmers of the world. 😉 Thanks for sharing your insights!

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Christina Hawthorne February 12, 2015 at 4:02 pm

That’s a beautiful tale about your parents, Jami. Thank you for sharing. Hardship and suffering aren’t more noble, they’re ugly, a blight we should work hard to obliterate from this planet. If we don’t strive for better, for love, then what’s left? Actually, we don’t need to look far to see what’s left, for the media fills our day with “what’s left” whenever they have the opportunity. It’s almost like human beings have come to see happiness itself as trite and that’s sad beyond measure. Romance says that, yes, there’s something more, that there’s hope.

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Jami Gold February 12, 2015 at 6:32 pm

Hi Christina,

Agreed, too often happiness itself is seen as trite. And too often I see media (social and mainstream) take the attitude of “how can you dare to be happy when X and Y and Z are wrong?” Yes, X and Y and Z are wrong, but we’re never going to solve every social issue because humans are flawed, and I’m not going to put off my happiness until everything is perfect–because that’s waiting for never. *sigh*

I’m with you in seeing that romance gives the message that there’s something more and that there’s always hope. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Renee Regent February 12, 2015 at 4:48 pm

I clicked through just to see the comments! But really, I totally agree. Keeping a romance going through life’s ups and downs is not easy, but it is worth it. My mother was married six times- and only the last one was a keeper! She passed away a few days ago, and he took care of her for years. Truly saw her at her worst, and loved her through it all, wished it was he instead of her suffering. Yes, love can conquer all, I know it for a fact! I feel sorry for those that don’t, and love Romance stories that show it.

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Jami Gold February 12, 2015 at 6:38 pm

Hi Renee,

LOL! I understand–my commenters are awesome! 🙂

I’m so sorry for the loss of your mother. *hugs* But I love that story! Some would see the 5 “failures” as proof of the failure of love, but I love that the 6th time was the charm. That’s a win in my book! 😀 Thank you so much for sharing and passing on her memory!

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Sharla Rae February 12, 2015 at 5:00 pm

I love your blog and loved hearing about your parents. I ‘ve heard all the jokes about romances too and I don’t care. If we give up on the happily ever after, I think we give up happiness period. We’re humans, not robots and emotions are a huge part of that.

I’ve also heard that there’s many abused women who have read romances and realized what “real” love is supposed to be. They got up the nerve to leave the deadbeat hurting them.

I think romances do way more good any than other fiction genre being published.

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Jami Gold February 12, 2015 at 6:41 pm

Hi Sharla Rae,

So true! We shouldn’t give up on the potential for happiness–that feels too close to giving up on everything.

And great point about abused women learning what real love can be like through reading romances. 🙂 Thanks for sharing those insights!

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Kassandra Lamb February 12, 2015 at 7:30 pm

I agree with Marcy (and with you, Jami) that the older romances were all too often unrealistic, and they set up unrealistic expectations. I think they are more realistic today. And I totally agree that romance stories give us hope!

My pet peeve is the extremely flawed hero who is going to be changed by the love of the sweet heroine.

People should never, ever enter a relationship with the expectation that their partner is going to change. If you don’t love them the way they are, move on! Love doesn’t necessary change people, and it certainly doesn’t magically rid them of all the garbage in their psyches.

On the other hand, in real life, love can be a big motivator to work on oneself. Both my husband and I have done some therapy at times during our relationship, when our individual issues were causing problems in the relationship. To me, that is true love–being willing to look at your psychological crap when it’s getting in the way!

But the love didn’t change us, it motivated us to change ourselves.

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Jami Gold February 12, 2015 at 7:45 pm

Hi Kassandra,

“the love didn’t change us, it motivated us to change ourselves.”

Yes! We can’t make others change. That’s one of the most important things we can learn for healthy relationships of all kinds.

In the romances I read, I see the hero and heroine realizing their mistakes during the fallout of the Black Moment, and they decide to change or improve as part of moving forward. In other words, it’s something they do on their own because they’re sick of their issues holding them back. 🙂 Thanks for sharing that great insight!

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Jennifer M February 13, 2015 at 2:45 pm

Beautiful post!

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Jami Gold February 13, 2015 at 2:47 pm

Thanks, Jennifer! 🙂

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Serena Yung February 14, 2015 at 7:46 pm

Hey, I read this post on Valentine’s Day. 😀

Omg yes! There is a stigma against happiness! I also think it’s absolutely STUPID that pessimists are called “realistic” and optimists are called “naive and unrealistic”. (Pessimists are often the unrealistic and overdramatic ones.) Yes, sadness exists in our life, but happiness also exists! I think some people just have a problem in that they DON’T PAY ATTENTION to the happiness that IS out there! Sorry for my rant, haha.

That story of your parents is so sweet. ^^ Thanks for sharing that with us! They indeed show us that love can conquer a great deal of things. Cynicism is too rampant in our society.

And I like the point that everybody deserves true, fulfilling love, no matter what their social category. 😀

Also, yes, true love and happiness require a lot of work, and should not be despised!

And I hate how some people think happiness is shallow and sadness is sophisticated/ profound/ deep, ugh. They are so misled! Happiness can be just as profound and deserving as respect as sadness!

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Jami Gold February 16, 2015 at 10:41 am

Hi Serena,

LOL! Rant away. 😀 Thanks for adding to the conversation!

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Maggie February 15, 2015 at 4:31 pm

Of course a readers will have unreal expectations if they are complete idiots. Thankfully romance readers aren’t, on a whole they’re a pretty smart bunch…..but one does have to wonder about the person keeps saying how formulaic romance is. Clearly they haven’t read thrillers, crime, paranormal or any of the other popular genres. Clearly they know nothing about the craft of writing. Ignorance is bad enough, showing it is worse.

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Jami Gold February 16, 2015 at 10:43 am

Hi Maggie,

LOL! Good point! Some people just want to stay willfully ignorant about a subject of which they know nothing–and all-too-eager to display their ignorance with their opinion. 😀 Thanks for the comment!

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Daphne Shadows February 16, 2015 at 5:34 pm

I love that you add the “P.S.” at the end. There are too many women in bad relationships that think they’re being ridiculous in thinking they’re bad relationships. That itty bitty P.S. probably helped at least one person. So thanks. 😉

I love this post. I hear the orgasm part the most actually. That women live in a fantasy land if they think they’re going to enjoy sex as much as their partner. (I’ve heard a lot of ‘advice’ that women should just be happy they were good enough to please their men. Or they should just focus on him enjoying it and not worry about themselves.)
HA HA HA! Don’t bother dating me buddy.
Its sad to know that some people think finding their happily ever after is a myth. Or stupid or not good enough to hope for.
I love that about romance novels. The good ones, I mean. They give hope that real love isn’t something mythical like unicorns. It can work. Even if it feels impossible, if the love is real, you have a chance to fight for it. Why give up simply because society says its stupid to even hope?

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Jami Gold February 16, 2015 at 7:25 pm

Hi Daphne,

Exactly. As I mentioned on Facebook, the vast majority of emotional abuse victims already question themselves about whether or not their concerns are valid. “Is his/her treatment really bad, or is it just in my head, just how I’m interpreting it, etc.?”

We can’t let Hollywood or anyone else tell abuse victims that they should see their abusers’ treatment as a “sign of how much their abuser loves them.” THAT normalization (or worse…glorification) of abuse is what’s dangerous about certain movies and stories.

Real love isn’t abusive–physical or emotional. And real love isn’t mythical either. It’s not stupid to hope for it, and it is something worth fighting for. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Bella ardila March 2, 2015 at 7:30 am

Like Twilight and Fifty Shades Of Grey. These book depicted nonhealthy romance. Some women are really like these kinda of things

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Jami Gold March 2, 2015 at 9:58 am

Hi Bella,

Yes, I want to show healthier relationships in my stories. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Killion Slade February 17, 2015 at 9:34 pm

I’m a little late to this post since I was out recovering from surgery…

I’ll admit it … I was once a “romance hater”… until I learned what real romance was. Life, for me, did not begin until I was 40 and that is when I met the love of my life. I hated love and romance because it never worked for me. It was a billion-to-one chance that I met my husband, and it’s been wonderful since then. And that’s almost 7 years now!

To me I want to find the real-life passion for the HEA in my stories. When the couple can overcome gargantuan, crazy obstacles and still love one another and respect the growth each one has achieved during that time.

There’s that old saying, “it takes a lot of heat, and pressure to turn coal into diamond.” Putting our heroes and heroines into those situations can be really tough, but helping them become better people in the end in a realistic way is what helps me with today’s romance. 🙂

Thanks for an awesome post! <3

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Jami Gold February 18, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Hi Killion,

Yay for finding love no matter where we are in life. 🙂

Yes! Every life comes with obstacles and in real life and in our stories, it all comes down to how we react and move forward from those. As you said, helping our characters be better people is a good goal for us. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your insights!

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