Happily ever after?
A recent study suggests that reading too many romance novels could ruin your chances of developing a real relationship.Chicklit writers and experts debate the claim
Posted On Friday, June 17, 2011
On rainy days like these, it is a guilty pleasure for women to curl up with a good romance novel where the sex is as steamy and hot as the cuppa coffee they might be relishing. As the perfect, fabulously rich hero sets the heroine's loins on fire, the readers enjoy a vicarious thrill.
And when the hero and heroine climax simultaneously every time they unite in bliss, the female readers may heave a sigh or two themselves. The glamour and sheen of the fantasy world, unfortunately, rarely translates into real life. So much for Mr Darcy.
So how do bonkbusters, chicklit and romance novels affect a woman's perception of a real romance? Recently, an article on www.ksl.com stirred up a debate when Mormon life coach Kimberly Sayer-Giles suggested: Men are addicted to pornography as it produces a euphoric drug in the body.
So do the expectations from a real relationship take a turn for the unreal? Psychologist Deepti Makhija agrees, "Romance novels affect the way you perceive relationships as there is no logical reasoning behind them. Women expect that 'He should love me, no matter what. The relationship must be perfect.' It's not functional or pragmatic. Both partners need to take equal responsibility and make adjustments in the relationship."
"Given how conditioned we are to believe in '... and they lived happily after', women subconsciously think that everything must go according to a perfect script," explains Makhija. "And when your partner deviates from that perfect script, it creates an emotional disturbance in the relationship."
Since this problem is easy to dismiss by saying that no one takes chicklit seriously, think about the assault of influences on a daily basis whether it's Bollywood's love stories, or Danielle Steel's studs, the subliminal message about 'true love' can be damaging. Makhija says, "The key is to remember that there is no such person who is perfect, and to not catastrophise by thinking, 'How could this happen to me? It's the end of the world.' This can be seen as women who cling to the notion of Prince Charming and tend to ignore potentially great prospects that come their way.
So can this damaging idea of perfection extend to a couple's sex life? Our sexpert Dr Watsa finds the notion amusing. He says, "Mainly women read it so that they can fantasise and be happy. A woman can share the fantasy with their partner and they can play it out together. Even if he's not that good, the fantasy gives her a better high. As it is, she's dreaming of the other guy while in bed."
If a woman can get past the tame Mills and Boons and enjoy erotica, Dr Watsa says that their fantasy maybe translated into reality.
The publishing boom has seen a rise in the number of desi chicklits churned out. So how do authors feel about the claim?
Anuja Chauhan, Author of the Zoya Factor
I read a lot of romance novels. In fact, I think we should be more demanding. It's good to have healthy levels of hygiene and respect, and you should ask for that. Don't share a bathroom, there goes your romance. Instead of reading all those novels, prioritise your romance.
Author of Losing My Virginity and other dumb ideas
I don't think readers are looking for a perfect man. I've been married for eight years and my husband is no way close to that! You have to be happy with what you get. Women who are educated read because it simply gets them out their boring lives. I'd say it's the men who have unreal expectations!
Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan, Author of You are Here
I think women have the sense to distinguish between fact and fiction. As Indians, we have grown up seeing our parents make arranged marriages work, we are willing to make compromises. 97 per cent of my friends talk about having a great sex life! Either they're incredibly lucky or maybe they feel it isn't right to talk about it openly.