I’ll Keep the Bodice Rippers

After another disappointment in the dating scene (still just getting the vibe that Armstrong Guy wasn’t feeling it…), I wanted nothing more than to climb back in bed with the latest trashy romance novel that I’m hooked on and lose myself for a few hours. As soon as that thought crossed my mind, however, I couldn’t help but start to wonder if the bodice rippers are, in fact, part of my problem.

No matter what genre of romantic novel you’re into, they all seem to end the same. Whether it’s modern chick lit, with it’s quirky, realistic male leads that are usually the main character’s best friend or coworker she’s just never noticed before, or a rich historical romance with the devilish rake who appears to all outsiders to be a total jerk but is hiding a heart of gold beneath the man-whore exterior, all of them have a happy ending. And all of the male characters have an abundance of depth that, being women, we hope to find in any and all potential partners out there. We can’t help it. A lot of these characters are written by women, who know exactly what women want and commit it to the page. We read it and drink it up like a fine wine, and are constantly disappointed when the reality never quite lives up to the amazing fantasy men in our heads.

(Ps- They are all also extremely well-endowed. But it’s sooooo not about that. Right?)( What. It’s what I tell myself. )

For example: the latest series I’ve been devouring (no, I’m not exaggerating. They take me approximately 2 days to read from cover to cover) is the Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Hearing a lot of positive feedback and seeing Amazon running a promotion on them (4 for 3 and free shipping?! Done!) convinced me to give the series a try. Once I got past the initial filthy sex in Book 2, I started really appreciating the humor… Wait. Did I just say I appreciate the humor instead of the filthy sex?! Note to self…

ANYWAY, all of the guys in these books are total alpha-male types. They walk around growling and making snide comments to each other and kicking major ass… Until the woman comes along who’s going to save them.

Stop. Right. There. HELLO, that is the sick ingrained part of the female psyche. I don’t think that there is a woman alive out there who hasn’t dated a total douchebag in the hopes that she could “bring out the best in them.” In these books, the men actually are deeply wounded from something in their past, and giving them affection does in fact save them and turn them into the perfect loving man and husband. In real life? Doesn’t happen. If a man appears to be a total douchebag, it is probably because he is a total douchebag and not because he watched his puppy get run over by a steamroller at age 5. If they have a “man-whore exterior,” it is probably because they are, in fact, a man-whore. Showing him love and understanding will not stop him the next time he plans to do the horizontal mambo with a (probably blonde and buxom) stranger. We can waste all the time and affection in the world on him, but he Will. Not. Change. Even if he’s just not the right guy for us, spending additional time and effort on him will not fix that.

It was a million-watt lightbulb moment this morning when I realized that I wanted to get away from my disappointment over a person that seemed to not be attracted to me ACTUALLY not being attracted to me by escaping into a romance novel where men act just as I and other women think they should act. They don’t text their heroines and let them know the carriage is going to be late… They don’t go get wasted at some point in the book and cheat with a walking STD. And they DON’T ever dutch-oven their hard-won bride. Am I setting myself up for 26 more years of romantic disappointment because my heart melts a little each time the happy couple rides off into the sunset together? Possibly. Would I rather keep hoping that Prince Charming is actually out there, and getting the dutch-ovening out of his system? Definitely.

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