Mon
May 15 2017 2:30pm

Romance Isn’t the Reason for Singledom

Dusk Until Dawn by Andie J Christopher

Today we're thrilled to welcome Andie J. Christopher (Dusk Until Dawn) to Heroes and Hearbreakers. When you openly read or write romance, sometimes many of our peers make assumptions about how that impacts other aspects of you life—like dating. Andie is here to talk about some of those frustrating instances and why romance actually has nothing to do with it. Thanks, Andie!

I write romance novels, and I have been on exactly one date in the past year. When I showed up at the dive bar—in his neighborhood across town—my date had clearly been drinking all day. Over two cheap domestic beers, he tried to entice me into returning to his “sick” condo. A condo, which he later revealed that he shared with another woman who was “practically never there.”

This is not how a romance novel starts—not unless Chris Evans shows up as I'm waiting outside the bar for my Lyft, punches a Nazi, and takes me out for a proper drink.

I knew Captain America wasn't going to save me from a ruined evening, though. Because, contrary to a thousand think pieces published every year around Valentine's Day, reading and writing romance has not rotted my brain to the point that I can't tell the difference between reality and fantasy. I know that I'm not going to fall in love with a kinky priest or fall into a menage a trois with two incredibly hot bisexual best friends. There are no sexy billionaires in need of the love of a good woman in order to redeem their past. Cowboys don't look like Chris Pine or Sam Elliot.

There are no second chances with the guy who—for years—turned my knees to goo by walking in a room, and then went and married someone else.

And yet, people who don't read or understand romance think that the tropes and relationships in romance are silly and bound to lead women into demanding the impossible—i.e., a billionaire cowboy who looks like the love child of Chris Pine and Chris Evans. Some of the same people in my life who accuse romance readers of being unrealistic, have talked about Game of Thrones characters as though they are their neighbors. Because romance deals with romantic desire, which people think of as girl stuff, it's harder to imagine two adults forming a healthy relationship while fighting off a zombie apocalypse than it is to just imagine the zombie apocalypse part.

Why? It's the patriarchy silly.

Most women don't read romance because they want to live in a romance novel. Personally, I read and write romance because—for a few hours every day—I want to live in world where women win. I want to go to a place where women who resist and persist are rewarded with great sex and a happily ever after instead of shame and admonishments about their standards being too high.

I am acutely aware that that's not the world I live in.

The real world I live in is one where a female friend shamed me for my disinterest in dating during what was supposed to be a fun dinner out—on Valentine's Day. (I didn't realize that internalized misogyny was on the menu.)

I live in a world where books and “news” stories telling women that they're single because they're not nice enough to men come out every single February.


“Some of the same people in my life who accuse romance readers of being unrealistic, have talked about Game of Thrones characters as though they are their neighbors.”


In my real life, I can open a dating app to find abusive, inappropriate messages from men—who presumably want to date me—six days out of seven.

On top of this patriarchal shitwich, these days, the real world often feels like it's falling apart at the seams.

My friend shamed me at dinner because I told her I don't think I want to date—maybe ever again. I don't have time for the ups and downs of dating because I have things to do and stories to write. I don't want to leave my dog and my Netflix after working my day job and keeping my publishing commitments because I was on that carousel for decades. And it's not worth it for me anymore. I don't lack love. I have family, friends, and pets in my life to love RIGHT NOW—people and animals that would suffer if spent my limited free time swiping, texting, and meeting strangers for drinks.

Quite simply, I want to live my life more than I want to hunt for a man.

Of course, when my friend told me that I should be more open to the idea of meeting someone I pushed back and told her that I am too jaded to fall in love, and that if I haven't met anyone by the ripe, old age of (CLASSIFIED), I probably wouldn't. Neither of those things are necessarily true; I just don't like being shamed and told what to do or how to be. And “stubborn” and “contrary” are my middle names.

However, I actually DO hold out hope that I'll meet a guy who doesn't think heavy day drinking is an acceptable prelude to a first date someday. But I reserve the right to treat all comers with healthy skepticism precisely because I know that I don't live inside a romance novel where I'm guaranteed a happily ever after.

I wish I'd had a better comeback for the idea that I must write romance because I have an gaping maw inside me where my husband should be.

I wish I had told my friend that romance is my escape and refuge, not a cry for help.

***

Learn more about or order a copy of Dusk Until Dawn by Andie J. Christopher, available now:

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USA Today bestselling author Andie J. Christopher writes edgy, funny, sexy contemporary romance. She grew up in a family of voracious readers, and picked up her first Harlequin Romance novel at age twelve when she’d finished reading everything else in her grandmother’s house. It was love at first read. She lives with a cat, a French Bulldog, and more books than her shelves can hold. She's recently deleted Tinder—for good this time. 


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4 comments
EC Spurlock
1. EC Spurlock
Good for you. Most marriages aren't what they're cracked up to be either. Imaginary relationships are at least in our control. And you have the right to be selective in any relationship, no matter how temporary or potentially permanent. It is a right more women should exercise.
EC Spurlock
2. JT Bock
Great post!

I never understood why society believes women will be affected by reading romance novels. That we can't tell the difference between reality and fantasy. In one of his standups, Jerry Seinfeld blamed the reason for men doing stupid things and thinking they are stronger than they are on superhero comics. He said that every man believes he is as strong and capable as Superman, which is why you'll see a man holding down a mattress strapped to the roof of his car. Because, you know, their arm is the one thing that will stop it from flying off. ;)
Heather Waters
4. HeatherWaters
And yet, people who don't read or understand romance think that the tropes and relationships in romance are silly and bound to lead women into demanding the impossible—i.e., a billionaire cowboy who looks like the love child of Chris Pine and Chris Evans. Some of the same people in my life who accuse romance readers of being unrealistic, have talked about Game of Thrones characters as though they are their neighbors. Because romance deals with romantic desire, which people think of as girl stuff, it's harder to imagine two adults forming a healthy relationship while fighting off a zombie apocalypse than it is to just imagine the zombie apocalypse part.
Why? It's the patriarchy silly.
Ugh, YES. I could not agree more with all of this. Thank you for this thoughtful article.
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