Are You Addicted to Romance Novels?
Do you primarily read romance? So do tens of millions of people worldwide!
But perhaps you think your reading has become an obsession. Is that even possible? Maybe so, if reading too many books negatively affects your life.
There’s no need to despair. We can help you identify the symptoms of romance addiction. Our team at Sweet Savage Flame has pinpointed five signs that may indicate an unhealthy dependency on this bestselling genre.
5 Signs To Look For
1) You imagine yourself as the hero or heroine of your romance novel.
Do you bite your lips in consternation? Do you arrogantly raise one eyebrow in question? Is there an internal monologue in your head describing how your nipples become engorged whenever the object of your affection is nearby? These might be signs of romance addiction.
2) Your to-be-read list is more extensive than the list of books you’ve actually finished.
This may be akin to your eyes being bigger than your stomach. In this case, your stomach is your ability to read. It may take you ninety years to complete all the books on your list, but you’re eating healthy, taking your vitamins, and exercising, so maybe you’ll last the long haul.
3) You have duplicate copies of the same books.
This is intentional and you have no desire to sell them. Perhaps one book is for reading and dog-earing, while the other is a collector’s edition to keep in pristine condition. Possibly you own all printed versions of one book, just with different covers.
4) Where to store your books has become a significant dilemma in your life.
Your house is only so big, and there are only so many shelves you can put up. Some books are in boxes or bins. Others are stored under your bed. You start thinking, do you really need a closet for your clothes? Is a bathroom essential?
5) While reading a steamy love scene, you get so caught up you forget about all outside responsibilities.
Sometimes a good book can be a major distraction. I know all about it. I burnt a pot of beans I was supposed to be watching while reading Tiffany White’s Forbidden Fantasy. My mother has never let me live that down.
In All Seriousness, Is Romance Addiction Real?
Francine Rivers and Romance Addiction
Is romance addiction real? For some people it is.
Author Francine Rivers has talked about her obsession with these novels as both a reader and a writer. She felt they became a form of escapism from what was truly important in her life: her relationship with God and God’s place in her marriage.
“Reading and writing romance became a way to survive the inner turmoil I felt but didn’t understand. The early years of marriage weren’t easy for either of us; reading and writing romances kept me from analyzing why and dealing with problems.”
Instead of focusing on the problems in her life, Rivers ignored them, choosing to harness her energies on reading and writing romance novels. Eventually, it all came to a head, and she and her husband sought counseling. They looked for solutions to their problems in their religion.
Fictional romance indeed played a role in Rivers’ marital woes. But a book, just like a weapon or a tool, is inanimate. To become so consumed by a hobby that one ignores real-life problems likely is a symptom of a deeper issue.
The Age of Excess
Addiction comes in many forms. If you allow something to take over your life to the detriment of all else, that is harmful. Romance novels are not innately malignant. People can be dependent upon almost anything, from the most benign activities to potent intoxicants.
Nail-biting, exercise, drinking coffee, eating, shopping, smoking marijuana, casual sex, media entertainment… Name any subject, and there’s likely someone who takes it too far.
In the age of video games, film, & tv streaming, reading for pleasure is not a common hobby. The average person reads about one book every 4-6 weeks. That number is as high as it is due to bookish folks. Romance readers happen to read a lot, as they average one book per week.
The Double Standard
Porn For Women
Romance has been compared to pornography in that both affect how one sex views the other. While it may be true that some people need sex to make it through the day, most readers do not read romance for sex alone.
Romance has various steam levels, from merely chaste kisses to hardcore erotica. Sex is an aspect of romance; it does not define it.
Detractors of the genre claim it creates unrealistic expectations for women in relationships. Men cannot possibly live up to the standards of the hunky, heroic, alpha male protagonists.
Strangely, these criticisms are not generally made about other kinds of fiction. Superheroes, detectives, warriors, wizards, spies in action thrillers, all these tropes are fantastical. Yet few are concerned that men–the primary readers of genres featuring such characters–struggle to live up to these prototypes.
It’s a double standard that has a long history.
Indeed, a reading addiction can be a problem if a person does it all day, letting life pass him or her by. The Germans even have a word for such mania: lesesucht. This term came about in the 18th century when literature was widely disseminated. Now ordinary people could enjoy books for pleasure.
Concerns arose that if women read, they would ignore their household responsibilities. Their heads would be filled with idealistic fantasies. Reading was supposed to be for the pursuit of knowledge. It was not a way for the uneducated masses to pass their idle time.
That is a misconception rooted in elitism and classism. Reading expands a person’s ability to process information. Not all readers are on the same intellectual level, but all readers have the ability to think, to reason.
Read What Makes You Happy With No Apologies
Sweet Savage Flame is a website that is all about romance. We talk about it almost every day. However, that is just one facet of our being. Our families, hobbies, jobs, and responsibilities mark our life. Romance enhances our time by bringing us joy and unity with other readers.
At the same time, there’s no need to worry if you consume far more books than the average person. It’s wonderful if all your reading is for entertainment purposes. If you pay your bills, clean your home, rear your children, work hard, and do whatever you must, what’s wrong with having an outlet for stress?
Enjoy what you enjoy. Never let any literary snobs make you feel shame for it. Vive la romance!