My love affair with romance books
I love love. It’s the ultimate cliché isn’t it? The single woman who loves the concept of love.
The idea of this beautiful thing out there in a world that can be so dark is so humbling. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate love in all its forms and have been blessed with being loved and cherished by people in ways I barely deserve.
But let’s talk about romantic love for a bit. I am obsessed with the idea of romantic love, it is where I go to feel safe and happy. Lucky for me there is an abundance of love stories out there for me to lose myself into. It started out as a treat on a bad day. And then I had a bad year and basically, I’ve read/consumed nothing but love stories since.
They feed my soul, give me butterflies and have me giggling like a maniac.
For someone who reads 100+ books a year, that amount of consumption cannot be healthy. I can scream self-care all I want but deep down I have noticed the effect it has been having on me. When we have *amazing* romance writers of the likes of Emily Henry, Tessa Bailey, Mariana Zapata, Christina Lauren and Sarah Hogle — I didn’t stand a chance did I? Don’t even start me on the magic that is Bolu Babalola, I have read Love in Colour so many times that it should actually be a criminal offence at this point.
Nearly every evening this year, after work I have snuggled up and lost myself in a love story. The tropes are predictable and yet so comforting. I’m a sucker for childhood friends to lovers, I know it’s too late for me in real life to have that but what a joy. My feminism temporarily leaves my body when it comes to enemies to lovers because yes in fiction, no in real life. I truly mourn the fact that there are not enough situations in real life that require the fake dating trope!
I knew I was getting a little bit too deep when I started feeling low. I knew for sure I had gone too far when Bridgerton came out. Now I could write poetry about how the show is perfect, the longing looks and beautiful proclamations of love were made for people like me. It fed my soul. I watched the whole of season 2 twice over back to back, and then a third time — forwarding only to the Kate & Anthony scenes. I reread the books a few times and it is truly embarrassing to admit how many times I have stopped and re-watched certain scenes.
It got out of control.
You may think, well everyone got obsessed with it so that’s normal right? Well, I have to admit that in my case it messed me up a little. I have this open wound in my chest that yearns for something I do not have. That I may never have. That I’m not sure I realistically want? I have previously always been mostly ok with being single and knowing that I can just enjoy romance in fiction and that would be enough.
In all honesty, I’m too wary of people in the real world, too logical to honestly think it could happen for me. Half of the things I read and enjoy, I would truly hate in reality.
But the overconsumption of media has me feeling more lonely than ever. It has me craving for this all-consuming love to come out of nowhere. I have no inclination to try the apps, I need a meet-cute. I have to have the build-up, the what-ifs and the chemistry.
The last time I was obsessed with all-consuming love was the same time I was obsessed with Twilight. With time and experience, I learned all about healthy love, about being able to survive on other types of love. But as my world has felt so sad and unsteady in the past year, part of me grasped onto the familiar comfort that these narratives bring.
Sometimes when someone I know talks about love in their lives, it takes me a moment to realise that it’s a real thing out there. In my mind the idea of love has become as fictional as all the magic in the fantasy books.
I spoke to a friend who recently listened to a podcast where they compared being obsessed with romance books to addiction. And I can honestly say I think I’m there. Whilst reading them temporarily patches up my wounds. I feel worse after them, more lonely and lost. Less myself and more up in my head.
So here we go. Mitta stops reading romance books for a bit. Let’s see how it goes.