7 Ways Romance Novels May Improve Your Love Life

7 Ways Romance Novels May Improve Your Love Life

A good romance book is a great escape, but it can also invigorate your own relationship.

By: Laurie Sue Brockway

Many moms love reading romance novels. They come in so many sub-genres that there is something for everyone. A good romance book is a great escape but can also provide inspiration and ideas you can bring into your own relationship.

“These books focus on elements that are the most important to women -- relationships and friendships,” says Barna William Donovan, PhD, director of the graduate program in strategic communication at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, N.J., and author of several books on fandom. “Studies on fandom show that women are largely interested in character-driven stories, where characters’ interactions, emotions, and relationships motivate the story.”

Because readers relate so powerfully to these books and the promise of a happy ending, fictional characters and stories can inspire positive feelings and experiences. Here are seven positive effects romance novels can have on their readers and their relationships.

1. Stir a desire for romance again. Raising kids can make romance seem like a distant memory. “Romance novels can help readers, especially moms, because they have typically forgotten what romance looks like,” says Misty Robertson-Smith, PhD, LPC. “They have children, and being Mommy becomes their primary focus. Reading about the romance can remind them of what they have forgotten.”

2. Model positive relationships. Maya Rodale, a romance reader since her teens who is now a best-selling author of historic romances, believes the romance genre can help women see that they deserve true love and happiness. “Romance novels can definitely help readers feel more warm and loving,” says Rodale, whose latest book is What a Wallflower Wants. “Romance novels often provide very positive portrayals of relationships that are mutually satisfying and rewarding to everyone. These books show what a relationship based on love and respect looks like.”

3. Open the heart. Romances can show it’s OK to let love in. “These novels often describe relationships between individuals that learn to accept the love of another and be vulnerable,” says Nerina Garcia-Arcement, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist. “This is modeling positive outcomes for individuals that struggle with allowing themselves to be open and vulnerable in relationships.”

4. Create self-awareness. Sometimes women feel mired in dissatisfaction because they don’t really know what they want and need. “Romance books can also help a woman figure out her needs,” says Anita A. Chlipala, MA, MEd, LMFT. “If she's reading a book and thinks, ‘I wish my husband did that,’ she can bring it up to him and ask him for it.”

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5. Start a new conversation. Though experts are concerned romance books can bring about unrealistic expectations, or put pressure on partners to be the men in the books, novels can be a stepping stone for couples to talk about romance and relationships. “Even if only one member of the couple is reading the books, it can still serve as a source of inspiration of things to try and ideas that they can incorporate into their own relationship,” says psychotherapist Judi Cinéas, PhD, LCSW.

6. Enhance self-esteem. Some readers make positive life enhancements. Susie Felber, daughter of award-winning romance novelist Edith Layton, recalls the positive feedback her late mother received. “Fans always told her how her books changed their relationships,” Felber says. “One woman claimed she went from abusive men to worthy ones because [Felber’s] heroes set an example.”


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7. Inspire happiness. Cheryl Baylock, an avid reader, says reading romances makes her happy because they take her into a world that brings to life what love should look like. “I get a kind of happiness buzz after reading a romance book,” she says. “And my relationships have improved because I understand men more. I think romance books give readers more confidence with people and enable you to take a chance on love and go with the flow.”

Just make sure you don’t demand your husband start looking and acting like the sexy alpha hero on the cover of your favorite novel.

“Of course, there is a danger of expecting real life to mimic a romance novel,” says romance fan, mom, and author Cathrine Goldstein. “As long as the reader can differentiate between reality and fiction, well then, happy reading. You may find your relationship to be happier as well.”

Has a romance book been inspirational in your real life?

Laurie Sue Brockway is a journalist and author who has written extensively on love, marriage, parenting, well-being, and emotional health. Her work has appeared in hundreds of print and online publications, including Everyday Health and The Huffington Post.

Image ©iStock.com/stevecoleimages

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