Up Close and (un)Conventional – Unrealistic Expectations?

Posted 20 January, 2017 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Discussion Posts / 25 Comments

Up Close and (un)Conventional - (un)Conventional Bookviews

Up Close and (un)Conventional – Unrealistic Expectations?

Welcome to this week’s Up Close and (un)Conventional. This is where I discuss both things that have to do with reading and blogging, and things that just have to do with life in general. This week, I’m discussing unrealistic expectations and what can happen if we take romance novels literally… A while back, a friend of mine on Facebook had a status message saying that romance novels made women have as unrealistic expectations to relationships as porn movies made men have… And I found that to be a very interesting, albeit not completely correct assertion.

I love reading romance, and you know that if you have ever visited me before. I love reading about a couple who meet for the first time, those fluttering feelings, the chemistry, the first kiss, the first smexy scenes, and then, how they grow to truly care for each other. And of course, the sex is always close to perfect in romance novels. The guy (yeah, I’m talking M/F today – sorry!) always manages to make sure everything is good for the woman before he goes on to truly participate fully and let himself go. You know what I mean? And so, yeah, I guess my FB friend was correct, if we expect a guy to always take care of us first, and then continue to make love to us for hours and make us come numerous times before he comes, yeah. Then I’d say we’d have unrealistic expectations when it comes to lovemaking and sex. I think we all know it’s fiction though – it’s fairytales for grown-ups. The princess gets the prince, lots of orgasms and then lives happily ever after.

And of course, the guy is always muscular, handsome, strong (both mentally and phyiscally!) and he’s tender with a big heart. He manages to understand the gal’s cues without any trouble at all, both the verbal and the non-verbal ones. He’s rich enough to be able to romance her in all possible ways, from romantic trips to exotic restaurants and everything in between πŸ˜‰ And the heroine is always ready for an adventure with him, to go on a helicopter ride for a dinner across the country, to go skiing down a mountain (even if she’s never skied before) or to go to a galla dinner after the opera πŸ˜‰

Now, I’m not one to watch porn, so I can’t say too much specific about it – apart from the fact that I think most guys are also realistic enough to realize that what happens in a movie is make believe as well. And that actors and actresses who may or may not have had some help when it comes to their physique is not what they’ll have in bed with them when they meet with a woman and manage to take it to the next step. So, while I may not fully agree with my friend, he definitely made me think! Because I can’t neglect the fact that sometimes, after reading a particularly steamy scene in one of my romances, I may or may not want to jump my husband. And maybe see if something new could happen… but without having overly unrealistic expectations about the outcome – because we will always be just us πŸ˜‰

What about you? do you think romances have made you have unrealistic expectations when it comes to romantic relationships in the real world?

Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

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25 responses to “Up Close and (un)Conventional – Unrealistic Expectations?

  1. Interesting topic – I’m not sure which side I fall on. I think it’s possible if that’s the only type of media consumed and the person reads a ton of romance novels, then it may promote some sort of unrealiztic expectations. But we don’t live in a vacuum, so I’m not sure if that’s realistic.

    • LOL LuAnn, bad, bad internet! True, if you read a romance novel and start getting an inkling as to wanting a guy like the hot hero, and then you sign up to a dating site where you get 10 d!ck pics in the first hour, your unrealistic expectations haven’t only been killed, they’ve been obliterated.

  2. This very topic was part of my mom’s first sit-down conversations with me when she allowed me to start reading my first ‘adult’ books when I was a teen. She thought, rightly so, that as a teenager I’d be a bit more susceptible to believing everything in print was true. So that was the first time, but we talked frankly about the sex scenes a few times and she made it clear that real life took a bit more work and practice and wasn’t as shined up and sparkly. And of course I learned mom was right.

    I do think romances are fantastic and I get swoony even while I notice stuff that at the least unrealistic, but many times unreal, too. As you say, it’s fairytale land for adults.

  3. That’s very interesting, Sophia! I do have conversations with my children about the fact that TV and books can be about fiction. And that even when it comes to the news, we need to be critical and not believe everything the media tells us. I tell my students that as well, that they should also do their own research if we talk about something to do with history or current affairs in my classes. That it is their job to question what we tell them…
    Sex can definitely be messy in real life, and I think the fact that it’s just swoons and hot in books is part of the attraction. The way the characters have such strong feelings for each other that everything is amazing is nice.
    I love reading the kind of romances that make me swoon, but that doesn’t make me think I’ll have the same thing in real life. It might make me go after my dear husband with more ardor than usual, though πŸ˜‰

  4. I think most men and women are smart enough to know that both porn and romance novels are a form of fantasy, there for entertainment and not as the norm. Mind you, there are some people that believe that all TV shows are real and that they have some sort of secret spy camera into the characters lives! Kids, as Sophia Rose’s mum was aware of, can be more prone to believe what they see or read so should be educated accordingly. This is why I hate novels aimed at teens that feature the hero male love interest as a bully/rapist or show the violent relationship as being romantic in some way. I worry that the more vulnerable girls might think that this is what relationships are meant to be and thus end up in domestic violence situations. Lots of good points in the post and the comments section. Great post!

    • Yeah, even reality TV shows may not be very real, but some people think that everything we see is everything that happens there. And it’s scary how some people think that everything on TV must be true!
      Children and young adults may be more prone to be influenced by what they read in a bad way, so having a bully or a rally bad guy as the love interest in YA books is something I shy away from, too. Apart from if he is used to show how bad those relationships are, and that the heroine manages to untangle herself from him and get help to rather build healthy relationships in the future.
      Thanks for coming by to comment, Chuckles!

  5. Berls

    I think what makes this a tricky subject is that we have to think about the maturity of the reader/viewer. Romance novels (and porn) are clearly make-believe that could have little inklings of reality and that’s easy to see if you’re mature. However, those with less maturity may not make that connection. In fact, I know that when I first read romances as a YOUNG teen (13) I dreamed of a relationship just like the ones I read. And for teens, porn may be the only way they have of envisioning what sex is like (because let’s be real, many teens get their hands on porn, right?) so it may create some unrealistic expectations. But as they grow and mature, I think they start to see where fiction ends and reality begins. What a great post, really had me thinking! Happy Friday πŸ™‚ I’ve had a long week, so I’m ready for this weekend πŸ™‚ Miss your face! xoxoxo

    • I didn’t think of mentioning the maturity of the reader at all – it was so clear in my head when I wrote this that I was talking about adults. However, bringing younger youths into the picture makes the discussion more complex, and I’m all for that, Berls! You’re right, at least nowadays I think it’s very easy for kids to find porn – even if they don’t want to find it, they might… try googling your first name and then click on images… It’s pretty scary out there!
      Another thing I hadn’t thought of was young teens not having other ways to envision what sex looks like, or what it really is – I forgot that your sex-ed does not resemble the sex-ed kids get here! They will already have a very good grasp of things from school, and sex-ed starts in elementary school – first of all about how babies are made, but also a part about it feeling good, and that it’s important to only touch someone who agrees to be touched. And to not be afraid of saying no if they don’t feel like being touched. (I think you just gave me an idea about another discussion, Berls ;))
      Dreaming of the prince is OK, I think, actually thinking we will find one who is as perfect as the ones in the books might be a problem, though.
      I miss your face, too! xoxoxo

  6. Interesting topic, I think most of us can discern fact from fiction, but in some, it can produce unlikely expectations. I think this is why anything my teens read I did, so we could talk about it. My hubby has often joked about my book boyfriends and competing..lol

    • This is why I read everything my kids read, too! And I also want to make sure that they are thinking of the fact that a novel is similar to a fairy tale in many ways.
      LOL my hubby jokes about my book boyfriends sometimes, too. But he doesn’t really complain, if you know what I mean πŸ˜‰

  7. For me personally, no. I don’t think so though I won’t deny fiction can influence our wants/desires. I’ve read some things and been like hmmm I would not mind trying that out. (not always naughty, I swear! lol) But while I like reading about the so called perfect heroes in real life I think that would get a bit old. I’d rather some quirks and foibles. But I have been in groups and seen women say things in them that really do make me question if they can tell the distinction between reality and fiction. A couple times to the point of being concerning and these weren’t young kids but full grown adults. Most often it’s more along the lines of erotic bdsm reads, though, I think.

    anna @ herding cats & burning soup recently posted: 2 stars-- A Perfect Compromise (New Jersey Ice Cats #4) by Anna Sugden
    • Haha, I see what you mean, Anna! Being inspired by fiction and trying stuff is not the same as thinking what we read about could or should happen to us in real life, though. And you made me laugh so hard Freddy almost fell off my lap with your ‘not always naughty’ comment! So funny! I’ve tried some food that’s been described in books! And with my TT&HH posts, I often get hungry when reading (I almost wrote eating) others’ posts about that, too. Plus, some things just look quite enticing on paper, too πŸ˜‰
      I think especially bdsm could be extremely dangerous to try out based on a romance novel, I’m sure there are things authors might not think of if they aren’t living that lifestyle. And it’s a bit scary if some women in groups where you’ve been chatting about books seem to not fully see the line between fiction and reality.

  8. Hmmm, seeing as I started reading horror at age 11 and extreme horror at age 15 and have not yet turned into a serial killer (nor did I marry one), I don’t believe books warped my expectations or sense of reality. Perhaps, some folks can fall prey to this but anyone with a decent head on their shoulders and who gets out into the world just a wee bit will soon realize that books are mostly fantasy. But I also don’t believe most men have been warped by porn either πŸ˜‰

    Laurie @ Bark's Book Nonsense recently posted: Got My Eye On (8)
    • Yeah, this is how I feel about it, too. I think my friend kind of was afraid of women expecting all men to be superlovers like romance heroes, though… and maybe he felt less adequate? I don’t think those who watch porn (adults!) are warped by it, either.
      I guess some easily swayed people might be influenced differently by what they read or watch, but most people are certainly capable of separating fiction from reality πŸ™‚ Thanks for commenting, Laurie!

  9. reading books since I was a kid does open up some insight. Kids don’t care, teens fantasize and adults dream. What I am saying is, the romance of the book is somewhat ‘catered’ to target audience. While it might appear that some are highly unrealistic, some do like experiencing it via books, sure won’t be finding it in real life.

    Pek Sim Koay recently posted: Book & Mask 2 : The Danish Girl and Cow Mask
    • I guess sometimes, we can kind of yearn for something like what we read about in romance novels, but I think you’re right about teens fantasizing and the adults dreaming. And that’s OK, right? I read for my enjoyment, and having my heart flutter because the characters fall in love is a very nice feeling πŸ™‚ That is what experiencing things via books is for me, you just put it into words very nicely, Pek πŸ™‚

  10. Interesting discussion! I think that it really depends on the person. I think that most people can read a book and watch a movie and not expect their life to look exactly like that. There is real life and dream life. A book or TV show that looked like real life would probably be boring for most people.

    I must say that if my husband is around and I read a particularly romantic scene, I do share it with him and ask him why he doesn’t do as they do. It is kind of a running joke in our house.

    Carole @ Carole's Random Life recently posted: Audiobook Review - Big Rock by Lauren Blakely @LaurenBlakely3
    • You’re right, nothing is the same for all of us, that’s for sure. And I know we’d probably be bored to read about normal paced lives, too. In our books, we kind of get the highlights, right? And that’s also what makes it interesting – we get the good and the bad, but just small selections to draw us in and make us feel.
      I’ve actually had a post about wanting more books about couples after the first novel -where they stay together (kind of like Cat and Bones, or Kate and Curran), and some people find even that boring (not those two particular couples, I think, because they have so much else going on in their lives).
      LOL I have to read a scene to my husband once, too, Carole. I’m sure he’d raise his eyebrows at me πŸ˜€

  11. I think it can set unrealistic expectations if you actually expect your SO to react the way our romance heroes react. I think most of us are aware that these books are fiction. I had a male friend who commented that romance was like porn that you read instead of watch. I think if you’re looking at it expectation wise, the porn analogy works, but most romances have more story around the “fun” parts. Both set the idea that sex is alway prefect and not nearly as messy as it can be. Both never have false starts or endings.

    I always find it funny when I heard readers asking authors, particularly spicy authors, if they have tried out what they’re writing. As if authors that write multiple partners are have wild orgies all the time. I even saw a dark romance author talking about this, as if she would be involved in some of the things she wrote, which have criminal activity in them.

    Great topic! You always have such fun topics.

    • OH LOL, Melanie! I can’t believe people actually think romance authors might have ‘tried out’ what they’re writing about – but would probably never ask a crime / serial killer author the same question, right?
      And it’s all about the great stories that have some smoking hot moments within them. I love it when I read about characters with good chemistry, have some fun times together, and then we get to the smexiness πŸ™‚ It definitely wouldn’t be as sexy if we got absolutely ALL the details, right? I think we need the dream in our romances, and so not getting the mess and the false starts is really good.
      I’m glad you enjoy my discussion topics!

      Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted: Weekend Wrap-up #171 – All the lonely ARCs
  12. This is a fabulous post! You have targeted the main reason why I shy away from reading romances – the love making scenes are so very unrealistic. I’m not sure why I have difficulty suspending reality while reading them – it’s easier to dismiss a Quidditch match or zombie becoming human again with the help of love. πŸ™‚

  13. This is a great topic, Lex! And it got me to thinking. πŸ˜‰ No, I don’t think reading romance creates unrealistic expectations because as you said, we know it’s fiction. If someone is basing their expectations about life on fiction, there’s a problem. Do the books I read, specifically certain scenes give me ideas?? Well, maybe. πŸ˜‰ But again, as you said, my expectations stay on par with what hubs and I can realistically do. LOL I think you and I (and probably most readers) read for escapism and therefore the only expectations we have are that our favorite authors take us somewhere new and leave us satisfied. πŸ˜‰
    *smooches* and {{{hugs}}}

    Bookworm Brandee recently posted: Review ~ The Nightingale ~ Kristin Hannah

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