Posted by: Phil Anderson | May 12, 2013

Romance is Fiction

This past weekend my wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary, and I started thinking about all the relationships that I’ve read about or even created in my writing. And I’ve come to a conclusion: Romance is fiction. I’m not trying to be cynical about love, and I’m not saying that romantic moments never happen. But a relationship based solely on romance can’t exist in the real world.

I don’t read romance novels so maybe I’m generalizing, but they have a reputation. You know the type of books I’m talking about. The woman on the cover is spilling over the top of her bodice. The man’s shirt is either unbuttoned or off. Both have long, flowing hair. One has their arms wrapped around the other. The typical plot line involves said couple who are destined for each other (though one of them may not realize it) facing obstacles that threaten to keep them apart, often in the form of a rival for one or both of their affections. The man is ruggedly handsome and masculine, yet sensitive and caring. The woman is attractive, strong yet vulnerable, and never has a headache. They are so perfect for each other that the reader can’t help but be disappointed at his or her current or future relationships. “Why can’t my boyfriend/husband be more like Blake?”

There’s also the romantic view of love through conflict, summarized by a quote I’ve seen on Facebook, attributed speciously to Bob Marley:

“If she’s amazing, she won’t be easy.

If she’s easy, she won’t be amazing.

If she’s worth it, you won’t give up.

If you give up, you’re not worthy.

…Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.”

One of my favorite writers, Greg Weisman, recently made some observations on this quote. What makes a person think that amazing and easy (however you define it) are mutually exclusive? Persistence is a fine trait unless it turns you into a stalker. Sometimes moving on is the right choice. And not everyone is going to hurt you, unless you’re overly sensitive and easily offended.

My relationship with my wife is not without its figurative bumps and bruises, but for the most part we agree on everything and get along very easily. She is amazing and “worth it,” but I didn’t have to fight for her so I never had to even consider giving up. She’s certainly never hurt me, and I can’t say that I’ve suffered at all the whole time I’ve known her.

I recognize that our relationship would not make for a very compelling story. That would require obstacles to overcome, conflict, uncertainty, in short all the things that make for good fiction. Real life can be perfect, romance is fiction.


  1. […] year ago I wrote a post suggesting that romance is fiction. This year I have a little piece of fiction about romance. Enjoy! (To read more, click […]

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