Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Do romance novels and films damage your relationships?

(19 Posts)
Maisie0 Mon 12-May-14 17:42:11

snowfright You need to maybe stop the fantasizing, and also the writing and put it away for now maybe. Because you wrote and mentioned that you started to depersonalise and check out from your real situation to an alarming stage by fantasizing about a random person that you met and including imagining being with him instead. THAT rings an alarm bell in my mind. You can't do that...

It was not that long ago that women complained about men not treating them well and treating them like women, and with respect. But instead just choose a woman to be with, while maybe they fancy or love someone else. But now, reading your post made me realised that you could have also done the same, which we used to complain about men about.

Life can be the "real Disney" if we protect the sacredness of these fundamental things of life.

sonjadog Mon 12-May-14 17:35:01

Georgette Heyer has ruined modern men for me for life.

Twinklestein Mon 12-May-14 17:29:03

I do otherwise I wouldn't have mentioned it. I doubt she ever read Jackie or watched much Disney tbh...

I think some people find it harder than others to distinguish fantasy from reality, and some people use fantasy as a way of dealing with life.

MalcolmTuckersMistress Mon 12-May-14 17:24:36

Dunno about Romance novels, but my husband was getting the regular seeing too of a life time when the BBC had the Musketeers on! Thank The Lord for DVDs though.

Only damage was happening to his COCK!

EL OH EL.

<gets coat>

Maisie0 Mon 12-May-14 17:16:55

But when you are growing up, you need a sense of identity, don't you ? I do not see that as a wrong thing when you are young. But during your teenage years, and exposure of hormones, and wanting bonding with the opposite sex is when really, a time to explore the opposite gender for what they are like, and actually come to appreciate this as well.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 12-May-14 17:08:27

Without wishing to be overly combative Twinklestein, do you know for definite that your friend obsessively reads romantic literature? Or could she have been lured in at an early age with Disney princesses and Jackie Magazine photo love stories.

Twinklestein Mon 12-May-14 16:53:46

I think some people are more susceptible than others. I'm immune to the effects of romantic guff, and generally prefer books that end badly...

But I know women personally who have been influenced into completely unrealistic romantic notions; just as some women on here have partners with unrealistic expectations of porn-style sex.

A good friend of mine is a case in point: highly intelligent, highly educated, prestigious job, 43 years old, still unmarried and childless having spent the last 20 years chasing the dream of a rich handsome husband. Her current bf has still not asked him to marry her after 4 years, (she's tried asking him to no avail) and she's too caught up in her fantasy to notice it's not going well...

PoundingTheStreets Mon 12-May-14 15:55:12

grin at Cogito. I have a similar taste in trashy fiction but unlike you I have spent some time thinking up 'the perfect murder'. In my defence, I don't have a victim in mind, it's more an exercise in project management. grin

Maisie0 Mon 12-May-14 15:54:16

It's quite coincidental but actually, this is a big problem for women overall. But, from what you say though, I do like your stories, especially if you can plot it all. You should indeed write those things down to a tee, and actually submit something to these "film festivals" or conferences. That was how P.S. I love you was written.

I was actually checking my OD profile last night, and it made me remember everything about dating, and being with someone, and who was my near misses and things like that. I felt this surge of confidence actually, and I tried to connect back with this guy from my past.

Then I was reading this last night too.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Jon
- This is a movie about exactly what you are talking of.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwA_1QCUcQQ
The interview with the writer himself and how he see this. He is a very grounded individual, and he admits openly that not all his sexual relationships were satisfying.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-xJ15AN9ts
Expectation (in our minds) versus the reality (how we behave and not express our upmost inner desire)

I think you do need to maybe remove some of your fantasy from your mind, and actually try to make your life match a little bit of what you expect. If you expose your mind to these kind of things continually, in a way, your mind has created a "mind over matter" situation, and you would not see life for what it is.

Romance can be harmful in the sense that if you place expectation on a person in comparison to that of a character in a romance novel, then you are actually marginlising the man himself. I also had some men whom had feelings for me before when they ask point blank, "isn't it good to chat?" As we tried to take a breather from dancing. I thought it was an odd thing for them to say at that time, but I did not focus in my immediate environment, cos I had checked out. If I focused on him, then I would realise that he was trying to connect with me emotionally, and by treating me well by being slow and kind when we danced. I think women do this "check out" thing a lot more too, as does men. It is very hard to be mindful of every moment in life. But the happiness comes if you do do that.

Gen35 Mon 12-May-14 15:53:21

I do agree with chick lit being as just as unrealistic as porn (although no issue of real people being exploited) but probably for both, most of the damage has to be on people with not enough experience of real relationships? Dare I say both things can actually keep your intimate (ahem) relations exciting and so not be entirely negative?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 12-May-14 15:52:14

I think anything can mess up your thinking if you let it quite honestly and to blame anything on books you've read is a bit of a cop-out. My preferred genre of chewing-gum literature is crime fiction and I don't spend all that much time working out creative ways to bump off those who have displeased me.

If you're bored with your real life partner or life in general, maybe that's the problem... not the trashy novels?

Gen35 Mon 12-May-14 15:50:49

Hmmm I do get a kick out of them too but it hadn't crossed a line into ignoring my partner or wishing he was different. I do agree, if you're escaping this much, you're at a low point (sounds like professionally) and need to put effort into resolving that, sounds like maybe your way of sticking your head in the sand.

Twinklestein Mon 12-May-14 15:43:42

^ Should say: disappearing into your own little fantasy world isn't any different than if your partner were doing the same with porn.

Twinklestein Mon 12-May-14 15:38:19

I've always thought that clit-lit is just as damaging as porn in terms of peddling fantasy.

Disappearing into your own little fantasy world within isn't any different thank if your partner were doing the same with porn.

Have you considered therapy to address your addiction and develop a healthier relationship with reality?

Or have you considered putting these dreams to productive use in writing romance novels? They do sell well unfortunately

PoundingTheStreets Mon 12-May-14 15:34:25

Interesting thread snowfright.

I don't relate on a personal level because even as a teenager, when I first came across the likes of Mills & Boon, I used to read it and think "see in real life this would happen" rather than the plot development portrayed in the book, and it always used to annoy me that heroines could have some disaster befall them/cry/fall in ditch and still managed to look beautiful.

But I always used to think they were a bit of harmless escapism, akin to Dungeons and dragons for teenage boys (and girls in many cases). Now I'm not so sure.

The more I think about the way in which romance and relationships are portrayed in vehicles aimed primarily at women, the more it gives me the creeps. It always seems to involve some level of submission and forgiveness on the part of the woman because the hero is overcome with passion and can't help his behaviour (whether that's shouting at the heroine or ravishing her with an uninvited kiss). The heroine - no matter how feisty and independent - always has to be rescued and give in ultimately. She is never the architect of her own life.

And the stories always end when all misunderstandings along the path to true love are overcome. It's as if what happens after (the stable relationship) is boring. You can see why some people either try to keep that initial drama going by manufacturing problems, or excuse ongoing problems (such as controlling behaviour) as being due to passion - because this echoes the courtship, the only exciting part of the relationship.

If you ever feel the fantasy hero is more desirable, the thing to ask yourself is why? Do you have latent BDSM fantasies you want to act out in your sex life? Do you secretly feel too embarrassed to admit to sexual fantasies and so want a dominant man who can do to you what you secretly want but are too scared to ask for and won't have to admit because he's taken control? Do you really want to be 'rescued' (i.e. give up all control over your life). And if so, what can you do to make yourself more confident in your own judgement and control in life?

I'd guess that reading and watching lots of romance just gave you a direction in which to focus, rather than causing the underlying issue. There's nothing wrong in romance stories, but you have got focused on them to the exclusion of focusing on your real-life relationship, because you can get the rush without the reality.

You say you carve the feeling of being wanted - but you have that in real life, don't you? So what you crave isn't actually being wanted, it's the adrenaline-rush of 'new love'. It's an addiction just like a craving for alcohol or a cigarette - and just like them, having what you crave doesn't actually fix anything, just feeds the addiction.

You need to stop, because this isn't healthy. Maybe you could sort out some kind of counselling to look at what you feel is missing and how you can achieve it in the real world?

violetpsyche Mon 12-May-14 15:11:17

It sounds like the op does have issues in this area. You have low self esteem and so you are vulnerable to any sort of addiction, crutch. The same with any woman. You cannot rely on a man to rescue you, you need to sort yourself out.

Salazar Mon 12-May-14 13:16:05

I think romance novels, porn and a lot of other things... Including a Disney films, set unrealistic expectations of sex and relationships.

Very interesting topic. Would love to know more.

snowfright Mon 12-May-14 13:12:36

I just read about a study where they said reading romance novels can have a similer effect in women as porn addiction in men. That the emotional rush you get from reading about a forbidden love for example alters your brain chemistry and can have an efffect on your personal relationships.

This interests me because I am a bit effected by this. I used to read romance novels when I was younger as well as romantic films and tv shows. Now I tend to make up my own romantic fantasies where I play the heroine and I can cast any man, real or imagined, famous actor or guy down the street. Its fun, a form of escape I can imagine it all, I listen to the right music and create my own soundtrack for my love story, do reseach on the themes and issues my story revolves around. I don't write it all down just day dream about it.

it can be useful if for example I can't sleep or I'm stressed but I can see its dangerous too I get a bit hooked on the rush my fantasies give meand so keep thinking about them over and over to get that feeling. Its like on some level my mind or body can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality. I start to miss the person I am dreaming about as if it were real.

Its stupid because I have a lovely long term partner who adores me and who I love very much but sometimes its like I feel I am more with the fantasy lover than the real person.

I have my theories as to why this is, in the stories I tell myself they usually focus on the build up and early stage of the romance (typical of romance novels) where I get that rush although imaginary of feeling wanted and desired. I have issues with my self esteem and crave the validation of being wanted and desired by a man.

I don't think my partner knows about this but he sometimes finds me distant. Sometimes I feel very distressed that I cannot be with the fantasy, who I am physically aching for and it cuts me off from my partner which is unfair to him. The odd time a man I know gets cast in one of my fantasies it is worse because there is the potential for something to happen and a couple of times it nearly has.

I know I need to not do this, I need to deal with my self esteem issues in a healthy way and I probably am frustrated creatively, if I actually out the time and effort into something real I might have achieved something by now!

This behaviour for me came out of reading a lot of romantic novels and seeing romance films when I was a teenager. On one level I understand that real love is not about some chocolate box ideal of romance but it still gives me a killer kick I am addicted to. Does anyone else relate to this?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now