Most of us read romance novels purely for escape, entertainment and pleasure. But I realized after reading a few hundred of these novels that I had internalized a lot about history (thank you, historical romances!), cowboys (thanks, westerns!), and sex (thank you, erotica!).
Here are 31 things women can learn from romance novels about being happy, confident and finding love:
Conflicts based on miscommunication are stupid, annoying and result in books being hurled at the wall. Just talk it out.
Outspoken, stubborn heroines are the ones people love to read about because you never know what they'll say next and it's exciting. Stop saying "I'm fine," or "It's OK," and stop biting your tongue. (Also, see #2.)
Heroines come in all shapes and sizes.
It's not all heaving bosoms and arousing glimpses of ankles. Heroes find heroines attractive for their personalities -- especially if they are snarky, smart or sassy. Don't worry about being the "nice girl" all the time.
Heroes and heroines are kind to servants, waiters, animals and annoying small children. Villains are not.
Heroes take no for an answer -- especially from a woman.
Consent is sexy.
Women are worthy of love and respect.
The proper forms of address for the English aristocracy. You know, just in case.
- That quirky thing you hate about yourself (freckles, curves, red hair, etc.) is the very thing that the hero finds irresistible.
There are more euphemisms for penis, vagina and breasts than you can imagine.
What to do in bed (or in a hayloft, or on horseback, or in a tower, or wherever we are overcome with passion) and how to ask for it. Better communication leads to better sex. Romances provide both the ideas and the necessary vocabulary.
What fisting is, what to do with a flogger, and other sex stuff you maybe wondered about and were afraid to ask about. Romance novels are a safe space to explore.
Historical romances are an excellent way to learn about history. Any romance is an excellent way to learn about other places and people.
You can lean in and live happily ever after.
Sometimes you need to disguise yourself as a boy and do things "ladies" aren't supposed to do.
Sometimes you need to flaunt your femininity and that's OK. Cue the heaving bosoms.
Women's sexual pleasure is a priority.
How to have an orgasm, which is an important life skill.
That the shy, quiet people are often more than they seem -- and might just be the one you've been looking for all along.
Everyone has a backstory and you never know what happened in their previous chapters. You probably don't have the whole story, so try not to judge.
You don't need to be able to do a smoky eye, style your hair in perfect waves or "find the right jeans for your shape" in order to find love and happiness. Find the person who loves just as you are.
Men and women deserve love and happiness. What other stories so relentlessly declare this?
Men and women can be happy together. Or men and men. Or women and women. Love is what really matters.
It's OK to rely on someone to help you out with the kids, the bills and that really big problem you're grappling with. Sometimes, it's OK to be rescued.
You are perfectly capable of saving the day your own damn self.
Life can have lots of happy ever afters. Sometimes we need a reminder.
You deserve love, respect and happiness. Don't settle for anything less.
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