Yesterday Tabitha Barret gave us a really great insight into the characters of Romance Novels and where they come from. A little spoiler? It involves real life dating and romance.
My favorite line (favorite paragraph really) is the one that begins with “Romance novels aren’t about the candy and flowers.” She makes a good point… several, in fact, about how we ALL have issues and we usually don’t acknowledge them or how they affect our potential partners in dating, but we want someone who accepts us in spite of our “quirks,” to put it nicely.
I know my list of quirks is long. Men tend to scream them at me on their way out the door.
The Boy was fond of telling me I was complicated, needy, and a handful of other usually negative adjectives. The Artist told me I didn’t have enough self respect because I would talk to him after he’d treated me badly… the fact that to me I wasn’t allowing him to get away with treating me badly and just getting rid of me, so once the moment had passed it wasn’t a big deal, seemed lost on him. He had a particular purpose for which he wanted to use me; so long as he understood that he’d be treated the same way as he treated me, then I didn’t think we had a problem. He thought this was a flawed way of looking at things. He would tell me I should have more self-respect… He was probably right, but it was rude of him to say so, particularly when I was offering him exactly what he was asking for.
And that’s just two of the long list of proverbial asshats I’ve encountered. Just since I’ve been in Houston for the past 4 years!
I kept looking for someone who could accept my “quirks,” my failings, and work with me on them, help me be a better person, a person worthy of love.
Which, as Tabitha pointed out yesterday, is what draws people to romance novels. We want to see someone more broken than we are and we want them to find love and be accepted as they are.
She said it much better, much prettier… But at it’s core, maybe it is as ugly as that: we can’t see our own faults, though we feel that they make us unlovable, and so we need to see someone more flawed than us (by whatever standard) and also see them be accepted and loved so we know we’re worthy of love.
Of course, before romance novels, there were plays, like Romeo and Juliet or the Taming of the Shrew. And even before that, there were love songs doing the same thing, and they probably still do.
Tabitha tells us that “Romance is about being redeemed in someone else’s eyes.” We see ourselves as the other person sees us. Sometimes it makes us a better person; that’s a common theme in movies and books. Whatever the obstacle that keeps our lovers apart, sometimes it involves one of the characters changing in order to match the way their lover sees them. Perhaps they don’t feel worthy of the love that is being bestowed upon them, and so they change their ways in order to be deserving of it.
When people tell me that my life is like a romance novel (which has happened a time or three) I think it’s because they see how I often bestow my love on people who aren’t deserving of it, like the Boy. I see the flawed way they treat me, sometimes, as one of their faults, and if I can just help them see what they are actually doing, then they’ll transform into that better person.
Sometimes I over-analyze the situation (again, like with the Boy) and end up deciding that the fault is actually mine, and that my trying to fix them made things worse, when in reality what I was missing was how choosing to accept that person actually was a reflection of how I saw myself.
Ayn Rand tried to explain this very concept in her Playboy interview many years ago (52 years ago this month, to be exact), and I believe I’ve discussed it on here a time or three.
Her views on Romance, as twisted as some see them, are very influential to me because they make logical sense to me. Like in that Playboy interview, when they ask her about love, she says that love is man’s “greatest reward…because love is an expression of self-esteem…”
She goes on to explain how we fall in love with people who have similar values as ourselves (or at least that’s how it should work), and that love is selfish, not selfless:
“When you are in love, it means that the person you love is of great personal, selfish importance to you and to your life… It is for your own happiness that you need the person you love, and that is the greatest compliment, the greatest tribute you can pay to that person.”
So what did it say about me that I would place someone whose values were so diametrically opposed to mine above my own needs?
I’m, of course, referring to the Boy. There have been others who have used and abused me, but none so quite completely as he. He made sure to let me know that I was only to be needed at his whim, even when we were attempting to be friends, and he never apologized for it because he didn’t see anything wrong with it. And I let him…
At the other end of the spectrum is the Bartender. We all know the Bartender is cut from an entirely different cloth, and I think he is most definitely worthy of my love and devotion, though I don’t think he is aware that he is worthy of it yet.
He has made me feel like his princess, and when there was a small confusion about what it was that he wanted from me and I accused him of using me like the Boy used to, he took both my hands in his (at a later date) and told me that he didn’t ever want to hear me say those things to him again. It hurt too much, because what we had was too special to him, and it hurt him unbelievably deep to believe that I felt that he would treat me so coldly.
Didn’t I tell you he was Dreamy?
I just wish he saw how worthy he was.
So, when Tabitha asks if I am willing to work with him through his anxieties and self doubt, I want to proclaim loudly that yes, yes I am! He has told me he can see how broken I am from poor treatment from men before, and that he wants to hold me tight and put me back together again, and I want to do the same for him.
Between our kissing before we ever heard each other’s voice, and the way we want to heal each other, and accept each other, flaws and all, I think our story is definitely worthy of a romance novel. He is definitely my romance novel hero!
Thanks again to Tabitha Barret for her excellent guest post! She definitely gave me a lot to think about, obviously. Check her out on Twitter: @TabithaBarret, and check out her Romance Novel series: The Third Throne Series at http://www.thethirdthrone.com/