Romance novels are my not-so-secret vice. I’m a sucker for a schmaltzy movie.I love beaming brides in overpriced dresses. And older couples that walk hand in hand. I’m even able to smile at lovesick teenagers brimming with “public display of affection”.
I admit to being a romance-a-holic.
Many years ago, long before I started writing, my husband was employed by the Defense Department and we moved around a lot. I discovered that a quick ice- breaker when meeting a new person was to ask how she met her husband/boyfriend/partner.
Over the years I’ve met women with seriously cinema worthy cute-meets like, “we were both accidentally doused with flying drinks by a falling waiter”. And women whose introductions that were complete cliche. “He was my roommate’s older brother.”
I’ve met women who married a childhood sweetheart. And a woman who was a mail-order bride.
Some women were bowled over by competence. “We stood there, frozen, and suddenly out of nowhere he was the guy who knew what to do.”
Others by incompetence. “He was the worst clarinet player in the marching band, so I had to meet the guy.”
One told me that she’d dated her husband for almost two decades before he popped the question. Another confided that her spouse of 34 years proposed to her on their second date.
Not all of these pairings were happily-ever-after. I’m sure even the best of them was probably not perfect, but one thing I never hear is that they weren’t romantic. And one thing I believe is that they were important. Perhaps the biggest, most important event of the people’s lives.
What? Biggest and most important?
Do you think that’s hyperbole?
Over and over scientific studies have concluded that the person you choose as a life partner has more to do with happiness and life satisfaction than wealth, health, social status, education, vocation, geography or religiosity. Choosing the right spouse will not necessarily make you richer, although happy couples do have fewer financial disasters. It will not make you healthier, although some data suggests that marrieds live longer than singles. And it doesn’t mean that all the dreams you shoot for will come true. Luck, talent and timing play far too big a part in success or achievement. But win or lose, it helps to have someone at your back.
Finding that right person, the person whose own hopes and dreams and values mesh with your own in a way that is positive for both of you is not an easy formula. It’s not like buying a car where the quandary is safety vs style or comfort vs mileage. There are so many variables in long-term human relationships. They can never be narrowed down to a simple set of checklists or preferences. The guy who is a perfect fit for me, might be your worst nightmare. And while I see myself as a very prime partner, you might not be amazed at the number of men on this planet who’ve never shown one hint of interest!
Because of the difficulty involved in hooking up with the perfect mate, as well as the positives of doing so and the huge negatives of mismatches, you’d think that philosophers, educators, religious leaders and parents would be actively involved in talking about love and romance every day.
Oh, not so.
One of the things that always bugs me about our culture and certainly the people who talk as if they know something, is the dismissiveness with which romance is treated. Our teachers and scientists only talk about sex, which is something almost entirely different. Religious leaders emphasize shared faith, which may be important but rarely trumps lack of spark between two people. Even parents tend to look at the pairing off of their children not as something to discuss, but to delay.
In the broader context movies about romance are shrugged off as “chick flicks”. Books about it are not important enough to be considered in serious discussions. And on TV it’s portrayed as silly slapstick.
I reject the suggestion that romance is an illusion or a delusion. That it’s for low-brow thinkers, girly-girl rattle heads, or dumb blondes. That it somehow flies in the face of logic and feminism.
It does not. If you study any species on earth, you’ll discover mating rituals and courting dances. Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it.
Romance is the human courting ritual. And that behavior is not limited to any position on the IQ scale.
Yes, cheerleaders fall in love.
So do molecular biochemists.
And neither should be made to feel embarrassed about that. It is as natural and elemental to the existence of the human race as water or oxygen. Without it, you and I would never have made it here.
Of course “here” is not really the issue. Or as the love of my life once told me, “It’s not where you are, it’s who you’re with.”
My newest romantic offering, on sale July 29, 2014 is called Mr. Right Goes Wrong. The heroine is trying to get over her bad-boy addiction at the exact time when the long-suffering nice guy next door decides that if he can’t beat them, he should join ‘em. For anyone trying to learn about love, there might be a pointer or two in the story. And for those of us who are romance-a-holics, I think it will go down smooth and leave a nice warm glow.
RWA Hall of Fame member, national bestseller and two-time RITA winner, Pamela Morsi was duly warned. Lots of people mistakenly think they are writers, her mother told her. She’d be smart to give it up before she embarrassed herself. Fortunately, she rarely took her mother’s advice. Her 27th novel, MR RIGHT GOES WRONG, will be coming out in August, 2014 from Mira Books. You can find her on
and on her website