Life Lessons from Romance Novels
- Next1 of 8Courtesy of Harlequin; Courtesy of Avon Books
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Books of Love1 of 8
By Woman's Day
You may know them as "bodice rippers," but romance novels offer much more than longhaired, big-breasted heiresses fainting over bare-chested men. Instead, "characters in these books struggle with many of the same issues we do, and they still end up happy and deserving of love," says Debra Holland, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and romance novelist herself. Here are some important lessons you can learn from romantic reads.
Listen to Your Gut2 of 8
Romance novelist Lenore Edwards calls this lesson "searching for when your heart calls," and it's a romance novel staple we should all remember. "Never tell your heart, your gut or your instincts to be quiet," says Edwards. So stop and listen when something's telling you that a situation, job or relationship is wrong—your intuition is usually right.
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Fall in Self-Love3 of 8
In the very best of the romance genre, the heroine is "someone who falls in love with herself" before she falls in love with the guy, says Edwards. "That's when her life gets a whole lot happier." The lesson here is that relationships are more satisfying when you start out in love with who you are on your own, not who you are as part of a couple.
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Take Charge of Your Needs4 of 8
Let's not forget that a major part of romance novels is, of course, sex! "Much of the courting and sex in romance novels is the woman's ideal," says Holland—meaning that the man takes his time and is equal parts strong and sensitive. Let this inspire you to take charge of your own sex life, ensuring all your needs are met in the bedroom.
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Authenticity Matters5 of 8
As a romance novel progresses, the heroine learns that the only way she'll get what she wants is by remaining authentic to who she is; in fact, part of the progress of the story involves her journey of self-discovery. "Until she believes in herself, no one else will either," says Diana Cosby, who pens romantic suspense novels set in medieval Scotland. Think of it in terms of your own life: If you want to change careers or get a promotion, then you're less likely to get others to believe in you if you don't endorse yourself first.
Never Give Up6 of 8
Life—both your everyday nonfiction life and a romance novel heroine's fictional life—is intense and filled with obstacles. The difference, of course, is that "romance novels always end on a note of hope," says Cosby. As the heroine faces challenges, even ones wildly different from your own, "you see her digging in, persisting and moving on." Her constant search for a more fulfilled life may inspire you to find new solutions to vexing problems and, ultimately, take a chance on something new.
You Can Redefine Your Life7 of 8
"Stuck" is something romance heroines are not—at least not for long, and definitely not by the final chapter, says Cosby. "I can put my characters in situations where they go through what real-life people do, but the difference is they don't stay in those situations." They make mistakes and run into roadblocks, but they keep going, changing tactics and redefining goals until they get there. The lesson: You can change your circumstances, whether it's from a toxic friendship or a mundane job.
No One's Going to Save You8 of 8
Old-style romance novels featured heroes who arrived just in the nick of time to "save" the heroine. "What I've discovered in my own life and through my modern characters is that I have to find my own white horse and rescue myself," says Edwards. Reading about a main character who goes on a personal quest for fulfillment creates a powerful message that only you can save yourself.
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