Are Romance Novels Female Porn?

Do women receive unrealistic expectations? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night I was talking to someone and the topic of pornography came up. We were talking about how men have a hard time with relationships with women because pornography gives unrealistic expectations. However, as a contrast, we discussed women can have unrealistic expectations for men and this could be in the form of romance novels.

Of course, I cannot say if this is the case since no one can read all romance novels, but women can often have expectations of all the men that they want to marry. We are often told men are shallow going solely by looks. This can be true, but women can also go by looks entirely. I remember when I was single not being as attractive to women as the really athletic guys are, which I definitely am not.

Yet it goes beyond that. When I talk to guys about to get married about the wedding night, I tell them to think about what they have seen in movies and on television. I then tell them forget it all. After all, in popular culture, nothing goes wrong. No one puts down a towel. No one makes any inappropriate bodily noises. No one does anything that is displeasing. Everything flows naturally and perfectly.

Real life isn’t like that. Real sex takes work. It takes practice. For most people, their first time will be incredibly awkward. They’re just getting started. Why expect to be a professional?

Real romance also takes work.

Women have been raised with stories of Prince Charming coming for them. He looks perfect so much and he’s a great kisser and he knows how to do everything to sweep a woman off of her feet. What’s absent is the time that Prince Charming wakes up in the morning to kiss her and he has really bad morning breath.

Prince Charming will leave his underwear on the floor sometimes. He will leave a dirty dish out wanting you to clean it. He will ask you to bring him dinner while he watches his football game. He will get snippy with your mother sometime. He will be playing on his iPhone sometimes while he’s on a date with you. He will get gray hair or go bald and he will lose his perfect physique.

In other words, Prince Charming will be like every other man out there. To expect a man like to be like that is as unrealistic as expecting a woman to be like a porn star. (And I suspect a porn star isn’t even really like a porn star in reality.) It will set you up for failure.

Men tend to connect with sight. That’s why there’s such a joke out there about anime girls who seem to have totally unrealistic proportions. Women tend to connect with stories. If the sight of a woman who is unrealistic in porn can damage men, an unrealistic story could do the same for women.

Also, notice how each of these can set us up with a false idea about marriage. We need to find a spouse who is good for us. Now you should hope your spouse is good for you, but the best question to be asking is “Are you being good for your spouse?” For most of us in marriage sadly, we are asking if our spouse is making us happy and if we are not happy, well just get divorced. The real question to ask is more “What can I do to bring happiness to my spouse?” (Or even better, holiness.)

This is not to say you can’t think of what makes you happy. You should because if your spouse wants to make you happy, they need to know from you what does that. The real goal though should be seeking to show love to others in season and out of season and that starts in your own home.

So if you’re reading a romance novel, maybe it doesn’t have anything in it like an explicit sex scene, but that doesn’t mean you’re not having your ideas altered by it. You can marry Prince Charming and wake up one morning to find his dirty socks on the floor. In reality though, he probably had expectations of you that you fell short of, and that’s okay, because we all come with unrealistic expectations.

This then is the time for grace. Accept people where they are, including your spouse. At the same time, motivate them to be better than they are, not just because of what you want for them, but because of what is good for them themselves.

Guys. Women will not be like porn stars and pornography is wrong anyway so please don’t bother with it. Women. Please be careful about your ideas of romance. Prince Charming will have morning breath sometimes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters