Six ways being a romance writer has broken me

I am the first person to admit that, IRL, I am not the most romantic chick. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely more of a Carrie Bradshaw than a Samantha Jones, but I just don’t go in for the mushy stuff.

Surprising, it might seem, that I write romance then. But as I mature from writing young twenty-somethings who only want to touch each other on the butt to late twenty-somethings who are panicking and realising they need to boyfriend/girlfriend-up before their looks fade, I’m noticing my writing get more and more romantic… and, as a weird side effect, so am I.

It’s like a chicken/egg thing. Am I writing romance because I’m a romantic, or am I a romantic because I’m writing romance?

One thing is for sure, writing for and reading the genre has warped my fragile little mind. I’m not only believing what I read, but I’m believing what I write, and it’s setting me up for some huge falls.

Here’s six reasons I think writing romance has broken me…

1. I have great sexpectations

Ah, sex in romance. It’s lovely, isn’t it? Beautiful, almost. Everything is so well choreographed and not at all awkward. You’ll share beautiful time together (and not a second more or less than is perfect) before fireworks for everyone – hurrah! But that’s not realistic, is it? Where’s the awkward condom chat? Where’s the not-so-graceful manoeuvres? Where’s all the messy stuff and the weird noises and that one cringey attempt at talking dirty that is politely ignored because it just made everything weird? No one fakes it in romance. No one has a headache. No one gets bored and starts trying to remember the name of that film starring a young Reese Witherspoon they watched once, that wasn’t even that good, but you need to keep your mind occupied somehow…

2. I have great general expectations

I’m not sure how well I would do with grand romantic gestures – would I die or shame or fall at his feet? I just don’t know, but it just doesn’t matter. Justin Timberlake will never organise a flashmob for me. Leonardo DiCaprio will never let me be the one who doesn’t freeze to death in the ocean. Heath Ledger will never buy me a guitar. I will never ride off on a lawnmower with Patrick Dempsey/Penn Badgely… I could go on forever. We watch these things and then expect the poor bastards in our lives to do the same, and most of them just aren’t up to it. You can’t even get them to cut the grass, let along whisk you off to a happy-ever-after on a mower, and their actual idea of a grand gesture is being the one who puts the kettle on.

3. I’m OK as I am

It would be so lovely to live in a world where everyone is beautiful inside and out, but it’s not true. I mean, maybe it is true, but no everyone subscribes to that. Sadly, there are lots of men who care about how you look – and, to a degree, how you act. We all want accepting – flaws and all – but should we really be excused every last imperfection? Fuck you, Mark Darcy, for wrongly leading me to believe that nice dudes accept women exactly as they come, because most don’t. Just like women don’t stand up for men behaving in unacceptable ways. I mean, yeah, he holds my head under the cover and literally farts in my face, but I accept this flaw – no, don’t accept this! Just like he won’t accept you flirting with his friends or wearing a onesie to dinner with his parents.

4. Food is calorie free

You can go for coffee and cake and have epic lunches with your girl-pals and delicious meals with your fella every night and calories will not be a problem… in fiction. In life, congratulations, you’re seven stone overweight and a selection of health problems are in your not-so-distant future. Everyone eats well in romance and you can forget about calories in the copious amounts of alcohol. Woman boast healthy appetites, but they never go to the gym, and their bodies somehow manage to stay perfect. Back on planet earth, I look at a brownie and I swear, I can feel my butt jiggle for a week after.

5. Shoes fix everything

OK, shoes are pretty effing wonderful, so let’s all take a moment to respect a beautifully crafted heel… but can shopping really solve our problems? We’re all guilty of a splurge every now and then, especially when we’re having a bad day, but sadly, a huge shoe bill doesn’t fix anything. I wish it did, because of my 99 problems, shoes ain’t one. But it doesn’t, it just makes you poorer and slightly sexier while you’re sad.

6. Female friends are forever

All we need is one decent gaggle of gal-pals and we’re good to go, right? Wrong. My bestest friends in the world are all dudes, because women are not always that nice to other women. I have female friends who actively make my life hell. They make drama so they can moan on Facebook, they criticise my appearance, they say bitchy things about my other friends to me – confirming that they probably talk about me behind my back too. I’m not saying all women are evil, but (specifically) my male friends are far more reliable than my female friends. They’re the ones I turn to for advice or help when I need it, no matter what the subject matter. It doesn’t matter what gender your friends are, you trust the ones you trust.

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