Romance vs. Reality: How Life Stacks Up Against Fifty Shades and Other Reads

Romance vs. Reality: How Life Stacks Up Against Fifty Shades and Other Reads

Let’s face it: Romance novels tap into the wish-fulfillment part of our brains. The scenarios can be delightfully outlandish, the romantic leads perfect dramatic (and erotic) foils for one another. There are mistaken identities, swordfights for ladies’ honor, and often unrealistic sex scenes. More often than not, they remind us how mundane our real relationships can be in comparison. We’ve rounded up all the reasons we wish we were being courted by a fictional character—and one reason we’re glad that’s not the case.

Romance: He pulls up on a mighty steed or in his sleek car to pick you up for dinner.
Reality: Yeah, so, his car got stolen, but it’s OK—it was a piece of crap anyway. Would you mind just taking the subway? Here’s enough for one ride—oh, the fare’s gone up? Um, you can make up the rest, right?

Romance: The rebellious prince kidnaps you and holds you for ransom in the desert, where you gradually fall in love.
Reality: You’re sitting on the couch watching basketball again, and the only thing getting stolen is the ball.

Romance: You switch places with a supermodel and enjoy her fabulous life while worrying that your doppelganger might take advantage of your man.
Reality: When you dye your hair, he squints at you and asks why you look different.

Romance: When an old friend leaves him a dilapidated beach house in his will, your lover abandons his vagabond ways to settle down and save the community.
Reality: He weasels out of visiting your family. Every. Single. Holiday.

Romance: In a single passionate night, you go through every gravity-defying position in the book.
Reality: Missionary, once a week.

Romance: His mysterious tattoo identifies him as a fallen angel and/or mystical assassin who must spend eternity atoning for a past sin.
Reality: He got a Tweety Bird tattoo on his ankle when he was drunk in college.

Romance: He left your Amish community four years ago, and your heart only begins to heal when he shows up again, a stranger but not.
Reality: His quick trip down to the bodega takes an hour because he gets caught up in an argument with the cashier.

 

 

Romance: The Russian mob is after you, so he has to draw on his SWAT team training to keep you safe.
Reality: You can’t go out for drinks with his work buddy anymore because he still owes the guy money from their Super Bowl office pool.

Romance: He makes you sign a contract declaring that you will let him make every decision about what you eat and wear and how you have sex.
Reality: He won’t even co-sign a lease with you.

 

 

Romance: His family conspired to arrange your first meeting so that he could gain your trust, make you fall in love with him, and steal your fortune/family inheritance/magical powers.
Reality: You met on OKCupid, with no hidden agenda—which, if you think about it, is actually kind of sweet.

  1. 1. Desert Prince, Defiant Virgin

    Romance: He pulls up on a mighty steed or in his sleek car to pick you up for dinner.

    Reality: Yeah, so, his car got stolen, but it’s OK–it was a piece of crap anyway. Would you mind just taking the subway? Here’s enough for one ride–oh, the fare’s gone up? Um, you can make up the rest, right?

    Romance: The rebellious prince kidnaps you and holds you for ransom in the desert, where you gradually fall in love.

    Reality: You’re sitting on the couch watching basketball again, and the only thing getting stolen is the ball.

  2. 2. The Wanderer

    Romance: You switch places with a supermodel and enjoy her fabulous life while worrying that your doppelganger might take advantage of your man.

    Reality: When you dye your hair, he squints at you and asks why you look different.

    Romance: When an old friend leaves him a dilapidated beach house in his will, your lover abandons his vagabond ways to settle down and save the community.

    Reality: He weasels out of visiting your family for every single holiday.

  3. 3. Pleasure Unbound

    Romance: In a single passionate night, you go through every gravity-defying position in the book.

    Reality: Missionary, once a week.

  4. Book

    4. To Have and to Hold

    Romance: His mysterious tattoo identifies him as a fallen angel and/or mystical assassin who must spend eternity atoning for a past sin.

    Reality: He got a Tweety Bird tattoo on his ankle when he was drunk in college.

    Romance: He left your Amish community four years ago, and your heart only begins to heal when he shows up again, a stranger but not.

    Reality: His quick trip down to the bodega takes an hour because he gets caught up in an argument with the cashier.

  5. Book

    5. Nightfire

    Romance: The Russian mob is after you, so he has to draw on his SWAT team training to keep you safe.

    Reality: You can’t go out for drinks with his work buddy anymore because he still owes the guy money from their Super Bowl office pool.

  6. Book

    6. Fifty Shades of Grey

    Romance: He makes you sign a contract declaring that you will let him make every decision about what you eat and wear and how you have sex.

    Reality: He won’t even co-sign a lease with you.

    Romance: His family conspired to arrange your first meeting so that he could gain your trust, make you fall in love with him, and steal your fortune/family inheritance/magical powers.

    Reality: You met on OKCupid, with no hidden agenda–which, if you think about it, is actually kind of sweet.

Natalie Zutter
Seeing as Natalie spent her childhood reading Star Wars and Tamora Pierce novels, she’s used to being the token geek at anything from celebrity websites to book websites. (Though she’s also a recent romance convert!) A graduate of NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, she stages plays about superheroes, sex robots, and Internet fandom in her spare time. As a pop culture blogger, she has written for Tor.com, Crushable, Quirk Books, BlackBook, and other outlets.

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