The Funny Way Fictional Romance Diverges From Real Life

In my regular life, I happen to work in a field where I come across a lot of random press releases and news stories. I saw one the other day that made me think about the ways that romances seem to differ from real life.

The study found that in real life, women use ex girlfriends as a shortcut to judge the fitness of a potential mate. If his exes seem normal, attractive, and still get along with him, it’s a sign he’s a good mate candidate. If those stars don’t align, it’s time to head for the hills. Or so says the researcher. (You can read about it here: https://www.miragenews.com/track-record-predicts-future-romance-554422/)

This made me think of some of romances in general, and how heroines almost never follow this rule. They find men they can change, or they don’t ask questions about past romances, or they discount all those other women because they’re the one who he was meant to be with and the past doesn’t matter.

It’s inane for real life. I mean, really, looking at a guy who has left a string of broken hearts–or worse, a guy who can never seem to get close to anyone–is probably asking for trouble.

But that’s the thing that’s so great about romance. Even though our rational brain is telling us, this has no reason to work out, the story is so compelling and so immersive that it all makes sense. The brooding and deep seated trauma of childhood make our hero better–not totally f***d up and in need of years of therapy, as would be in real life.

And of course, I’m not saying that all romances of fiction lack reality. Many are normal characters who make normal mistakes and have serendipitous love. But, there’s also a whole bunch that would be doomed to failure were there not a deft author pulling strings from above.

When you read romance, what do you prefer–romance that veers toward real life, or romance that’s more fantasy land?

What do you love about fairy tales?

For those of you who’ve read my books, you know I adore fairy tales.

Of course, much of the world adores fairy tales. These timeless stories have been passed down from generation to generation and filled them with delight. Disney has made billions of dollars from reimagining classic tales with large-eyed heroines and heroes.

But, what is it about these classics that make us love them so?

For me, it’s the happily ever after. I love a good story where, at the end, the main characters ride off into the sunset and have a happy life. It’s a fantasy–that life can be perfect after all the trials and tribulations. A fantasy that makes you feel good, that all the drama has been worth it.

I love that so often two people find in each other true love. While the fairy tales are sparse on details, they give you the sense of possibility. That there are people out there who are meant for you, people who you can find in the least expected places, and it can all work out. That hint of possibility–for Cinderella to be one out of a thousands of girls at a ball to capture the heart of a prince. To be sleeping beauty and happen upon your true love just before you are cursed to a hundred years of sleep. To be Rapunzel and find a guy who happens to let down your hair.

In re-imaginings, you get to flesh out the details, the whys of how these two fell in love, of what attracted them to each other. But even in the originals, they were wonderful in that they let you fill in the gaps and create your own understanding–one that was perfect for you–of what made that relationship tick.

That’s refreshing.

So, what is it that you love about fairy tales?