I am going through a bit of a romantic fiction phase right now. Specifically the more erotic-leaning romantic fiction, as it’s the genre I’ve been writing a lot lately. I’ve discovered some really great stuff, some not so great, and plenty in between.
I can’t help but notice however, that there is a really common theme that pops up in a lot of these types of stories that I just can’t stand. And that is the relationship dynamic where the woman is ready and willing to commit and the man isn’t.
I find it really obnoxious for a few reasons. One of which being that I hate how it reinforces what I think is a fairly toxic gender stereotype. Why are we still stuck on this idea that men are afraid of commitment? Many aren’t.
Another reason is that I’m just plain sick of it. Sick of reading women basically begging men to love them. Sick of reading men make excuses for why they “can’t” feel something they’ve been clearly feeling the entire damn book.
I want more stories with men who are open with their emotions. I want men who don’t have to be convinced.
I’ll be fair and admit that some of these stories do a good job at establishing a very valid reason why these men are hesitant to take that step. But it really bugs me how often it’s only the men who are holding back. I’d like more stories where the woman is the one undecided while the man is ready to settle down. Or stories where both of them are ready and on the same page but some other outside factor gets in the way.
A lot of romantic fiction follows pretty much the same formula. There’s the little dance of bringing the characters close, then introducing small conflict, then bringing them close, then more conflict, etc, etc, etc. Then you introduce the Big Conflict, then the Resolution, then the Happily Ever After. It’s not spoiling anything to say this is typically how they go. This is what readers expect, and I think a big part of what makes this genre so popular is because it is familiar. It’s a comfort read for many, and an indulgence. Which is why it’s so alarming to me that what is familiar is a relationship dynamic where the woman has to chase down a man and convince him that the loves her.
Let the men chase once in a while.
Let me know if this is a thing you’ve also noticed in this genre and what you’d like to see more of instead.