My Aunt Hazel loved herself a good bodice-ripper romance novel. I remember as a child finding—okay, searching for—the dog-eared paperbacks under her bed. Each cover showed a hunky man with flowing hair and a sexy ingénue with fire in her eyes, clasped in a passionate embrace.
Of course despite their many obstacles and between surprisingly explicit bouts of perfect sex—and without any dose of reality whatsoever—the two always lived happily ever after. Unfortunately, Aunt Hazel lived and died, never having tasted the forbidden fruits she gobbled up in the pages of her fantasies.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Burn Your Romance Novels
As you will see in this Valentine’s Day video, I want you to burn your romance novels and focus on your real-life romance.
Look, those of us in romantic relationships long for fulfillment, happiness, and passion. We want to feel crazy in love both in and out of bed. That is why romance and erotica is the top-selling fiction genre—worth almost 1.5 billion dollars and making up almost a quarter of fiction books sold.
The question I want to tackle today is, can this hurt your relationship?
The short answer is yes, unless you take fiction for what it is—fiction.
When you long for something you don’t have, it can lead to dissatisfaction with what you DO have. Romantic fiction has witty, heartfelt dialogue, buckets of romantic gestures, and protagonists who have a preternatural ability to read each other’s minds. It’s easy to forget it is not real. This can set up unrealistic expectations both conscious and unconscious.
Consciously, you might start comparing your mate to the lovers in The Notebook and focusing on the ways your partner and your relationship simply don’t measure up. And there will be plenty. Anyone else remember the Streisand & Diamond song “You don’t bring me flowers anymore”?
Subconsciously, living in fantasyland can activate your soulmate template and subtly validate a story that spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime love is out there for you somewhere… just not here.
That can sabotage your real-life romance with the perfectly imperfect person standing right in front of you. You need to kill the idea of a soulmate and save your relationship. Why? Because no flesh-and-blood person can live up to the perfect person in your head or the one in that book under your bed.
Stop looking for what is missing and focus on what you have—flowers or not. Feed your appreciations, not your expectations.
Valentine’s Day is a great reminder to do just that.
Steps to Re-ignite your Real Romance this Valentine’s Day
Take Action and Romance Your Partner
This February (and all year long), go the extra mile to romance your partner. Throw away the illusion of a perfect romance and create some real-life surprises. Now the key here is to let go of what romance looks like to you and instead try to figure out what it looks like for your partner. You may love getting a meaningful wrapped trinket or note, but that may not light your partner up. Figure out what does. Focus on giving rather than getting. Be the wonderful lover you sometimes wish they were.
Design Some Special Valentine’s Rituals
Why? To let your partner know they matter to you. A lot. And if you need some ideas:
- Not sure how to plan a great night? Check out Your Recipe for a Perfect Valentine’s Date. Watch, learn, and execute.
- Write your sweetheart a love letter, send a sweet or sexy note, or buy a card that shares the words you cannot easily say yourself.
- Commit to sharing a daily appreciation every night before bed for the next 30 days.
Give a Gift that Your Partner Will Love (then sprinkle it with spice)
Completely stumped on a gift for your mate? Ask their best friend for advice. For example, their golf buddy might tell you about the special fishing reel your partner longs for.
“But wait, Cheryl! That’s not a romantic gift!” I say, sure it is. It’s romantic because it makes your sweetheart happy. So, head to the fish and game store and pick up the super zapper fish catcher special. And then wrap it in something sexy you would wear. That is sure to keep your catch in the boat.
According to marriage research and the Buddha, a sure path to misery is to focus on what you do not have, instead of appreciating and cultivating what you do. That’s why it is so important to share appreciations with your partner.
Quite simply, if you want great love, don’t just read about it. Invest in your actual relationship. Burn the romance novel and make some loving effort to bring some fantasy into your reality. Or take some great ideas from fiction and act them out. Choose to seduce your real partner right now. Cultivate a real-life happy ending (flowing hair optional).