Romance has come to be such a prevalent part of YA book culture, and it is so rare to see a book without any.
I also love romantic couples in young adult books. If done right, it can be one of my favorite parts of the book. The meet-cute, the getting together process is very adorable but the thing is, it’s everywhere. And at times it can give such a wrong and harmful idea too the audience YA is generally pandered too–teenagers.
So in this post I’m going to talk about: why this excessive amount of romance in YA books are more harmful then just “cute.”
Why Romance in YA can do more harm
- This over-the-top portrayal of romance sets up unrealistic expectations for love in the real world – In terms of romance, there is a simple step-by-step recipe that most YA books follow.
1) Meet cute
2) Getting to know each other/flirting stage
3) realizing both parties like each other
4) Some big argument or fight happens
5) They make up and live happily ever after
This is what I personally noticed in almost all of the young adult contemporary and even some fantasy books. It’s very clear cut and simple and usually gives the bogus message that “love is easy”, there is barely any conflict at all. Books, movies, music all talk about how “someone saved them”, and include swoon-worthy and passionate scenes which in the real world doesn’t happen. And everyone (me included) eats it up. I know most people are sensible enough to know that real love doesn’t work that way, but let’s be honest these exaggerated portrayals have influenced your hopes for romance a little bit. Have you ever caught yourself thinking “I need a romance like x and x” after reading a book?
However the truth is, romance is not like that at all. It’s not always filled with these heart-racing, passionate, and dramatic moments. People use these feelings too define love, and when these feelings fade away they think they have fallen out of love and move onto the next person. Both parties have set their expectations for each other, and if one of them don’t seem to meet it, they break up. And that’s of course normal in a relationship, but the problem is the expectations themselves. If they are only based on what people see on books (or mass media in general) then relationships are bound to fail because that’s not how real love works at all.
- Romance is so prominent in YA books it pushes the ideology that romantic love is something teenagers need – Why are teenagers so obsessed with finding boyfriends/girlfriends? Maybe because we see these happy couples everywhere on the internet.
Seeing these fictional people find their “other half” and see how confident and secure they are, can lead people to unconsciously think “I should get an s/o so I could be like that too” and to that I say:
The idea of finding this fairy tale romance is so ingrained because of the media teenagers consume, which leads to teenagers are so obsessed with finding the perfect romantic partner. But this is so unnecessary. We’re going through this period in our lives where we are trying to find out who we are, our brains are literally re-wiring , we have added pressure of school figuring out our correct path in life, and now we have to worry about romance???
Am I condeming teenage romance, and saying that all teenagers shouldn’t date? No of course not! Just keep in mind that unlike what most YA books suggest, you don’t need romance too be considered valid, and it honestly shouldn’t be a top priority. We have our whole lives ahead of us.
- Valuing romantic love over other types of love – A lot of attention is put on romantic love, but what about friendships and family and even your pets? Maybe if YA (or media in general) put a lot of emphasis on family or friends, society would focus on fostering better human connections, and appreciating family rather then being so crazy about love.
This also ties in with aro/ace representation as well. There is little to no representation of ace main characters in YA books. Which once again, pushes the message that romance is an integral part of our lives. You can live a life without romantic love.
What’s the root of the problem?
It’s us! It all comes down to what sells, and romance definitely sells. Unless friendships and family suddenly starts trending out of nowhere, authors are going too include romance because that’s whats popular now.
And I’m not saying don’t buy romance books or any books that have romance. But just really be mindful of what you read, and how you take that in.
So this concludes my post. Keep in mind that this isn’t like a research paper so I didn’t include any concrete links to any research conducted on the effect of social media. This was based on observation, personal experience, and thinking. But this doesn’t make my point any less valid. What do you guys think about the amount of romance in YA literature? Do you think that it contributes to society a lot? Do you agree with my points? Do you disagree? Please let me know!