Do Books Give False Expectations For Relationships?

In one word. Yes.

They totally do, think about, if you started reading at a young age or have always been a reader you’ll have grown up thinking that love is adorable. That kissing is easy, effortless, sex is well…what’s that?

*peers at the YA books*
Oh look
*throws New Adult books at you*
We found sex at 21, before then we were too busy saving the world, from this evil King…or Queen.

Toxic love? Oh no, we don’t have that here, this is a place for those who want to believe love is amazing, not terrifying or harmful. Ahem…or complex.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love me a good contemporary or love plot/sub plot as any other. They make me swoon, hit me in the feels but they also make me sad sometimes. Knowing that it’s not exactly realistic, in a lot of contemporaries the love plot is the driving point of the story.

Within YA it’s typically structured as a couple (usually a boy and girl…although the diversity is getting there, there’s still a way to go!) ends up meeting and somehow they end up falling for the other, then we have some obstacle in the way…but we know they’ll end up together. It’s a very contemporary structure, one we’re all familiar with probably.

There’s nothing wrong with that structure, it’s a great stress free structure for us readers, who are constantly stressing over characters in Fantasy or Paranormal books. Who can’t get themselves together and just say they like the other one….or who give me so much stress I’ll be grey *stares at The Dark Artifices*

However, within the majority of books, romantic relationships tend to be skewed to appear perfect. They rarely argue, fight or break up…as for books which delve into the painful world of domestic abuse and toxic relationships…they’re often overlooked or hidden.

What 99% Of Young Adult Books Tells Us

Please note that the list below, is my own interpretation of what YA shows/portrays a relationship to be/look like…yours may be different and that’s TOTALLY fine 🙂

“love conquers all” – love doesn’t conquer everything, but having the support and encouragement of someone you love can help you along the way

“love can cure anything” – love won’t cure cancer, mental illnesses, eating disorders etc. It may seem like a nice thought, but including this in books is more damaging than many of us realise…it’s only when we’re older that we realise this though.

“love is heterosexual not all the different types between >.>” – you can love whoever you want, the portrayal of straight relationships in books is still present. More LGBT relationships are coming into the books we read, but we will always need more. Because the world isn’t made of straight cisgender people…the books should reflect our own world to a point. It’s how we relate to characters.

“love is some hot guy who treats you like crap BUT it’s ok girls, he’s hot so he’s alright” – this makes me annoyed. Don’t’ get me wrong, I enjoy enemies to lovers as a trope but there’s a fine line between enemies and bullies to lovers. Bullies to lovers is toxic, and shouldn’t even be a thing. The person who loves you shouldn’t be treating you like dirt, you’re worth more than that.

“love is smooth kiss scenes” – hahaha I’ve never been kissed but I remember over thinking how to kiss and even now, the idea of kissing someone still scares me. I’ve read books my whole life, watched TV shows and there’s rarely an awkward kissing scene ok. BUT I know kissing for the first time can’t be smooth right…so where are all the awkward kissing scenes?

“love is avoiding talking about sex” – YA seems to avoid sex mostly, I’ve come across some books which do include it. The problem is that in my mind, avoiding including sex in YA is actually a form of censorship. (BUT I respect and totally understand, if the author themselves, chooses to/wishes to not include sex scenes or talk of sex in their books.) Yet if they want to include it, then goddamn include it.

Sex is such an important topic for all of us to understand. Also YA is aimed at 12-18 year olds…look it’s the prime time, for us to feel pressured into things, or feeling like we should have done it by now. *raises brow* but in the fiction world, sex only crosses our minds at 21? Yeah no, sorry not how it works.

“love is going on romantic dates which wouldn’t happen to us” – seriously have you ever been on a picnic? Gone to a theme park? Made out in the pouring rain? Dates in today’s world are probably the cinema, shopping or erm…something else of the couples choosing. I’d also imagine the first date is awkward…not romantic AF as usually shown in the books.

“love is needing to be saved because we can’t save ourselves” – playing into the stereotype of girls being weak, boys being stronger and the trope of damsel in distress. We get this problem….whenever the girl gets stuck or needs help, she’s not even taken a breath to figure out how to save herself; the boy swoops in and saves her because he has a knight in shining armor complex.

If he saved me from a dragon, I’d let the dragon eat him.

We. Don’t. Need. Saving. We’re not damsels in distress, we’re badass, awesome women who are from all over the world. We don’t some boy (or anyone) to save us, we may need their help along the way, but we’re more than capable of saving ourselves.

“love isn’t being equal to them” – having them pay for the dates? Simply, in a lot of books you will still see the age old gender stereotypes, women can’t do the same thing as men because we’re not their equals. Total BS. A relationship means you’re equals, at least that’s what it means to me. I shouldn’t be less or more than my partner, we should be equals, leaning on one another. It’s give and take…not just give on one side and take on the other side.

“love involves being verbally abused, emotionally abused; it being ok because well they love each other (…this…this is an abusive relationship and I’m not down for this)” – basically abusive relationships are rarely shown in books, I really want to find more books which tackle this to better understand it. So far the only book I’ve read which features this is It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. It broke me, remade me and allowed me to understand a lot about relationships.

What Being In A Relationship Is To Me

This section is me explaining what a relationship means to me, and tackling what the books seem to be showing me (us – if you also agree with my thoughts from the above section)

“respecting one another” – a healthy relationship needs respect from both sides, you should respect your partner, and they should respect you. If you don’t have that respect then it’s not exactly a health relationship.

“being an equal” – I touched upon this earlier but being in a relationship isn’t smooth sailing. If you’re not equals in the relationship from the get go…then there’s an imbalance. To me if there’s imbalance then one side won’t be truly happy…and being with someone shouldn’t make you unhappy or miserable right?

“facing the good, the bad and the ugly” – I always picture relationships as a boat. Weird I know, but stay with me, life is the ocean and our relationship is a boat.

Boats go through stormy weather, choppy seas and also calm seas. They face it all and if the sailors are good, they’ll make it through no matter what… I learned through a book last year, that love isn’t just an emotion. It’s also a choice. You may love someone, but it’s your choice whether you stay when things get tough, or whether you walk away.

“LGBT+/Straight” – as someone who recently figured out she’s bisexual. It’d have been helpful, for me to have easier access to books, with bisexual rep in them. Along with stories which feature f/f relationships, but not just in contemporary. It should be something, across all genres. Since in life we all fall under different labels, a label we chose, as we identify with that. 

“awkward kisses” – I want to laugh and relate with characters, who over think things, who stumble through the first kiss with one another. Who awkwardly kiss and get shy after because to me that’s more accurate than smooth kissing and no awkward moments.

“stumbling over the topic of sex for the first time as a couple” – look couples can’t just avoid this topic right? They’ll bring it up and I want to witness it in my books, so I can chuckle and cringe along with them

“being there when they need you…” – whether in person or through the phone, when they need you, be there for them and listen, offer advice etc

“standing up for them” – yes they can stand up for themselves but what if they’re not their to do so? Stand up for them, if someone says something offhand about them, even if the people saying the stuff are your friends. Let them know you won’t stand for it…don’t just let them walk over the person you love

“pushing them to be their best” – remind them that you believe in them, don’t hold them back because you’re scared of losing them. Just talk it through them that you’re scared if something they want to pursue, is dangerous…

“communication and trust” – relationships require trust and communication these are the building blocks, if you can’t trust them then why are you dating them? Equally communication is important, as so often in books and shows, if people only communicated so much drama could’ve been avoided.

“let them save themselves” – one day you may not be there to save them: whether through a break up, death or something else. If you‘re not there and they’ve always had you to save them…how are they going to live on not being able to save themselves? They won‘t…they‘ll probably drown instead.

Give me the awkwardness in a relationship, the second guessing yourself and watch them evolve as a couple. As well as evolve as individuals since I strongly believe we don’t need anyone, to complete us. We are complete and whole on our own. Having someone else shouldn’t complete us…it should enhance who we already are. You don’t need to change for no one, you only change for yourself in my opinion.

I love the smooth sailing relationships in books, I also love when we watch them go through hardships, which test them. Honestly, one of my favourite things about writing relationships is seeing what I can put them through, how they react and grow as a couple and individuals.

Also if you happen to have gone on romantic dates (like the examples I gave) or have done anything else, please don’t get upset. It wasn’t my intention to call you out, and say your experiences are false. In fact, if you have done any of the things we see in books, let me know in the comments!

What do you think then? Are we given false expectations or not? What would you like to see more of, to make relationships more realistic?

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72 thoughts on “Do Books Give False Expectations For Relationships?

  1. These kind of posts are SO important! We have to keep reminding ourselves of this over and over. Especially we booklovers, as books are such important parts of our lives. And thanks for sharing some more personal stuff, it was a joy to read :).

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  2. yes yes yes to all of this!! dragons >>> (YA and real-life) love interests 🔥🐉

    I think the most effective fix for a lot of these would just be to diversify romance in books and other media – everyone’s ideas and experiences will be different, and that should be reflected in the stories we see! it’s so important for young adults (pre-teens, teens, even 20-somethings) to be able to identify with what they’re reading/watching, and to know that they’re valid and “normal” 🏳‍🌈

    Liked by 1 person

    • dragons win every time hehe. Yassss I totally agree with you Izzy, diversifying romance across the board would help so many people. Identifying with a character/s, feeling valid and accepted are so important to all of us, even those of us who don’t realise that’s what we want/need.

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  3. this was a really, really good post! i totally agree with most of this; romance seems all fluffy and good in books, no awkward kissing scenes even when the character is having their first kiss? LIKE where did you get your masterclass in kissing or were you born with this talent?? and i mean i’ve seen couples talk about sex in loads of YA books so i’m not sure about that?? and love curing all is a very bad trope and should die!

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    • Aaaah thank you so much Isla! Ugh totally, like sign me up for a masterclass pls xD Hmmm it might be because I frequent backlist books tbf, I’ve noticed new releases or the more recent the book. There’s often more mentions of sex, although in earlier books it’s not really mentioned unless two characters are planning on doing it right there then… *coughs at a certain series where it happened in the last book and like no other mention of sex had occurred*

      So I think it could totally vary depending on what year the book was published, as well? It’s certainly an interesting topic though.

      Like

  4. Oh, this post was very unique and good! Definitely books set expectations and views of life that 1)aren’t right 2)aren’t possibile most of the time.

    If I’ve to speak on my side, damaging things books thoughts me were that romance was more important then everything (sometimes even of the plot 😂) and so everything that came with a relationship. This definitely was heavy on me, because only allosexual/romantic relationship were protrayed. Asexual relationship were like super rare rainbow unicorns… and kinda still are.

    But yes! And can also talk about meet a dude… and the dude is utter trash? Never read a novel with that and I deeply need this level of cringiness to read. Something I can relate at least.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw thanks Cami ❤ Yep totally agree.

      Oof hopefully, asexual relationships will get the representation they deserve. Oof trashy dudes, I tell ya we need to write a dude who is utter trash so we can relate to it ourselves haha. I also need that to relate to

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  5. GET READY FOR A WHOLE ESSAY:
    I think that there should definitely be more books that show realistic relationships but I don’t think there should be less of what we have already.
    As a teen I understand that what’s in the book isn’t realistic but do I still want to fantasise about it? (absolutely!).
    I think we should also focus on tween and children’s books as they have equally harmful stereotypes just in different ways.
    I think that the gender stereotypes and the lgbtq+ representations should be adjusted, as when one of those things are in a book it’s applauded when it should just be normal!
    Overall, I think that more literature in general should include healthy relationships but that unhealthy ones shouldn’t stop (I know that’s a crazy point but think about the cruel prince & the wicked king – Jude and Carden’s relationship is TOXIC, yet we all still love it!) I just think authors should make it more clear that however much we love to read about those kinds of relationships that they’re not ok in real life.
    Thanks for listening to my TED talk 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I think it’s more we need a balance, there’s no need to decrease the types of relationships we see in books, but they do need to be balanced out with a more realistic relationship in my opinion. Oof totally agree, as a teen yeah I know it’s not realistic but god dammit I still wanna pretend it is xD

      Agreed, there shouldn’t be a need to applaud them for being in a book, it should already be there anda normal occurrence. Hmmm I’ve not read Cruel Prince, I know someone who has and didn’t like it because of the toxic relationship. Thanks so much for your comment ❤

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  6. The post I didn’t know I need ! LOL I definitely agree with the smooth kisses– we need awkward, awkward is REAL! Can’t stop laughing about that bit about the dragons because yep same. So many relatable points here.
    Awesome post! 💛

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  7. *Throws all the yeses at you* YES. YES. YES. I get really annoyed especially as I get older when I read certain setups and I’m like ‘please no, this is not realistic…stahhhhp.’ Of course, there can be toxic love but what about more YA where the protagonist realizes it? They get out, they learn that loving themselves is better…those are books I would freakin buy.

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    • such a mood Haley haha and I’d be down for reading about the protagonist realising they’re in a toxi relationship and them figuring out how to get themselves out. I’d buy them all…collect them all cause i need them, well all need them to balance the mushy stuff

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  8. I kind of want to see a series just based on this post, a new challenge where you read trope-y books and dissect the harmful themes/stereotypes within them.

    I loved this post. I loved, loved, loved this post. As someone who’s not straight either, I often wonder how different it would have been for me if I’d been able to read more diverse books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • that would be a super interesting actually but also depending on the reader, it could be harmful too. It’s definitely something which would be helpful to others though. So glad you loved this post ❤

      Like

  9. It’s definitely an interesting thing to discuss! I mean, I’m really glad that 99% of the YA I read don’t fall into these categories with the romance. 😂 Otherwise I’d be so pissed off about?! But I read a lot of YA that has imperfect relationships, awkward kisses, couples that don’t work out, and girls that call out problematic boy behaviour and either leaves him or works it out. Of course there ARE a lot of problematic romance tropes and they do come up!! But I think YA is doing great at nixing those awful “hot abusive paranormal” tropes. Thank goodness. 😂

    Definitely still need more diversity though, eep. Especially f/f, and also in fantasy!

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    • Oof Cait, I think I do need to hunt down more imperfect relationships in books cause I know they’re out there, it’s just trying to find the buggers xD Totally agree – YA is doing a great job at nixing those tropes and yassss def need more diversity. Thanks so much for stopping by too ❤

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  10. Such a great post, Clo! I loved it and well, it is completely true. I figured out I’m bisexual sometime late 2017 and now, almost a year and 2-3 months later, I still look for acceptance in books since that is the one place I always seem to reach out to when I don’t understand things.
    Leah in the OffBeat did help me accept myself and well, it provided an insight that very few books can give right now.
    And about sex, it’s such an important topic to talk to any teen about! It’s always on their minds whether they’d like to admit or not. I do know that while none of my classmates (or me) have done it yet, they think about it but are kind of shy to talk about it. IT not featuring in many books is also one thing that makes me feel like I don’t anything about it even though I obviously know the basic thing that happens.

    Moreover, I think the question you’re asking and what you’re trying to establish by this post is amazing! IT has a nice overview and is quite motivating.
    This is one of the best and most interesting posts I’ve ever read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • *hugs Jayati* honestly books are where I go to be accepted and know I’m not alone, I’ve not yet read any of Becky Albertali’s books though *hides* and I don’t think I’ve yet read a book, with a bisexual main character. Something I need to rectify soon.

      Ah I think majority of people will think about sex but also some asexuals may not think about it at all, or very little. Again I’m not sure on that side, but it’s something keep in mind! I’m so glad you enjoyed my post ❤

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      • *hugs Clo back* And OMG! You haven’t? You need to! I’m freaking out over here, okay? I haven’t read many books with bisexual MCs, only Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Allbertalli (there aren’t many with bisexual MCs! That needs to be fixed)

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  11. This is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. I’m 28 now, but I grew up reading YA contemporary and completely romanticizing the idea of being in a relationship with someone. I was TERRIFIED of having my first kiss, because I’d built it up to this huge thing that had to be 100% perfect. The reality is that kissing someone new for the first time is always a little bit awkward…I mean, you’re putting your mouth on someone else’s mouth! I wish more YA books showed romantic relationships the way they really are, in all their messy glory!

    Also, I 100% agree with you about bisexual rep. I didn’t realize I was bi until I was like…22? Because there were no books about what it’s like to be attracted to more than one gender, so I never realized what my feelings actually were because I had nothing to reflect it back to me. *shrug* All I’m trying to say is, thank you for talking about this!

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    • Ah this is why I just want to get my first kiss out of the way, just so I know it’s done. It’s not going to be like the books say or the movies but that’s ok haha. Honestly same, I need messy relationships so I know there’s not this expectation for it to go smoothly.

      Aaaah *hugs* I’m still learning about bi and what not but I definitely think it’d have helped me, if there’d been more books with bi rep in. Since I just didn’t understand where I’d fit in as at the time I thought bi meant you had to be equally attracted to both men and women which isn’t the case. Thank you for sharing ❤

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  12. I definitely agree that books and most of pop culture sets up unrealistic views of relationship. I would greatly support a sub-genre with more realistic scenarios. Especially with sex, it really should be encouraged to have healthy conversations with your partner or examples of how a single character navigates the dating world in reality. I think it helps when discussing books, talking about the unrealistic scenarios and what a real-life situation would actually look like, pointing out the flaws in the relationship or characters.

    I say sub-genre because I think part of the allure of books is to escape the realities of life and submerse yourself in a relationship that you might not actually partake in in real life. Like, I really dislike Twilight and almost everything it represents in terms of a healthy relationship but every once in a while I like watching it their crazy relationship.

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    • Yassss I would also support said sub genre, it does help talking about books and the unrealistic scenes for sure. Yeah, I think books are a way to escape reality but there’s also so much you can learn from books too. Haha Twilight, yeah I get that it’s certainly a roller coaster of a relationship.

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  13. THIS POST IS AMAZING! I completely agree with everything you said. I actually had my first kiss with someone that I regret sooner than I wanted to and lost the chance to have my first kiss with someone I like because I read so many books with characters centered around my age who were kissing and then others were making fun of those who didn’t in the books. So I can personally relate to what you are saying. Lovely post and have a great day 🙂

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  14. Clo, this is such an amazing and important post! 😊 There are so many books out there which misrepresent healthy teen relationships, and it can be quite a problem. I agree that it often leads us to have certain expectations (although I’ve never been in a relationship, so I don’t *actually* know). Everything, especially in YA (and even Middle Grade!) should be more diverse so that people don’t feel left out or like they’re strange. Everyone should feel represented, or they should at least feel like they are valid and not pressured into having a “perfect” relationship. (I also REALLY dislike when a fictional relaitonship is unrealistic, because I can tell that it’s a bit strange and just makes me uncomfortable.)

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    • *snorts* I mean I’ve been in a relationship and honestly, I still don’t know it was a time. I’m so glad you liked the post Xandra and for sure, we need more diversity so everyone knows they are valid and they are seen. Perfect relationships are different for everyone I guess, it all depends on what perception you have on “perfect”

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  15. Ooooh, I love this post so much, Clo! I’ve only ever been in one relationship, and it’s certainly had it’s awkward “firsts” hahaha! I have read a few books that do have these little awkward moments, but definitely agree that most of the time YA paints a false expectation of what relationships are or should be like. I also 100% agree with your point about the “bullying to lovers” trope being awful. I adore enemies-to-lovers romances, but if either partner is emotionally or physically abusive towards the other, I don’t believe they can have a healthy relationship.

    Awesome post! ❤

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  16. This is such a good post, and definitely something that needs to be talked about more! Like you, I’ve noticed that most YA relationships are always “perfect” — the girl is normally interested in the same guy from beginning to end, and she sticks with him no matter what happens between them. This is definitely unrealistic, and also just kinda annoying. I want to see more books where the main character(s) go through several different relationships instead of finding their “one true love” right away, and more books where the dynamics of those relationships are realistic, including some of the things you mentioned! Hopefully by continuing to talk about it, we’ll make things change! Again, great post, I really loved it. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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    • OMG yasssss Alex. I’m down for that, let’s watch them go through several relationships/dates and not finding their true love like straight away. I think the more we talk about it, the more aware people will be and realise what they’re reading isn’t maybe as realistic as they first thought? Depends on if they already know it’s unrealistic. I’m glad you enjoyed reading it!

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  17. This is a great post and made me realise that books do miss out the important stuff. It’s rare if a book doesn’t have a happy ever after. I’ll be sure to consider this in my writing!

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  18. SAY IT AGAIN FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK!

    Media in general (looking at you, Disney movies) really indoctrinate us from a young age on what to expect in relationships, and those tropes and “traditional roles” are reinforced as we grow up. I don’t read the romance genre, but I don’t mind a good romance subplot in my fantasy and science fiction but one of my biggest pet peeves is when the ships perpetuate those harmful expectations.

    Love Conquers All is literally the most harmful thing; it’s why I stayed in abusive/unhealthy relationships. It’s honestly no wonder so many people, myself included, go for the “bad boy” and think we can change them… between that and abusive/Stockholm Syndrome enemies to lovers ships my blood boils with the heat of a thousand suns.

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    • *yells it for the people in the back*

      Aaaah it’s funny you mention Disney movies actually, since part of my current assignment involves writing about animation methods Disney comes up a lot. The first Disney film which features a Princess who’s not needing to be saved constantly, and who challenges stereotypes was actually Ariel in The Little Mermaid. (I also think it’s one of my fav Disney films haha) But they really do instill this HEA and traditional roles into us.

      *squishes in hug* that sucks, honestly love doesn’t conquer all but it takes us going through a situation sometimes to make us realise that this trope is a pack of lies i guess.

      Like

  19. Amazing post! It’s so true that books can give off unrealistic standards for romantic relationships. I’ve read a few books with more realistic teen relationships before and I’d love to see more of that because it just feels so much more real. Those are the books I can relate to, not the ones loaded with the typical YA tropes. Also It Ends With Us made me ugly cry so many times. It was a really eye opening book.

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  20. “love is some hot guy who treats you like crap BUT it’s ok girls, he’s hot so he’s alright,’ this kills me. I can imagine a girl or guy saying that their guy treats them like shit but he’s hot and their friends are like dump that creep. Not in books though, soz he’s your one forever, deal with him.

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  21. Great discussion topic Chloe! I don’t read many contemporary books but the same can be said for other genres. I enjoy romance when it’s one of the subplots in a story. Instalove really burns me! I would love to read about more friends relationships; they can just as important in one’s life as a romantic one. ❤️❤️

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    • Thanks Dani! Ah love sub plots in other genres are great but also can have the same problems. Insta love just is a no-no for me. Yassss friendships are so important, I’ve always viewed it as “who’s gonna be there helping you piece yourself back together?” the answer to that, should be your friends.

      Like

  22. Awesome post Clo, and you are on a roll. I found myself nodding at several places. And I can’t agree enough about how stupid is the love conquers all trope.

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  23. okay, first: i’m sorry that i’m commenting almost a month after you first posted it, but i’ve came from jayati’s wrap up post and i’m in love with this discussion. honestly!
    my #1 bookish couple ever is four and tris, from divergent. now, i know that the divergent series comes with a lot of controversy and i totally understand that, but i still stand by the fact that they were one of the most realistic and healthy portrays of a relationship i’ve ever encountered in YA. first: no love triangles, which i think it’s already a win, because honestly what’s more unrealistic than that? but their dynamic had fights and arguments and moments in which they disagreed. and, yet, they always chose to get back to one another. i think a very unhealthy portrayal of relationships in YA is the fact that couples get back together after a fight almost because they “have” to. they never really talk or discuss their issues; something just pulls them back together, and that’s it. i believe that you need to work to make relationships work, and i hardly ever see, especially teenage characters, talking about their relationship in a healthy manner.
    with that being said, i do feel like recently i’ve been seeing a lot more sex in YA then i’d like. i feel like this is really, really personal because i do have an uncomfortable relationship with sex, but i hate the idea of how YA books/shows talk about sex as if it’s a life-changing event. i do understand how sex can be important for some people depending on their beliefs, but i also find it’s time for us to stop glamourizing it so badly. as you mentioned yourself, i want more awkward conversations about it and weird first-times and, mostly, the reminder that this does not define you. i think a lot of the uncomfortableness that teenagers feel towards sex is because there’s an immense ammount of pressure around it, and i think it’s time for more YA books to tone that down.
    ANYWAY. i’m sorry that i wrote an entire essay here, but this discussion was sooooo important and amazing?? it was a phenomenal topic and it made me think a lot! great post! ☺️

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    • pfft don’t be sorry, It’s taken me about a month to finally get round to replying to all the comments (I’m terrible ooopsies) Awww Jayti’s lovely and yay glad you loved this post ❤

      huh that's such a good point, now that you mention it, it's totally right. Four and Tris' dynamics were a lot of fun, I also liked how they did argue but it wasn't gonna break them up. They just argued which is normal.

      hmmm I mostly read a lot of backlist books, so I think it's partially back then sex was kinda glazed over a lot of the time, or written to make it seem perfect. In terms of it now, well I've read a few books where sex is awkward and honestly it's made the book for me. I think the main thing I'd like to see them do when including sex is to stop portraying it (like you said) as some life changing moment. Since all it is if its boy x girl is your hymen gets broken. But your hymen can get broken through other activities such as horse riding for instance. (sorry if that made you uncomfortable, I think it's kinda clear I'm pretty comfortable talking about this)

      I think the feeling of uncomfortableness also stems from a lack of being able to talk about it? Just my two pence on it, as I'm pretty comfortable talking about sex and a lot of other stuff. I only get uncomfortable when I'm not sure if the other person/people are ok with this. As I know not everyone finds talking openly about this sort of stuff easy/comfortable for various reasons.

      Honestly, it's time for YA books to show us that sex isn't smooth, it's not life changing and it's gonna be awkward. Also it'd be nice if in TV/Film they could also show the awkwardness that'd be real nice.

      Awh I loved reading your long comment, I'm happy you loved it so much ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  24. YES YES YES. GOOD POST. There are so many unrealistic expectations set in YA romances, and it’s even more heartbreaking to see because they’re teenagers somehow finding the perfect romance when the nuances associated with basically all of it is never explored. relationships are never questioned.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thank you ❤ and yep it's heartbreaking particularly because if we wanted to be super realistic, you don't usually meet the person you'll stay with as a teen. You kinda muddle your way through a few relationships before you meet them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • yeah!! i don’t really know why it’s become such a norm in YA, but i once made a tweet about this and book twitter suddenly exploded in discourse over it???

        Like

  25. I do think stories can shape audience expectations of relationships. I have a friend who almost ruined her wonderful relationship because she thought it was supposed to be more like a rom-com, with the guy chasing her, doing all these big gestures, etc. A real-life relationship seemed boring and “not enough, ” I guess.

    Interestingly, however, I think a lot of YA books DO include sex. Indeed, for awhile, I was seeing a definite trend where the couples were sleeping together pretty early on, whereas in the past I saw more couples ending with the kiss as the “big moment,” rather than ending in bed. (Or sometimes, starting in bed and then getting to know each other later.) However, I think that a lot of these scenes were smoothed over, I guess you could say. I think they were trying to be sex positive, so everything always goes really well, no pain, no awkwardness. The guy is super sensitive and might even ask consent along the way. Basically like an idealized version of one’s first time.

    Another thought: studies are showing teens are having less sex. So why does YA sometimes make it seem like every teen is having sex? Does this put pressure on teens to have sex when they don’t want to? Does it make them feel weird? I don’t know.

    I also think that there are too many YA books where the couple lock eyes and then they are together forever. Why not have more break-ups? There are so many series in YA and often authors create drama by having one character be brainwashed or something so they have to redo the relationship. How about the relationship naturally ends and then our main character dates someone else? Because not every teen falls in love in high school and gets married to that high school crush!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dang I’m glad your friend didn’t end up ruining her relationship

      I think something I’ve noticed is due to me reading a lot of backlist books, sex is often glossed over or if its mentioned then it’s written smoothly and perfect. Hmm yeah I get trying to be sex positive but negative balances the positive and only showing the “positive” approach to sex is just as harmful as showing only the negative if that makes sense?

      *snorts* as a teen I can certainly say from my school experience that you’d hear of people who’ve already had sex. Or had supposedly gone there,obviously they could have been lying because of social pressures. But the whole teens are having less sex I don’t know, I think it would depend on the area in the world you’re looking at. As well as the environment the teens are exposed to.

      Yes it does put a pressure on us, when you read and see things on TV that show teens dating, having sex and you’re not. It makes you feel like you’re missing something or you just feel under pressure to get it over and done with too? But on top of the pressure from the media you have social pressures with your fellow teens, your friends etc. Of course it does entirely depend on where you are in the world, your social circle etc. But there’s a pressure there from sex being glamourised I guess.

      Interesting you should say that Kyrsta haha, as with my own writing I prefer to explore a couples relationship, how they react to situations. Creating drama from something as simple as slight jealously and insecurity because we all have those moment. (slight jealously not full blown unhealthy jealously bordering on being freaking possessive.)

      ” Because not every teen falls in love in high school and gets married to that high school crush!” Amen to this, I’ve finished secondary school and I didn’t fall in love so you know. It’s more likely there’s a minority of people who do fall in love and marry high school loves. Majority of us wait a while longer though.

      Thank you so much for reading the post and taking the time to comment ❤

      Like

      • Oh, teens are definitely still having sex. The studies were just suggesting that, overall, the trend is fewer are. I’ve also seen studies suggesting fewer teens are driving while drunk or getting pregnant because..wait for it…they’re spending more time at home on social media and less time socializing in person. So less sex doesn’t necessarily mean they’re making some sort of choice, but maybe that fewer have the opportunity? But I don’t remember what the sample size for these studies was. I just remember reading a few news releases. So I’m sure there’s room for more studies.

        I find it funny when people meet their soul mates as teens in YA because, let me tell you, I didn’t think there were any eligible guys at my high school. XD It’s just that, when you’re a teen, you sometimes know fewer people. You hang out with the same group every day at school. I wasn’t interested in anyone and I think that’s not necessarily weird.

        Liked by 1 person

  26. I really like this post, Clo! Reading so much YA over the years has made me read these books so carefully when it comes to romance. I try to sort out the good and bad and try to remember that reality is not like that. I guess all this is more toxic for younger YA readers and the ones who have just started reading YA.

    Liked by 1 person

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