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Book boyfriends and real ones

by Louisa Klein

OK, this is going to be a difficult post, maybe unpleasant for some of you. Today we are talking about book boyfriends and real ones and how it is best for you to make a difference between the two.
This post was inspired by my friend Rachel, 31, who is the only one I know, of that age, who is happily married with a kid. Rachel is married to Robert, a great guy who is maybe not overly sexy (sorry Rob, if you are reading this! 🙂 ), nor a ‘alpha male’ but who ‘s a hell of a husband to her.
Rob is sensitive, cultivated, reliable and trustworthy. Rob is faithful and would rather shoot himself than cheating on his wife (please, do not be skeptic, such men do exist). Rob is a caring dad who shares child duties with his wife, gets up at night to change/feed their daughter and brings her to the park every Saturday, while his wife takes a well-deserved nap. Rob is definitely my dream husband! 🙂
Rachel is madly in love with him and wouldn’t change him with anyone else (and she’s right). That’s why I was so surprised when, while talking about books, she listed a number of romance titles featuring sexist content, chauvinistic (when not violent) jerks and dysfunctional relationships presented as quintessentially romantic. To make my frustration worse, they were all books written by women.
Most of them were young adult books, so even worse: they were really teaching the wrong values to young, still clueless girls.
“Are you out of your mind?” I said. “We are talking about books with the leading man being an illiterate jock who cheats on his girlfriend who ‘always forgives him because, deep down he loves her’. The last book you’ve read is about a 19 year old girl dating a violent cheater who goes in and out of jail! Don’t tell me you are going to let your daughter read such things, when the time comes!”
And, as always, wise Rachel managed to teach me a lesson. She told me that she is perfectly aware that those are trashy, sexist books sending the wrong message. It’s only nice to think about a tumultuous relationship with some ignorant, sexist yet super-attractive idiot, it’s simply a fantasy. A fantasy.
“In real life, I have never and would never date such men,” she explained. “Only an idiot would. I tell you, in a parallel world where my husband cheats on me, I’m going to kick him out. No mistake. I wouldn’t want my daughter to grow up in a dysfunctional family, where one partner cheats on the other and the other constantly bites the bullet, God knows why. It wouldn’t be a good example for her. A healthy relationship is made of mutual respect, love, trust, shared interests and values.  And I wouldn’t let my daughter go anywhere near a violent sod. I would be deadly worried if one day she does. But I enjoy those books. They are silly and entertaining and exciting. I can tell you, I have a number of dysfunctional, overly tattooed, sexy book boyfriends. But I have one stable, trustworthy, loving real husband!”
Well, I couldn’t have put it in a better way, folks!
I had many goals when I started writing Supernatural Freak: creating an entertaining, action-packed humorous book, for example. Making people smile and forget their everyday problems, just to make another example. But my main goal, the most important of all, was giving young girls and women a positive heroine, a good role model. And but I know for sure I have reached said main goal:
Robyn is brave and independent and totally capable of being alone. She doesn’t need a man ‘to complete her’. She is already ‘completed’. When, I mean, when and if (grin) she will have a relationship, it won’t be because she ‘needs’ someone. It will be because she genuinely wants to share her life with somebody who’s worthy (not with anybody). It will be because she’ll want to have the right person to witness her life.
This is a lesson I have learned at my own expenses: if you need someone else ‘to complete you’, you are in big trouble. A partner should be there to enrich your life, not to be used as a sort of crouch. More important, if you’re incapable of being alone, how will you know you are committing to a man (or a woman) because you really want to stay with him/her, and not because you are simply using him/her to get through life?
So, if you, like Rachel, are dating/married to a decent guy in real life, but love to dream of tumultuous relationships with some violent sexy bastard, you’ll be fine. On the other hand, if you think those books are the Bible and you are applying to real life what they ‘teach’, well… You are in trouble. Trust me, you are. It’s much better being on your own, than with the wrong person. There’s nothing romantic with being stuck with someone who doesn’t value you.
What do you think? Looking forward to hear your thoughts!

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