Oh boy, don’t even get me started on the portrayal of romance in mainstream media.
It’s probably my No. 1 pet peeve. I loathe it with the burning passion of a billion supernovae. Mostly because it’s fucking EVERYWHERE.
Seriously, turn on the tv. Go to a bookshop. Listen to the radio.
Everything is about love, love, love, and not any kind of love, romantic love. Romance is the ultimate everything, the ultimate goal - according to society, life without romance is empty and unfulfilling.
That’s a problem in and off itself, but it’s not even the focus on romantic love that makes me foam from the mouth, it’s the extremely narrow definition of what this “love” actually is: It’s when two usually white, conventionally attractive, able-bodied, young people want to bang each other at first sight and somehow end up in a codependent, emotionally unhealthy, unsubstantial, monogamous cishet relationship.
Not that there is anything wrong with monogamous cishet relationships, it’s just that not every person in the world is in one, wants to have one or could ever be happy in one, but those are the only positively portrayed relationships that infiltrate literally everything while stories about people of colour, disabled people, LGBT+ people and/or polyamorous people in love are either labelled “special interest” or used as a punchline/throwaway background event/cheap gimmick.
Even if you ignore all of that, romantic love is ridiculously romantised in our society.
Love in fiction can do ANYTHING. It can end wars, break curses, overcome borders, end oppression, cure illnesses both mental and physical and save people from themselves.
Love in real life is nothing like that.
So you fall in love. Sometimes you enter a relationship. Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes that relationship is happy, for many, many years or even forever. Sometimes it’s unhappy, unhealthy or even abusive. Sometimes you fall in love with the wrong person, someone who is bad for you or someone you are bad for and no amount of love can change that.
Love doesn’t automatically bring out the best in you. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it brings out the worst in you instead.
Love is diverse. Love is very human, very flawed, very trivial. Some people don’t fall in love, but most people do it all the time. There is no magic involved. You don’t need to be in a romantic relationship to be happy, to be fulfilled, to be whole.
Yet that’s what stories tell you all the time. And it leads to people everywhere being disappointed with life because they have never had a fairytale romance. Teenagers wonder whether they will die alone simply because they haven’t been in a relationship yet at age 16 or even younger.
And so you fall in love and you enter a relationship and it’s a happy one. And because all of your life you have been told that you haven’t been whole until now. That this person that makes you happy better be the one. That you can’t live without them.
But things don’t go the way they should t go and suddenly you’re unhappy. You split. And you blame your partner, demonise them like angry love songs told you to, blame yourself, try to change, think you’re going to die like sad love songs told you to.
And maybe a little bit of that is actually you, but most of it is just how you’ve learnt to love and react to love.
Still, there’s love stories everywhere. Every action flick, every crime procedural, every fantasy novel has a romance subplot that is completely superfluous to the rest of the story, but has to be there, because that’s just how things are.
They tell you the same story over and over again: Two people making googly eyes at each other upon their first meeting, exchanging meaningful glances, kissing tearfully in the pale moonlight, declaring that they can’t live without each other despite the fact that they barely know each other at all. Because that’s what romance is, at the end of the day: Empty phrases and superficial gestures mimicking a meaningful connection.
We all swallow it because we don’t know any better. But I’m sick of it. Sick of being excluded, otherised and erased, sick of being constricted and fed lies. Sick of being told that I’d be just half a person on my own.
[Rebloggable by request.]