Ranting About Romance: Why I Don’t Care For It

If you are going to be celebrating Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I wish you and your significant other a lovely day.

For the rest of us, enjoy your typical Monday.

My plans for the day? Trying to solve Cain’s Jawbone, the said to be near impossible murder mystery puzzle. Then D&D in the evening. Nothing special because it’s a regular Monday for me.

A few days back, I was chatting with a customer at work. During that discussion, I had something of a mini-revelation. I have always gone on the record saying that I don’t like romance novels, rom-coms and their ilk. I used to say it’s due to the formulaic nature they tend to share. While this is true and certainly a contributing factor, I like other works that can be considered formulaic. Namely, horror films and cheesy 80s ones are my go-to. So why do I dislike romance fiction so much?

Then it hit me.

It might have something to do with my Autism. This idea doesn’t seem out of place since there have been times when I couldn’t connect with characters in fiction. The characters in question tended to be rather emotional or operating under their own logic that I could not follow. 

For example, I hated when I had to study The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. I could not bring myself to feel sad for Willy Loman. I found him unlikeable on every level. I remember when we watched the film in class. My teacher, bless her, was in tears by the end, and I think some of my classmates were too. Me? Not so much. I found him odious, and frankly, the only one I felt anything for was his long-suffering wife. Willy rubbed me the wrong way. I got the message, I understood on paper the point Miller was making, but I couldn’t bring myself to feel anything for him. 

These kinds of characters tend to be everywhere in romance. Stubborn, uncaring about the wellbeing of those around them. Letting emotion lead their life and running away from their responsibilities for “love” with someone they either don’t know very well or even someone they hated for years until this point.

Namely, when I have been forced to watch cheesy Hallmark Christmas films with my mum, I don’t get why folk would give up their career for some lost love from their past. They pack up everything to move back to some small town they left years ago for bigger and better things for a guy? Emotions are always running high, and misunderstandings keep occurring. The whole miscommunication troupe annoys me, probably because I have genuine difficulty with it in real life, so seeing it used as a plot point or sometimes even a joke doesn’t sit right with me.

Then there is another factor. I’m gay. 

All the romance, or at least most, tend to be quite heterocentric. Maybe a gay side character or two but most of the films I grew up with or begrudgingly watch at Christmastime tend to be straight. Painfully so at times, with cookie-cutter characters. With some hot guy lead to making the women watching swoon. No prizes for guessing why I don’t see the appeal. 

If anything, I think some of these films would be so much more interesting if the female lead ended up dating her best friend instead of him, maybe dumping him with the line: “You only wanted the me from the past. She loved me then, loves me now and will love me forever!” as she kisses her. Now that is a romance I would watch!

The only times I have liked romance stories is if they are gay, one of them is Autistic or it’s gothic. If anyone knows of a story that contains all three, please let me know!

For all its issues, I did enjoy Happiest Season. A bit sloppy, but it was a step in the right direction. I could relate a lot and did find myself rooting for them. 

Am I saying all romance needs to be queer? Of course not, but could we please have more than just one or two a year? 

I don’t think that is too much to ask.

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