How Romance Novels Might Impact Our Mindset About Love

If you've ever finished a book and were left feeling out of it or in another world, you aren't alone. While reading regularly has a ton of benefits, from better memory and less stress to increased brain activity, it can also leave our feelings and touch on reality a bit out of whack. According to Melanie Green, PhD, associate professor in the department of communication at the University at Buffalo, reading can take us out of our world for a bit and provide an "escape" from anything we don't want to feel (via NBC News). At the same time, reading can also change the way we feel about things and can even cause changes in our personalities.

This can be especially true when it comes to romance novels. Romance novels are extremely popular, in fact, a 2018 survey found that 25% of all books were in the romance category. If you are one of the many readers settling into the couch and cracking open one of the best romance novels out today, here's how it may be altering the way you view your own love life.

Romance novels affect our expectations on love

Even though we know that romance novels are a work of fiction, sometimes our brains don't quite hold on to that. Relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam told PsycholoGenie that many people — particularly women — who read romance novels may start to lose sight of reality and expect that same romance in their own lives. When that level of romance does not occur, they feel let down and may even get upset or suddenly feel unwanted or unloved.

Taking it a step further, some have even criticized romance novels for causing women to make bad choices in their relationships. This dates back to 2011 when Quilliam penned an essay about how regular romance readers often make bad choices, like having unprotected sex and ruining their monogamous relationships. But if you are an avid romance reader, you may be reading this with a raised brow, and rightly so. While some books may cause women to change their views on love, the majority of research has pointed to it changing in positive ways.

Reading romance novels can actually be good for you

Sure, you may read a book about two lovers and suddenly look at your partner as wholly inadequate. But if you really love romance, you'll likely find that the majority of books leave you wanting your partner more than you did before. And this isn't the only benefit of reading romance novels. While many have criticized this genre for romanticizing love, most books do the opposite by promoting healthy, loving relationships. Not only that, but with many of these books written by women for women, it's a feminist's dream genre. Plus, reading every day helps your body lower stress levels and keep you healthier.

Psychologist Maryanne Fisher, PhD, told Psychology Today that many authors of romance novels actually give little detail on the female lead. This is in order to let the reader put herself in the equation more easily. By doing this, many women may discover what it is they want and need out of their relationship. So yes, a romance novel can be a great way to take you out of the present moment and fall in love with fictional characters but it can also change the way we view love.