By Lorne Caplan
Director of Content
The physical act of reading makes it very difficult to actually get intimate with your partner. It's very difficult to focus on consuming words while your other senses are getting titillated.
There are gender differences with reading which also affect how we may interact with the opposite sex. Research has revealed, to few surprises, that men tend to read non-fiction and look for works and novels that didn't rely on fantasy. Yet we also know that science fiction used to be the domain of men, almost exclusively, so researchers may be confused when looking at who reads as opposed to who doesn't read at all, which may be what they were studying in the first place.
Given that there is a difference in how and how often genders read and what the genders like to read, the romance novel, which is replete with visions of romance, passion and intimacy may also prevent partners from getting together. it appears that the mind of a reader can get very vivid and when we are faced with the prospect of real life intimacy and romance, we might find it far less satisfying. Beyond just being physically incapable of reading while getting intimate, all consuming fantasy that includes graphic descriptions, no matter how poorly written (like the poorly written "mommy-porn" book 50 Shades of Grey), tends to replace something that exists in the real world.
While tradition and history tell us that those that read tend to become more worldly and sociable (as prescribed by Nick Hornby who recently published "More Baths, Less Talking", the opposite is true of excesses in reading, which is similar to those that spend their time playing video came and consuming technology. There is a fine line to how much and what kind of reading someone might do and it certainly does influence our personal relationships. As humans, we tend to have a general ability to incorporate different activities, some more seamlessly than others. Those that don't read, certainly aren't affected by the written word, whereas those that do excessively, use the medium as escapism to a large degree.
When it is said everything in moderation, we mean that it is unlikely to affect us adversely. This may be universally true, save for those that consume large quantities of romance novels in all of the varieties that are available. In a survey of romance readers, it appears that authors and readers are very passionate about their material. Discussion boards, forums and blogs are active in supporting and discussing the characters and circumstances. This may be considered something of a habit or worse, an addiction, but it doesn't seem to adversely affect the intimacy of the reader as other forms of literature does.
Speaking to participants in the romance novel industry, most would say that the reading, no matter how much or obtrusive it may be to a relationship, actually does more for intimacy than not reading romance novels. So is it strictly these times of writers and their fans have an inside secret that other genre of literature doesn't? It would appear so, specifically because they, the authors, readers and reviewers, already are interested in the world of romance, while consumers of other types of literature and published material are not, at least directly.
For practical purposes, it would appear that excessive reading as an escape from reality, is just as disruptive to intimacy and relationships as any other addiction would be. With one exception and that would be those readers of romance novels, who might hide their guilty pleasure, but in turn, serve to support the intimacy that these readers have with their partners. So the next time you pick-up a book, electronic or otherwise, be aware of your partner if it is in bed just before sleep. Keep your relationship in perspective if you find your loving dropping off, but your number of completed books increasing and if you're a romance reader, it would seem you may not have the problems associated with other readers of books.