Editing Rant: Glorification of the Unhealthy

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

This glorification of abusive relationships is so imbedded in our culture writing romance is REALLY difficult.

Break up and stalk until back in love? Break up multiple times? Argue and HIT in anger (woman on man usually in the romance genre, but – still – abusive!!!! NOT CUTE!!!! Never, ever, ever OK.).

How does one have a relationship that shows trouble without bringing in abusive traits to resolve the breakup?

This is a challenge for sweet romance and even another whole level more difficult for more physical romances and eroticas.

According to the common, easy path, talking it out “weakens” the “thrill”.

Consent and communication resolves things quickly — almost like the relationship, if one works at it, isn’t going to be the major issue of the plot keeping the potential lovers from bed.

A healthy relationship is just that … healthy!

It really puts a crimp in a writer’s love of torturing their characters. (We won’t go into the fact the writer’s characters are actually aspects of themselves and what the love of torturing those bits might indicate about the writer’s mental state.)


This is one of the cornerstone ideas for Falstaff Crush – romances that are about healthy relationships where the conflict and action come from realistic factors outside the psyches of the lovers, not unhealthy ideas and behaviors from the lovers themselves. We’ve discovered it’s perfectly possible to have all the good stuff about romance, even gothic angst and tropes like “enemies to lovers”, without allowing any participant in a relationship to victimize or belittle any other.

But as writers and publishers, you have to want that, and you have to accept that there are some readers who are never going to embrace your books. Because some romance readers are looking for reinforcement of this dangerous idea that “he’s mean because he loves her.” For whatever reason, they don’t want that idea challenged.

That’s it in a nutshell – the conflict and action has to come from outside the couple rather than inside the couple, meaning a bigger world, more moving parts. A harder write.

That isn’t to say some people start off relationships with poorly developed skills, and a book exploring learning about consent and communication could be interesting.

But when unhealthy mechanisms are used to REUNITE the couple and create the course for “true” love, well that shit needs to stop. We must stop making romances creating masks of “loving behavior” overtop criminal activity and possessive destruction.

Be better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *