Why I Stopped Reading Mainstream Romance Novels

When I was a teenager, I LOVED romance movies. As a young adult, I discovered romance novels and saying I became addicted to them would probably be an understatement. I just loved to read page after page and watch a love story unfold and develop. Since they all pretty much have the same plot line, I knew that in the end they’d end up together, but my heart would break right along with the main characters when they had some huge fight that convinced them they shouldn’t be together. Then my heart would swell when they realized that their love for each other could overcome whatever issue came between them. I read so many of these books that I even considered trying to write one on my own at one point.

Then our small group did a marriage study that made me realize that I was damaging my marriage by reading book after book where a woman falls in love with the “perfect man.” A few weeks ago I wrote about having unrealistic expectations for your husband, and I realized a few years ago that I was creating those unattainable goals for my husband without either of us knowing it by reading all of these books. In a way I had fallen in love with the idea of these perfect men that are the stars of romance novels, when in reality no such man exists. I would have days when I’d finish a book and then almost sink into a state of depression because some imaginary character had the marriage I knew I’d never have.

Another big issue that the marriage study awakened me to was the unrealistic expectations I had in the bedroom. If you’re a reader of contemporary romance novels, you know that in some of those books half the scenes take place in the bedroom. There is certainly a market for those books, and I was once part of that market, but I’ve realized how unfair it is to my marriage to continue to read that type of book. In real life, sex just isn’t explosive and earth shattering every time, but including a scene where everything is perfectly acceptable just isn’t going to sell books. It took me quite some time to realize that there wasn’t something wrong with my sex life because I wasn’t always experiencing the all consuming passion that I read about time and time again.

I will probably never be completely over the desire to read romance novels, and I’m ok with that because I’ve found an alternative to the ones I used to lose myself in – Christian romances. I honestly had no idea there were so many of these books out there until I started looking. I’ve found that, in addition to being centered around faith, these stories are much more realistic and don’t create any unreasonable expectations that I’d be tempted to place on my husband. They are also much more wholesome and they don’t include the graphic sex scenes that did so much damage before.

If you’re a fan of romance novels like I am, I hope you’ll take some time to think about the quality of the books that you’re reading. Are they damaging to your marriage? Or are they inspiring you to love your husband with an unconditional, Christ-like love


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  1. Jen

    Hi, Kristin! 🙂 Thank you for sharing so honestly about your journey away from secular romance novels. I think even in the movies or tv shows we watch (even the relatively innocent ones), we have to be careful to not be influenced in regards to our marriage. I appreciate how you point out that these forms of entertainment can so easily influence our thinking. Thanks for linking with us last week!
    Jen @ Being Confident of This
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    1. Kristin Potts (Post author)

      I completely agree, Jen! My husband and I have really been making an effort to eliminate all “toxic” influences in our lives. It can be really tough sometimes since there’s just so much in popular culture today that isn’t wholesome and Godly.

  2. Kelly

    My Mom, Patricia, was the wife of a Navy submariner. This meant that her husband was away at sea for long stretches at a time – sometimes 3 and 4 months without contact with his family (this was before the Internet).

    As a little girl, I remember my Mom reading a LOT while my Dad was away. Many of her favorite books were the “hidden” cover kinds. What I mean by this is that under the front cover, often a pretty cover with the book title written in a raised metallic script, was a second cover that often featured an image of a Fabio-like man embracing and kissing a beautiful woman.

    At some point, my Mom decided that she needed to stop reading these romance novels. I remember when she boxed them all up and they were removed from our home.

    As I child, or course, I didn’t give her change in book preference a second thought.

    As an adult looking back, now I’m able to see it as a conscious effort that she made to create a better family environment. It meant she was protecting and fighting for her marriage and growing her relationship and reliance upon Christ.

    My mom passed away when I was 21. There are so many things I wish I could sit down and ask my Mom – especially about decisions she made to become a more biblical wife and mother.

    For now, I’m left with memories, family and friends, and her journals. I’m very blessed to have copies of her prayer journals, study journals and joy journals.

    You can read one of her joy journals here: http://forpatricia.com/joy/patricia-barnes?date=1997-09-01

    I bet she would have enjoyed Christian romance novels. Kristin, what a good solution for you!


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