Tuesday, April 21, 2015


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Welcome back, folks, for more sass and sarcasm, and, hopefully, a little substance.

For the letter R, we're talking Relationships. More specifically, fictional relationships. Brace yourselves, because this might turn into a rant.

I hate hate hate HATE most fictional relationships. I think that they are so non realistic. Just because the characters aren't real doesn't mean the relationships have to be fake. 

Literally this is about every YA romance (okay, not every, but the majority) summed up in a paragraph: Boy runs into girl. Exchanges glance. Something happens to them that makes them somewhat close. Then they either a) start "making out" or b) start dating. Am I right or am I right?

I should probably clarify. This does happen and it is real. People meet and starting dating a week, two weeks later. But that doesn't lead to a forever type of relationship.

So the thing with that kind of relationship though, is it's not going to last very long. If it does, it's not going to be a healthy relationship. Most likely, it will be centered on emotion and being physical (which could be anything from kissing to having sex). The emotion and physical pleasure is fleeting and is not what keeps a relationship together.

There are not positive outcomes to these relationships. Most books make it seem like meet, sparks fly, have sex, boom, forever. It doesn't work that way. The truth is, that that sort of relationship isn't going to last. It will fade. Not only that, but both people in the relationship will be left with a lot of hurt. Neither sex nor kissing nor intense emotions will keep a relationship going. And if sex is being had outside of marriage, the relationship is most likely going to go down hill, as that's not a good thing either emotionally or physically.

A strong relationship is one that is built on a strong friendship.

Friendship first is so underrated, both in real life and in the writing world when it comes to being friends first. When I come to a point in my life when I'm ready to date, I want to date my best friend. No, not just want--I refuse to date anyone who is less than my best friend. If I settle for anything less than that, what will the basis of the relationship be? Not a strong one, that's for sure. If I can't make a friendship strong, how will I ever be able to make a relationship strong? Relationships (and friendships) require work, they require insistence death to self and self-sacrifice. 

So, my challenge to you, writers, is to examine your fictional relationships. Are they realistic? If they are intended to last forever, then what is the base?

One of my favorite books that is an AWESOME example of a healthy relationship is This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. So amazing. Another great example is that of Harry and Ginny in Harry Potter. They were friends for YEARS before they started going out and their relationships was totally based on friendship and respect of each other. Ahhh. Just love it so much.


  1. I don't write YA, but in Hurricane Crimes my characters meet during extraordinary circumstances and they do BAM have sex and then fall in love...some would say quickly, but in the next story I explore their relationship more and let it grow in a way that I feel is realistic.

    I do know what you mean about YA books though. I haven't read to many YA stories that have realistic relationships.

    1. Why have sex before you fall in love, before you're married and you know it will last? Thanks for commenting!

  2. Welcome back. I agree. You have a lot of missteps while dating and learn from each one. Sometimes you carry baggage that can sabotage the next relationship. There is a lot going on in any relationship, friendships included.

    1. Thanks, great to be back!! So true...thank you for the comment.

  3. So that's why I have never liked YA romance! I could never put my finger on it, but you're right. I don't like it when puppy love is treated like adult love. Yes, there are people who fall in love at 16, marry, and make it last forever. But they're an anomaly. Why encourage teens to try to mimic adult relationships? Most often, it's heart break on the other side.

  4. YES! I agree so much. In books and real life, friends first, relationship next. In a bang off relationship you have those weird expectation and you feel like you have to make a good impression, which may lead to a fake impression. Friendship don't have any of that awkward pressure. Plus if you're already friends, you know who you're giving you're heart to. Why would you give you're heart to a complete stranger??

    (You would be surprised how many people don't value the friends first concept in real life. People and their lack of realism these days.)

    The romance genre is driving me crazy lately. It seems the publishing companies seem to think that sex in YA is okay. Society talks about how teens shouldn't have sex, how it's "unsafe" (because you know, society doesn't like look at the moral issues it causes too), but then we tell it's okay by putting it in every YA book with a romantic relationship in it? Something's wrong here.

  5. While I totally agree that the romance in the books isn't realistic, I also think that sometimes I want the fantasy of romance to happen, and it is nice to read about it. Just my thought/opinion though. Great post! If you have time, you should stop by and check out my R Post.

  6. Totally agree! I hate it when books portray a shallow relationship as something that will lead to a healthy and lasting relationship. It doesn't usually work that way.

  7. Everything about this is perfect. If you can't simply spend time with someone (just being their friend) without doing anything physical, then you don't actually like them-- you like their body.

  8. You know I have STRONG feelings about this, Annie, so I apologize in advance if my comment turns into a rant. :)
    Unfortunately most people put sex in YA books even if they wouldn't recommend it to their own children because they have a strong desire for the book to be "realistic to today's teens." (Of course, with society's climate, there are plenty of people who just don't care either way.) Naturally this will only make the situation more common, as teens who don't have strong guidance will see it as all the more normal and okay--and heck, these teens in books stay in love forever, right?
    We are really lacking in YA romances that focus on what will really make a relationship work--and these also happen to be the things that make relationships full of passion and emotion and bliss: mutual respect, seeing the other as an equal, always wanting the good for the other, deep friendship, self-sacrifice...
    I mean, come on: there's a reason we glorify Mr. Darcy and Gilbert Blythe. They gave their very selves to Elizabeth and Anne, not their bodies in a sexual way. Analyzing these relationships from a literary point of view, the very fact that they never had sex before marriage created excellent tension in the stories, just as that tension will exist in a wonderful way in any good, real-life relationship. Moral issues aside, developing real love in a book instead of focusing on physical passion simply makes for a better story, with higher stakes, real conflict and a more satisfying feel. Again, moral issues aside, allowing your characters to have sex (early in a story especially) is a lot like randomly killing off a character. Yes, it adds drama. But you'd better be able to justify what it costs your story.
    Ultimately, I never had a "normal," "realistic" relationship. I had/have a fairy tale romance that some people might not believe if they only saw the bare bones of the "story outline." But in actual stories, we can use fiction to express great truths by delving into human nature...and one of the truths I hope I can express is that real love is possible and worth fighting for.

  9. This is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves about YA lit....so I completely agree with this post!

    When it came to planning out my novel series, my main character and her love interest don't get together until the fourth book (!), but I simply love their relationship as its a complex friendship with many layers that finally build into something else. Much truer to real life, I find. :)

  10. I had an issue with my main character and a love interest. They were too much like brother-sister. Maybe it's a guy thing, but it was hard for me to inject passion into their relationship without it reading super-cheesy. Luckily, I have great beta readers I could bounce ideas off of.

  11. I don't write YA, but I'm sitting here thinking about all the relationships I've written. And you know what, I rarely write about the beginning of romantic relationships. In real life, I was friends with my husband for about two years before we got together. And I have written a couple of stories using him as inspiration, so I guess it's there in the background.