I have grown up reading books where romance had been the central theme of the book, a plot line on the side, and with side characters who have never actually spoken in the book. In every single book I had read, there was some sort of romance involved and it would be hard to ignore it since it is present, despite the characters not even being fully-fleshed. I have read books where the person’s personality revolves around their relationship to this one person who also doesn’t really have a personality. Even if the characters have a dynamic, it is there to compliment their lover (one wears black all the time and hates everyone while the other gives children cookies as a pastime in their rainbow clothing). These people who saw each other from across the room are kissing three seconds later which ensues a romantic relationship. These couples, primarily ones consisting of a man and a woman, start off as friends or they start off as enemies or they had just met and then all of a sudden, they are in a romantic relationship with each other.
Then, I started to watch television and it not only amplified whatever romance that was shown in the books I would read but also shown toxicity in the relationships that are deemed normal. There are toxic relationships in books but I saw it more in TV shows and at an alarming rate. The couple would disagree with something and then all of a sudden, they are screaming at each other and haven’t come to a conclusion until the next day where one apologizes and they go on upon their day. These couples don’t usually ask consent when wanting to do things which could lead to miscommunication on what they want and further damage their relationship without even realizing it. On screen, it would be surprising to everyone if the main character’s love interest asked if they wanted to kiss because it has been implemented throughout the story that they both wanted each other. But then, this logic reflects in our society and our lives. It could be the case that someone doesn’t want to kiss another and everyone would be disappointed because this person is so nice or this person really likes them so they should just do what they don’t want to do and kiss them.
Romance has been shoved down everyone’s throats, through many different platforms, to the point where everyone must have a romantic relationship in their life to lead fulfilling lives. I have grown up thinking that I must have a romantic relationship eventually in my life and if I don’t, I will be a disappointment. If someone is single at the moment, it wouldn’t last long because everyone wants to be in a relationship and they will be in one soon. I have grown up thinking that if a man or a woman were merely talking to each other or hanging out with friends, they must be dating. I know that other people in our society also feel this way.
And then, I read a book where there was no romance whatsoever. I didn’t know this beforehand so I had been surprised as I read through this book. The book is called Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. It is a story about how this girl and guy becoming friends after finding out they have affiliated with this one podcast they both love. At first, I didn’t like the book because it was boring and anti-climatic. But then, I researched why I felt so weird after reading a book that contains no romance in it and found it boring. I discovered this new concept called amatonormativity, where our society pushes people to prioritize finding romantic relationships over keeping one’s platonic relationships. I am reading the book again and now, I am finding new aspects in it and realizing how entrenched I had been in amatonormativity.
I am not saying that there shouldn’t be romance in books and in media. I believe there should be more interracial couples, queer relationships, disabled relationships, relationships dealing with people of color, and other relationships between marginalized groups. But I don’t want romance to be geared toward a certain group and to be held at such a higher pedestal than platonic love is. And for those still reading, thanks for sticking with me all the way to the end and hopefully you agree. However, this is all my opinion and no one has to agree with me. Thanks anyway!
This made my day! I often have tried to write stories/scripts that center on friendships exactly because romance is everywhere! We have to remember there are other great relationships out here too. Lovely article. ♥
Wow! This brings a new light to my perspective on novels. I’m definitely going to be keeping this in mind for future reading.
Yes I love this questioning of amatonormativity! So important to name this and resist it. Have you read When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk? I feel like that book does a great job of centering friendship, both its ups and its downs. Also When We Were Infinite by Kelly Loy Gilbert fantastically highlights the power of a friend group too.