For years, I bought into the argument that romance novels support the notion that women can only be happy when they have a man in their life.
Those who make that argument typically don’t read romance novels, and I was definitely in that camp. After a brief flirtation with Harlequins and Silhouettes when I was 9 or 10, I moved on to sci fi and fantasy. Of course, my favorite sci fi and fantasy novels had strong romantic elements and typically the happily ever after that romance novels are known for. But because they weren’t actually romance novels, they seemed a better fit with my ideals.
Now that I’m firmly back in the romance novel fold, I understand that the stories do not argue that women are incomplete unless they are with a man. Instead, they show the importance of companionship and love in all of our lives. Women and men can lead happy and fulfilling lives without a life partner, but we are always looking for that companion who will make everything seem slightly more meaningful than it would without them.
And that quest for love and companionship is the basic human need that romance novels speak to.