Sunday, March 9, 2014

Do real relationships exist in fiction?

The other day I caught up on Reading With a Vengeance (I know. I'm kinda buried under school work, if this blog has been any indication.) and a quote from Whitley's current chapter snark books stood out to me.

"Like you would have sex with someone like him. You and your OCD!"

- Real, Katy Evans, p.5, Paperback

If I wasn't sure the character had just casually thrown that word out, I'd be all over this book like honey on toast. An OCD heroine? Yes, please!

Actually, my reasons for being so stoked aren't so much to do with having more diversity in NA and YA (although there is  that too,) but mostly with Whitley's commentary:

Because…she’s a neat freak who doesn’t like stranger-germs?  Because her guys have to meet an exacting checklist?  Because she’s so particular about the steps leading up to sex that guys get frustrated and/or turned off?  Because she can’t stand to be spontaneous and sex has to worked into her schedule?

(And on that note: Why aren't you reading Whitley's blog yet?)

Other than opening up a thousand interesting possibilities about a story where a couple likes and accommodates each other, it really made me thing: What does YA/NA tell us about relationships, really? 

The truth is, most books I read are about the anticipation, the cat-and-mouse, the will-they-won't-they (spoiler alert: they usually will), the triumph of the first kiss. Another popular one is the couple getting together around the second act, and the rest of the book being spent in jealousy shenanigans and misunderstandings. But, off the top of my head, I can't really think of a book where a couple gets together and... is a couple.

What happens when partners are trying to decide what to listen to in the car? 

What happens when they need to split the bills or the householding chores?

What if one has a hobby/job which the other totally doesn't understand, and is actually prejudiced against? 

Despite what movies and novels will have us think, even people who are deeply in love disagree. Being your "other half" doesn't mean you will spend the rest of your lives in perfect harmony. 

And I kind of wish fiction reflected that more often, because come on, we set enough impossible standards on each other already, can't we fucking relax in a relationship? It's hard enough trying to be this close with someone without the constant pressure of being that person's perfect match hanging over your head. Anyone who reads chick lit knows, that never ends well. (Proof, once again, that Jennifer Weiner and Marian Keyes need to be taught in schools.)

Seriously, why do we think that negotiation and boundaries and deal breakers are only worth mentioning when we're discussing bad BDSM (hello, 50 Shades,) or when one or both partners have some sort of disability (if even.) Does everyone just throw away every last bit of baggage and personality they have once they get with someone and then adjust to whatever that person wants them to be? (Or is it just the women?) 

No, really. I want to know. The last book that gave me a modicum of answers was "The Art of Love," and that was nearly one year ago.

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