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Why Are Romance Narratives in Popular Culture Problematic

Mass media has come to play a crucial role in shaping the social norms of modern society. Some unrealistic expectations about romantic love result from the constant barrage of fairy-tale depictions of romantic love in popular culture movies, TV, books, magazines, records, radio, advertisements, and the news beginning at a young age. It is important to remember that the mainstream media often resort to stereotyping, generalization, and exaggeration to get their point through. In extreme cases, media-created unrealistic expectations have been linked to clinical depression and other mental health issues. Therefore, it is prudent to become self-aware and take steps to alter our negative worldviews. Romance narratives provide an idealized picture of love that leads to heartbreak in actual relationships.

A common trope in romance novels is a protagonist who defies conventional wisdom about conducting themselves in a love relationship. People who profit from the present social order do not appreciate it when women see this modelled for them in fiction, and vice versa. To imply that something other than ourselves (what we could call society or culture) may be playing a hidden, vital role in managing our relationships in their most intimate moments might seem weird, and even very insulting, to the person we are falling in love with. The cultural context in which our romantic relationships develop a potent sense of what is “normal” in love; it quietly instructs us on where to focus our emotions, how to handle disagreements, what to celebrate, what to tolerate, and what to be rightfully outraged about. The currents of love have a history, and we ride on them, sometimes pretty hopelessly. According to popular media, the best love tales are grim, painful, and all-encompassing.

Someone usually needs to take the initiative in a romantic relationship. And there’s a wide variety of goals to aim for: Pop culture’s depictions of romance aren’t always spot-on; occasionally they stray into the horrifying or criminal, and other times they’re simply a little weird or overbearing. However, reading some of these fictitious love tales again might leave one with the impression that a man’s persistent devotion to his lady is evidence of his ardour and, therefore, something to be welcomed. When male protagonists are shown to have crossed a line by physically assaulting a female character, they are often pardoned, or their transgressions are placed in a dark corner of the plot and forgotten.

Popular culture has often glorified abusive partnerships. Stories in which a man still pursues a woman despite her repeated requests for him to cease are widespread. Romance tales between stepsiblings or between teachers and students are another example of an unstable interpersonal pattern. Many films and shows have normalized abusive behaviour in relationships, leading some viewers to idealize such partnerships. Many things we see in popular culture aren’t good for us (Aware, 2020).

For this reason, it’s crucial to recognize and stigmatize this practice. Too many teenagers, particularly girls in relationships, go through what is portrayed on television as a poisonous and violent relationship. Even though these presentations are intended to inform young people about the issue and encourage them to seek treatment if needed, the message is not sinking in with this demographic. It’s being misrepresented and glorified in almost all forms of media, where it belongs, as this “hot” or “bad boy” convoluted cliché when it’s simply poisonous.

His obnoxious demeanour is sometimes used as a joke. Viewers may internalize the message that such conduct is OK if they find such acts humorous. Only touch someone with their permission beforehand. No matter how tight the friendship or romantic connection is, no one should ever touch another person without their full and enthusiastic agreement, particularly in the private parts. The other person should refrain from touching the individual if they do not seem to give permission, such as if they are reluctant or unable to answer.

A highly warped view of love is accepted if we see all this as the pinnacle of relationships and strive for it. The romantic notion of wet kissing after a quarrel and the harsh reality is quite different.

Love shouldn’t be a mysterious, evil poison that only the strong can survive. Using that interpretation drains your strength until maintaining the connection is no longer possible. The bonds you form in this setting are destructive. Love is a powerful emotion, yet it can also be a gentle force. The sensation of “butterflies” is a worry, fear that the other person may never contact you again or that you may have said the “wrong thing,” as my closest friends and I frequently discuss.

It’s normal to feel lonely, tired, or defensive in a relationship, but that shouldn’t be the case since partnerships are difficult, no one is flawless, and there will be moments when you feel violent towards them. Loving someone is the antithesis of that; it’s loving, reassuring, and enjoyable. As soon as you’re in their presence, you’ll feel relaxed. You need someone who can bring out the best in you while still loving you when you’re at your lowest

A strong belief in love’s power is a valuable quality. It’s important to recognize this feeling for what it is and not dismiss it as an irrational preoccupation or dramatic overreaction. To be loved is to experience the peace that follows a storm that strengthens your resolve and gives you a firmer footing from which to discover new things about yourself, the world, and the universe of ideas.

Sexual harassment claims have flooded various industries, including the entertainment business, recently. However, not only has predatory male conduct been tolerated and hidden behind closed doors, but it has also been celebrated in the media.

Watching love films may legitimize stalking. Given this, it’s not hard to see how toxic love tales may help legitimize abusive behaviour that they have the power to confuse individuals, particularly women, about when they should feel gratified and when they should feel threatened and whether or not their boundaries have been breached.

To fully understand how our society normalizes and even celebrates illegal activity, we must first examine the most egregious examples: Sexual assault is often portrayed as the beginning of a romantic tale. The serial nature of television means that many episodes have a kind of assault amnesia when it is no longer useful for a character who formerly raped or attempted rape to be perceived as a villain.

Men may not realize they seek an idealized female form when they look at magazines or movies. Still, their girlfriends and spouses regularly need to meet the standards set by models and actresses (unless they, too, have had the surgical and photographic enhancements that pop culture icons get). Additionally, harmful ideals of the female form are promoted even by women’s periodicals.

What happens in movies happens in real life, and vice versa. Those who have harassed others are given the option to change after profusely apologizing. When it’s inconvenient, people tend to forget about a man’s alleged history of sexual misbehavior. The romantic cultural touchstones we hold dear have real-world analogues on the macro and micro levels.

Reading romance books satisfies our want for an ideal connection without the effort of achieving it in real life. Pop culture is a great way to pass the time, but it’s crucial to call attention to the negative role models it may provide. Violence in relationships and other forms of abuse may be fascinating to watch on TV. However, this is different from how good partnerships normally function. When two people are in love, they share the same goals for the relationship and the person they’re with. Respect and open dialogue are hallmarks of healthy partnerships.



Ella Alexander. (2021). How has popular culture romanticized dark, tormented love – and completely warped our idea of what a healthy relationship should look like?

Kelly L. Choyke. (2019). The Power of Popular Romance Culture: Community, Fandom, and Sexual Politics.


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