Have you ever noticed that the traits that we like in our romance heroes are the most difficult to deal with in real life?
Stubborn heroes don’t sway their way of thinking. They refuse to bow to pressure. They’ll stare it down or die on that hill, but they change nothing. For a long while, at least. And we love that in our books! They’re called Alpha heroes, and we like them for their strength and dominance. But in real life, if there is a stubborn man who refuses to adjust and change for the woman in his life, it’s the death knell of a relationship.
The icy reserve in a wounded hero might make for some excellent tension in a story, but in a real man, why would a woman even try to crack that shell? A relationship requires nurturing on both sides, and no woman wants to be stuck with a man incapable of being an emotional support. There is no longevity there.
The characteristics that make the best romance heroes are the most frustrating in real life… so why do we love those things in our literary heroes? Are we that unrealistic in our desires, or does it go deeper? I have a theory that is quite simple: we like all those tough, immovable, brooding men because we can read their minds.
In a book, we can see right down to the hero’s motivation. We know about his childhood trauma, his deepest fears, the longing that he hides so successfully. We understand that he’s trying to protect her from the curse of his family, or all the ways he believes he’ll let her down. We can see that he’s afraid she’s too good for him. And all of that is possible, because we get to look right down into his mind, and we fall in love with him based on that rare intimacy.
If only we could read the minds of our real life heroes… That would solve everything, wouldn’t it? Relationship Rule #1: You can’t read each other’s minds, so you’d better communicate. And romance novels allow us to skip that step and peer straight into a man’s soul.
That really is hard to resist!