I Was Addicted To False Romance

False romance - Pixabay book-1014197_1920There’s not too much else in the entertainment world that’s as great as watching a romantic movie, or reading a romantic story. That is, at least, from my point of view (and many other women’s points of view). That is unless, we’re talking about experiencing the real thing, of course. But I came to realize several years back that it led me down some slippery paths. I was addicted to false romance.

For me, watching romantic movies and reading romantic stories can be addictive. I can watch some, but I have to be careful. The same is true for many women. And it’s causing problems in many of today’s marriages. After-all, there aren’t too many spouses who have script writers available to help them say and do just the “right” romantic thing. And for that reason, we end up expecting more from our spouse and marriage, in itself, than is realistic.

False Romance?

“The paradigm (the set of unwritten rules) about love that we have accepted is dysfunctional. In fact, I’m going to suggest that we’ve been unconsciously brainwashed into believing a number of false premises about how love, sex and lasting relationships develop. I’m not suggesting there has been some sinister attempt to ruin lives. But I am emphatically saying a way of thinking about relationships has developed in our culture that, when examined, turns out to be incapable of producing the kind of relationships we’re seeking.” (Chip Ingram, from book, “Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships”)

I totally agree with something that Dave Boehi wrote about Hollywood’s fantasy type of love. It’s something we should all note because of its influence that fantasy love has on today’s marriages:

“You can’t help but wonder how many marriages over the years have ended because people have bought into this ‘fantasy love’ idea without even realizing it. When you see the same values promoted in stories continually over a long period of time, the line between fantasy and reality begins to blur. How often do two people stop pursuing each other after the wedding and look elsewhere because they desperately want to recreate the excitement, fulfillment, and energy of new love?

“Hollywood rarely portrays the type of love and romance that we need—real love for real people living real lives. A love where a man and woman start by building a friendship and committing to purity in their physical relationship. A love where they seek God’s direction for their lives together, and when they marry their sexual union reinforces and symbolizes a binding, lifelong commitment to remain man and wife ’till death do us part.'” (From the article, “What Does Hollywood Teach Us About Love?”)

Greener Grass Syndrome

One of the contributing problems to the portrayal of false love is that sometimes “the grass can look greener on the other side of the street.” When you live with each other in marriage day in and day out, things can look very ordinary. And when you are looking at perfection on the big screen or on the written page, it can be problematic to your marriage. That, which is false can start to pull you in a fantasy world you shouldn’t entertain.

That’s one of the things I discovered earlier in our married lives. I was getting so caught up into watching romantic movies and reading about fantasy romance that I became addicted to it’s false portrayal of love. My husband didn’t have a chance of “measuring up” to the paper “heroes” that those stories portrayed. There was no way of sustaining the “high” of those romantic interludes day in and day out.

Even though he’s my hero, he’s also a real person. Superman, he isn’t! (But neither am I Lois Lane or Superwoman.)

I’m not the only one who has found this to be a reality in their married lives. The following is a web site link to an article posted on the Faith Writers web site. It brings up some important points you may want to consider (as I have):


Author Jennifer Smith tells of expectations that she later realized she had dragged into marriage.

She writes:

“When those expectations weren’t met, I crumbled. I cried, I yelled, I fought for things to unfold my way and on my timeline. With each expectation that was left unmet, bitterness grew in my heart.

“By year three, I was convinced that our marriage was going to end. Although I didn’t want to experience the devastation of divorce, I justified it by believing my happiness was more important than staying committed to my vows. I daydreamed about life without my husband. And I desired to pursue a future free from hardship.

“As a result, I fell deep into fantasyland, longing to be loved like the characters in romance novels. As I turned each page in a book, I craved the same romance I was reading about. This happened all the while my sleeping husband lay in bed next to me. I thought I’d never feel as lonely as I felt in my marriage. The more time that went by during which my husband didn’t fulfill my desires for romance, the greater the chasm between us grew.”

To learn more about this fantasy journey (which I HIGHLY recommend), and then her wake up call, which saved her marriage, please read:


Additional Article Concerning False Romance

This additional article supports this same finding. Jen Booth wrote it, and I believe you will find it to be quite insightful. I recommend you read:


Author Russell Moore, brings up the same point that I, eventually, learned. And that is that there’s “something about the allure of the commercialized romance story.” He even compares it to the addictive lure of pornography. This seems a bit startling, and yet there seems to be some truth to it. In the Crosswalk.com article “Can Romance Novels Hurt Your Heart?” Dr Moore writes,

“Pornography and romance novels aren’t (always) morally equivalent. But they ‘work’ the same way. Both are based on an illusion. Pornography is based on the illusion of a perfectly willing, always aroused partner without the ‘work’ of relational intimacy. Often romance novels or their film equivalents do the same thing for the emotional needs of women, that pornography offers for the erotic urges of men.

“And in both cases, what the ‘market’ wants is sameness. Men want the illusion of women who look just like women but are, in terms of sexual response, just like men. Women want the illusion of men who are ‘real’ men. But, in terms of a concept of romance, they are just like women. In both artificial eros and artificial romance, there is the love of the self, not the mystery of the other.”

Unreal VS Real

In my own marriage, I eventually wised up and traded in the “unreal” for the “real.” I found a way to talk to my husband about this problem.

I used to buy into the lie that romance and love should come naturally, no matter how long you’ve been together. But I’ve since learned that it’s more a matter of intentionality to put romance back into the busyness of everyday living that makes a marriage fun, and sustainable, and romantic.

Dr John Gottman, who is known for his expertise in the field of marriage said the following about making your marriage a success:

“The issue is… how rich your stockpile of good feelings is about each other to weather difficulties and keep your basic attitude toward your partner positive.”

So yes, is it important to learn how to work through your disagreements in a respectful and marriage building way. But it’s also important to look for ways to romance and help your attitudes remain positive about each other.

Infusing Romance

My husband Steve and I look for ways to infuse romance into our REAL lives together. This is much like we used to do before we married each other. Only now it takes more intentionality as the years continue.

I’m married to a great guy and he can be very romantic. But he can also be “romantically challenged” at times (just like I can be). He needs a bit of help and prodding sometimes. But it’s sure worth the effort! That’s where the Romantic Ideas topic of our web site come in handy. It’s for us as much as for anyone else!

Another thing that has helped our marriage is that I have learned about and work on my own “frailties.” Reading romance novels and watching too many romantic movies isn’t a good thing for me. I can become addicted to false romance to such an extent that it isn’t healthy for our marriage, or my thought life.

Just being aware of that weakness, has been helpful as well. It has been a great decision to stop feeding my addiction. And it is very freeing, as well (for both of us).

Give of Yourself

It’s like what author Sabrina Beasley says. “Romance grows when you give of yourself and enjoy the other person for who they are deep inside.” And deep inside, Steve may not be as romantic as some characters on television, in the movies and in written stories. But that’s ok. I’m not perfect in many ways either. I love the person my husband is deep inside. And together, we work on romance in a way that works great for our marriage.

Above all, we look to the Lord, whose very name means LOVE, to teach us how to love and romance each other in a way that works for both of our personalities and to the glory of God. It’s amazing how our Wonderful Counselor, the Holy Spirit, can show us how to do that as we look to Him!

If you find that you’re having problems in your marriage because you hold “Hollywood” expectations for your spouse, we pray the Lord will use what is written here to minister to your marriage in a positive way.

In Closing, as it Concerns False Romance:

Dr Russell Moore gives a challenge worth considering, and especially worth praying over, when he writes,

“It is worth asking, ‘Is what I’m consuming leading me toward contentment with my spouse (or future spouse) or away from it? Is it pointing me to the other in one-flesh union? Or is it pointing to an eroticized embodiment of my own desires? Is this the mystery of marriage or a mirage?'”

Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions wrote this article.

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8 responses to “I Was Addicted To False Romance

  1. (USA)  My wife and I have been married over 35 years and have 5 grown children. When we were younger (first 15 years) we had an active romantic relationship. For the past 20 years my wife’s desire for a passionate romanic relationship has become less and less to the point that about 8 years ago we stopped having sex at all and she isn’t interested in any part of a romantic, intimate relationship. It’s almost as if she doesn’t have any romantic desire –except she is an avid reader of romance novels and loves to watch romantic (Hallmark Channel) movies.

    Your article really strikes a chord with me. As a marriage couple we get along and don’t have a lot of conflict, but are not having a close relationship and not having any passion and romance isn’t working out well for me. I would like to change things. We even spent a couple years in counseling 8-10 years ago, but I am at a loss as to know what to do at this point. We tried many things in counseling, but in the end my wife said she just wasn’t interested in pursuing the romantic side of our marriage.

    This has been very hurtful to me, but in the end I have put most of the frustration aside and pursued good healthy relationships with other friends while leaving the door open to our marriage improving. Though, after many years now of stagnation, I am losing hope that things will ever change. I would like to have a full and complete relationship with my wife, but that doesn’t seem possible.

  2. (USA) I have personal experience with how these books can destroy a marriage. My wife has always had an emotional need for admiration (see website marriagebuilders.com). I guess she has a need to be wanted, to be lusted after, etc. I admit, I had a hard time doing this, b/c it felt odd. But I do think this need, so to speak, got reinforced or amplified by these erotic novels. She has had a Kindle for a while, and she reads on it all the time. As hard as it may to believe, there are days where she can lay on the couch & read on her kindle all day long… from morning to night. I also know that she has purchased these erotica series and are part of her daily reading. Her friends at work all have these books as well, so I think that is where she got the interest from.

    Her main complaint about me has been that I am not as outgoing, loving & passionate enough for her. That she wants more from me….

    To make a long story short, I recently found out that she has been having an online cybersex affair with a stranger that lives 1,000 miles away. I found out that they were texting each other at all times of the day, they were sending photos of their privates & it has even escalated to them having virtual sex using smartphone video calls. I caught her & tried to get her to stop. I could not & moved out.

    She has told me that she has been unhappy for a long time, that we are not meant for each other & that she is ready for a divorce. She says the ebooks have nothing to do with how she is thinking.

    We have no children, so it is my best interest to let her go. It has been hard to accept all that has happened. These books are dangerous, they get women addicted to fantasy that no one can measure up to. My full story: http://forum.marriagebuilders.com/ubbt/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=2648414#Post2648414

  3. Physical love and romance is how much important for a married couple? Because I want to see my wife happy always. She likes romance but often I do not, due to the workload.

  4. Having read fiction novels from the time I was 9 years, I progressively became addicted to novels moreso romance novels that had high sexual undertones between unmarried couples novels. Nearing 40s, married, a mother, a Christian and addicted to reading such books (these books consuming my entire family time and social life), I knew I had to CHANGE. I was listening to a Christian radio station and they were discussing on ways of overcoming addiction. My conscience was triggered and I knew I had to STOP. I went on my knees and prayed (around that time I was going through the book of Revelation and the various messages John was delivering to the various 7 churches depicting their weaknesses and strengths).

    After 3 days and by the grace of God, I got my breakthrough and I have NEVER touched a romance novel since then. These are the lessons I learnt during my transition:

    1. Addiction is profound when we let our flesh take over our willpower.
    2. As Christians, we should seek the face of God in everything we do.
    3. Having overcome the addiction, I was justified and sanctified.

    The questions that kept on going through my mind during my 3 day reflection period was “Would I read such a book in the physical presence of Jesus? Would I read it loud to him?” The “NO” answers to these questions healed me off the addiction.

    1. Thanks for sharing this with us. It’s so great to hear from someone who has lived, learned, and is passing it on to others who need this info. We SO appreciate your sharing and caring to pass your life experience on to others to read. May your marriage and your life be all the more blessed because you followed God in this area of your Christian walk! Thanks again.

  5. I am most grateful for this wonderful write up. Having lots of issues in my marriage. I am a novel type and I think I am expecting more from my husband because of what I have read online. I am so happy I came across this. God bless.

    1. Thanks Oyinade for letting us know that this is helpful. I found the same thing to be true. I have to be careful of what I read and what I watch on TV. They can set us up for false expectations. We just need to find other reading and watching entertainment options. This has really helped me/us. I enjoy my husband for who he is–not expecting him to live up to a fantasy man that someone made up in their mind. May God bless you as you look for other reading options.

  6. Romance novels and the addiction’s affects are as damaging to real love as hardcore pornography is to real love. It kills it. It’s addictive. It does the same thing to a woman’s brain as visual porn does to a male’s brain. My wife was addicted secretly to romance novels (I will call it literary pornography). Spending nearly 6 hours a day reading, re-reading and even writing literotica. She even took our personal honeymoon experiences, (which I held dear and so special) and transformed it into a smutty story for other women to get off on after she published it.

    Pornography in all it’s forms is a form of infidelity, killing trust which takes years to heal, if ever. It’s been 3 years since I confronted my wife. 3 years of rebuilding trust through changed behavior and counseling. Thank goodness she was willing to change. She would read it in bed while I was trying to sleep. I think of how a woman would react if her husband pulled the sheets over his head to watch porno movies while his lonely, neglected wife tried to sleep. Well, when I found out what was going on, that is how I felt. Disgusted, betrayed, lied to, cheated on. There is no such thing as innocent sexual secrets kept from a partner. It is infidelity.