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Monday, March 30, 2015

Romance Stuff #3 - "Heroes" to Avoid

Last week a talked a little bit about co-dependency and about the seemingly romantic but actually unhealthy attitudes some women have about love. This week let’s look at the men. Romance novels, especially secular romance novels, sometimes give awful ideas about what to look for in a man. The male lead in a romance novel is traditionally called a "hero," but the truth is that sometimes he is anything but.

Here are some typical romance heroes to avoid.

The Sweeper – You know, the guy who sweeps you off your feet. He comes out of nowhere and makes you dizzy with desire. He throws your life into to disarray, making you forget your goals and priorities, maybe even your family or religious values. Chances are, this guy is a controller. Possibly even an abuser. He wants to catch you quickly while you are off guard and before you can really see his true colors.

The First-Sighter – This guy decides in an instant that he is in love with you, and he simply must have you. Now, it is true that some intuitive people will sense a deep potential connection very early in a relationship, but those guys will be patient and willing to give time for things to grow and develop naturally. The first-sighter is more likely driven by physical attraction, chemistry, and lust. Don’t fall for it. Those things are short-lived, and once they wear off, you might find there is nothing more to the relationship. And the next time he falls in love with a woman at first sight, guess who will be left in the dust.

The Charmer – The charmer seems too good to be true—because he is. Everything out of his mouth is a compliment. He takes you to fancy places and buys you expensive gifts. When you really think hard enough about it, you might not really know who he is or what he wants out of life. But you like the way he makes you feel and you love how much he wants you. This guy is a class “A” manipulator, so expect to be manipulated for the rest of your life. And once you actually marry him, there’s no telling what you might actually have in store. He might be controlling, or a cheat, or a conman extraordinaire. 

The Rescuer – The rescuer has to be a hero. He wants to fix you, to save you, and to make you a better person—because, let’s face it, you’re just a woman and clearly too weak to take care of yourself. Don’t get me wrong, a supportive, helpful man is worth his weight in gold. But he should respect you and see your strengths as well. In a healthy relationship, support goes both ways. The rescuer will probably want to call the shots for the rest of your life. He is another potential controller and/or abuser.

The Bad Boy – The bad boy always seems sexy. He’s wounded, and he’s misunderstood. If only he could find the right woman, all would be well. Except that it doesn’t works that way in the real world. Although you might temporarily bring out his better side, you can’t save the bad boy. You might be able to inspire him and point him in the right direction, but stay far, far away until you see ample evidence of lasting change. In truth, the bad boy will most likely remain a criminal, or unemployed loser, or drug-addict, drunk, gambler, rage-aholic, whatever it might be...and only get worse as life goes on.

Okay, those are some “heroes” to avoid. Maybe what we should be looking for isn’t a hero at all. Maybe we should be looking for regular guys with good character. I’ll talk more about that next time. 

But for now, what are some things that you love in a regular guy/romance hero?


  1. I read nothing but secular romance right now, the majority of it paranormal. I do have to take a bit of exception to the somewhat blanket statement about the types of heroes found over there. It's not true. Except in erotica. THAT is where you find the men who should never be considered heroes. They do exist some in paranormal, but they're the exception in my experience and tend to be found as werewolf alphas or vampire leaders.

    I prefer secular romance heroes to Christian ones. Why? They actually matter to the story. Far too often in Christian romance, the hero is unimportant. He has no true role to play in the story. Who and what he is has no bearing on what happens, and he might as well be a cardboard cutout. My desire to write novels centered around the hero is incompatible with the majority of the Christian market, to the point I've been told "readers don't care about the hero, you need to make it all about her."

    Sorry. Can't and won't do that.

    That's not how it is in secular romance. The hero is a vital part of the story, and is often the driving force behind it. He has a multifaceted personality and can't be ignored. I prefer this, since the hero is always my favorite character.

  2. Well, of course there are tons of romance novels out there, so I'm sure it's possible that we've had very different experiences. I know I hit a bad run at some point, and pretty much stopped reading secular romance.

    That is really interesting about the heroes role, though. I never really thought about it or noticed it, but I am more one to focus on the heroine.

  3. On the other side of the coin, however, I was a little bit concerned by how Timothy seemed to have to change his ideology, or more specifically his beliefs about the class system and social order, before Merry would accept him.
    Maybe I was wrong, but it seemed like until he came around to her way of thinking with regards to social justice and the rightness of her cause she would not have accepted him.

    1. Interesting. But I think if you do have a serious disagreement or concern about a person, it is better to work on overcoming it before you start a relationship or in the very early stages. Kind of like the bad boy I mentioned here. Or, for example, if the person isn't a Christian. Sometimes you need to stand back and wait to see if they can change, and if not, you need to let them go. Not in a manipulative way, but in a standing firm to your boundaries and beliefs way. I don't think Merry was trying to force or manipulate Timothy, she just wasn't going to back down on that issue and wanted someone who shared that belief.

      My mom did that with my dad, and he actually did change. She broke up with him because he wasn't a Christian (at least not in the committed way she was.) He accepted Christ and turned his whole life around. I'm sure she was part of his incentive, but considering it lasted 47 years so far, I think we can assume the change was real.

      Agree to disagree can work well in extended families and friendships, but it really only works on more minor issues within a marriage, in my opinion, not so well on big philosophical or religious differences.

    2. I understand, my own sister had some problems with one of her previous boyfriends in that regard.

      I do think having Timothy thrown of the camp was a pretty forceful way of getting the point across. Maybe he was more willing to give and take, and accept a potential unbeliever than her? Though she was willing to make sacrifices too.