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Romance novels may have negative effects on health

In an essay published in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam suggested that romance n...

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|Jul 8|magazine7 min read

In an essay published in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam suggested that romance novels cause women to make misinformed choices with damaging effects to their health.

Quilliam criticised the novels for portraying idealistic relationships, sex and pregnancies.

Quilliam proposed that "The values of romantic fiction...sometimes run totally counter to those which women's health practitioners] espouse."

“We teach that sex may be wonderful and relationships loving, but neither are ever perfect and that idealising them is the short way to heartbreak,” she said.

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Romantic fiction is said to be particularly dangerous for its positive portrayal of unprotected sex. Condoms are portrayed as unromantic and therefore rarely used.

Mills & Boon, a major publisher of romance fiction, opposed the essay’s suggestions. They released a statement declaring: “Mills & Boon is synonymous with the romantic fiction genre, which is of course an enjoyable means of escaping everyday life, but not a guide to reality. Our readers are intelligent enough to understand the difference, just as the many fans of rom coms and chick flicks would not choose to mirror in their lives what they see on film."