Thursday, April 10, 2014

I Don't Like Love Stories

I think I don't like love stories because they're all lies.

I guess to some extent, all stories are "lies" in that they're fiction. But see, no one expects {REALLY expects} to be able to read a character into our world or travel to Venus. At least, by the time you're old enough to look for truth in books, you know that those things won't happen. But by the time you're old enough to look for truth in books, you're also old enough to search for Love, and that is something we really DO expect.

In real life, we look for love and expect to find it, so it seems cruel and wrong to write stories that set people up for failure.

Books--love stories in any form--are pretty clear from the beginning. The main characters are laid out for you and you can tell instantly which guy{s} are on the list of potential Trueloves. By about half or three-fourths of the way through the story, you're sure whom the main character will end up with. {In movies, it's usually within the first fourth.}

Real life is absolutely nothing like that. In real life, you're sort of always and never in medias res. Yes, you're in the midst of your life right now, but at any moment, something completely new could be introduced. Every second of life could be the beginning of a new story. There's never a time where you can nod and say, "Okay, no more central characters are going to be introduced" or "Clearly, this is the main plot strain."

In a way, real life can never be authentically translated to a story, because stories deal with neatly defined sections of a person's life and include--for the most part--only details relevant to the story. {Unless it's by Herman Melville.} In a story, you know what to pay attention to, because if it's there at all, it's likely important. In real life, you have all of the details all of the time and must prioritize them on your own.

However, some kinds of stories can achieve more authenticity than love stories, for example ones that deal with solving a mystery, investigating a crime, or battling an enemy. Those stories can be more authentically contained by literature because they have beginnings and endings in real life too. Mysteries have answers; crimes have perpetrators; evil kings have deaths. In both stories and in real life, the components of the answer exist before you embark on the journey. In both stories and real life, you know for sure when you can check the box on the story's completion.

Plus, mystery/crime/morality stories contain universal, applicable life lessons. Love stories are generally mined incorrectly for wisdom. Instead of looking at a story and saying, "Clearly lying to people results in unimaginable heartbreak," people look and say, "Clearly a liar can still be your true love if you just don't give up on him." People miss the trees for the forest, instead of the other way around.

But even if crime-solving and enemy-fighting stories couldn't be applied to real life, the topics aren't sacred. They're universal and impersonal enough that it wouldn't be terribly offensive to distort them a bit.

But to distort something like LOVE...that's just sick. "Love stories" usually pump people full of unrealistic expectations of the scope and clarity and beauty of love. Real life and real love cannot be detected any better by familiarizing yourself with romantic fiction. Real love is too complicated to reduce to a finite story.

Love stories do a gross disservice to Love and lead people to false knowledge. I'd rather read something else. To me, "Inkheart" is somehow more real than "The Notebook."



  1. I get your point. I think what I like about reading a love story (or watching one in a movie), is knowing that it's not real life. I know it's not realistic to think such things will happen to me, but it's nice to see a world where they do happen.

    My favorite though, is real love stories. Like talking to a couple who has been married for 50 years. I love watching people who are truly in-love. People who you know God placed together. It's beautiful. I look forward to sharing my future husband and my love story, years down the road. Real live love stories are full of pain, but to me, that makes them full of magic.

  2. I know exactly what you mean here. And while I do like the occasional love story or chick flick movie, I always have to come at it with the mindset that it is fiction. Real life does not happen that way and will never happen that way. I also have to remember that my relationship with my boyfriend is different than other people's relationships in their couple-dom because every person is different and every relationship is different. I think by having the right perspective, I can get behind a cute little love story. But I always know that it is not really ever a realistic portrayal of a good, wholesome romance. (this is part of why i get so annoyed by people who say "OMG edward cullen is raising the bar for future boyfriends!" or "if he doesn't love me like Noah loved Allie then i'm dumping him!" barf.)

    Also, unrelated to this post but i couldn't post on your article on classical conversations for some reason, i thought i'd share a little on here. mostly because i just wanted to point something out to you about the silence of an unresponsive classroom.

    i get that classroom discussions only work if the class participates and i do not want to downplay the importance that you have placed on how valuable it is for students to respond to questions posed by their professors, but I feel the need to point out that there are some people who are just incredibly uncomfortable with that. personally, i am terrified to speak out in class. especially in a large setting of 50 or more people. my heart starts to race, my breathing shallows, and my hands get clammy at even just the mere thought of voicing my thoughts and opinions. In a smaller setting, like 25 kids I'm a little more eager to open my mouth. It's something that i have fought with all my life. I do like listening to class discussions because my peers can make some very valid points, but I'm just not one for speaking up. it makes me very uncomfortable.

    also, these are college freshmen who have never been in this environment before and don't really know what's expected of them. at least in my college experience, students were pretty quiet in my lower lever classes. Once i started taking the upper division courses and found myself surrounded by older individuals in a more specific and less general or core class, the discussions opened up immensely. So just give it time. The discussions will get more riveting and more valuable as you work your way up through the system.

  3. I totally get where you're coming from! A lot of "love" stories are just garbage, which is really sad since true, lasting love is wonderful and deserve to be expressed! At least I'm not the only one who feels that way :) by the way, I really enjoy your blog so I'm going to follow :)

  4. Alana: Yes! I do like hearing "real" love stories. Some of them are even more cute and fun than the ones that take place in 120-minute movies XD

    Natalie: Totally agree. As far as the CC article, I definitely understand that speaking up in class isn't everyone's thing, and I'm in more specialized classes now where silence isn't as much of an issue. However, my point was that if you're used to an atmosphere of discussion, it's not as scary or difficult to continue it in college.

    Ashley: Exactly! :) Thanks for the kind compliment! This blog is basically just me talking to myself, figuring out what I think about things, so I'm glad the clutter of my brain can be somewhat entertaining! Haha XD