What if I told you that reading romance novels meant more sex? Psychology Today revealed in a 2006 study that women who read romance novels have sex 74% more often with their partners than those who don’t. Seventy four percent. Caught your attention?
What Is It About Romance Novels?
Now, your first reaction is probably the same as anyone’s – of course it has to be the sex scenes. After all, romance novels are just porn for women, aren’t they? However, there is a strong distinction between pornography and romance, and that distinction is the difference in what arouses a man versus what arouses a woman.
No one understands this better than a publisher of romantic fiction. Women are the primary readers of romance, and as editor-in-chief of The Wild Rose Press, Rhonda Penders has to know how to give women what they want. “Men are very visual,” says Penders. “Women, however, need the physical part but we also need more than that. We need the emotional attachment; we need to feel there’s something else there. That’s not to say women don’t and can’t get aroused by watching an x-rated movie, certainly that happens as well, but we can read a love scene or an emotionally tugging scene and feel that pull of desire and that need to be close to someone we love in a sexual way.”
The Difference Between Men And Women
This is a defining point between arousal for a man and a woman. Men can be aroused simply by a naked woman, but the idea of a chick flick won’t do much. And while the visual of a naked man might earn a naughty thought from many women, it won’t do much else by itself. If you add that man as part of a fantasy—perhaps a hero from a “chick flick” or a romance novel or simply a daydream in a woman’s mind—suddenly he has the ability to kick up a woman’s proverbial heels.
Dr. Donald Symons, an evolutionary psychologist at UC Santa Barbara, found that women’s sexual fantasies focused not just on touching, but on feelings: the woman’s physical and emotional responses, her partner’s feelings, and the mood and ambience of the experience weighed in with equal importance. With romance stories that blend right into the fantasies many women daydream about—rekindling an old love, falling in love with a stranger, adversarial relationships turning romantic and many more—a woman can be that heroine while she reads.
Getting In The Mood
For most women, mental or emotional stimulation is crucial to “getting in the mood” and especially for today’s multi-tasking, busy woman, it’s often the most difficult to achieve. Too many things weigh on our minds, from family and children to career worries and everything in between. A romance novel provides a way for a woman to safely step outside of her everyday role, to set the world aside and live the fantasy of an intimate, romantic relationship for a few hours.
Is sex included? Absolutely. It’s a healthy part of any relationship, and the level of description in sex scenes can range from sweet to erotic. But the fantasy also includes the emotional roller-coaster. It’s the entire experience, from that first meeting to the intimate sex to the happy ending, that spur the feelings of intimacy most women need to crave sex. And in fact, you can break it down to the way a woman’s body actually responds to that happy stimulation. Phenylethylamine (PEA) is a natural chemical our bodies produce and PEA levels in your body react to sexual thoughts and feelings. Scientifically put, romance novels help spark those thoughts.
It’s All About The Chemicals
The chemical reaction is not lost on romance writers… it’s what we strive for, to help a woman get in touch with her emotions. Author Eliza Knight agrees: “Romances and eroticas that are written well spark some nerve or hormone in your body, and you just feel elated. When you get so happy and the ‘in love’ feeling, what other natural reaction is there than to saunter up to your man, strip him down and have your way with him?”
Is a romance novel a fix for a low libido? No, probably not. The woman’s mind and body are far more complicated and what works for one woman won’t always work for another. But romance novels can help women create healthy fantasies, especially for those who are uncomfortable thinking up their own.
From The Authors Of Romance Novels
“Until I started writing erotic, I had NO sex life. None. Zip. Zilch, “says erotica author Allie K. Adams. “Now that I write erotic, I’m finding myself more open to things I would have otherwise turned down. I’m also finding that I write my fantasies. If I can’t understand how something will work in my book, I call my husband and act it out.”
And in fact, sexier erotica romances are a booming industry these days. Author Bella Andre, known for her steamy love scenes, believes it’s about more than just fantasy. “Both reading and writing them is something that helps women take control of their own sexuality. It’s very freeing on both sides of the book.”
And indeed, for some women, reading a romance is a way to step outside of their “place” in life and be something else for a short time. Penders shares, “My funniest story is about the author who writes erotic romance and is a church secretary. How bad do you think that would be if she were to be found out?”
Only the secretary knows the answer to that, but I imagine it would make a pretty sexy romance novel.