Sunday, February 26, 2012

Beyond happily ever after

A typical way to handle romantic storylines is to make the couple's getting together the goal, and the obstacles throughout the story are designed to frustrate that goal. When the couple gets together, the story's over. Many fairy tales work this way, complete with the line, "And they lived happily ever after."

But real-life romances don't work that way. And it can be nice to find stories where characters discover that just getting together doesn't magically solve all their problems, where they work through the issues of couplehood. This is more often seen as a storyline for adult books rather than YA, and certainly adults are more likely to be dealing with long-term romances.

However, romances in the teen years are no less real and no less emotional. During these years, people are learning how to be in relationships, how to balance their own needs and the other person's, how much common ground is enough to sustain a relationship, what the deal-breakers are, etc. And there's plenty of story material in all of that.

6 comments:

  1. I love romances and I realize that there isn't always a happily ever after. I like when books end hopeful if the couple is not together. I like knowing that they at least have a chance of working things out.

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    1. Yes, relationships can give us plenty even when they don't last! Thanks for commenting.

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  2. So far, I've realized even as adults, we still deal with the same issues we did as younger folks. We've just gone through more in life now to understand which situations will shatter our worlds and which wont. And still, sometimes we get broad-sided.

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    1. I find the stakes are higher now, but the relationship is more stable. And I'm clearer about what I really need and what is no big deal. But those discoveries came about through trial and error ...

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  3. Sometimes when the story ends when the couple is split by forces they couldn't control (e.g. if someone dies), it makes me wonder if the relationship would've have survived anyway if the couple had the opportunity to live happily ever after. Perhaps the passion, imagined by the reader, is stronger only if the two parties couldn't be together. Some might regard the idea of mourning a lost love more "romantic" than bickering over who takes out the garbage.

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    1. I think that's a major force behind Romeo and Juliet. They went out on this huge grand self-sacrificing gesture, but I think that only works as a fantasy. The reality would be so much bleaker and messier. Much better to have a real relationship, even with taking out the garbage!

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