Addiction to Romance Novels

woman sitting on couch reading a novel

Romance, excitement, adventure, drama–romance novels lead the industry in book sales, but at what price? Addiction to romance novels is understood as a form of pornography addiction and, as such, also has porn addiction side effects. In some ways, it is easier to hide and has less social stigma, especially in the early stages of addiction. But addiction to romance novels can become as debilitating and damaging as addiction to pornography.

Defining the Addiction

If you explore the romantic fiction blogosphere, you’ll find that many writers use the term addiction without qualms. Their blogs boast that their offerings will “feed your addiction,” but they miss the point. Addiction, and especially porn addiction side effects, can destroy families and cause harm. What’s the difference between being an avid fan of the romance genre and being addicted?

  • How do you feel about discussing your reading? Do you get irritated if your partner asks you to put your book down, or if someone “catches” you reading when you thought you had privacy? Are you irritated by frank discussions about how much you read, how much time or money you spend on romance novels, or what you may have neglected to do so that you can read?
  • Do you seek more intense types of literature? Has your interest in the genre shifted to increasingly explicit or pornographic literature, or has the intensity changed in terms of how much you read? Has the number of books per month increased?
  • Do you try to hide what you’re reading, or how often you read?
  • Have others (family members, loved ones, your partner, etc.) asked you to cut back on your reading? How did you respond to that request?
  • Do you feel shame or guilt about what you read, how much you read, or how it makes you feel?
  • Do you find you’d rather read than do much of anything else (e.g. spend time with your partner or family or enjoy other hobbies)?
  • Do you find that no matter what you meant to do on a given day, you often end up spending the whole day reading?
  • Have others suggested that your reading is causing problems in your life, your work or in relationships?

On the surface, it may seem almost silly–how could a genre of fiction be addictive? Research indicates that reading romantic fiction may release the same brain chemicals that viewing pornography releases, making romantic fiction every bit as addictive as any drug to those who are susceptible. This is a form of addiction to be taken seriously.



Romance Novels Can Become Addictive –

Is Pornography Addictive? – WebMD

Romance Porn: More Women Are Addicted Than You Think – Crisis Magazine

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