I've been thinking a lot about a conversation I had recently with my significant other, about our expectations about romance. Our real-life relationship qualifies as a friends-to-lovers story, a slow, steady liking leading to affection, connection, living together, and, finally (at least for my mother-in-law), years later, marriage. I told him that I sometimes regret not having experienced the "grand passion" type of love—Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester, Tristan and Isolde, Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara—and asked if he ever felt the same. "No," he said, looking at me with some puzzlement. "That's not something I expected at all." It made me wonder where his expectations about love and romance had come from, and in what ways they differed from, and in what ways they overlapped with, my own.
In particular, I started to think about what expectations about love and relationships I had learned from reading romance novels. And I thought I'd write an occasional post here on RNFF about different things I've come to expect after my years of romance reading, whether they have in fact played out in my real life, and then ask you about whether these things have proven to be true or not in your real, day-to-day relationships.
|An ad for the "Cuddle Mattress," which "let's you hug your|
better half intimately without any arm or wrist problems"
This first one is something I've always been disappointed about not happening in my real life. Unlike Paul Bennet, hero of Jo Leigh's Harlequin Blaze novel Ms. Match quoted above, as well as thousands of other romance heroes and heroines, I've never been able to fall asleep in a lover's arms. Oh, I can take a quick catnap, especially after a lazy weekend daytime tryst, but fall truly, deeply asleep? No way. My legs start to twitch; my brain starts thinking about the chores of the day to come; my body gets uncomfortably warm, even sweaty, tucked up so close to another person's heat. My love may be snoring beside me, but though my eyes are shut, my body just will not allow itself to drop off into unconsciousness. I always find myself slowly pulling away, needing to turn onto my tummy and pull the covers up over my shoulders, safe in my own solitary bubble of space, before golden sleep can reign.
Am I just an oversensitive oddity? Or is the falling asleep in your lover's arms a comforting fiction of romance? Enquiring minds (at least this one) want to know: Can you fall asleep while spooned up close to another person?