Why Do We Love Whom or What We Love? by Rick R. Reed

Romantic hero number one, with stars in his eyes, asks romantic hero number two the age-old question, “Why do you love me?” And romantic heroRick Jan 2013 number two, who is a wise man indeed, gives a response that at first blush may seem glib, “Why not?”

This morning I am thinking about why we love what or who we love. That question, I would think, would have great resonance among readers of romance, because it’s core to most of our stories—and often a writer feels he or she needs to give credible motivation for a couple falling in love. And in fiction, I kind of agree, but is it true for real life?

At GRL in New Orleans, I had the pleasure of having lunch with Elisa Rolle and my dear departed friend, William Neale. At that lunch, I asked Elisa, with her reading far and wide in the genre of m/m romance, what interested her, a straight woman, about two men falling in love. She had an answer, which was, basically, that she loved romance and she found the power dynamic in hetero romance to be, finally, unsatisfying. Those books often had a lot to do with a woman being somehow rescued by the love of a big strong man. But, she said that in a romance between two men, the power dynamic between the love interests was often more equitable.

I thought that was a brilliant answer and one I have oft-repeated when people ask me why a large part of my own readership is straight women.

Bruce and Rick in Elliot Bay

Bruce and Rick in Elliot Bay

But then I began to wonder—why does it matter? Why does it matter why you like gay romance over straight? We like what we like. I have finally come to the conclusion that asking the question of why straight women prefer gay romance over straight is a futile exercise. For one, the answers, if they even exist, could be as varied as the respondents. But number two, and more importantly, is the fact that it doesn’t matter. Questioning why you like something can be an exercise that sets itself up for failure.

Who knows why we like gay romance? We just do. Do we need to understand the motivation to enjoy the end result? I don’t think so.

We don’t need to understand why we love chocolate ice cream over vanilla.

We don’t need to understand why we prefer T-shirts and jeans over more formal dress.

We don’t need to understand what psychological machinations cause us to choose vodka over scotch.

We just like this over that.

We simply know what we like. And I think that holds true with reading. If we think about it, we may say we like romance because we love reading about that moment when two characters find one another and fall in love. But why ‘gay romance’ someone might ask. And I grant you the freedom to say, simply and truthfully, “I just do.”

Which brings me around to the real question on my mind this up-before-it’s light Seattle morning, why do we love who we love? From my own Rick no. 2 -ChaserFSpersonal experience, I can tell you that, for me, finding the person who might seem like the perfect mate on paper can often be the worst choice. My most disastrous relationship was with a man with whom I had the world in common. If we hadn’t headed down the romance road so quickly, we may have been great lifelong friends. But instead, we chased after a romance we both thought would be right, because we had so, so much in common.

But here’s the thing: we had no spark. There was no magic. And, ultimately, the romance we tried to forge withered on the vine.

Conversely, I have had relationships that have been totally wrong in almost every way for me (and that also ultimately didn’t work out), but for some indefinable reason, they were a lot of fun and there was a spark. Who knows why?

Now, I am fortunate enough to have found someone with whom we had a spark and with whom I’ve found harmony and that is one of my life’s most cherished blessings. But I have also grown old enough and wise enough not to look this gift horse of true love in the mouth and ask, “Why?”

The only answer, really, is “why not?” Because, whether it’s books or life partners, the answer to that question isn’t really what matters. What matters is, “I just do.”

What do you think?

Visit Rick’s website at http://www.rickrreed.com
or follow his blog at http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/.
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© Rick R. Reed, 2013, all rights reserved

Author

I am never sleepless in Seattle, because there’s always another book to read or another book to write.

28 comments

  • My partner and I laughed more than once that we weren’t who either of us thought we’d fall for. 😆 We were together for 22 years before I lost him to Cancer and he was my best friend, lover, and partner. I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world to have experienced that kind of unconditional love.

    I heard/read a comment a long time ago that has always fit for me be it friend or lover – “The heart wants who it wants.” 🙂

    Wonderful post, Rick! Thank you!

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

    Reply
  • Great post – I totally agree. I am getting to the age where I just won’t apologize for much any more – I am doing what I want to do for myself without having to justify why. Why not!

    Reply
  • What a great post! I really like your thoughts on both books and relationships.

    I have found the same to be true with a lot of friendships. Some great on paper, everything in common, yet personalities not clicking in reality.

    Reply
  • Thanks for your heart-felt thoughts, Rick. Mircea Eliade said in one of his early anthropological works that the greatest desire of the human heart is to know and be known. I believe that to be true for all, and I know it’s true for me. When two people share some aspect of that deep recognition of each other, that knowing — whether it’s as a friend, or spouse, or colleague — love comes with the knowing. The more accurate the knowing, the deeper the love.

    That’s my theory, and until I find a better one, I’m sticking to it!

    Great post, Rick. I really admire you. :blush:

    Reply
  • Lovely post, Rick. Happy Valentine’s Day

    As for reading romance, I just don’t LIKE het, never have, so discovering fiction like yours, like Josh Lanyon’s, Alan Chin’s, Charlie Cochrane’s, Aleksandr Voinov’s, Erastes’, has been a terrific emotional comfort.

    Reply

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