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/.
You can also like Rick on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
or on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/rickrreed.

© Rick R. Reed, 2013, all rights reserved


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

Jessica Skye Davies

Totally agree. I like coconut, my mother doesn’t. I prefer Tanqueray, my friend is a Bombay drinker. I’m all about salsa y merengue, some people are more bachata. :forit:

Lynn G

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!

Susan R

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!


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.

Lloyd Meeker
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… Read more »
Elin Gregory

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.


Lovely post, Rick. And so true. Why should I have to justify who or what I love? I just do. :hearts01:

F.E.Feeley Jr.

Wonderful post. You pondered one of life’s greatest mysteries. John and I found each other at the same school we went to. I noticed him wandering around campus with a cell phone permanently attached to his head and thought to myself. What a cutie. Then one day, he was talking to a professor friend of mine and I told myself, “I’m butting into this conversation.” I’m glad I did. We celebrated our 2nd year anniversary last December.

Fiona McGier
It was love at first sight for me, when that tall gangly man walked into the 60s party. I had already drunk so much that my brother carried me out the door, fireman-style, while I yelled, “You there, cute boy, party at our house next weekend!” He came,of course, to see if I was any different when not quite so inebriated. And he never left. I’d have married him after a week. It took him 2 years to decide he was ready. It’s been almost 30 years and 4 kids since then. And I’m still sure I made the right… Read more »
Charley Descoteaux

Great post! I like the mystery and am getting to the age where I don’t feel much need to explain myself, but sometimes when asked why I like/do a certain thing that old defensive reflex kicks-in. Next time, I hope I’ll remember to say, “I just do.” 🙂

Happy V-Day!

JP Bowie

It’s like that old song – “I don’t know why I love you like I do – I don’t know why I just do…” Phil and I are not together today. Funny how you don’t realise just what that means until it happens…lonely town. Nice post Rick, perfect for the day. Happy Valentine’ Day to all. Cheers, JP

Alex Beecroft

That’s very true. The more I think about it, the more I think the only answer is “because I’m wired that way.”

Cassi Reed

I think love can be summed up as love is love. No matter what it is, who it is, love just is. In all my loves whether it be my husband of nearly 25 years or dragons, it’s just love.

Thanks for a great blog. Happy Valentine’s Day!

George Seaton
What’s love? After 30 yrs. with my partner, I still don’t know the answer to that question. Summed up in one of my short stories: “Love hurts, or so the song says. Yes, and love laughs and love cries and love is silent and love is cacophonous and love is ugly and love is pretty and love is all there is and love is lacking and love is fulfilling and love is a tear and love is a smile and love is a nod and love is a mystery and love is known and love is unknown and love is… Read more »

When you posed that question I felt a twinge of panic, because I didn’t have an answer and I was supposed to, right? But no, YOU are right – who knows, why does it matter?

When we’re asked why we love a certain something, the question itself implies that there’s something not quite right about it, or at least not easily understandable. Why, indeed.

Mary G
Very thoughtful post Rick! I’ve often wondered too, not just who we fall in love with, but who we are friends with, who we trust with our true selves. Sorry but I chalk it up to simple “chemistry”. I met hubby on the phone – we worked for the same company but in 2 cities 90 miles apart. We just felt that pull. I’ve met lots of wonderful people on book blogs and when I met them at book conferences the pull was still there. We aren’t just friends once a year. The commonality is a sympatico, a comfort, words… Read more »
%d bloggers like this: