Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

primeaddict

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
For me, it is astonishing to read that someone thinks that it requires conscious effort for love to be a part of sex. My perspective, thoughts, feelings, have always been that it is impossible for sex to be separated from love. Oh, indeed, it is possible to experience sex without love, but it is a degrading and demoralizing experience that one would surely not wish to repeat. It is also possible for bodily urges to overwhelm a person and cause them to imagine love is present when it is not - often resulting in great suffering.
It was astounding to me to when I saw how some people do not make this connection with love and sex. I did not see it in myself until I encounters a few people that sex was intense and passionate but without love. I could not fathom such an existence so I had to look deep within myself to see that yes I could be such a heartless toad but I never wanted to. I then realized that the connect between love and sex requires a personal commitment to infusing sex with love but for those of us that love so freely this commitment is automatic and that is why we cannot see any separation. I always felt cold around the few people that were like that.

Yes, love can exist without sex; we love different people in many ways. But there is emotional/spiritual love that is enhanced and enriched by physical love expressions and would be incomplete without such manifestations in some way.
So true.

In a sense, I think the Hermetic Maxim might apply here: "As above, so below." A high, intense, singular love must necessarily express itself here below in intense, singular physical actions.

I read a very moving statement by one character in a book I read recently (unfortunately, can say which one). After trials and troubles that get settled, the man says to the woman something like: "I love and will make love to you as long as my body has strength; and when I am old and unable, I will still be making love to you in my heart and mind." I cried when I read that because it was so true and deeply meaningful.
That does warm my heart too.

However, it would also scare me to have someone say that to me. As a chiropractor I had patient's who so admired me and thought I walked on water. When they say me outside the office in everyday clothes they would change their tune. I soon cringed when any patient spoke so highly of me and how they admired me. Knowing that it would crash and burn when they saw that I was not that hero.

"I love and will make love to you as long as my body has strength; and when I am old and unable, I will still be making love to you in my heart and mind." How could anyone ever live up to such love? I would hope that I could but would be terrified of screwing it up and losing it.

My main point in posting my reaction towards sex scenes was to point out it has changed I am not sure why. Still trying to peal the onion on this and every ones response to it is helping, and especially yours, but I still need to contemplate.
 

Redrock12

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Well, an interesting development has happened since I posted the above, namely the MindmattSers Interview with Mary B. When asked who her favorite authors are, she stated that one of them is Michael Connelly. As well, she mentions she reads a couple of Canadian women authors of the crime genre, which I'm going to have a look at. Like myself, she obviously enjoys the crime genre. Needless to say, I found that quite interesting. So, curiosity getting the best of me, I finished reading The Law of Innocence.
At this time, I was just completing book seven of the Westcott series Someone To Romance. Interestingly, there are some parallels between the two narratives. Both of the male protagonists are accused, but innocent of, murder. Gabriel Thorne is accused of rape as well. And both have to prove their innocence, Connelly's Mickey Haller in an LA court of law, where the odds are stacked against him, and MB's Gabriel Thorne, who had to flee to North America to avoid being hung, but had to return to England to claim his rightful inheritance, and deal with the charges against him.
Anyway, both are found innocent, of course. What's also interesting is both of the real criminals are shot and killed while trying to exact revenge on the protagonists, by gunfire. There are probably other parallels as well, but I'll leave that to someone with more expertise than I have to tease it out.
FWIW
Yeah, STR was actually quite an interesting and compelling read, as well as the aforementioned parallel themes with The Law of Innocence. but STR, imo, clearly illustrates the mythos of the Universal Hero via the protagonist Gabriel Thorne: fleeing to America to avoid the hangman owing to unjust accusations of murder and rape, his return to claim his rightful inheritance, clear his name, rescue the weak and powerless in his care, reveal the true villain and exact justice, and court and marry his Lady. Shades of The Odyssey.
I really loved Jessica's character, ie her refusal to accept Gabriel's offer of marriage, based purely on her social status and physical attractivenes, without him acknowledging and accepting her for WHO, rather than WHAT she is. As well, her complete commitment to Gabriel as his wife.
And, like all of the Westcott novels, the power of the extended family as a STO countervailing force to the STS dynamic is wonderfully illustrated in this narrative. Mary B's universal mind was in high gear in this one.
 

Redrock12

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Now, Someone to Remember. (I read it in sequence, after Someone To Honor) :cool: This one hit a sore spot. All the regrets that Viscount Dirkson and Matilda have over not marrying in their early twenties and losing the opportunity for a fulfilling life brought back the years I wasted in anger, guilt and remorse when I could have had a more productive and fulfilling life. But that was then and this is now. Back then there was no Fellowship, I guess I was born into the time I was, maybe for a reason or purpose, or a lesson, only the DCM can comprehend.
Nevertheless, like I've said before, Better Late Than Never.
 
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Mikkael

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
I am noticing how going through this thread and reading others impressions assist me in my better understanding, not only what I read but also helps to point me towards finer points of what I had personally experienced in the past and while reliving that past experience brings me a lot there's always something more. During the reading of Devil Riders series, I remembered one event from my relationship, which as short lived as it was (ended after four months) but anyhow kept going afterwards and was continuing as hit-and-run-making-love affair on girl's terms and which usually left me hurt. I didn't know how to say no and so I suffered. If I could change the script, which I can picture myself in it differently; well at least I can do that and to think gently of my past as young fool. What didn't occur to me until I came across Anthony's post, where he describes weak boundaries, that that was exactly my problem then 20 y ago. I suspect this might be possibly a pattern but I didn't get much further pondering it. I didn't identify with the characters in DRs series as much as in Marriage of Convenience (Calbourne) but it was nonetheless satisfying to be following their love stories to their happily ever afters.
 

John G

The Living Force
I read a very moving statement by one character in a book I read recently (unfortunately, can say which one). After trials and troubles that get settled, the man says to the woman something like: "I love and will make love to you as long as my body has strength; and when I am old and unable, I will still be making love to you in my heart and mind." I cried when I read that because it was so true and deeply meaningful.

That does warm my heart too.

However, it would also scare me to have someone say that to me. As a chiropractor I had patient's who so admired me and thought I walked on water. When they say me outside the office in everyday clothes they would change their tune. I soon cringed when any patient spoke so highly of me and how they admired me. Knowing that it would crash and burn when they saw that I was not that hero.

"I love and will make love to you as long as my body has strength; and when I am old and unable, I will still be making love to you in my heart and mind." How could anyone ever live up to such love? I would hope that I could but would be terrified of screwing it up and losing it.

My main point in posting my reaction towards sex scenes was to point out it has changed I am not sure why. Still trying to peal the onion on this and every ones response to it is helping, and especially yours, but I still need to contemplate.
You don't really have to live up to a love like that; that kind of love would let you go if that was what you needed. The part that kind of bothers me is that I think an obsessed but good person could say many of the same things as the deeply in love person and a good but not in love friend could give you sex in some form if she felt you desperately needed it. I do think the sex in some form idea is important since as Mrs. Peel mentioned, you can certainly get a "missing out" vibe from these novels if you think too much. I didn't have a first kiss until my 30s and kissing has never done anything at all for me so I tend to think would kissing have been better in my teens and twenties? I could say similar things about more than kissing. Sex in some form is basically a gift to the person you love; these novels just have people who are really good at gift giving. I suppose the difference between obsession and love is the obsession has to grow into love in order to last into old age and the obsessed over is at best only going to give a short term gift if it doesn't grow into love.

I wrote a pretend Facebook message to the girl I was obsessed with and devastated by rejection from in high school (her gift to me afterwards was simply sitting next to me and letting me look at her for a whole free period without any of us saying a word):

Hi. It's been 40+ years since I last saw you. Let's say in another 40+ years I see you again in the afterlife, could I have a hello hug in heaven since I missed out on the hasta la vista hug in high school? Yeah I know you were in my German class not my Spanish class but the Spanish has better alliteration. For some reason I got much better grades in Spanish than German. Wonder why that was?

Yeah it's corny but corny oddly played well online. My only kissed girls, I met online. Corny might have worked OK in person in my teens and twenties too but it was much easier to hit a send button in my thirties than to get words out of the mouth in my teens and twenties. Corny online flirting transitioned into corny Dad humor though I can still interrupt my wife with corny naughtiness like if my wife says something like "Um honey something came up and I..." then I can say "Oh Yeah!" and rub against her. Somewhere in the humor is something needed if only in a positive dissociation sense kind of like with Balogh not minding if someone is just reading for entertainment at the moment.
 

Adaryn

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
You don't really have to live up to a love like that; that kind of love would let you go if that was what you needed. The part that kind of bothers me is that I think an obsessed but good person could say many of the same things as the deeply in love person and a good but not in love friend could give you sex in some form if she felt you desperately needed it.

I personally find the very idea appalling. In such matters, I can't find anything more condescending than treating anyone like a "charity case", and nothing more degrading and humiliating than being treated as such by a so-called "friend". I'm chuckling writing this because the expression "charity case" comes from my favourite character in Irresistible, Lavinia, whose cousin asked Lord Pelham (who'd eventually become her love interest) to offer to dance with her at her first ball to make sure she at least had one dance partner and didn't stay on the sidelines. She refused, pointing out that she was not a charity case. I cheered when I read that.
In the novels, the characters don't crave sex, they crave each other - big difference. It's the attraction/connection that makes them long for physical intimacy with this particular person (and not with anyone else). Not the other way around.
I'm beginning to think my experiences with intimacy were always underwelming and disappointing because of that very factor. I had it all backwards. Looking back, I think I never met anyone who I was truly compatible with and who I really liked and it was reciprocated (even when I fancied myself in love). There was always something amiss, even if there was apparent intellectual or even (to some extent) emotional compatibility.

Sex in some form is basically a gift to the person you love; these novels just have people who are really good at gift giving

Yes, but it has to go both ways. Otherwise it'll never work.
 

ryu

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
You don't really have to live up to a love like that; that kind of love would let you go if that was what you needed. The part that kind of bothers me is that I think an obsessed but good person could say many of the same things as the deeply in love person and a good but not in love friend could give you sex in some form if she felt you desperately needed it. I do think the sex in some form idea is important since as Mrs. Peel mentioned, you can certainly get a "missing out" vibe from these novels if you think too much. I didn't have a first kiss until my 30s and kissing has never done anything at all for me so I tend to think would kissing have been better in my teens and twenties? I could say similar things about more than kissing. Sex in some form is basically a gift to the person you love; these novels just have people who are really good at gift giving. I suppose the difference between obsession and love is the obsession has to grow into love in order to last into old age and the obsessed over is at best only going to give a short term gift if it doesn't grow into love.

I wrote a pretend Facebook message to the girl I was obsessed with and devastated by rejection from in high school (her gift to me afterwards was simply sitting next to me and letting me look at her for a whole free period without any of us saying a word):



Yeah it's corny but corny oddly played well online. My only kissed girls, I met online. Corny might have worked OK in person in my teens and twenties too but it was much easier to hit a send button in my thirties than to get words out of the mouth in my teens and twenties. Corny online flirting transitioned into corny Dad humor though I can still interrupt my wife with corny naughtiness like if my wife says something like "Um honey something came up and I..." then I can say "Oh Yeah!" and rub against her. Somewhere in the humor is something needed if only in a positive dissociation sense kind of like with Balogh not minding if someone is just reading for entertainment at the moment.

If a male friend asked me to give him sex in one form or another because poor dear is feeling desperate, two things would happen:
- 1) he would stop being my friend this instant.
- 2) he would get an inkling of what the wrath of God looks like.

I don't know what your definition of friendship is, but a true friendship no matter the genders, the sexual orientations involved are based on respect, consideration, care and a acute awareness of how fragile, how precious that friendship is.

For a man and a woman, it is tremendous work on both parts to achieve a true and genuine friendship, where the pair will care, trust, support and respect one another, will be careful not to take too much place in the other's life so that he/she will have space to look for and find a partner. It is accepting without resentment that the friend may find a partner that is not accepting of your friendship, and in this case, let your friend go. This is true friendship, and this is so rare that the idea of pity sex would be preposterous and insulting, to put it midly.
 

seek10

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Devil Riders series by Anne Gracie is good. Excellent in fact. Read them in order.
Currently I was reading Devil riders series. I was really fascinated by Anne Gracie style and it became like addiction. I finished third one "To Catch a bride" and read the ending 3 times. It was interesting how she transformed a miserable, hopeless street rat to would-be-Countess , just through "Character" shining through adversity and circumstances with no identification to the end result. Most importantly those words of wisdom that is were written as internal dialogue or conversation sprinkled all over the book. I know some of you said "Anne Gracie" is the best , probably I am slowly joining in the club. It is interesting authors like Julia Quinn and Anna Harrington give very high marks to her saying they won't miss Anne Gracie's books.

Before this series, I read Georgette Hayes "Those Old Shades". I think they are some what different from other authors.

Before that I read the Ravenels series by Lisa Kleypas. She was very good and I really enjoyed them.

My personnel style of reading is through electronic form and highlight it when I am reading so that I can revisit the highlighted portion. Many times Often, they fall under different categories as "Words of wisdom"( under specific circumstances) or set of emotions aroused in specific characters that i didn't acknowledged as they are and so on. This made me wonder, whether we can store those snippets( or little paragraphs) in one place and share it, just like we maintained the recommended books.

This will result in interesting problem as the page numbers won't be consistent( book version and electronic versions etc.) , but chapters will be consistent. If more people put the quotes they liked after checking it is not in the list, there may be less duplicates. Again, context of the story and character's specific circumstances are super important in interpreting. If you think that is useful, I can think of creating a way( google forms or html form) that stores the information in Google sheet and displayed through data studio report( or HTML). What do you think?
 

Carl

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thanks so much for suggesting this!

I was very slow with this at first, but since being consistently reminded of the benefits of this exercise I have managed to read 4 of the books of the survivors series and I am trying to read them at an increasing pace. That's no difficulty as they are absolute page turners and it's a good opportunity to practice speed reading.

As well as enjoying the strong friendships of the characters and empathizing with their suffering deeply, I'm finding that in each of the characters I identify a "piece" of what makes a good relationship, what it means to be a good lover, and what makes up a person in general. With each piece gathered I see how I am lacking in some area, and moreover how I have been effected by being submersed in what I can only describe a toxic vat of modern society and modern ideas of sex and relationships. I have some downright wrongheaded ideas, perceptions etc., many probably totally unconscious.

The whole exercise is also generally a super interesting pursuit, in that the universe seems to hide value where nobody looks for it, and Laura has found it. The message we somehow absorb about romance novels in general is unequivocally that they are only for middle-aged women, and I simply had no idea that period romances were even a thing. What a devilish place to hide such a treasure trove of value, for men especially! While even those of us who still have some testosterone and haven't fully submitted to the victimhood/leftist/vegan agenda, are still generally misguided and looking in all the wrong places for how to be manly.
 

Redrock12

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I personally find the very idea appalling. In such matters, I can't find anything more condescending than treating anyone like a "charity case", and nothing more degrading and humiliating than being treated as such by a so-called "friend". I'm chuckling writing this because the expression "charity case" comes from my favourite character in Irresistible, Lavinia, whose cousin asked Lord Pelham (who'd eventually become her love interest) to offer to dance with her at her first ball to make sure she at least had one dance partner and didn't stay on the sidelines. She refused, pointing out that she was not a charity case. I cheered when I read that.
In the novels, the characters don't crave sex, they crave each other - big difference. It's the attraction/connection that makes them long for physical intimacy with this particular person (and not with anyone else). Not the other way around.
I'm beginning to think my experiences with intimacy were always underwelming and disappointing because of that very factor. I had it all backwards. Looking back, I think I never met anyone who I was truly compatible with and who I really liked and it was reciprocated (even when I fancied myself in love). There was always something amiss, even if there was apparent intellectual or even (to some extent) emotional compatibility.



Yes, but it has to go both ways. Otherwise it'll never work.
This whole discussion, with ryu as well, brought back fond memories of a relationship I had that held a spark of affection and love which never evolved to the stage of sexual intimacy. It was when I was in college in about '91. I think she was in one of my classes. I can't even remember how it started. What I do remember we would occasionally meet for lunch at a Bonanza Restaurant near the campus and would have conversations on any number of things. And they would be interesting, relaxed, and often humorous but nothing overly serious or controversial. I don't know why, but this issue being discussed brought the memory of her to mind. I found her incredibly attractive, but I think it was beyond just physical beauty, rather emanating from her whole person. I would just describe her as a very sweet and gentle person as well. I can't remember why we stopped meeting, probably because the semester was over, or she moved away for any number of reasons. Who knows, but if it would have continued for a while longer it might well have evolved into a more intimate relationship and eventually marriage. But while we were engaged in our restaurant rendevous the issue of sex was never discussed or contemplated. And, writing this, I have, for want of a better term, a warm feeling of wistfulness for her and hope that her life turned out well.
FWIW
 

loreta

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
One of the main features of these romantic characters is communion. It is possible. It takes work but it is there. As is also there the kindness and gentleness, the patience, the courage. The good education, the respect of the free will, and the study of oneself.

There is also the respect of convenience. Education, other programs, of course.

As far as if I have ever had an affair of this caliber, romantic and communicative it is : no. But yes in a dream that is recurring. In these dreams there is this man that I do not see from the front. This is not an erotic dream at all. This man takes me in his arms and for me this gesture, this feeling of happiness and quietude, of communion with another is there. Sometimes we are in a train, other times in a room and always I don't know who he is, his arms surround me and I can rest. When I read this kind of situation between the characters of these novels I remember this mysterious man of my dreams who comes to visit me from time to time. I come to believe that this communion is with myself, just as these romantic characters have it with themselves first of all.
 

primeaddict

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
In the Chance Sisters Series by Anne Gracie there is a sub plot about prostitution. It triggered a memory of going to a Broadway Play in Minneapolis MN, Les Misérables. We were seated in the 5th row, stage left. When Ruthie Henshall, as Fantine, sang I Dreamed a Dream she was up front, stage left. I was transfixed and flayed by the pure and fantastic emotional delivery. A song of innocence ripped to shreds by a harsh life. It tore me to sheds. It was a profound experience to be so moved by a beautiful performance of such a tragic character.

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John G

The Living Force
You don't really have to live up to a love like that; that kind of love would let you go if that was what you needed. The part that kind of bothers me is that I think an obsessed but good person could say many of the same things as the deeply in love person and a good but not in love friend could give you sex in some form if she felt you desperately needed it.

I personally find the very idea appalling. In such matters, I can't find anything more condescending than treating anyone like a "charity case", and nothing more degrading and humiliating than being treated as such by a so-called "friend". I'm chuckling writing this because the expression "charity case" comes from my favourite character in Irresistible, Lavinia, whose cousin asked Lord Pelham (who'd eventually become her love interest) to offer to dance with her at her first ball to make sure she at least had one dance partner and didn't stay on the sidelines. She refused, pointing out that she was not a charity case. I cheered when I read that.
In the novels, the characters don't crave sex, they crave each other - big difference. It's the attraction/connection that makes them long for physical intimacy with this particular person (and not with anyone else). Not the other way around.
I'm beginning to think my experiences with intimacy were always underwelming and disappointing because of that very factor. I had it all backwards. Looking back, I think I never met anyone who I was truly compatible with and who I really liked and it was reciprocated (even when I fancied myself in love). There was always something amiss, even if there was apparent intellectual or even (to some extent) emotional compatibility.
Novel-wise I was thinking Silent Melody for this since there were a couple of sex scenes where one of them was at a very low point and being helped by the other even though it looked at the time like they weren't going to have a long term relationship. My life-wise I was thinking when the girl who got a boyfriend and devastated me in high school went and sat next to me and let me look at her during our free period. I do though know what you mean kind of since the room I was in when she sat next to me was picked by me for the reason that there was no way she would find me there and I just wanted to stay away from her; I think she just wanted my last memory of her to be a good one. I was kind of just amazed that finding where I was, was on her radar. I'm being very loose with sex in some form since her just sitting next to me silent like that was the best sex I had in my teens through twenties.
 
After resistance to this exercise, I finally gave in and wanted to see what I was missing. I just finished listening to Anne Gracie's A Perfect Rake. Listening to books for me has always lead to more a vivid imagining of the story and characters. One of the best teachers I had in my life was my high school English teacher who said, "every time you read a novel you should have actors/actresses picked out for your characters and as soon as you start reading it should be a like a movie in your mind." No other teacher taught me that. Even when learning to read--the emphasis was on learning the words not in the imagining. Anyways.

The first chapter or two I felt a little blah about it, but then I got into it because I actually started to love the main characters--Gideon and Prudence and their love story. It's cliche, but it was a love story that healed the deepest wounds for both characters. The story of Prudence being pregnant when she barely knew what sex was and then being left by her fiance Phillip Otterclogs ;-) was heart-wrenching for me. I do think that it triggered some past life feelings as being pregnant, young and vulnerable had been a fear of mine when I was a young teenager .

It also was a nice change for my attention to focus on love rather than all the lies and evil that's going on in the world right now. Because I know that I can get into a mild dissociative/obsessive state with it all. It is so clear that the need to stay "balanced" in these times of turmoil as the Cs have said but it really is so hard for me.

What I found was that the loving sex that the characters had unlocked their bodies, their emotions and their wounds. I was scrolling through my Facebook feed which is usually a bad idea, but there was a quote by an English Buddhist monk named Ajahn Sucitto who I really admire. This particular quote I think expresses something I felt when reading. He said: "The felt sense arises as the heart turns to the body. When you experience emotion in your body, what is the felt sense? The body expresses itself in terms of somatic energy. So tune into that felt sense of the body; not the interpretation but the emotion in the body. Find the key that unlocks the door. It's a slow and mysterious process. Let the heart and body start to dialogue."

Before A Perfect Rake, I had been listening to Shirley by Charlotte Bronte which I thought was an incredible book. It's a romance (among other things), and if you know anything about Charlotte Bronte, she did not have much romance in her life. She was in unrequited love relationship with her professor in Belgium and then got married in her thirties. She died early on in her marriage and I believe she might have been a few month pregnant. Something about the romance/love in Shirley was abstract, longing for love rather than love being fulfilled and healing. The other story lines of the novel such as crushing loneliness/despair, longing for mother were well-developed in the book I think because Bronte had lived those: Shirley (novel) - Wikipedia

Anyways, I can see why the Victorian novelists may not cut it in this particular exercise.
 

hlat

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Currently I was reading Devil riders series. I was really fascinated by Anne Gracie style and it became like addiction. I finished third one "To Catch a bride" and read the ending 3 times. It was interesting how she transformed a miserable, hopeless street rat to would-be-Countess , just through "Character" shining through adversity and circumstances with no identification to the end result. Most importantly those words of wisdom that is were written as internal dialogue or conversation sprinkled all over the book. I know some of you said "Anne Gracie" is the best , probably I am slowly joining in the club. It is interesting authors like Julia Quinn and Anna Harrington give very high marks to her saying they won't miss Anne Gracie's books.
Anne Gracie is my favorite, and she will be coming out with a new series around October. There's just something about her writing that clicks with me, and I find it really funny. My wife saw my chuckling a lot during book 4 The Accidental Wedding, and after she read it, she said she didn't laugh much and asked what parts were funny. I didn't remember by that time.

Novel-wise I was thinking Silent Melody for this since there were a couple of sex scenes where one of them was at a very low point and being helped by the other even though it looked at the time like they weren't going to have a long term relationship.
I don't know why you would think that.
Emily was in love with Ash basically since the first time she met him, and definitely by the time he left for India. She never stopped loving him, and when he came back broken, she knew what she had to do for him. Had he told her everything when he returned instead of being an idiot and holding back, they might have married immediately. It really had nothing to do with a sex crazed or starved man getting pity sex from a friend. He was an idiot in Heartless, and had to learn his lesson through extreme suffering.
 
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