Romance Novels As Addictive As Porn

We often hear news stories about how Internet pornography is becoming a detrimental influence on men, at times even breaking up relationships. But in our current cultural climate, it can often be all too easy to blame men—some are now arguing that romance novels are not only as addictive as pornography, but that they also affect the same areas in the brain. And the romance novel industry is nothing to laugh at, either—sales of romance novels apparently maxed at $1.36 billion in 2010.

KSL.com reports:

Romance novels are a booming business. Analysts believe book sales are increasing because romance novels provide a perfect escape during tough times.

Romance novels revenue topped $1.36 billion last year, while religious, self-help and inspirational books combined sold only $770 million. Romance novels accounted for 55 percent of all the popular mass-market fiction sold.

This seemingly harmless pastime, however, is not as harmless as it may seem.

“In fact, some marriage therapists caution that women can become as dangerously unbalanced by these books’ entrancing but distorted messages as men can be by the distorted messages of pornography,” said best-selling author Shaunti Feldhahn, who studies the differences between men and women.

According to psychologist Dr. Juli Slattery, author of “Finding the Hero in your Husband”, there are similarities between what happens to a man when he views pornography and what happens to a woman when she reads a romance novel.

“There is a neurochemical element with men and visual porn, but an emotional element with women and these novels,” she wrote.

Men are very visual, and viewing pornography produces a euphoric drug in the body. This drug is the reason pornography becomes addictive. When the natural high wears off, a man will crash and feel depressed (as happens with any drug) and crave another hit.

Women are more stimulated by romance than sex, so when they read romantic stories (and they don’t have to be explicit to work) they can experience the same addicting chemical release as men do.

What do you think—are the romance novel habit and the porn habit comparable?

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