When I wrote my first erotic romance 20 years ago, it was sold in the secret back section of book stores, sex novelty shops, or by mail order, in a plain brown wrapper. How things have changed since Fifty Shades of Grey! These books are so much more accessible now due the advent of the e-reader, the convenience (and addictive nature) of technological wonders such as the Amazon "one click" buying method, and the explosion in self-published books in the erotic romance genre.
Today, women are proud devotees of the erotic romance novel and books in this category -- love stories with lots and lots of sex in them -- are regularly ending up on all the bestseller lists.
Silvia Day is a top-selling author in their field and former president of Romance Writers of America, the national association for professional romance writers. She describes this category of fiction on her web site as: "Stories written about the development of a romantic relationship through sexual interaction. The sex is an inherent part of the story, character growth, and relationship development, and couldn't be removed without damaging the storyline. Happily Ever After is a REQUIREMENT to be an erotic romance."
Some readers insist these books help bring pizazz back to the love lives of committed partners and married couples.
Three psychologists I recently interviewed agreed that erotic romances can help you explore your fantasies, stimulate your libido and may bring you closer to the one you love.
Even though these books may be a little addictive, they can, overall, be positive for your love life.
They Offer Fun, Fantasy and Exploration
The benefits of erotic romances can fun and entertaining to read, encourage fantasy, and encourage explorations of new sexual activities in a safe way. These may be activities that you do or don't want to try in real life, or may not have the opportunity to try in real life. Do erotic romances create false expectations of men? Perhaps. But no more so than Disney, Jerry Maguire (since when do we need someone else to complete us?), or just about any romantic comedy ever made. If you are someone who left Mr. and Mrs. Smith feeling despondent that you are not married to Brad Pitt or left Harry Potter looking for your magic wand, then yes, you may want to exercise caution when reading erotic romances. However, for most people, erotic romance novels are fiction and can be used as wonderfully sexually stimulating tools for fantasy.
--Alexis Conason, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist, New York, NY
They Are Great Aphrodisiacs
Erotic romances are an important way to get in touch with your romantic feelings and sexual fantasies. They are a way to develop those fantasies, to better understand what you need, what turns you on, and what helps you feel very intimately connected with your partner. Erotic romances can be great aphrodisiacs, and truly a benefit to relationships. Or they can be a fulfillment in themselves and a detriment to your relationship. Isn't this true of so many things in life? If you can bring it home and share it, it's great. But if you escape into it, and meet your needs in a more solitary and self-absorbed way, it can become a problem or worsen existing problems. We want to feel the heat! But the important thing is to take those home, talk about them, enact them, experiment and be freer as a couple.
-- Carl G. Hindy, Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Nashua, NH
They Help You Accept Love
There are multiple benefits to erotic reading material. Specifically for those that are uncomfortable with intimacy or their sexuality, reading erotic romances can increase comfort. For couples that have problems with differing sex drives, I recommend reading these novels as foreplay or a way to increase desire. Additionally, these novels often describe relationships between individuals that learn to accept the love of another and be vulnerable. This is modeling positive outcomes for individuals that struggle with allowing themselves to be open and vulnerable in relationships.
-- Nerina Garcia-Arcement, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Brooklyn, NY
Have you ever read an erotic romance? Did you find that it helped make your relationship a little hotter?