The romance genre is the largest in the publishing world. It makes more money each year than all other fictional genres combined. There are twenty-nine million readers who regularly pick up romance novels, and the average romance reader completes ten books a month. The incredible success of the genre would indicate that romance writers have tapped into the female fantasy in a way that our male partners would do well to take notice of.
Lysa Kay Adams has penned a brilliant series on this very premise called, The Bromance Book Club. In this series, a group of men read romance novels, which they refer to as “manuals,” to help them better understand and relate to their wives/partners. It takes them on a journey of self-discovery, empathy, and vulnerability. The sex gets better, too. If you’re interested in beginning your own Bromance Book Club, start with Adam’s work. But if you’re not ready for the deep dive, dip your toe into my top ten suggestions for husbanding like a romance novel hero, based on my own extensive “research” of the genre.
- Romance heroes are masters of the non-sexual touch. A go-to touch for a romance hero is to tuck the heroine’s hair behind her ear. This move is like catnip for women. Another favorite is the forehead kiss. And for extra effectiveness, rest your forehead on your wife’s forehead for a moment after the kiss. She will melt into a puddle at your feet.
- Romance heroes always smell good. Romance novels tend to be heavy on sensory details, including the hero and heroine’s scent, and the impact of scent on attraction. The olfactory system is connected to our “emotional brain,” (aka limbic system), memories, and sexual attraction. While preferences vary by individual and culture, women are generally drawn to woody notes and musk. Don’t worry, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on fancy fragrances, but good hygiene and a decent cologne or body wash/deodorant combo will go a long way.
- Romance heroes are protective. I might lose my feminist card for saying this, but the “alpha” is by far the most popular romance hero. There’s something about this archetype that calls to the primal cavewoman in each of us. The hallmark of the alpha is his protectiveness (sometimes over-protectiveness) of the heroine. Why do we like this? Maybe it’s the remnant of an evolutionary impulse to preserve the species. Maybe it’s our own internalized sexism. I don’t know; nor do I care. Being important enough to protect is appealing. So, have a care for your wife’s physical person. Make sure the doors are locked. Offer to go places with her at night. Make sure she knows how to throw a punch. And if a serial killer sets his sights on her, obviously you’ll be fighting him off with your bare hands. Do be aware- there’s a line between protectiveness and infantilizing your partner. Don’t cross it.
- Romance heroes are possessive. Fits of jealousy and sexual/social acts of “claiming,” are staples in this genre. And. We. Love. It. As with protectiveness, there’s a line. No one wants a husband who is suspicious and jealous all the time. No one wants an insecure partner who threatens innocent friendships and work relationships, or is incapable of trust. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be possessive in more emotionally healthy ways. Show the world you’re proud of your wife by making sure everyone knows she’s with you, and you’re with her. Introduce her as your partner. Use those non-sexual touches in public. If a guy is flirting with her, don’t be afraid to step in and put your arm around your woman. Those little flares of jealousy are hot, and make us feel desirable. You might also incorporate possessive language (especially in bed), such as “You’re mine, and I’m yours,” etc.
- Romance heroes have secrets they only tell their women. Often, in romance, the hero’s character development requires him to become more vulnerable with his partner. Vulnerability is part of intimacy and connection. If you want to romance your wife like a hero, let her into your mental and emotional world. To be sure, not everyone is wired to verbally process everything in their lives. That’s okay, but opening up about the important things to your wife will create intimacy and strengthen your bond.
- Romance heroes are physically and mentally present. One thing you’ll never see in a romance novel is a man sitting on a couch, staring at his phone. You won’t see a woman do that either. In romance, couples actually talk, play, or do things together. If nothing else, they’re doing each other. They’re interested in one another. It’s boring to read about two people who stare at twitter all evening. It’s also boring to be two people who stare at twitter all evening. So be present.
- Romance heroes always stand up for the heroine. It’s common in the genre to have an outside source of conflict (an ex-lover, relative, awful boss, etc.) that puts the heroine down. In these situations, you’ll always see the hero rise to her defense and/or encourage her to defend herself. I suspect it’s such a common trope because most women wish we had more of this from our partners. Women want to know you always have their back. So, if her family berates her, you might step in. If your family criticizes her, you should definitely step in and take your wife’s side. Even when you think she’s wrong, a hero doesn’t speak ill of his partner to others. Instead, hash that out in private and then have make-up sex. Speaking of sex…
- Romance heroes talk in bed. I’ve written a couple romance novels. One of my beta readers is a guy-friend, and he felt I had too much dialogue in the sex scenes. What he didn’t understand is that sex scenes in romance novels are FULL of dialogue. It’s not because women can’t stop talking; it’s because talking about sex, during sex, is a major turn-on! Think of it this way- most men like to see what’s going on during sex. You’re visually stimulated and tend to enjoy sexual positions that give you the best view. We understand this about you, which is the only reason anyone does reverse cowgirl (you’re welcome, by the way). Similarly, women are more auditorily stimulated. We like to hear about what’s going on. There are lots of websites you can visit to work on your dirty talk. You can also ask your wife what kinds of things she likes to hear. Not all women are the same. Some women want to be called “baby” and made to feel precious. Some women get turned on when they’re called a “slut” or “whore.” You should probably ask her what she likes and think about what would get you more turned on, too. You could start safely with simple phrases like: “You feel amazing.” “You look so hot/sexy/beautiful like that.” “I can’t wait to…” “I love your…” Pro-tip- read anything by Tessa Bailey. Her dirty talk is on fire.
- Romance heroes know she always comes first. You can interpret that however you will. I’ll add that it’s even better, she comes first, second, and fourth, because multiple orgasms are real, and not that difficult to achieve with a little effort.
- Finally, here’s a nugget about romance heroines. They love going down on heroes who go down on them first. Often. Without being asked. For as long as they need it. When she feels like you love doing that for her, she’ll enjoy giving you the same pleasure.
I hope you enjoyed these tips on how to husband like a romance novel hero!