It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, or the term I like to use more in my place of work, Relationship Violence Awareness Month (because I work with a population that just doesn’t fit the definition, legal or stereotypical, of domestic violence where heterosexual people are/were married, live/lived together, and/or have kids together. What about regular folks who just date??). I just think it’s really funny that our society doesn’t talk about relationship violence, but there are plenty of examples that get glorified in our favorite TV shows, movies, and books.
The romance genre is plagued with instances of unhealthy relationships and tropes. Yet some of the guiltiest works, we hold near and dear to our heart. The relationships be something people (*cough, cough* WOMEN) aspire to.
AND YET! I have just finished a book that gives me hope! The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai shows a healthy relationship (although not perfectly). Here are 3 things Samson and Rhiannon did right!
Number One: They didn’t start off hating each other…
Well, of course there was a misunderstanding, but the normal trope of “opposites” (code word for people who are too fundamentally different that they probably shouldn’t be together if there is this much animosity) attract was shaken up a bit. Too many times people who are too different end up doing some pretty unhealthy things to each other.
And yeah, Rhiannon’s trust issues caused her to lash out and not be the friendliest at times, but the fights never escalated to where she personally attacked Samson. And she was upfront with where her resentment stemmed from (still not an excuse).
These were two people who were actually compatible and not trying to force a relationship just ‘cause the sex is bomb. This happens too much in romances and chick lit (I hate chick lit and the term associated with it).
Number Two: Communication *spoiler alert*
While not the greatest communication at first (mostly Rhiannon, *exasperated sigh*), they did do some good things at the start of their relationship. They were open and honest about what they wanted and kept checking in to make sure they were on the same page.
Granted, Rhiannon would just leave encounters without explaining why she was mad, but eventually she opened up and became vulnerable. She and Samson also had a whole conversation about how communication is key in making their relationship work. I know that’s not revolutionary advice, but I’ve never read a romance where they had a conversation about their needs and what they would like to prioritize to make their relationship successful.
Who knew talking could be the solution to so many things in relationships??
Number Three: Condoms!
I don’t want to give away too much about the ending, but in the final sexy scene, Samson doesn’t have any condoms. And you know what they do? Other stuff that doesn’t involve condoms! Because they are responsible adults that respect each other’s decision not to go any further without safer sex supplies.
Too many times in movies, books, and porn, we see participants not using condoms, like that’s just the normal thing to do. Like people are so wrapped up in the moment they can’t wrap themselves up in the moment (see what I did there?). Don’t let these images, or a partner, talk you into having sex without a condom (or any other safer sex supplies) when you’re uncomfortable.
No relationship (or romance author) is perfect because people aren’t perfect, and love takes work. But I thought this story was great and it didn’t make my problematic radar go off. And they were people of color in love *swoon*.
Also, the sexy scenes get an A+ for hotness.
Give me some other romances that are healthy relationships!