How Romance Novels Will Help With Online Dating

by Alex Weiss

The world of online dating is sometimes strange, sometimes wonderful, always tricky. As a book-lover, I'm just trying to figure out how reading romance novels can help my online dating game.

My book-nerd self has long considered online dating to be an artificial way of dating people. I always fantasized about meeting a partner while browsing through shelves at my favorite bookstore. I imagined us locking eyes and falling madly in love. Instantly, of course. I'm not saying that's an impossible dream, but it's not super realistic either. As it so happens, I met my current parter on Tinder — an app that I joined on a whim. It was certainly a learning experience.

While I was navigating the swipe-right-swipe-left world of online dating, I was also making my way through a large TBR of books — some of which were romance novels. Books are always there to help, and if you're in the pool of online dating, you might want to pick up a few romance novels. They'll show you that being a hopeless romantic isn't a bad thing, and taking bold risks is (almost) always worth it. Don't believe me? Well, here are nine ways romance novels will help boost your online dating game:

1. Romance Novels Remind You To Stay Creative

Romance novels are bursting with creative date ideas, discussion topics, and sexy ways to spice up your love life. Skip the average meet-and-greet at a coffee shop or local bar, and instead meet your online date at a museum, the park, or sign up for a Segway tour around your city. Take your cues from the adventurous heroines and heroes from your favorite novels. You won't regret it.

2. They Can Teach You How To Be Romantic

There are plenty of creepers in romance novels, but there's also also plenty of romantics who can charm someone like it was their college major. Learn how to be romantic (and respectful!) by taking cues from the characters from your favorite novels.

3. They're A Great Resource For Conversation Starters

Romance novels are overflowing with incredible one-liners. Some of these make for amazing opening lines. It can be terrifying to craft the perfect line to open a conversation with an online match, so why not get a little help from the experts? (We even tried a few of our favorite quotes on Tinder! Spoiler: they worked!)

4. They'll Remind You To Take Things Slow

When it comes to online dating, things can feel a little rushed. There's so many people and so many options and so many apps. Things can fizzle before they even truly begin. After reading some great romance novels, I've come to embrace the slow-but-steady route. Taking things slow — embracing the act of hand-holding or kissing — can really spice up a relationship and give you the opportunity to get to know each other before you dive into the physical stuff.

5. They'll Teach You Not To Judge A Person By Your First Impression

If you've been using dating sites or apps for a while now, you probably have an exhaustive list of dos and don'ts for your potential partner. But if you're too focused on the list, you might let a great match slip away. Sometimes, the best match for you might not be apparent right away. (Oh, hey Lizzie and Mr. Darcy.) Romance novels can help you better understand why you need to take a step back and get to know a person before you make any judgment calls.

(There's even an entire book — Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard — that ends in disaster and murder when four women create a Mr. Perfect checklist. Spooky.)

6. They Inspire You To Take The First Move

Romance novels are about female empowerment. Many of these novels feature women who have taken control of their lives, their relationships, and their sexualities. Take a cue from these women and make the first move.

7. They'll Teach You To Stop Searching For The "Perfect" Guy Or Girl

No one is perfect, and the search for the perfect partner will only end in disappointment. Romance novels do a beautiful job of presenting flawed heroes and heroines who deserve to be loved despite their foibles.

8. They'll Teach You To Be Realistic About Your Expectations

Romance novels remind you that not everything will be rainbows and puppies and roses all the time. They remind you that being in love is hard work. They remind you that compromise is essential. Most of all, they remind you to be realistic about what your personal happiness looks like and the work necessary to achieve your Happily Ever After.

9. They'll Remind You That Anything Is Possible If You Keep An Open Mind

Dating isn't always fun. Between the swiping and the ghosting, it can sometimes be really, really uncomfortable. But romance novels are a reminder that happiness is possible. There may be a few bumps in the road, but the journey will be worth it in the end.

Beginning on August 1, Bustle will host Romance Novel Month, a celebration and examination of the romance novel genre. But don't worry, romance readers: the coverage won't end in August. We're proud to support romance novels, and we will continue to do so all year long.

Images: Alyssa Foote/Bustle