I remember a conversation I had with my mother-in-law years ago, long before I was a romance reader. She had said something to the effect that I should tell my husband often how much I need him because men need to hear that. I responded that I don’t need him and I wouldn’t lie about it. For me, needing a man would make me feel trapped, like I had no choice in the matter, and that is a situation that I promised I would never find myself in.
I relayed the conversation to my husband and he understood my side of the issue and didn’t say much else about it, but over the years, I’ve noticed that he absolutely LOVES it when I need his help with something. When I ask him to open jar, he’ll often respond with, “See, you do need me.”
The need vs. want issue is prevalent in a lot of romance novels. I know many people take issue with insta-lust between a hero and heroine. Personally, I prefer insta-lust to insta-hate that is magically resolved so they can find HEA. I can accept people finding immediate attraction or lust and wanting to build on that. When the relationship builds, though, I get uncomfortable when one partner thinks he/she can’t live without the other. The “you complete me” thinking irks me. (although I adore Jerry MacGuire)
In paranormals, often there is destiny or soulmate issues that draw the hero and heroine together. That, to me, falls under the need category. They need to be together to find fulfillment. Because this is often an alternate world, I find it bothers me less than the need to be together in a contemporary.
I think it says a lot more that I choose to have someone in my life. It says that I could have picked anyone, but it’s you I want to be with. I like to believe I have some choice in the matter.
Maybe that’s the romanticism of it — not being able to choose who you fall in love with and needing to be with that person. I don’t know.
This isn’t a deal breaker for me in a book. If an author has captured me with great characters, I’ll still go along for the ride, but I prefer it when the hero and heroine choose to be together.
What do you think is more romantic? Wanting or needing?