Relationship Advice from YA Literature (and why I avoid it)

Today’s post is a little off the beaten path from my journey through online dating, but I want to give a shout out to Matt.

This aspiring young writer has been featured in Freshly Pressed and is giving a good name to teenagers who choose to pursue excellence, refusing to allow youth to be a convenient crutch for poor writing. As a former Jr. High and High School English teacher, I say, “Hats off to you, Matt!”

This weekend, Matt is hosting a blog party, the theme of which is “Young Adult Literature,” and I decided to chime in.

What, you may ask, does Young Adult Literature have to do with Online Dating? Well, one thing that young adults and not-so-young adults-engaged-in-online-dating all have in common is the desperate need for advice when navigating the rocky realms of relationships. Just tonight, in fact, I sent an S.O.S. to one of the few men who has been on a date with me yet still remains my friend after all was said and done. My desperate plea for intervention included the line: “I totally fail at this first date thing. . . what am I doing wrong?”

We all need help from time to time.

When in need of advice, though, it is imperative that one obtain it from a reliable source. [If you were seeking advice on how not to create an online dating profile, my blog would be an excellent resource. If I am seeking help in identifying my first-date-faux-pax committals, a man who has survived a first date with me and still likes me enough to keep in touch would be a reliable place to begin seeking information.] One place I would NOT seek relationship advice from is a YA novel.

Don’t get me wrong–I have nothing against YA literature. This past summer, I read the entire Harry Potter series, the Percy Jackson books, the first five installments in the Series of Unfortunate Events, and the Matched, Crossed, Reached trilogy. In the past, I’ve read the Hunger Games as well as the Twilight series; and Divergent is currently sitting on my bookshelf (along with dozens of other books I no longer have time to read now that I’m working two jobs while trying to maintain a social life and a blog).

So rest assured that I feel no animosity toward YA Literature. That said, I offer the following four reasons why I would NEVER seek relationship advice from a YA novel:

1. Stalking Isn’t Sexy
Twilight has convinced an entire generation of impressionable young women that a man appearing in her bedroom while she sleeps is not only acceptable behavior, but also desirable ROMANTIC behavior. ( >_< ) [FYI: this is called STALKING.] Ladies, he may be be rich, he may be cultured, he may be drop-dead gorgeous [or just undead], BUT [whatever the state of his mortality (or lack thereof)], if he shows up unannounced in your bedroom, cuddling with him is NOT a psychologically healthy option to choose. (The shotgun in the closet gets my vote.)

2. Obsession is Unhealthy
From time to time, the love of one’s life leaves one’s life. The solution is not to curl up in a metaphorical fetal position, living life in numb, hazy autopilot, compelled toward suicidal tendencies due to the hopeless despair of lost love. It is ridiculous self-centeredness in Romeo and Juliet, and it is just as ridiculous and self-centered in Twilight. Love is about self sacrifice as two people become one, not one person becoming your entire reason for existence.  (so what if I’ve isolated myself from family and friends? So what if I’m attempting to have a relationship in a people-less vacuum? What could POSSIBLY go wrong with that?)

3. Expectations of Love Triangles
Oh no! I don’t have two equal-but-oppositely hunky men fighting over me! Something must be desperately wrong! From Twilight to Hunger Games to countless other YA novels, the message is clear: love consists of love triangles. If two men aren’t waging war over me, something just isn’t right.

4. Amateur Amours 
One of the best things about YA literature is that its characters are relate-able. On the other hand, one of the most terrible things about YA literature is that its characters are relate-able. I do NOT want to model any relationship decisions after characters who are in the same boat I am, or who are engaged in a similar process of trial and error. I would MUCH rather get advice from someone who has already been around this block and can tell me the errors without me having to experience them for myself. If I can identify with a character, chances are I do not want to IMITATE anything about that character. I don’t want advice from someone making the same guesses. Oh no, I want sage wisdom from someone who has been here, done that, bought the t-shirt, and written the best-selling book. Learn from the professionals, not the newbies.

So there you have it–four reasons why I will never seek relationship advice from YA literature, no matter how fun it might be to read.
But heaven knows I need help from somewhere because I had first date #5 tonight, and it ended “not with a bang, but a whimper.”

Young Adult Literature Blog Party Link

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16 thoughts on “Relationship Advice from YA Literature (and why I avoid it)

  1. Great post. I’m glad you participated in the blog party, this was definitely a different perspective. Glad you went “off the beaten path” 😉

    By the way, I’ve done online dating in the past. To me it wasn’t weird, even if my friends thought otherwise. I definitely met some “interesting” people. Have you ever seen the show Catfish (MTV)? Makes me grateful I never had an experience like that!

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  2. Pingback: I Guess You Could Say This Has Been a Success | The Little Engine that Couldn't

    1. I got frustrated with Percy and Annabeth because Percy never actually made a choice. I forget the rival love interest’s name. She became the prophet in the attic. But instead of him making a clear choice of “Definitely Annabeth”, he was sort of lost in this sea of confusion and very susceptible to relational convenience. Basically, the hardest decision was made for him when prophet-girl decided her path didn’t involve him (As opposed to him saying, “you know, you’re great and all, but I love Annabeth.”) How convenient it was that prophet girl chose to become the equivalent of a mythological nun ^_-

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  3. So, so true! And you managed to be humorous while being critical. My favorite relationship in YA literature when I was growing up was between the girl & guy in Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. They had a very sweet relationship, and were always asking each other for “blackberry kisses.”

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    1. Thank you! I haven’t read that book.
      I don’t know if I have a favorite relationship…. hmmm…. probably Twilight because it’s so awful and fun to make fun of. ^_^

      My favorite literary relationship is probably Lizzie Bennett and Mr. Darcy.

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  4. Love the uncanny accuracy of this post. Unfortunately, I’ve fallen victim to the illusions YA Literature provides, hopeful that two hunks will be ready to give up their seemingly meaningless (at least without me) lives.

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  5. Pingback: In Which I’m Still Trying to Find Myself, But Others Find Me Humorous(ly) | Euphonic Charity

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