Updated: Feb 2, 2022
Some of the fun in reading romance and relationship-focused fiction is watching two people negotiate their baggage and feelings, and find their way toward each other. When done well, you get to feel those feelings with them—the thrill and excitement and new relationship energy can be a high like no other. Recently though, I’ve gotten more interested in writing and reading about people ‘being’ in relationships and the complications that come from that. Part of it came from my curiosity about this new phrase that kept being thrown around in the last few years: “struggle love”. It has a kind of derisive tone to it, which for me at least implied that if it’s “real” love, it shouldn’t be a struggle. It should be as easy as breathing.
From once being talked about as a love that endures all kinds of unconscionable hardships like incarceration and addiction, ‘struggle love’ is becoming much more casually put out there, used to refer to just about every wrinkle that might arise like having a partner who earns less than you, or who has a kid from a previous relationship and a challenging co-parenting relationship with an ex. My view? Some of those things are just life ... and like it or not, relationships often come along—even good relationships—with some struggle. To that, people sometimes respond that well, you’re not ‘in love’ then, you’re just “trauma bonding.” Sigh.
My deal is this: love in real life is rarely like a romance novel. So, chances are, there’s gonna be some struggle. An interesting place I plan to explore more in my work is where and whether the struggle becomes too much. Having my characters grapple with where that line is for them. That’s the spot I’m living in right now—writing about imperfect, messy, and yeah, sometimes love through struggle. Can’t wait to see where this epiphany takes me, and hope you’ll come along.