This Is What Emily Henry’s Romance “Beach Read” Taught Me About Love

I recently read something that has cast my mind into deeper thoughts about love and relationships in general. By no means is my blog a book review site; however, every now and then, I find myself learning and reflecting from contemporary romance novels, sometimes using them as an easy escape from the dark realism of the complications love has to offer, but once in a while I am handed a novel that delivers such truth, I can’t help but reflect, find connections, and lessons that will serve me in my own journey through love and hopefully help others understand their own. 

Beach Read by Emily Henry is a book about second chance love between two rival authors, but also is accompanied by the main character’s more profound suffering when told, shortly after his passing, her father was cheating on her mother. The main character, January, finds herself approaching 29, with a failed relationship- which she thought was true love, crippling writer’s block, and a love for her father, but only for the warped narrative of the faithful husband and loving person that she knew him to be; not for who he actually was. This becomes a heavy theme in the book, dealing with love and facades. Obviously, there is much more to this book than I have displayed. I highly encourage romance enthusiasts to discover the depth that this novel brings, but more importantly, I want to share a piece of what this book taught me.

Often I feel we fool ourselves into loving parts of people that aren’t actually there. Sometimes I think most of us find comfort in doing this, highlighting the beautiful and deleting the ugly, mastering the art of ignoring the feelings of doubt in our heart and omitting any thought of incompatibility from our mind. Like January, some of us push ourselves into thinking we’ve found the love of our life, simply because “its time,” that if we pass the ripe age of 30, our chances of love will quickly dwindle; others do it because the person they found is “close enough” to whom they actually wanted. So we lie to ourselves. We participate in a delusion to fit the narrative we have already written because we think that’s the only thing that will make us feel whole; the perfect partner, the perfect plan, but more importantly, it’s our own. We do it because we need to have control of how our story goes. 

This isn’t love though, the true love we all search and yearn for. Those that go down this path of fabricating feelings that aren’t there learn this fairly quickly; we can’t force people to be who we need them to be. Eventually, our fairytale will be simply that, a tale we told ourselves to soothe us from the truth, resulting in confusion, loss, and pain on both sides. And just like January, we will procure another failed relationship, all of which could have been avoided if you admitted the person you’re with never met your needs. 

If you’re like me, saying that out loud seems rather harsh, the “I’m sorry, but this won’t work” bit. The “it’s not you, it’s me” or rather, “actually it is you” has never been my style and is simply an outdated way of saying the relationship is incompatible. I know that most people would rather skydive without a parachute before saying that line, but sometimes it just needs to be said. I know it’s easier to go along with the idea that it will all work itself out, maybe that eventually the qualities you now despise are just temporary, or you convince yourself that it’s okay to let things slide. Still, this mindset will only carry through the honeymoon phase and raise unresolvable problems in the relationship later on.

The novel taught me that we deserve true compatible love. Although difficult to find, we owe ourselves the opportunity to find it. We shouldn’t stay in mediocre relationships because we are scared to venture out and return empty-handed. 

Although it’s fiction, many of us crave the strong stability and connection that romance novels are encrypted with and think that such love doesn’t exist beyond the cream pages of any story. But it does.

I promise once you find the love of your life, you will know. You will not have to force yourself to stay or draw out compensations for traits in your partner you wish to dismiss. Because you’ll love all of them, even for their faults, you will love them. 

True love is when you truly see your lover for all that they are and love them effortlessly. 

So I encourage you to think critically about the love you deserve. 

Because now it’s time to run towards it with everything and all that you are. 

And when you take that first step, I promise, true love awaits you. 

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