Fifty Shades of Yay

Asking For It with Sibyl

Dear Sibyl,

I have a wonderful husband of 10 years and we have a good sex life.  Often, I need a little help to get me in the mood, my choice is romance novels.  Is this normal?  Should my husband take offense?  He's never complained, but I just hope I'm not hurting his feelings.

Thank You,

Romance Reader

Dear Romance Reader,

You're in good company.  The Romance novel is the bestselling fiction genre, ever.  According to Romance Writers of America's 2011 Romance Book Consumer survey, slightly more than half of survey respondents live with a spouse or significant other.  Some studies say that women who read romance novels have sex twice as often as those who don't.  Others say that a high level of romance reading is correlated with happy monogamous relationships.  So, to answer your initial question, your penchant for a little erotica fantasy reading is not only normal, it may be even helping your marriage.

The fact that you are worried about your reading habits, despite the fact that you are one of the ladies having hot married sex after reading a chapter of your romance novel of choice, makes me think you have some shame around this predilection.  Well, head on over to, where Sarah Wendell and Carly Tan, authors of Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels, facilitate a thriving online community of fellow romance readers.  They’ll help you realize you’re not alone, and give you some great suggestions for new reads.

As for your second question, I have no idea if your husband’s feelings are hurt by your romance reading.  For that, you’ll have to ask him!  And I highly suggest that you do.  A conversation about how he feels about the paperbacks stacked on your nightstand could lead to a juicy discussion of the fantasies that most intrigue you.  You may find yourself living out a few of them, with your very own leading man!

My hope is that he does not feel threatened by your fantasies, and the fact that they are spurred by stories in romance novels, as it belies your thriving intellect and playful libido.  He should feel glad to have a partner that is inventive in her interest in all things sexual.

However, if he is threatened by it, it’s best the two of you are honest about those feelings, in order to work through them.  Perhaps you could spend a night reading him some of your favorite passages?  Next thing you know, he may be swapping books with you!  A whole world could open up for the two of you.  I hope it is one with lots of lace and fur-lined handcuffs.



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