Advice from the Trenches: Hooked on RomCom


Welcome to Advice From the Trenches, a monthly feature on NRI NOW

Advice From The Trenches combines the clinical experience of a double boarded psychiatrist, with a slap-in-the-face dose of reality from an artist and writer who has gathered her wisdom from the school of hard-knocks.

Do you having a burning question for the duo? Send your thoughts, ideas and woes to [email protected]. Don’t forget to mention that you’re an NRI NOW reader so we can be sure to publish the answer here!

Dear B and C

My 18 year old daughter is hooked on romantic books and RomCom movies. Hell, so am I and so was my mother. They are a great escape. But I had a tough experience that taught me none of it is real. I don’t want my daughter to have to learn the same lesson the hard way.

I have good reason to worry – my mom, who should have also known better, got herself taken for $30,000 because of an internet love scheme. She became very lonely after my dad died and the guy who took her money also took advantage of her vulnerability. He promised he would take care of her and be there for her, and It was just what she wanted to hear. She was ready to give him everything.

My daughter could easily fall for the same line. I am probably divorced because I believed a man who said all the right things to me when I was vulnerable.

My daughter learned about love and sex from paperbacks and cinema. I don’t want to disillusion her but I feel if I do not she will be hurt like my mom and myself.                   

– Jilted Jill

B says:

As it is our culture mom, there’s not much you can do except be a good role model and find a healthy happy relationship yourself. You can try to teach your daughter that if it’s too good to be true, then it probably isn’t, but it won’t stop her. Fantasy is a hard thing to fight and most initial love is just projected narcissistic fantasy. We fall in love with an idea, or with what we think we deserve. This reflects more about us than the object of our love. 

Hollywood love just doesn’t work in real life. Nor does Hollywood sex. Sex on the beach is just sand in your vagina. Sex in a lake just makes me think of geese sh&t, bacteria and UTI’s. And hot sweaty gym sex is just yucky. 

Hundreds of sex scenes take place in cars, but in reality, car sex is hell on the back. Sex in the rain can be painfully cold (or so I’ve heard) and sex in a meadow or forest just leaves you covered with ticks and bugs.

But you can’t really tell this stuff to your daughter. That is the Lab Experiment part of life.  

C says:

I’d tell your daughter everything. Disillusioning her is probably the best thing you could do for her. Too bad your own mother didn’t disillusion you. Doesn’t anyone ever learn from their mistakes in your family? I don’t get it. You start out by saying that romantic fiction and RomComs are an enjoyable escape for all of you, then you tell me that first your mom, then you fell for con men who ruined your lives – but your big worry is telling your daughter that those fairy tales aren’t true?

Sure, the only lessons that anyone ever learns are usually the ones that happen the hard way, but losing $30,000 or a marriage are pretty harsh lessons. They both happened because you and your mom listened to liars.

You all need to listen to the song Liar by Henry Rollins. It will teach you everything you need to know about how men prey on women like you. “I’ll hide behind a smile and understanding eyes…” Here’s a good version on YouTube:

Sex in movies can be compared to fight scenes in movies. On film, a guy can get hit in the head with a crowbar, thrown into a brick wall and kicked in the gut, then jump right back up and win the fight. In reality, he’d probably never get up again.

You may think it’s a great escape, but I’d watch something else besides that cotton candy fluff for a while. The real stuff may rot your teeth, but the Hollywood/Harlequin Romance versions will rot your brain.

– Cathren Housley 

As originally published in Motif Magazine.

Writer Cathren Housley is a past contributor on NRI NOW, covering the local arts and music scene.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at

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