I wasn’t always a fan of romance novels. In fact, I wasn’t even sold on the idea of reading them at all. Weird for a romance writer, right?

But that was before I allowed myself to try them (formerly very academic Virgo here so, yep, “allowed” is the right word 🙈). And definitely before I allowed myself to enjoy them and see the value in them.

Once I did, though, there was no going back for me. And while it can be tempting to see the romance genre as fluffy, saccharine, unrealistic, and useless, I believe that it is anything but.

Even when the world — or your personal world — feels like it’s falling apart.

In fact, especially then. Read on to learn why.

1. Romance Novels are Happy

Okay, okay, so romance authors definitely put their characters (and their readers) through the wringer a bit — or a lot — between boy-meets-girl and happily-ever-after.

But that’s the thing — by definition, a romance novel must end happily. The main love interests always end up together. The boy gets the girl, she gets a ring put on — however you like to put it, a romance novel always ends with two happy main characters together, in love.

It’s predictable, sure. But it’s also really nice.

Let’s be real. Life is hard sometimes. Or maybe a lot of times. And if you’re anything like me, existence on this planet in general has escalated in difficulty across the board in the last couple of years. When I look around at the political climate, at who’s in charge of making the world’s biggest decisions and what they’re choosing, at the actual climate and its degredation . . . it’s easy for me to slip into a glum mood at best and despair at worst.

So something that is (after some required plot twists) simple and happy and makes you feel all warm inside? That’s not a bad thing. Not by a long shot.

2. Reading Romance Gives Your Brain a Break

Not only is romance by definition happy and dopamine-boosting, its almost egregiously optimistic boy-always-gets-girl formula provides another service for our brains — it gives our overworked minds a break.

The world of a romance novel is, for all its twists and turns in the middle-ish parts, pretty simple and formulaic. We know what to expect — and if you market a book as romance that doesn’t deliver on the genre’s expectations, your readers will not be pleased.

Combined with the fact that love stories end happily, this means that romances give our brains a much-needed (and deserved) break. We can’t overthink about what feels like the end of the world all the time, otherwise we’d go insane. It’s important to take breaks, for our mental health.

And romance novels are a nice way to take a break. So your love story indulgence? It’s not just an indulgence — it’s one way to take a necessary and healing break.

3. Romances are Really Fun

Romance novels provide some great brain benefits. But you know what? They’re also just plain fun. These stories allow us to revel in our fantasies, to perhaps try on something naughtier or more illicit than we might act in our day-to-day lives, and to simply enjoy.

And that’s awesome. It’s okay for something to be just for fun. In fact, it’s pretty damn fantastic.

I know of so many women (and men) who hide the covers of their romance novels when they read in public for fear of being judged (I’m guilty of this, too).

But there’s nothing worth being critical about reading romance novels. They’re awesome. They can be sexy and silly and sassy and mysterious and spooky — but they’re always just plain fun.

Let yourself have fun. It’s not only therapeutic, it’s pretty darn enjoyable, too.

So go for it, romance fans. Indulge, guilt-free, and know that this is one way you’re being kind to yourself.

Okay, your turn. Why do you think it’s a great idea to read romance novels, particularly when the world feels like it’s a dumpster fire? Tell us in the comments!