Want or Need?

Posted Jan 10 2012, 8:30 am in , , , , , ,

I remember a conversation I had with my mother-in-law years ago, long before I was a romance reader. She had said something to the effect that I should tell my husband often how much I need him because men need to hear that. I responded that I don’t need him and I wouldn’t lie about it. For me, needing a man would make me feel trapped, like I had no choice in the matter, and that is a situation that I promised I would never find myself in.

I relayed the conversation to my husband and he understood my side of the issue and didn’t say much else about it, but over the years, I’ve noticed that he absolutely LOVES it when I need his help with something.  When I ask him to open jar, he’ll often respond with, “See, you do need me.”

The need vs. want issue is prevalent in a lot of romance novels. I know many people take issue with insta-lust between a hero and heroine. Personally, I prefer insta-lust to insta-hate that is magically resolved so they can find HEA. I can accept people finding immediate attraction or lust and wanting to build on that. When the relationship builds, though, I get uncomfortable when one partner thinks he/she can’t live without the other. The “you complete me” thinking irks me. (although I adore Jerry MacGuire)

In paranormals, often there is destiny or soulmate issues that draw the hero and heroine together. That, to me, falls under the need category. They need to be together to find fulfillment. Because this is often an alternate world, I find it bothers me less than the need to be together in a contemporary.

courtesy of http://frostymind.blogspot.com/2010/10/is-yours-love-or-lust.html

I think it says a lot more that I choose to have someone in my life. It says that I could have picked anyone, but it’s you I want to be with. I like to believe I have some choice in the matter.

Maybe that’s the romanticism of it — not being able to choose who you fall in love with and needing to be with that person. I don’t know.

This isn’t a deal breaker for me in a book. If an author has captured me with great characters, I’ll still go along for the ride, but I prefer it when the hero and heroine choose to be together.

What do you think is more romantic? Wanting or needing?



6 responses to “Want or Need?”

  1. Lynn Kelley says:

    I think wanting is more romantic than needing, for sure!

  2. Leonie Lucas says:

    I think you have to want to be with someone to make it work. The romance comes in working out what it is you want. To me, the most romantic thing is figuring out how to make it work in long term. Ten years into my marriage people still think we are newly-weds and that is because we both work at it, now that is romantic to me.

    • In real life, I agree with you. But when I’m writing a book, I don’t get to take the characters that far. We only get to spend enough time with them to feel like they will make it together.
      Congrats on being able to keep your marriage lively after 10 years.

  3. Sara Daniel says:

    You’ve made me really think about this, Shannyn. Instead of seeing black and white, need and want, I’m seeing shades of gray, wanting with elements of need, needing but making free-will choices. I love a story where, yes, the hero and heroine could go their separate ways, but the hero would always be somewhat broken and not-quite-whole without the hero in his life. He needs her to truly fulfill his life, but it’s not a need where he would ever force her to be with him. They want and choose to be together. I don’t know if I explained that well. I will keep thinking. This definitely comes into play in the manuscript I’m writing now.

    • Ahh, the broken hero. You make a valid point on that one, but for me, it seems like the presence of the heroine doesn’t heal him as much as it teaches him to heal himself. More food for thought 🙂

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