My thoughts on this thread is that we/people in particular young people have been bombarded for years with a twisted hyper sexualisation of existance that promotes anybody to do anything with whoever they please and that this is normal.
A good romance taps back into the male female dynamic and how it interacts with love.
My thought was this is what people can read to deprogramme themselves from the sickness the PTB have imparted on society.
I think these are really good observations, gottathink. I think we're all too familiar with the hypersexualization of modern culture. Unsurprisingly, it is a product of progressive/liberal 'values'. And ironically, there is a contradictory strand of puritanism from within the same culture. So on the one hand, there is a call to outright hedonism and promiscuity, a total lack of inhibition, and on the other, an authoritarian clampdown on those who engage in such behaviors. Lacking from either extreme is any kind of wholesome model for sexuality. (In conservative culture, you get a flipped dynamic - explicit prudishness and sexual repression masking over private perversion.)
Not only is there the routine saturation of media with sexual images, but when actual relationships are depicted, there is nothing healthy about them, more often than not. Whether in films or novels, the characters are just jerks. And that's why for me it reminds me of pornography, which is just sex divorced from any emotional context or healthy relationship dynamic. It is just random people who probably don't even know each other, and any narrative will be window dressing with absolutely zero depth.
I think the reason romance novels are so popular (at least among women), is that they depict things as the really are. They show what men and women really want, and what is lacking in our postmodern cultural productions and relationships. And even though it's mostly women who read them, it applies to guys too, if they're honest, or if they can grow up enough to see it in themselves and admit it.