Why Do We Love a Good Tragic Romance? (Warning: some spoilers included)

Credit: New Girl on CW

Since the beginning of time we’ve been drawn to tragic romances.  Romeo and Juliet is still a romantic benchmark that we all measure our romantic relationships by, despite the well known tragic ending.  Titanic was one of the highest grossing films of all time, and we all know it was the love story that drew moviegoers to the theaters.  I myself am a sucker for a happy ending, so why are we so drawn to these stories that have anything but a happy ending?

In anticipation of the movie release of Me Before You, I decided I would give Jojo Moyes’ bestselling novel a read and see what all the fuss was about… and oh my, there was much to fuss about indeed.  It’s an incredible love story written by an author who can effortlessly weave together a touching and engaging story with characters that make you want to laugh and cry with them.  But even at the very beginning of the book I could tell this was not going to be your traditional romance story.  

I would say I spent about one quarter of the book bawling uncontrollably until my nostrils were rubbed raw and my cats woke from their afternoon naps to let me know that my outbursts were disturbing them.  As soon as the tears subsided, I started to wonder why I put myself through this emotional turmoil.  Why, even knowing that this book would jerk my heart around, I still chose to read it, and would read it again in a second?

Maybe the tragic ending amplifies your typical love story by allowing it to crystallize in its purest form never be undone by what the future might have brought.  Maybe we just want to feel something and these stories tap into emotional centers we didn’t know we had.  I’m not sure what the answer is, but sometimes it can feel so good to read or watch something sad.  So, read on and bring a box of tissues!

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