Want to escape from bad romance?

Perhaps I can help. I’m not referring to books! I’m talking about actual romance. We began this discussion in Part 1 (April 29, 2020), Part 2 (June 24, 2020), and Part 3 (July 22, 2020). In these and the next few blog posts, I’m going to share an amazing discovery I made through writing. (I’m Raz Steel—my degree is in Philosophy, I’ve been writing most of my life, and teaching writing for more than ten years.)

Storytelling is a tool. As a professional writer, it’s a tool of habit for me. Applied one way, it entertains an audience. But what if I could show you how storytelling applied another way could break you out of a pattern of failing real-world romance?

You don’t have to be a writer to use this tool. You don’t have to write at all. My process could be just as effective for a non-writer. In Part 1, I suggested that what allowed me to create the perfect story-romance in my recently published romantic comedy PASS THE KRYPTONITE was my understanding of not one character but both romantic characters.

This suggested that the success of real-world romance depends on my understanding of myself and my partner.

Changing your thoughts isn’t enough to change your romantic reality. Understand yourself, change your thoughts, and empathize with your partner who is doing the same thing.

Most romance writers and readers are women. You already know about change your thoughts, change your reality.

Your question is, “How the hell do I empathize with a guy?”

Well, I am a guy—and I’m gonna try and explain it. It seemed so straightforward yet incredibly difficult for me to empathize with a woman. But so rewarding!

My marriage failed. For one of the characters in PTK, romance failed. That character wallowed in self-pity and the pain of having someone reach down their throat, rip out their heart, throw it on the ground, and then stomp on it.

Mirrored my feelings precisely.

My character escaped. Why couldn’t I? How did my character manage it?

By understanding the only way to achieve the intimate relationship they wanted was to open themselves up again to that same kind of vulnerability. A huge risk.

Another PTK character’s engagement failed. They had reached down someone’s throat. Not deliberately trying to hurt anyone. Sometimes, relationships just don’t work out. That character empathized with their ex-partner though.

My characters in PASS THE KRYPTONITE (as well as my other novels) are emotional risk takers! What an incredible revelation.

Why did the characters find these actions necessary? One character, because they realized they needed to be an emotional risk taker, and the other character, because they realized their partner wasn’t an emotional risk taker.

Flipped a switch for me.

I had to suck it up to do the same. Not only did I need to become and remain an emotional risk taker, but now I understood a fundamental aspect of a potential romantic partner.

Guys worthy of your romantic attention want the same thing you want. So, you have to understand—what do you want?

My idea of romance doesn’t need to match your idea of romance. My idea of romance needs to match my partner’s. Understand what romance means to you, accept that you need to be an emotional risk taker, then look for an emotional risk-taking partner whose ideas about romance align with yours.

Just like you can’t achieve that level of intimacy without the risk, neither can he.

And if he’s not willing/able to take that risk, he ain’t your guy.

How did my characters recognize the emotional risk-taker aspect of each other?

They used empathy.

They were mutually challenged by the other—their patience, their willingness to listen, their willingness to share themselves, specifically their thoughts and emotions—and so they had to recognize they were being challenged in this way, and they had to pick up the gauntlet, and present themselves on a level playing field.

That’s what I began doing in the real world when I met a woman with whom I thought there might be mutual attraction.

I’m an emotional risk taker, and that’s what I want in a partner. I didn’t want to just take her word for it that she was an emotional risk taker, nor did I expect her to take my word for it that I was.

Show, don’t tell!

I would watch for her willingness to listen and to share her thoughts and feelings, and her willingness to explore my thoughts and feelings.

With patience.

We may’ve been told not to think of it this way, but when we meet someone for a first date, that person is auditioning for the greatest role in my life! And likewise, I hope I’m auditioning for the greatest role in their life.

So, while I don’t want to be off-putting or make our conversation sound like an interview, I want to expose layers of myself I don’t normally share day-to-day, and I want my potential partner to acknowledge that and be interested, and I want them to expose layers of themselves in the same way.

I don’t expose everything on a first date, but more than I would if I were meeting a casual acquaintance.

When I ran into someone who wouldn’t share herself, or clearly wasn’t interested in my thoughts, I didn’t waste my time. I moved on.


If you want an emotional risk taker and you’re sitting across the table in a restaurant or in Starbucks from someone who clearly isn’t an emotional risk taker, and yet you persist, what can you expect other than the same results you’ve already had?

(Part 5 of ESCAPE FROM BAD ROMANCE will appear on September 16, 2020)

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About Raz Steel

Raz Steel was born in a chalet in Frisco, Colorado. His alter-ego was born farther east—or farther west if you go the long way. A storyteller his entire life—his father may not have appreciated that 100% of the time—Raz finally put stories to paper. He’s a pilot, a teacher, a recycler, a dad, and now a granddad! He holds a degree in Philosophy from Lafayette College and currently resides in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His stories are character driven, and many take place in Bucks County. Raz’s writing career began after he became a pilot. Being terrified of heights—anything over the third rung of a ladder—the choice didn’t seem difficult: fly or write. His father always said, “Son, face your fears head-on.” So, Raz tortured himself to earn his pilot’s license to cure his fear. Didn’t work, but Raz now feels qualified to offer advice to other acrophobiacs – “Let me assure you, if there’s anything more terrifying than flying a single engine airplane at 2000 feet, just you and the flight instructor, it’s flying a single engine airplane at 2000 feet—alone.” You have to fly solo to earn your license. What could he have possibly been thinking? Writing is Raz’s passion, and that passion is expressed in his storytelling. His first two novels, Love Without Blood and Blood Between Lovers, are vampire romance. Vampires scare the hell out of Raz, but the romance of life eternal was too compelling, so those stories are psychological thrillers. PASS THE KRYPTONITE is a sweetheart young adult romantic comedy—no vampires! Raz has conducted writing workshops, Heroes With PMS (Phony Male Syndrome), for the Bucks County Romance Writers, Valley Forge Romance Writers, and at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Orlando, FL and hosted a blood drive for the city of Orlando. He’s taught fiction writing for ten years, and he’s currently teaching a unique class: Producing A Novel Instead Of Writing A Manuscript. You can follow him at his website and on Facebook @RAZSTEELAuthor.
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  1. Kimments says:

    Love the idea of emotional risk-taking – I think it’s what life is about internally – even on a daily basis, when not in a romance, we take risks by interacting with others, and it feels so much more intense when it is romantic love. Reminds me of the sayings, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” and ” ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” We take these risks, and sometimes it works out, and sometimes it does not. Thank you, Raz, for exploring this part of humanity’s internal process and inspiring us to take emotional risks.

  2. Raz Steel says:

    Yes, take the risk. The reward is so fantastic!
    Thanks, Kim, for taking the time to comment.

  3. So true, curiosity and the ability to search outside the box and reveal yourself to another is the only way to find love, whether it be in life or on the page. Thank you!

  4. Raz Steel says:

    Yes, it’s the ability and willingness to reveal yourself that separates the emotional risk-takers from everyone else. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Belle. Stay safe!

  5. viola62 says:

    I love the idea of “show, don’t tell’ in a relationship. Risks with a partner show you if that person is for you.

  6. Thanks. I’m an actor and a writer is a required skill. Good information.

  7. Raz Steel says:

    “Show, don’t tell” seems to work just as well in a relationship as it does in writing. Take the risk and see if your partner is willing to meet that risk. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Viola!

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