Why Friendship is Infinitely Greater Than Romance in YA

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Hello hello all! Although every blogger and their mother has written a blog post on this/mentioned it/screamed about it in comments, I thought that I would tackle it as well!

It has become very evident to all us bookish nerds that practically every YA book- especially contemporary YA- contains romance and insta-love and teens who apparently have found their “”soulmate””. And honestly, it’s kind of awful. I like romance! I really do! But it’s gotten to the point where if I’m at the library or a bookstore and I pick up a book, I’ll practically automatically put it down if it says something along the lines of “…but then she meets [insert boy’s name here]…”, because a lot of them imply that it’ll last forever. In books, it’s like all the teens go to high school solely to fall in love. AS A TEENAGER, that is definitely NOT on the top of my priority list. It’s probably school. Dating isn’t even on the list.

To start, the romance is treated as though that’s their one true love or something. THAT’S SO NOT RIGHT. You don’t just find someone that you’ll fall in love with forever as a teen and you sure as heck don’t find it with your first ever boy/girlfriend. The literal reason people date, as a teenager, is to get used to it!  You don’t “fall in love”. That’s the point. It’s like saying, oh, the first time I’m ever going to write something, it’s going to be an award-winning bestselling novel! That’s not how it works. And quite frankly, we are in no way possible mature enough to fall in love. We’re still figuring stuff out and getting used to being older and we’re not even fully developed yet. In what way is it even anywhere near realistic for a teen to meet the person they’re going to marry at that age? It’s sure implied in most everything. That doesn’t mean that if you’re dating as a teen it’s automatically invalid, it’s still great to do and to understand how real-life romantic relationships work, but can we please destroy the idea that you’re going to meet your “true love” in high school in YA books. It works for some people- high school sweethearts are pretty cute- but for society as a whole it’s not exactly common. You can give Character A a girlfriend if you want, but maybe don’t make it out like it’s going to last forever, because realistically it’s not. Let them enjoy each other while they are! I would mind dating in YA so much less if it wasn’t made out to be permanent.

(And oftentimes, if they’re in college or a bit older, but still qualify as young adult, the more serious romance doesn’t bother me as much. Think Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell style. However, it’s still complete insta-love a lot of the time. THAT’S NOT HOW RELATIONSHIPS WORK. It’s supposed to start off as friendship first thing, then dating and stuff. You are first and foremost their friend, and that’s something I don’t see a lot- it seems like it goes straight from “oh that person’s hot” to “oh haha we’re dating and in love”. It should really be “oh they seem interesting and cool and yeah, a bit pretty” to “we’re friends but maybe someday it could be a bit more”, and also without all that pining stuff that’s in YA a lot.)

If I were to list my priorities as a teen, it’d probably be something along the lines of “school, home/family, myself, friends.” So why does romance so often show up in YA? And why is there often so many friendships/friend groups pushed completely to the side? I have a large and awesome nerdy friend group, and that’s awesome! I’d just like more of it in books, please. (Can we also crush the “nerd girl has no friends” trope because wherever I have gone to school there have always been nerds! We’re great! There are so many nerds I know. Like, saying there’s a nerd person who has no friends because no one else is nerdy makes not much sense. It destroys the entire point of AP classes. I am going to school next year with 100 of nerds. We are always there.) Dating is cool. But it wouldn’t ever come before my school life and friendship life. I want more large friend groups (not necessarily nerds, but that would be cool too) in YA! I want more best friend buds who are super great! I don’t like drama, but I’d rather there be friendship drama than romance, because honestly, which is more realistic as a teen? 

So can we please have more friendship in our YA? And maybe less insta-love/so-called forever relationships? It’s getting a bit old.

(And to end this on a somewhat-lighter-and-less-frustrated tone, every single time I typed “friendship” in this post, I accidentally typed “frienship”. I can spell, I promise. Mostly.)


14 thoughts on “Why Friendship is Infinitely Greater Than Romance in YA

  1. I, too, wish friend groups were more explored in YA! I noticed this when I was reading The Unexpected Everything and it was so refreshing! I think YA really underestimates how important female friendship is in high school. They really understand you in a way that no one else will. I also agree with you on the whole permanent relationship thing like geez, you’re only 17, there are other fish in the sea LOL but then again I think I’d be mad/disappointed if a couple I spent really liking in the book didn’t end up together.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. *applauds* YESSS thank you so much for saying this! Much as I do enjoy a good bit of romance — the teenage soulmates thing gets tiring. I have literally no romance in my life. And, like, neither me nor my friends are super interested in it.
    Um, I’ve probably recommended this to you like a billion times already, but Radio Silence by Alice Oseman is a book that I think has great friendships & no romance for the MC. *nods* It’s mostly about education and fandom and friendship and other Good Things. Yep!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for enjoying it! It’s just- it’s cool! But definite ending up together forever is so unlikely.
      Ahhh, I want to read it! I am off to go put it on hold at my library. Education and fandom and friendship sounds GREAT. Also, I loved Solitaire sososo much.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Everyone finding their soulmate as a teenager is just super unrealistic, tbh haha. Aah yay, if you liked Solitaire then you’ll probably love RS! I definitely thought that it was better.
        Although WAIT I don’t think it’s come out in the US yet? *cries* I AM SORRY I HAD FORGOTTEN THIS. The US cover is waaay nicer than the UK one though haha.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. OH THAT WOULD MAKE SENSE. Either way, I requested it, and I shall wait until whenever it comes out. *nodnod* I think they’re both pretty cool- the colors are just really awesome!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. THANK YOU FOR SAYING THIS. I completely agree with what you’ve said here. Friendship is so important, but it inevitably gets pushed to the wayside in YA books and it’s ridiculously frustrating. Friend groups are so fun to write and they don’t appear often enough in YA!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. YES PREACH IT. I love friendship so much more than romance too. I don’t know if I’d have this preference if romance didn’t appear so much more often than friendship, but reading about friendship makes me SO HAPPY. In all my WIPs (whether they’re in the writing process or still in my head) friendship plays a much bigger role than romance. There will be romance. BUT FRIENDSHIP WILL PREVAIL.

    Liked by 1 person

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