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Make a splashWhy the hell do so many romance ex-spouses have to be either wife-beaters, or cheating sluts?

Why does the current squeeze have to be so much better in bed than the ex-spouse?

Why do the heroes always have to be better endowed than the ex?

Questions that I find myself asking time and time again.

It would be lovely if I could read more books where the heroine and her ex had a great, loving, sexual relationship. After all, don’t most people have great sex with the people they choose to marry/date, at some point, regardless of whether they eventually split up?

The bastard ex-hubby and bitchy ex-wife story gets so effing old, especially when it does nothing to further the plot.

The pic has nothing to do with this post at all, I just liked it


  • Why the hell do so many romance ex-spouses have to be either wife-beaters, or cheating sluts? A plot device that justifies the divorce? If they’re great people and the sex was amazing wouldn’t one think they could work things out? Maybe I’m grasping at straws here?


  • Sparkindarkness
    November 9
    12:46 pm

    Because it’s easy and simplistic

    Gods forbid a relationship end because of mutual agreement, mutual fault or no fault at all

    It’s one of the easier ways of making people look good – putting them next to an utter bastard. So the hero looks good because the ex is a git πŸ™‚

    But mainly I’m going for the simplistic good vs bad mind set πŸ™‚


  • HeatherK
    November 9
    1:28 pm

    In my case, it’s reality. Other than the wife-beating part, though I did have an ex-boyfriend who came close to that mark. As for my husband, his ex is the cheating, bitchy slut incarnate and she cheated with both men and women, so double whammy there to his ego. And the other stuff is just TMI, though again, it’s true, so I guess reading it doesn’t bother me as much because of this.

    Now, having said that, I haven’t used any of these plot devices in my writing. Then again, I don’t play much in the contemporary world, either. If I ever do decide to play in the contemporary again, though, I will make a note to try and avoid these scenarios. πŸ™‚


  • Shiloh Darke
    November 9
    1:35 pm

    I wrote a short story once about a marriage that fell apart because the ONLY good thing they had between them was the sex. Mind-blowing, fantastic, outrageous sex.

    But besides that, the couple had nothing in common, had different political and religious views, and although they loved each other, they just couldn’t find a way to make it work.

    Sadly, although sex is wonderful, if after it has faded (as it often does in time) if there is nothing else there, how can the love survive? It’s a question I’ve often pondered myself.

    How are you, Karen? Doing good, I hope. Just thought I’d drop in on you and see how you were.


  • I agree with Tara Marie. If the first husband/wife wasn’t horrible, we would be wanting them to get back together rather then finding someone new.


  • I think it’s part of the fantasy, that you have the best sex with your favorite *person*, so to illustrate this in Romancelandia’s beloved bigger than life proportions, previous sex & lovers (who become bad people) end up villified.


  • What Jody said. It’s part of the fantasy, that the H is the best at everything and has the biggest package and knows how to use it. But this post did remind me of Madeline Kahn in Young Frankenstein. She finally gets it from the monster and she starts singing “Oh, Sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found you!” at the top of her lungs.

    In real life, though, you marry your best friend if you want it to last.


  • LOL, actually, there was a book AGES ago, “Mary’s Child” by ( I think) Therese Ramin, where the heroine had a great relationship with her ex and he was very much a part of her day to day life. They had their problems, divorced people do, but he wasn’t evil or bad or anything. And, the H/h’s first time (in the story) was totally awkward, in a truck cab, and probably not the best sex of her life. He gets better though. πŸ™‚

    (who wanted to give you hope)


  • I wondered that too. It is a plot device one that is used for several reasons. One is to create a sympathetic character. Another is to create a conflict. Her ex’s is a buttmunch she so deserves the good guy this time. Her ex’s is a buttmunch this is why she can’t trust the hero. Sometimes an author would use to both.

    And sometimes I wonder why not have her in a good relationship that didn’t work out. Wouldn’t that make for a really good conflict? ‘Yeah, this is nice, but it probably won’t last.’ Then again the author would have to prove why this relationship has HEA potential that the last relationship didn’t have.


  • I don’t have a problem with that plot device because my ex was (at the risk of TMI) lousy in bed and an alcoholic. And many of my friends have horrific ex stories. I know few of them who say anything nice about their ex.* So I find it quite believable πŸ˜›

    *I do have one friend who’s remained best friends with her ex, and she and her current husband actually vacation with her ex and his wife.


  • Exes good in bed? Heh. Not mine. Abusive? Check. (Gee, maybe in some cases, art does imitate life!)


  • MB (Leah)
    November 10
    3:21 pm

    I have loved deeply 5 men including my current husband. None of those relationships ended due to crappy sex. In fact, the sex was always fantastic and I did sleep with every one of them long after the break-up in friends with benefits sort of way in between stories.

    I’m still in contact with all of them and two of them I’ve met for a coffee while married to my current guy, with my husband meeting one of them.

    It is nice when you’ve loved someone that you can still have a good friendship long after a break up. But in a romance novel I don’t see how having a great ex relationship would further along a new romantic interest for one of the parties. Or not get in the way.

    Unless…the ex is the one who is facilitating the new romance in some way. That would be fun to read.

    I’m reading a book now in which the ex is the bitch from hell and it’s really so cliched.


  • Janet W
    November 10
    3:31 pm

    Interesting! I can’t think of a single book I’ve read with a great sexual relationship between either sex ex and their respective ex. I can think of historicals w/widows: Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand, Skylark … great topic? How do you come up with them?


  • Amanda
    November 10
    4:41 pm

    I guess its because the second relationship is supposed to give you that HEA that most books need??? Maybe???


  • willaful
    November 10
    9:00 pm

    I agree with you about finding the cliche tiresome, BUT… it occurs to me that when I read a romance and the reason given for a former marriage breaking up was that had once been madly in love but they just got tired of each other or grew apart or something mild like that, I wonder, “what’s going to stop this couple from growing apart?”


  • I don’t have a whole lot new to add to the mix except to say that I think it would be an interesting dilemma if a couple were good friends, raising their kids, still enjoying sex occasionally and then one of them falls in love for real. It would be nice because I’ve just described my sister and her ex-husband. They just can’t live under the same roof because they are so different, but they’ve been wonderful friends, parents and sometimes lovers to their kids. I just wish they weren’t so close so they’d each open themselves up to being with someone else.


  • I think I get most annoyed by heroines who’s husbands have died. Even when they had a perfectly good relationship, when it comes to the sex, the comparisons are still made. Something along the lines of, “he never made me fee like you do”.


  • Chantal
    November 13
    1:47 am

    I think I get most annoyed by heroines who’s husbands have died. Even when they had a perfectly good relationship, when it comes to the sex, the comparisons are still made. Something along the lines of, β€œhe never made me fee like you do”.

    I feel the same way. Normally I don’t mind cliches in romance, but this one bothers me.


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