Some of my favorite books are Elizabeth Moon’s Paksenarrion series. Strong fantasy with lots of action, but full of character-driven plots. I’ll try not to spoil them for you, but one part that used to trouble me was the main character’s love life.
SPOILERS BEHIND THE CUT
Spoilers: Paks isn’t interested in romance. And yet she has at least two men who love her and who would probably have married her.
That’s a good thing, right? The complex and honest depiction of a strong woman who feels “called to singleness”, as we evangelical Christians would describe it.
Except, I confess, I wanted Paks to return the love of those two characters. Or at least one of them. And despite feeling no need for romance in my own life, I was sad and a little disappointed that Paks didn’t want it.
Double standards much?
The second time I read the trilogy, I was still a little sad that she wasn’t able to return the feelings those characters had for her. But I looked at it through the lens of my own life, having ten more years of experience as a single person behind me. And this time, it was rewarding to read this portrayal of a character who shared my own inclinations about romance.
Since this realization, I’ve been looking for more characters like me and Paks, characters who don’t need a romantic partner, but who nonetheless have a God-given joy in life, a purpose. So far I haven’t found any others, which makes me wonder if I need to spend some time writing about characters like that myself.
In the meantime, I’m going to pay a little more attention to my own subconsciously held ideas, and confront my own double standards when I find them.