Why Dark Romance has become so popular?

The word ‘romance’ is probably a familiar one. But do you know it has a different connotation for each person with a whole variety of meanings? It can be described as a feeling of love, or a strong attraction towards someone. The history of this word dates back to the middle of 12th century with its roots lying in France, not a surprise as it is still called the capital of love, a destination still popular for lovers. Back then, it was characterized by chivalrous behavior studied as a part of the rich literature that the country has provided to the world.

Talking in literary terms, romantic novels have always been in trend, be it with themes of contemporary romance like in “It ends with us”, a recent novel by Colleen Hoover; historical romance like in the famous “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen which dates back to 1813; inspirational romance like in “Love comes softly” written in 1979 by Janette Oke or young adult romance that can be witnessed in famous contemporary books such as “Fault in our stars” & “Five feet apart.” But a recent development shows that there is a diversion of the readers from the lovey-dovey romance towards the darker side of it. Dark Romance as people call it these days.

Dark romance as a genre has gained a significant following in the recent years. It can be considered as a subgenre of romance novels which portrays romantic stories with an element of dark and mature themes. It can further be categorized as an offshoot of romanticism wherein the writer seeks to explore the darker side of human nature with a focus on the fact that humans are inherently prone to sin even when it comes to love. In true spirit, dark romance has become popular among the reading community of today’s generation.

In this article, we embark on a journey to discover the reasons for popularity of dark romance in recent times and how contradictory it is to the socially accepted meaning of romance. On one hand the romance genre is frequently associated with cliché storylines like happily ever after and scenarios where opposites attract, here is this hidden genre which gives a sneak peek into reality waiting to be explored by people.

Over the years, the traditional reading community as well as the publishing trends favoured sweet romance but it is now that people have started embracing spicy plots with more passion and an increased level of tolerance against violence. Unconventional and taboo relationships paired with complicated characters and along with a sense of depth in the plot is what lures the readers now.

Times have changed and people no longer encounter pure romances like in the 90’s or before, rather they experience grey romances nowadays. To be more precise, characters that are subtly romantic with an extreme sense of possessiveness or characters with a hint of narcissism in them paint a truer picture than that of a paladin. Imagine, a main character struggling with a past trauma which makes it difficult for him or her to form emotional bonds or a character engaging in morally questionable behavior and yet the reader sympathizes with him. These characters are given such depth by writers that somehow the readers are continuously drawn towards them despite their flaws, because there is a sense of reality in form of the character’s fears, desires and passion.

Another factor which lures the readers is a display of peculiar situations or emotions, some of which are still considered as a taboo in the society; yet not so uncommon these days. Think of a story portraying an age- gap relationship where one character is significantly older than the other or between characters who have some sort of authority over one another like boss and employee, readers over here enjoy a sense of risk and fear but it is certainly enough to keep them hooked. Relationships between people coming from different socio-economic backgrounds or between people where both are equally bold characters, this again gives a sneak peek into today’s reality.

Romanticizing abusive behavior has become quite a trend these days probably because people nowadays feel that love comes with a price. The psychological themes and challenges depicted in dark romance novels is also something worth applauding. These provide the readers with another level of mental stimulation and they tend to enjoy the fun ride they are up for.

Since, the most important aspects of a good book are the development of characters and the plot. It is easier for people to relate these stories with their own or something that they might have seen or heard around.



When it comes to love, we all have ardent hopes and beliefs some of which may or may not come true at any given point. The comfort and the hopes that romantic novels give the readers is incomparable to dark romance but on experiential basis, dark romance will definitely top the charts. This does not mean that romance as a genre has digressed; it simply means that although dark romance can be classified as a subset of romance, yet they contradict each other to a great extent.

While the sweet romance leads us on a road of tenderness planted with roses and no thorns, dark romance seeks to take us through the rough roads of love giving the readers an experience of the dark, untouched corners of romance where everyone can find a story to suit them.

Lastly, it doesn’t really matter how romance is divergently perceived by people, what really matters is having a safe space to be understood, hopeful and satisfied at the end which will always vary from one person to another.

By Ishita Pant

4 thoughts on “Why Dark Romance has become so popular?

  • Aditi Shukla -

    Very well penned and literally i feel it too the way you described dark romance

  • Richa Raturi -

    Very well written article on ‘ Dark Romance’ and how it has become popular these days.. We see this on OTT platforms to which showcase such stories of dark romance.. I feel the reader and audience like the thrill and unexpected twists in such stories.. Well expressed views on Dark romance.. Keep posting!!!

  • Sheetal Chandel -

    Very well written. It is related to my thoughts as well. Write more on some more topics.

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