First, what sort of women do we believe are successful in love? If our romance novels are anything to go by there are some clear factors to consider. The women in the books we read are often strong. Contemporary romance often has a female protagonist who has suffered. They know loss, pain, humiliation... Betrayal whether at the hand of a boyfriend, spouse, parent, family member or friend, without a doubt they have pain somewhere woven into their character.
They are usually independent. They don't need looking after. They don't need anything so when they choose to be with the male protagonist its even more powerful. They want him. They choose to let themselves need him. Sometimes, this is even a pretty scary realisation for the characters. It is amazing really. Compare it to historical romance or even romance books from ten years ago where women needed rescuing or in need of guidance. Some romance books still follow the old line but I think it's less enjoyable for readers and writers alike. After all we are not weak stereotypical women so why would our characters be? Its okay once and a while - after all we all have our girly silly moments. And even the bravest of us are scared of something.
Physical beauty plays a part too. We've all got flaws and yet most of our protagonists dont. They may not be perfect but they are usually splended specimiens of womankind. And when the author breaks the rules? Making them heavier? Making them less pretty? Older? When the author deviates my subconscious seems to ignore the author all together and makes it's own mind up about the appearance of the protagonist. What does this tell me about myself? It says I think I have to be beautiful... That women have to be beautiful to succeed in love. We read about flawless skin and perfect hair but how often do you read that she isn't comfortable in her own skin?
Sexual experience also seems to play its part in our novels. We all love the idea that our character's sexuality is awoken by the male lead. We see it countless times; fifty shades Anna is a virgin. Crossfire series Eva didn't really enjoy sex because of her abuse. Stark series, Nikki had limited experience because she felt too exposed. Im not sure this is anything to do with the type of women that succeed in love but it tells us something about what we want from sex. We want it to awaken our senses, ensnare our desire and widen our horizons... Just like contemporary romance's historical counterparts something's just don't change.
The women in our books have dreams and ambitions that are not left on the sidelines just because they've found their alpha male. This says something about women of today; we want to succeed on our own! We want it all. Family, romance, career... We wont settle for less.
Basically who succeeds? Women who are respected... Equals... Women with experience. Women who value themselves and are confident. What traits do we envy? Physical beauty... Perhaps we even envy the women who find their sexuality and sexual fulfilness in their own personal alpha male.
What do you think? Is there anything you envy?