With my first wedding anniversary approaching next week (hard to believe!), I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the nature of love, both filial and spousal. Love in all forms is so much more complicated than I ever thought it would be… and so much harder.

Into the midst of all this came Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series. I’d been holding out, adamantly not wanting to join the club, but when my mom gave me the first book last week, I couldn’t say no. Just like the main character and her paranormal paramour, I knew it was trouble, I knew it could cost me my life (or at least a few days’ productivity), and yet try as I might, I just couldn’t put it down. I literally had to stop myself from picking it up during the daytime, because I knew that I’d blink and hours would have gone by with no work done.

Instead I sacrificed sleep, staying up way past my bed time to read just that one extra chapter, OK maybe two… or three…! When I allowed myself to open it back up last night and read the final hundred pages, I actually got a physical thrill of excitement. In other words, I was acting just like the teenage girls at whom these books are aimed. I haven’t had a book affect me like that, well, since I was a teenager.

All I can say is — thank GOD this series was not around ten years ago! This book was everything an awkward, quiet, bookish girl longs for in life: the most gorgeous guy in school suddenly falls in love with her, seeing a beauty in her that she had never been aware of, etc. I was addicted to sci fi and fantasy as a teen, so the vampire bit would have been an added bonus. If you’d thrown in a horse or a dragon or two, I would’ve never wanted to leave home. (Yes, I was that geeky. Deal with it.)

But as much as I shamefacedly loved this book, at the same time I also resented it. Out of curiosity, after finishing it I went onto Facebook and searched for the name of the main character’s vampiric love interest. The first group I found basically stated that his ravishing good looks and romance had forever ruined their potential for love with all normal, human men. I thought it was funny, until I realized that the group had almost 40,000 members. Holy crap. That is a lot of people! And among those people are probably a very high number of young girls, teenagers, who truly think that what they read about in that book is love.

Being the sheltered and late-blooming teen that I was, I undoubtedly would have thought the same thing. I too had crazy, romantic ideas about love, ideals that one mortal man could never hope to fulfill. As a result, I looked for (and unfortunately found) love in all the wrong places, until one day I got lucky and stumbled upon the real thing.

Don’t get me wrong — I think it’s great that teens are reading in a time of high-speed media interactions. I also think the main character is a very appealing one, and I admire Meyer’s ability to portray a heart-racing love story while keeping it completely PG.

That said, I worry about what stories like these are telling our girls about love. It makes me think of the moment in the Sex and the City movie where Carrie tries to tell the little girl that Cinderella isn’t real. There is no prince in shining armor, there is no hottie vampire who considers you to be his soul mate. There are just men, sometimes boys, who can be flawed and arrogant and sweet and stupid and very very human.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe part of what made me like this book so much was that it reminded me of what it was like to dream about Prince Charming Vampire Man, of a day when that kind of impossibly perfect love was still possible, before eight years of painful, stupid, senseless experience showed me otherwise.

Or maybe I’m reading way too much into all this (just for a change!) and I should just be glad that I read a fantastically entertaining book… and that there are still three more to go.