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Thread: 25 Types of Romantic Relationships-Which do you use/enjoy the most?

  1. #1
    Writer & Artist ScotchBonnet's Avatar
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    Talking 25 Types of Romantic Relationships-Which do you use/enjoy the most?

    This list I made up covers all types of romance...YA, romantic comedy, historical, genre romance, ect.

    I'm just curious...which types of romantic relationships do you generally write about when it comes to your main MCs? I came up with a list of the general romance situations/conflicts I see in movies and books...though they are usually always expressed in different ways....


    1. Love at First Sight
    I guess this one describes the typical fairytale/standard romance. Think Disney, The Princess Bride, . Usually, the conflict seems to revolve around a quest or rescue mission. They fall in love fast, but some outside force is keeping them apart rather than tension within the couple.

    Princess Bride...Wesley....hawt...lklsjskljfksdljfsdlkds :s:

    2. “Oops!”
    A strong-willed or career-minded character doesn’t intend to fall in love, and happens upon it by accident… with consequences that could destroy their dreams/career…undercover cop falls for a criminal, tabloid writer falls for subject of trashy interview, ect. (How of Lose a Man in 10 Days, Zoolander, Van Wilder movies)
    Often, one character needs to choose between love and their career, or must find a creative way to obtain both!

    3. Forbidden Love/"Romeo and Juliet"
    This one seems to fall into paranormal romance, human/vampire (Bella and Mr. Sparkles) Sometimes its as simple as simple as a high school jock infatuated with a "nerd" character, or an office relationship, notable age difference, even step-siblings.

    4. Love/Hate
    The characters start off disliking each other, and we all know what that means!
    Examples: Rhett Butler and Scarlet , Han Solo and Princess Leia

    5. Childhood Friends
    Characters have known each other since childhood. I think of Anne of Green Gables and Gilbert...(though it crosses into love/hate a bit :P
    Sometimes the relationship is sweeter and involves a childhood promise. Many anime and romance manga comics feature childhood friends relationships.

    6. Best Friends/ Friends First
    The characters all ready know EVERYTHING about each other at the beginning of the story. However, something is keeping them from realizing their true feelings. Does anyone remember Dawson's Creek?

    Heehee. This is the one I actually see the most of in real life (for successful couples who are now married and happy, anyhow) : P


    7. Rivals/ Protagonist vs. Antagonist
    Sometimes this crosses into Love/Hate, sometimes not...I think of Xena and Ares from Xena: Warrior Princess, or if a protagonist character falls for the bad guy/girl.

    8. Love Triangle
    Pearl Harbor (bleh), Twilight (the whole Bella/Edward/Jacob deal). The main character has to choose between two suitors.

    9. "Sorry, I'm Taken"
    Usually, this one involves a couple that seems perfect for each other, but one of the subjects already has a nasty/ boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse they can't let go of...
    Titanic comes to mind...

    10. "In Disguise"
    Shakespeare came up with it first (though he came up with most romance tropes, didnt he?) Think of "Twelfth Night" which inspired a variety of movies and books in which a girl character is in disguise as a boy,causing quite the confusion situation for the male love interest! I recommend a fantastic Asian drama called "Coffee Prince" for this one. The "disguise" situation could also happen for "undercover" characters like detectives, reporters, ect.

    11. “Different Worlds”
    Not necessarily forbidden, but this couple struggles with bridging the gap between their two worlds, sometimes causing friction when they don’t understand each other. The different "world" could be literal in fantasy and sci-fi, or could deal with "real world" issues such as class, race, religion, ect. I'm thinking of Pride and Prejudice, Ask the Dusk, or even funny movies like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.

    12. “ Second time around”
    Two lovers who already knew each other (and lost contact or broke up) prior to the beginning of the story, meet again and the sparks fly...

    13. “Tragic Past”
    I see this on so many crime shows/shows geared towards men. Two characters click well, but one character cannot get over the tragic past of losing a loved one, ect. Usually one of the subjects lost a lover or spouse who died years before meeting their love interest.

    14. "Long Distance Relationship"

    One character is captured, goes away to war, college, and the chemistry between them is shown through letters or phone calls, leaving readers in anticipation of their reunion. Sometimes they are tested by temptation or other forces trying to tear them apart...
    This probably works well for army stories.


    15. “The Unobtainable Love Interest/ 1-sided”
    Usually, one character immediately knows who they want and why they want them...but the other character doesn't seem interested, or has a secret reason for not expressing their interest. I find this love trope common in YA-usually concerning popularity or self esteem issues. Peter Parker and Mary Jane come to mind.

    16. “Lovers in Denial”
    Borders on love/hate where the characters tease each other, but in a more respectful playful way. They are often good friends at some point in the story, and get in general conflicts and playful arguments but don’t dislike each other, and often have respect for each other. Usually, one or both characters have a pride issue that keeps them from
    confessing their love, or they don’t want to ruin their friendship or work partnership. They’re in love, and everyone else in the story realizes it except for them.

    I’d say June and Johnny Cash are real life examples, Lois Lane and Superman, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully from XFiles

    17. “Passionate Lovers”
    I see this in soap operas, dramas, and genre romance...revolves mostly around intense physical attraction/lust at first and sometimes develops into something more...

    18. “Sweethearts Forever?”
    Lovers that just click, seem sugary sweet, and almost too perfect for each other, usually one or both is/are hiding something…
    Ashley Wilkes and Melanie from Gone With the Wind

    19. "Opposites Attract"
    Two different characters click and deal with each others differences at the same time… usually I see this expressed in YA-between an introvert character and extrovert character. If you've seen the musical, "Wicked", think of Elphaba and Fiyero.

    20. "Similarities Attract"
    Characters act very much alike, causing both tension and infatuation… Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood (passion for archeaology and similar tempers)

    21. "Partners in Crime"
    Two characters who work as a “bad guy” team…often do malicious things to those who get in their way, but are actually a loyal and devoted couple.
    Think Bonnie and Clyde, or various soap opera teams and super villains.

    22. “Dangerous Drama”

    Passionate, twisted, intense..yet they always come back to each other... even though the couple needs therapy and the characters have done some pretty nasty things ranging from mind games to physical abuse (yikes!)yet there's something about these relationships that keeps viewers or readers waiting for more...
    I see this in soap operas, TV dramas, and some YA (gossip girl) Usually involves betrayal, vengeance, dangerous characters, and life-threating situations...

    23. “Arranged Marriage/Date”
    Two characters are set-up and forced to be together by politics or family pressure, sometimes crossing into other love/hate, love at first sight...Did anyone see "The Fantastics" when the parents secretly set-up their children? ((Great musical!))


    24. First Love
    Usually a YA trope...the ups and downs of first love...the subjects need to figure out how to handle a relationship while trying to discover their own identities at the same time. I'm thinking of the classic 80's movie, "Say Anything".

    25. Long-term lovers
    The couple has already been together for awhile, sometimes married!
    However, something other than another love interest (kids, adventure situation, family drama) either them closer together or causes tension
    Mr. and Mrs. Smith

    Sometimes the tropes can be combined. For example, a "best friend" couple could also be a "similarities attract" couple.

    Any thoughts or comments to add? Which situations have you used/mostly used? Which ones do you enjoy reading.watching about the most? Can you think of any literary couples? Do you find any of these cliche?

    Personally, I think any of these relationships can be considered "cliche" but it all has to do with how the writer expresses the characters and masters their unique interactions.
    Last edited by ScotchBonnet; 02-01-2010 at 02:34 AM.

  2. #2
    Inclined to eclectic eccentricity
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    Hmmm...I think most times a good story has a mix of several bits For my stuff....

    In one of my novels- one of my pairings has a combo of love at first sight/lovers in denial (instant connection though word isn't termed love for years and both fight it) and forbidden love (he's human, she isn't). The other pairing would probably be childhood friends, arranged marriage/date (but neither minds). Both are first loves as well. In another, a touch of childhood friends (though they barely remember each other), love/hate (her dog tries to eat him on first meeting), a hint of tragic past (his wife died of cancer, and I'd guess her issues would fall in there since nothing else fits). And for a third - a touch of love at first sight, first love, and some other category in which one is doomed but they fall in love anyway.

    For reading, I love reading most any of them except the abusive ones. On forbidden, it was interesting you noted step siblings, but not actual incest there :-P.
    Last edited by Collectonian; 06-20-2013 at 08:12 AM. Reason: redacted

  3. #3
    Impractical Fantasy Animal sunandshadow's Avatar
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    I had fun reading this list.

    Forbidden is my favorite, often combined with different worlds and in disguise.

    I think similarities attract works really well with rivals/protagonist vs. antagonist. Can also be combined with opposites attract - perhaps the mc and love interest are both great at some sport or type of fighting where they have to compete against each other, but they have opposite attitudes toward like, like one is grumpy and one is cheerful.

    One thing I think this list doesn't get at is the fact that a romance is more interesting when the two characters look at it differently. For example, it was love at first sight for one but not the other. One doesn't want to fall in love, due to past relationship trauma or social pressure or unsuitability of the other character. One character is stubborn and suspicious while the other tries to charm and woo them. One character is innocent and virginal while the other really wants to screw the first one's brains out. Etc.

  4. #4
    ideas are floating where they will Stlight's Avatar
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    What a great list. Can't pick a favorite, because it's a mood thing.

    The only thing that's consistant is I detest the bully trope, er... the alpha hero trope. I can't buy that a bully is serious in his groveling beyond to get what he wants. I can't believe he won't turn back into a bully again the minute he can.
    Last edited by Stlight; 02-01-2010 at 08:40 AM.

  5. #5
    AW Addict M.Austin's Avatar
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    7. Rivals/ Protagonist vs. Antagonist
    Sometimes this crosses into Love/Hate, sometimes not...I think of Xena and Ares from Xena: Warrior Princess, or if a protagonist character falls for the bad guy/girl.
    Always my favorite if done well!

  6. #6
    Hates Marketing. Loves Writing. The Grump's Avatar
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    You're a more organized thinker than I am. I think anyone could enjoy reading any of those types of relationships -- depending on the compentancy of the writing and the other plot elements.

    (Like I don't care much for vampires and like ghouls even less.)
    My Book Blog: me muttering at Lessons from My Reading with fantasy book reviews from a writer's point of view.

  7. #7
    Ardelie
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    Your wonderful list makes me feel like I need to attempt one of each to see if I can reverse the clichés It’s very thorough.


    2. “Oops!”
    I dislike “oops, I fell for you. I want my career. You’re inconvenient and I know it” type romance. If it’s all wrong, how can it be right?

    3. Forbidden Love/"Romeo and Juliet"
    I love forbidden love but only if the reason is spectacular. A vampire and a human don’t seem forbidden to me cause all vamps were once human. Just change her already! (yes, I know the eternal damnation spiel J)

    5. Childhood Friends
    This one has sensual power for me. My, how many things have changed since childhood!

    8. Love Triangle
    Hate. But on the Vampire Diaries, I somehow like. Though Damon doesn’t truly want the same girl, just her dead vamp look alike.

    10. "In Disguise"
    Eloisa James does a fab job of this in Duchess by Night. I laughed out loud.

    12. “ Second time around”
    Don’t believe it ever works a second time unless one or both characters are literally 180 of their past selves.

    I agree about these types seeming like clichés if there's no blend, but if done right, nothing feels cliché about them. That’s the magic.

    In one of my novels, the hero knows he is fated for his heroine but he despises this, truly does not want the relationship despite searing attraction. It was fun writing cause I had to find logical reasons why he resisted. Inner turmoil. It was more about his frame of mind than circumstance.

  8. #8
    Oh, I love this list! *subscribes to thread*

  9. #9
    Impractical Fantasy Animal sunandshadow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ardelie View Post
    12. “ Second time around”
    Don’t believe it ever works a second time unless one or both characters are literally 180 of their past selves.
    I think second time around can work very well if the characters didn't actually get to know each other the first time. But I do like that to happen at the start of the book, not in the backstory - they have a one-night-stand, but then in the morning one finds out something totally off-putting about the other, they have a big fight because emotions are still high and they don't stop to think first, then they go their separate ways in a snit, and only later realize they're still very attracted to each other and maybe what they were fighting about was actually unimportant or a misinterpretation due to not having all the information.

  10. #10
    ~writes for Him~ Robin Bayne's Avatar
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    I like many of those also, but any story done as a reunion story is my cup of tea.

  11. #11
    CAVE! maggi90w1's Avatar
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    In this story I have a #5 and a #11 for my protagonist, wich probably means I also have a Love Triangle. There is also a hinted #7.
    I pretty much like all of this options. They can all be intresting as long as there is some drama going on as all of these kinds of relationships come with their own set of problems and challenges.

  12. #12
    Listening to the Voices In My Head Satori1977's Avatar
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    Great list! I have used several of these, and don't really have a favorite. They can all be cliched (but what isn't a cliche? It has pretty much all been done before), and all of them can work and be original. Depends on the author. Probably the one I don't really like is love at first sight...because I don't think I believe iin it. Attraction, lust? Definitely. I felt something very strong when I first met/saw my now husband. But it wasn't love. Love came months later. Love is something is something you work at. But I do love the Princess Bride.

    Oh, and I just giggled at Bella and Mr Sparkles.
    Rejection isn't failure. Failure is giving up. Everybody gets rejected, it's how you handle it that determines where you will end up.

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  13. #13
    proud writer AgathaChristieFan's Avatar
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    I love this list! I never knew there were so many different types. The kind of relationships I write about are lovers in denial, tragic past (my favorite to write for), second time around (second favorite), best friends/friends first, and childhood friends. For some reason, I love it when the 2 main characters already know each other, and there may be some baggage from their past.

    I've yet to write any romance short stories were strangers meet.

  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW Silver-Midnight's Avatar
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    Long time lovers, Sweethearts, and I forgot the other. Haha. But this is kind of a good idea; it may help me try other couple types. Maybe. Haha.

  15. #15
    Princess Marina Princess Marina's Avatar
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    I've used no 15 the unobtainable love interest (one-sided), but it could also be love at first sisht but only on the hero's side. But I write Regency romances and one of my novels does not fit in any of your list. Eventually it becomes similarities attract but not until nearly the end of the book. As it will be published later this year, I'll not expand further on how and why they get together.
    Last edited by Princess Marina; 04-16-2013 at 02:46 PM. Reason: site for sight

  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW Silver-Midnight's Avatar
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    I still really like this list.

  17. #17
    keyboard crawler Diver's Avatar
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    New here.

    Wonderful list! I'm also subscribing

    Quote Originally Posted by ScotchBonnet View Post
    Any thoughts or comments to add? Which situations have you used/mostly used? Which ones do you enjoy reading.watching about the most?
    If I may, even though the actual love progression may take any form from 1 to 25 (kindly skip of not appropriate):

    26. Tragic love affair
    Where you know right from the beginning its going to end badly, and the characters reinforce their love through their struggles. (Tissues required)


    Oh, and Erich Segal brought me here...
    Last edited by Diver; 05-15-2013 at 06:45 AM.

  18. #18
    Bookwright has a nice ring to it. AnaBlaze's Avatar
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    Wow. What a fantastic list. I should print this out at hang it beside my desk.

    I'm a fan of a few of these tropes. I love friends first stories, whether they've been friends since childhood or just a few years. I especially love when one of the characters has had a long-standing crush/interest/unrequited love for the other. There is just such a strong emotional pull almost instantly for the reader.

    Opposites attract and Love/Hate are great for the snarky banter that turns into hot sexiness.

    And love at first sight can be fun if it's mixed with another trope, like Oops or mistaken identities.

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  19. #19
    Lost in the Land of Giants Tienci's Avatar
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    Hmmm...my latest release (under pen name) combines #1 (love at first sight), #2 (oops!- strong-willed, resistant heroine), #3 (forbidden love- office edition), and #11 (different worlds- race & class edition).
    Yippee!
    "Will you won't you will you won't you, will you join the dance?"

  20. #20
    Getting there... Jehhillenberg's Avatar
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    I don't strictly write romance, the genre, but this caught my eye.

    My stuff involves #2, #4 (I personally find the "love/hate" one charged with fire!), #6, #7, #11, #15-21, and #24. They overlap in my mss of course and I write YA, so...yep.

    The manuscript I'm working on now has the "Opposites Attract," "Lovers In Denial," definitely "The Rivals/Protagonist/Antagonist," and maybe even the "Oops"

    VERY good list, ScotchBonnet! It's great.


    "What's the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities...transform the world and rewrite all the rules." - Inception

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  21. #21
    Getting there... Jehhillenberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScotchBonnet View Post
    This list I made up covers all types of romance...YA, romantic comedy, historical, genre romance, ect.


    22. “Dangerous Drama”

    Passionate, twisted, intense..yet they always come back to each other... even though the couple needs therapy and the characters have done some pretty nasty things ranging from mind games to physical abuse (yikes!)yet there's something about these relationships that keeps viewers or readers waiting for more...
    I see this in soap operas, TV dramas, and some YA (gossip girl) Usually involves betrayal, vengeance, dangerous characters, and life-threating situations...
    ^immediately what comes to mind is...
    Chuck and Blair, of "Gossip Girl," most definitely! "Chair/Bluck"



    I also love the fact you referenced TV and films for examples. My inspiration.


    "What's the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities...transform the world and rewrite all the rules." - Inception

    "I don't have delusions of grandeur, I have an actual recipe for grandeur." - Limitless

  22. #22
    I aim to misbehave Myrealana's Avatar
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    Mine's kind of a 2+11, with a potential 8 tossed in later, should the series continue.

    She's a masked vigilante superhero trying to find out who is making former patients at a small hospital disappear. He's the blogger that's tracking the same story. She's a sheltered telepath from a wealthy NYC family who has trouble making friends. He grew up poor in Glasgow, but because of his charm and ability to connect with people has become well-traveled and respected by people in his field.

    As I've outlined the next two books, a minor character I introduced as a red herring in the first book has come up as a potential rival for her affection later in the story.
    -- Myrea
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  23. #23
    practical experience, FTW Jazen's Avatar
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    I think my current characters would be 22. She really should run screaming in the other direction, but she just can't seem to stay away.

  24. #24
    paranormal erotic romance gingerwoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Collectonian View Post
    On forbidden, it was interesting you noted step siblings, but not actual incest there :-P.
    That's because most publishers would reject "incest" in a romance novel. A notable exception is the Flowers in the Attic series of the 80s but this was never a romance novel series. Most Gothic romantic horror, basically lumped as general fiction I guess.
    Last edited by gingerwoman; 08-26-2013 at 03:43 AM.
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  25. #25
    Questioning Everything
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    What a great resurrected thread!

    I like (#1) Love at First Sight, (#2) Oops, (#3) Childhood Friends, and of course, (#8) the infamous Love Triangle.

    I like #1 and #2 happening together. Add #8 to any of these and it's a home run for me.

    I forget where I read this piece of advice, (probably on here one night way past my bedtime, when things start to get fuzzy and I find something great but can't remember where/happens all the time): Don't ever let two people go to bed without at least one other jealous character in the story. Love it!
    Last edited by Kathl33n; 09-09-2013 at 02:43 AM. Reason: spelling error

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