Love & Hate: My Most and Least Favorite Romance Tropes

Happy Valentine’s day!

For the longest time I was that kid who’d grimace and cover her eyes when facing any romantic scene in a movie. Indeed, when I started on my writing journey years ago I had resolved to not include a romance in my story at all, just to spite the trends.

I have since relented (some) on that resolution, but I still can’t say I’m the biggest fan of romance arcs in general – they are just so often done so poorly, or are sickeningly superficial. So, what better thing to do on this Valentine’s day than to rant about those romance tropes I love and hate?


😠 I hate a romance that takes over the plot.

Yeah, it’s safe to say I’m not a romance genre reader. (Nothing against the genre, of course. I 100% respect the challenge of trying to create a unique plot when the basic end is already set and guaranteed.) But nothing ruins a good fantasy story like taking a plot that should be about monsters and magic and turning into angst-y kissy-times.


💙 I love a slow-burn romance.

I don’t like things that are drug out unnecessarily, but it seems to me that a slowly progressing romantic relationship is the most realistic. Plus, I tend to enjoy story with higher stakes than a romance so things kind of have to progress more slowly when the fate of the world is at hand.


😠 I hate romantic couples who have no reason to like each other beyond “plot.”

I think this is probably the number one reason I don’t like most romantic subplots – they are simply done so poorly. “For the plot’s sake” is never a justification for anything, romance included. The worst of this is when the couple aren’t even a good match for one another.


💙 I love a couple that really seems to match each other.

I don’t suppose I can articulate this very well, but  I know it when I see it. These two characters have to have the perfect balance of likes and dislikes, flaws and weakness so that they just mesh – like puzzle pieces, like true soul mates. Who doesn’t love that?


😠 I hate romance that claims to be love, but is really just lust.

Maybe I can’t fault this one too hard in fiction, real life doesn’t seem to have got this distinction straight, either. But still, lust ≠ love.


💙 I love a feircly loyal romantic couple.

This is not code for over-protective. This is when a couple sticks by each other “through thick and thin” – no matter what anyone says, no matter the misunderstandings, no matter the challenges. That’s love, and I love it.


What are some of your favorite/least favorite romantic tropes? What are some stories you think handle romance successfully? (I do like the relationships in Curse of the Black Pearl movie, The Stormlight Archives, and Mistborn: The Final Empire.) Join the conversation in the comments below!

4 thoughts on “Love & Hate: My Most and Least Favorite Romance Tropes

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  1. CPIMM:Long ago, in another galaxyThere lived a gloomy robotHis name was MarvinHe was getting old and a bit rustyAnd nobody liked himOne day, being very boredHe thought it would be a good ideaTo tidy up all of his old programsIn his dusty old databankThere were tapes in thereHe hadn’t played for yearsChecking them through,He accidentally pushed a wrong buttonAnd suddenly he heardVoice:Marvin, I love youMarvin, I love youWell, he was sure he hadn’tHeard that ever beforeHe wasn’t even sure he’d heard it that timeBecause being a bored and gloomy robotHe hadn’t really been listeningWhat was worse, he couldn’t rememberWhat button he’d accidentally pressedAnyway, he tried a few switches at randomAnd suddenlyVoice:Marvin, I love youMarvin I love youRemember, I’m programmed for youI know we’re worlds apartStill you couldn’t break my heartLoving you is all I can doWell, he heard it that time all right, no doubt about itWho was singing these strange words?Was it another robot?Or some strange lifeform from the distant pastWhen he was a young robot and people still madeThe occasional attempt to like him?He couldn’t make it out at allSo, he pushed a few buttons againVoice:Marvin, I love youMarvin, I love youThat was itVoice:I tried to contact MarvinI don’t know why, but he never repliedPerhaps one day he’ll answer.Till then I guess I’ll keep on tryingMarvin, I love youMarvin I love youRemember, I’m programmed for you‘Does not compute’ he thought miserablyBut at least he knew where to find it in his databankFrom then on he could play it whenever he wantedThink about what he’d missedAnd live miserably ever afterVoice:Marvin, I love youMarvin I love youRemember, I’m programmed for youI know we’re worlds apartStill you couldn’t break my heartLoving you is all I can doMarvin, I love youMarvin I love you

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