Top Ten Things I Dislike In Fictional Romances

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Ohh, man, this TTT is made for me. Because I am nothing if not nitpicky when it comes to a love interest – and I think I have good reason for that. I mean, when your audience is teenagers primarily, it would do better not to have romances erring either on ridiculously idealistic or plain terrible. Also, who wants to read about idiot love interests anyway? Placing my rant-helmet firmly on my head, let’s get into… top ten things I dislike in romances.

  1. The Douche Love Interest. There’s a fine line between alpha male and scumbag, IMO, and way too many novels skip happily across this line without people noticing. This guy will treat the main character awfully but really it’s all a façade and he’s good at heart!!!!1!!!!1!!! Nuh uh. If he’s so good at heart, why is he a dick to everyone else around him too?
  2. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Look, I don’t care about your speshul snowflake untouchable beautiful unique not-like-those-popular-b*tches dream gurlfran and how you obsess over her, unless there’s some 500 Days of Summer type point to the story. I don’t care how she’s going to change your life. I don’t care about your mopey tragic life. I. Don’t. Care. Which brings us to…
  3. The Creeper. Yes, we’ve all discussed Edward Cullen, but let me tell you that there are lots more obsessive, stalker-y weirdos in YA that our TSTL main characters fawn over. The kind of creeps I’d get a restraining order for, no matter how ‘hawt’. Seriously, slam the door in the creeper’s face the first time he tells you he was watching you.
  4. Love Triangles. These are so overdone, all right? At this point, finding out that like ten other guys/girls were/are in love with the main character the entire book isn’t even a plot twist. And reading said main character agonising over the ten other guys/girls is really not fun. What happened to friendship? No, obviously they ALL have ALL the feelings for each other and however will these be resolved??? Honestly, if you have to put a love triangle in your book to make me ‘pick a side’ and stay invested, you need to do some serious thinking about your book.
  5. Insta-Love. I don’t care if they feel connected, I don’t care if they were lovers in their past life, I don’t care if a five million year old prophecy ordained by all the gods demands that they fall in love. If you want be to be invested in a relationship, the last thing you do is have them fall for each other when they don’t know the first thing about each other. Trust me, that is going to cause so many problems after they get their happily-ever-after. Slow-burning romance is scientifically proven to be better. With science.

    Science cats have been researching slow burning romance vs. insta-love for decades, and the verdict is firmly against the blechy latter.
  6. The Awful Ex. Why is it that so many romances feel the need to drag in some cartoonishly terrible ex? For the last time, that kind of drama isn’t enjoyable. It makes me feel cheated, as if the author went, oh I can’t think of any relationship hurdles to put in their way but I need to make it real™, so let’s introduce the bitch ex-girlfriend! Because the Awful Ex is almost always a girl, this also puts us through some idiotic girl-on-girl hate. Seriously?
  7. I Don’t Love My Fiancé/ée. This is mostly with fantasy romances, and it is a love triangle thing, technically but I hate this especially. Firstly, the setting means that arranged marriages are the norm – and the main character is surprised/upset by this… why? They should’ve grown up knowing they’d marry a total stranger. But that’s a different matter. I am just so done to death of main characters loathing their arranged partners. Why can’t, for once, the pair learn to love each other? Because that isn’t ‘dramatic’ enough? Come on. Let’s be a little original.
  8. Physical Attraction. Don’t get me wrong, physical attraction is a huge part of romance, and almost always the first factor. But I’m sick of that being the only factor. So many times while reading I’ve thought there’s no way this girl would be into this guy if he weren’t such a hottie, and vice versa. And then as the book/series progresses they find things to love about each other beyond each other’s faces. Including, and almost always limited to: bravery, recklessness, loyalty, and if the reader is fortunate, brains. I get that not everyone can be Seraphina and Lucian (swoon) but let’s branch out a little. What happened to intellectual attraction? Not to mention, I think it’s really goddamn patronising when alpha-male hero tells clichéd heroine how he loves how brave and strong she is!!!1!!!!!1!!! Enough.
  9. Codependency. I love that at the later end of the series, the couple is a team and has worked through all their differences, and they’re ready to take on the world. And their love is way stronger! They’d do anything for each other – even die! If the other one left them! Wait, what? Slow down, buddy. If ever your romantic partner says the words I would die if you left me, your alarm bells need to start ringing. That’s not romantic, folks. That’s unhealthy and obsessive and pretty damn creepy. Unless it’s a book like Bleed Like Me, meant to show what’s so twisted about codependency, I will run away screaming at the point where the main character becomes catatonic at his/her abandonment.
  10. Good Girl and Bad Boy. Again, this is so overdone that it has to be amazingly written for me to feel like it’s original. Otherwise, this kind of romance is about as fresh as a musty old fart. For me, though, a huge part of why I dislike this is because YA heroines are either Charlie Cooper or Rose Hathaway. Bam. No in-between. And they’re almost always paired with the same kind of ‘bad boy’ alpha male. This is old, guys! I want sweet, nice boys too!

And so ends my enormous rant. This might just be my longest blog post ever! What romance tropes do you hate? Which you do shamelessly love?


2 thoughts on “Top Ten Things I Dislike In Fictional Romances

  1. Bahahaa. You are so right – there is a super fine line between alpha male and scumbag. I’m not a fan of the MPDG either, but I forgot it on my list! Oops. I agree about codependency too – I run away from books like that.
    My TTT!

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