As an avid consumer of romance, I’ve come across my fair share of masterpieces within this genre. Whether it’s an“enemies to lovers” storyline or a plot where the characters beautifully grow together as people. The love I have for romance media is seemingly never-ending. But of course, once I remove my rose-colored glasses, I begin to see the deeply flawed elements of many different romance tropes that I simply can no longer avoid. These are my top three romantic plotlines that I truly detest:
1. “The Fixer”
This plot line, commonly found in more serious romance media, is one that I’ve always had a bit of an issue with. Person A has problems that Person B suddenly has to take on and solve with little to no help from Person A. The whole situation often appears unfair for Person B. While many different movies or novels attempt to dismiss the selfishness and toxic behaviors that arise from these stories in the name of “character development,” at times they do quite a poor job because the change in character seems sudden now that the romance itself has taken center stage.
Take Rue and Jules from Euphoria as an example. Rue is a heavily flawed character who starts a relationship with another deeply hurt person. While the pair have their fair share of cute moments and are one of my favorite couples, one cannot simply ignore the intense pressure Rue put on Jules as she based her sobriety on the well-being of their relationship. Even when the role of who was the fixer slightly altered as the relationship progressed, the fact that both of them came to a point where they constantly tried to fix the others' problems was rather concerning.
Now, this isn’t to say that I am completely against the idea of two people becoming romantically intertwined and experiencing personal growth together. I just believe that if this growth is constantly one-sided and one person is continuously giving and giving, the relationship deserves to be re-evaluated rather than romanticized.
2. The Love Triangle
I could rant for almost an eternity about how much I despise love triangles, but for the sake of your sanity and mine, I will summarize this argument with one main thought: someone always gets hurt.
For those unfamiliar with this trope, it refers to when two people are pursuing the same person in a competition-like manner until the pursued is eventually forced to choose who they will be together with. While this plot can occasionally be interesting, towards the end of the story, I always end up feeling bad for the second love interest because they do all of this work to get with this one person just for them to choose someone else in the end. In addition to this, the one being pursued often strings along the second love interest even when it becomes glaringly obvious who they will choose in the end.
This behavior is difficult to see as anything other than deplorable, considering the unyielding loyalty the second love interest shows the main character time and time again. The fact that many protagonists humor the concept of getting together with the second love interest for so long often causes me to gain a small disliking to them as people, considering they are normalizing insensitive characteristics.
3. The Miscommunication
A common element of romantic stories, the overused miscommunication plot line is one that I can always live without. While I acknowledge that miscommunications are a normal part of any relationship, they are continuously prolonged within the romance genre and are quite frankly exhausting.
Show-runners and writers alike often make the mistake of overextending the miscommunication so much so that it doesn't even feel like the characters are fighting about that one thing anymore. In fact, these storylines are often so dragged out that when the explanation for the "incriminating" thing a character saw is revealed, it is extremely underwhelming. After all, we've spent so much time getting to this point only for the reveal to be subpar at best; all in all, it just feels so flat. In addition to this, it always seems like this conflict theme can be resolved quite quickly if the characters were to just properly communicate their misconceptions. This would not only avoid the pain and heartache that usually becomes the forefront of these plots but save the time constantly wasted as well.
In the grand scheme of things, you may be wondering why these problematic romance tropes even matter in the first place. After all, if you don't like these plot lines, the easy answer is to just avoid them entirely. While this is the best course of action, these romantic themes are quite popular within widespread media and are somewhat difficult to run away from. As romance fanatics struggle to find a place free of these plots, the problematic and toxic behaviors of the characters only spread further and further to their impressionable audiences. This could leave many with a distorted idea of romance and desensitize them to red flags in their own relationships.