Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Romantic Tropes I Dislike

Top Ten TuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. For this week we will be listing “Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes To Romances In Books.” Oh, good, I get to rant a little. The problem I have with most of these is the fact that they’ve become so cliché and instead of surprising me, these kinds of relationships end up being both trite and predicable. Then there are the romantic tropes that just piss me off. I tried to explain why below. Don’t worry, I kept most of my ranting to a minimum.

(Nearly) Top Ten Romantic Tropes I Dislike:

1. Love Triangles. The more I read, the less tolerant I am of love triangles, especially when the protagonist is very wishy-washy and fickle.

2. Insta-Love. I hate, hate, hate insta-love. This also includes the books that have its characters go on three-day adventures and at the end of it, they are convinced they are in love. Please. Queue eye-roll.

3. “You’re not like other girls.” Please don’t use this line if you ever write a book. There are so many things wrong with this statement, from reinforcing the misogynistic idea that women can only find their own worth when they compare themselves favorably to another female to the false idea that women should be in constant competition with one another.

4. I’m-so-plain-but-this-hot-guy-likes-me-anyways. I cannot count the number of times I’ve read about a protagonist that is convinced she is the ugliest thing in the world (or at least the plainest) and yet this hot guy (or guys) are attracted to her. It’s very superficial and implies one’s worth is dependent on whether or not you are good-looking.

5. You-know-I-like-him-because-I-hate-every-female-that-talks-to-him-and-she-just-so-happens-to-be-a-horrible-person. This is far too convenient and just a horrible example of girl-on-girl hate, which I am always against.

6. Two guys competing over a girl through childish means. Let’s fight because we both know that whoever wins this competition will win the girl’s heart. False. Both in fiction and in real life, no woman is ever going to decide who she wants to be with based on which guy can shoot an arrow more accurately or wield a sword better.

7. Incest/Incest-like relationships. Yeah, I do not understand this at all. To me this also includes the relationships where two characters are raised believing they are cousins, but when they find out they aren’t, it somehow becomes acceptable for them to be in love. No, just no.

8. Sexual harassment masquerading as sexual tension. If a male or female character is being pushy with another character or trying to manipulate them in any way, it’s called sexual harassment not sexual tension.

9. Anytime the protagonist spends an unreasonable amount of time admiring her love interest’s looks. This is pretty self-explanatory, but I still see it too often. I appreciate seeing literary relationships based on more than physical attraction.

And to mix things up a bit, and also to end things on a positive note…

A Romantic Trope I Like:

10. The Slow-Burn. It’s real simple for me. It doesn’t matter if a relationship starts off contentious or friendly, the two can be strangers in the beginning or best friends, but if an author takes his or her time telling how a relationship grows and alters, I’m on board.

I wrote a couple of discussion posts on some on these topics. Here are the links if you are interested:

Kernels of Nonsense, #4: The Love-Triangle

Kernels of Nonsense, #9: Girl-on-Girl Hate

A Kernel of Nonsense, #17: The Contentious Relationship

Do any of these romantic tropes get on your nerves too? Leave a link to your Top Ten Tuesday so I can visit!

44 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Romantic Tropes I Dislike

  1. I think everyone is in agreement about slow burning relationships – authors should take note! Oh my goodness incest type relationships are to f’ing weird to me, I can’t even handle step siblings! It’s just not okay, and I’d wish they’d stop trying to romanticise it!


  2. I could not agree with you more when it comes to numbers 3&4. There’s so many misogynistic romance tropes, especially in literature that’s aimed at females. Relationships that center on validation (especially female from male, although it can go both ways) are such a turn off to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I completely agree with every single one of these. Also, “where two characters are raised believing they are cousins, but when they find out they aren’t, it somehow becomes acceptable for them to be in love.” – GROSS. Which book did you read like this? I need to avoid it.


    1. This particular example is from Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton. One of the characters does the math to prove that he’s more of a very distant relative to the protagonist. He. Sat. Down. And. Did. The. Math. If you need to chart out how you relate to someone else in order to justify your feelings, it’s probably best if you just don’t go there.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. OMG #3 and #4 is spot on! I really hate when authors use that, it just doesn’t make sense and seems like an easy get out of jail card on what to write about. Great post!


  5. There is so much girl-hate in romance books it is ridiculous, both by male characters, female characters and even the authors re-enforcing statements like “you aren’t like other girls”. It scares me quite a bit, constantly slut-shaming and not batting an eyelid.

    Incest = HELLS NO for me too!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Omg yes!! Especially incest. I cannot. This is part of the reason I can’t handle GOT. Also the girl-hate is just ridiculous cause just…can we all support each other please? And don’t justify sexism by using it as a plot device…Just all the win. Thank you for writing this.

    New follower via bloglovin.


  7. Okay, so I agree with you about incest, but it’s actually very common in older books – not brother / sister, but cousins (Mansfield Park) and adopted siblings (Wuthering Heights) spring to mind. Do you give these a pass, since this was a historically acceptable practice (before we knew about genetics)?


    1. I am much more tolerant of cousin relationships in works of fiction dated back so many years ago, but that being said, my own contemporary biases keep me from really getting engrossed in these kind of relationships (Mansfield Park is my least favorite of Austen’s works). Wuthering Heights is a twisted story even without touching on the strange familial relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine. I’m not sure I would really call it a romance to begin with.


    1. I’ve read situations where a male character is making sexual remarks/advances at a female character and the author writes that it makes her uncomfortable and I’m screaming, “Get away from her. That is not okay!” And then I’m expected to buy into what a great guy he really is and blah blah blah…it’s unacceptable.


  8. I agree with all of these — and I’m especially glad you pointed out the plain girl who realizes she’s attractive when the hot guy falls for her rather than all the super-perfect mean cheerleaders… ugh.


  9. Further to your #8 are the 50 Shades books. In other words: sexual abuse/porn masquerading as sexual tension. I also can’t stand body parts heaving and throbbing.


I'd love to hear from you. Share your thoughts here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.