I was trying to think of how many different ways a (romantic) love relationship in a story can be packaged, and what was most commonly seen in stories. Though I know there are more than five approaches (I found a blog post that listed 13, though some overlap with my list), here are five that came to my mind:
1. Young Love
This is an affection that starts when the characters are young, like Peeta was five when he first noticed Katniss, or like Rudy’s care for Liesel in The Book Thief. I don’t think a real, devoted love can actually start when one is five, but then again, I don’t know what the magic age would be. However, I still find this premise very cute in general.
“Well Peeta, we know, from our days in the cave, that it was love at first sight for you from what, age five?” Caesar says.
“From the moment I laid eyes on her,” says Peeta. (The Hunger Games)
2. Friendship That Turns Into Love
I also love it when two friends in a story, especially if they’re best friends or childhood friends (again going somewhat with the idea of young love) fall in love. I think a classic example of this is Emma and Knightley in Emma. They’ve known each other for most all their lives, but it takes time for both of them to both fall in love and to realize it.
It darted through her with the speed of an arrow that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself! (Emma)
3. Resistant Love
Jane Austen also made this a classic love relationship found in stories with Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, as well as with Marianne and Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility. I also enjoy this type of story because it creates such great tension. I was going to call this “antagonistic love,” but sometimes you can be friends with someone and still resist the thought of being with them for one reason or another.
“From the very beginning— from the first moment, I may almost say— of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.” (Elizabeth, Pride and Prejudice)
4. Insta-Love (AKA Love at First Sight)
Generally, this one frustrates me. I guess it may sound hypocritical to like young love stories of Peeta vying for Katniss at five and not love at first sight stories that take place years later, but at least as a child has several years to make up their mind if they actually love the person. So for teens and adults I tend to not find these insta-love situations not realistic or enjoyable, but for some reason I had next to no problem with Marius and Cosette and the 2012 Les Miserables film. Now, I will acknowledge that I have heard that in the book they have more of a relationship, but I have actually not read the book. I did, however, see the 1998 film, which doesn’t include as much of the story as the 2012 film, but somehow better develops Marius and Cosette’s relationship, so maybe that helped me not be as prejudiced towards it. Who knows, maybe it’s because they sing the entire movie and I just accept everything because it was so beautifully done. I can’t think of any good examples from books where I really accepted it. Does anyone else have one?
5. Unrequited Love
Laurie for Jo, Gale for Katniss, Rudy for Liesel, Harriet for Mr. Elton, Eponine for Marius, the list goes on… these are the stingers, when someone loves somebody and they just don’t love them back. It makes our soul ache, especially when we would have loved to see them as a couple. Or sometimes you know they wouldn’t be a good couple and you’re relieved! But you still probably feel at least a little bad. There are also a couple of great and tragic examples of this from the show Babylon 5 that I really want to share, but I don’t want to spoil the show, so just go watch all five seasons and then we’ll chat about it. Instead, I leave you with a quote from the show…
“All love is unrequited, Stephen. All of it.” (Susan Ivanova, Babylon 5)
What type of love relationships are your favorite to see in stories? What are you tired of seeing? What other love relationship types from stories can you think of?
Great list! I agree about the instalove and that it’s kinda different from the young love. My favorite is the friends-first kind. I also really enjoy the kind that evolve not necessarily from friendships but from like… working relationships? I’m thinking of Cinder and Kai (Lunar Chronicles), and Seraphina and Kiggs (Seraphina). <3
Yeah, I wasn’t sure how to categorize what Cinder and Kai had other than a friendship turned relationship, but working relationships is a good term.
This was such an interesting read! 😀 My favourites to see in stories are friendship that turns into love, and sometimes young love. Much like my favourite trio in Sky Song. <3 What bothers me in stories is the insta-love. I don't think not knowing anything about a person other than how they look qualifies as really KNOWING them enough to love them.
Thanks! And I agree that it is so annoying when two characters decide they are in love without knowing anything about them whatsoever! I guess some people believe it works and maybe it does, but as a reader, I definitely want to read about the development of their relationship and see them go through all that! Thanks for stopping by!
This is an interesting topic. I can normally respect any type of love story, as long as it is done well. The times when I feel like insta-love is ok, is when we know it will happen. For instance, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, it tells us it will be insta-love type. Unrequited love always rips at my heart. So sad.
Knowing insta-love is going to happen is helpful. I plan to read Statistical Probability because I am very curious to see what I think, and thankfully it’s obvious what you’re getting into!
I like Resistant Love too. Like you said it creates great tension between the characters and I like the sometimes witty banter that comes from it.
Unrequited love is always heart ache…but makes for good drama. One of my favourite movie ones is from Love Actually where Mark shows Juliet flashcards that writes
“With any luck, by next year – I’ll be going out with one of these girls. [pictures of supermodels] But for now, let me say – Without hope or agenda – Just because its Christmas – And at Christmas you tell the truth – To me, you are perfect – And my wasted heart will love you – Until you look like this [picture of a mummy] Merry Christmas.”
My favorite is unrequited love, because those are the ones where I root for characters!
For instance, I wanted Eponine to end up with Marius, because she deserves him far more than Cosette does. And The Book Thief! I wanted to cry when Liesel finally gave that kiss to Rudy.
ohmigosh, the book thief was so sad i wanted to cry too
I guess those types could be combined, like first it they start out as friends, then it turns into one-sided love, and then the cutesy HEA. Oh, would you look at me blabbering.. 😛
But anyway, I think that post brilliantly sums it up. My favourite would be the Resistant Love. It’s overused and can be tiresome to read sometimes, but it never fails to hold my attention.
They definitely can be combined! Thanks for visiting!
I haven’t read many examples of insta love, or seen them, but the ones I do really irk me. It’s just so unbelievable, whether it can atually happen to people or not. If there is some underlying cause like they are soul mates, or there is a supernatural element to it, I’m much more likely to go along with it. Like Akiva and Karou in Daughter of Smoke and Bone… there was an instant connection between them but it was so beautifully written, and they *did* have a story, that I loved it. (I also like Cinder and Kai!) But this whole “oh he’s really cute and he LOOKED at me, I’m in love!” mentality is more than boring. It’s insulting to me, as a reader, that I’m supposed to just accept this lazy relationship the author is throwing at me. Like, you just wrote an entire novel and you couldn’t give me a paragraph here and there on building up a bond?
And I completely agree that new love/kid love is an entirely different thing. They’re kids and they have time to figure it out. Supposedly all these insta-love drones are at an age where they’ve had time to figure out how the world works.
Gosh, that came off way more ranty than I had intended. 🙂
what about forbidden love? like Padme and Anakin in star wars
That’s definitely another one!