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?