It can be difficult writing romantic moments to show a couple’s developing relationship as many of these moments have become so clichéd and overdone that they have lost all of their impact. Not all of them are necessarily bad. It’s still sweet to read about your favourite fictional couple sheltering from the rain together or raising a baby bird like it’s their own child. But modern fiction still needs more original and more realistic moments to show that a couple are in love. Here are some to get you started:
- Looking out for each other in dangerous situations. This doesn’t mean the guy saving the girl (yes, it is still usually that way around) all the time. The couple can trust each other’s fighting abilities but still glance at each other occasionally to check that the other is ok.
Use instead of: Girl falls for guy after he rescues her. When this happens in a story, it’s seen almost as a crime if the girl doesn’t fall madly in love with him as thanks for saving her.
- Respecting each other’s privacy. While quality time together is important in a relationship, it’s equally important to know when the other needs personal time. Often, especially after an argument, it’s best to back off rather than make a situation worse.
Use instead of: Being forced into every situation together. Stuck in a broken lift? Forced to do a report together? It probably won’t turn hatred into love as years of romantic movies have told us. It’ll probably just make them hate each other even more.
- Talking things out after an argument. It’s inevitable that even the most stable of couples will fight sometimes, even do awful things to each other without meaning to. The way they deal with their arguments and issues often says more about their relationship than anything else.
Use instead of: Make up sex. Seriously, does anyone actually do this? An emotional argument is probably the least sexy thing ever. Aren’t you just using sex to ignore your issues?
- Making a partner’s favourite dinner after they’ve had a terrible day. Double points if the partner doesn’t actually say they’ve had a terrible day, they just know and want to cheer them up.
Use instead of: Cooking dinner together. My parents said that they would end up getting divorced if they ever tried cooking together. It’s not quite as romantic and cute as sit-coms will have you think.
- Leading someone with a fear of heights down to safety. Good relationships are about looking after each other’s needs and making each other feel safe, calm, and secure. Not every romantic rescue needs to be about beating up an attacker, often it can be something as simple as this.
Use instead of: ‘I have a fear of heights that is instantly cured so that I can go on the ferris wheel with you.’ Sorry to tell you this but true love isn’t an insta-cure for all phobias. It’s not going to be very romantic if one person is secretly terrified.
- Ordering food for a shy person. Similar to the above example, helping out someone with social anxiety instead of condemning them for it is the nicest thing you can do for them.
Use instead of: Forcing a shy person to ‘come out of their shell’. Forcing someone into a situation that they’re uncomfortable with is going to do them much more harm than good and drive them away from the person you’re trying to hook them up with. If they really must open up more then it must be done gradually with gentle encouragement.
- Finding each other irresistibly cute.
Have you ever heard of cuteness aggression? It’s when you see a baby animal that is so unbearably cute that you quite literally want to hug it to death. I often feel this way towards my fiancé, which is a little disturbing if you think about it…
Use instead of: Finding each other irresistibly sexy. Couples do need to find something physically attractive about the other, but you don’t want to imply that sexual attraction is the only reason they like each other.
- Giving each other good advice.
I’ve never really thought before how often my fiancé and I give each other advice about careers, family, or life in general, but it helps us both through a lot of tough situations.
Use instead of: Asking friends for ill-informed relationship advice. It will inevitably lead to misunderstandings that will almost doom the relationship but it will all be fixed at the last moment and the idiot friend will receive no repercussions for almost breaking up a loving couple.
- Sharing each other’s food. My fiancé and I have this weird running gag that when we’re having chips, we always steal some from the other’s place, even if we’re both having chips.
Use instead of: The ‘s/he stole food from my plate’ relationship dilemma. Did the fact that you’re going on dates not tip you off that you’re in a relationship? And does it really matter if someone you’re dating takes food from your plate?
- Watching silly movies together. Similar to cooking their favourite dinner when they’re feeling sad, doing things like watching light hearted fun films, particularly ones they can riff on together, can make each other feel better.
Use instead of: Watching sappy romance movies together (and the guy hating it). It’s not treated as ‘sitting through a film I hate for my partner’ so much as ‘my wife is forcing me to watch a film I hate’. I also despise the guy making a girl watch a scary film she can’t stand just so she can cling onto him when she’s scared cliché. It borders on emotional manipulation.
- Talking like best friends. Doesn’t matter if it’s normal everyday banter or confiding secrets that they can’t tell anybody else. Preferably there should be moments of both.
Use instead of: Can’t form coherent sentences around a crush. How can characters form relationships if they can’t even communicate with each other coherently? It makes it hard to get to know anything about each other.
- Towling each other off after a rain storm. It’s sweet, caring, and even a little sexy. How can you go wrong?
Use instead of: Kissing in the rain. Why is this such a big thing? Has anybody ever had a decent kiss while being drenched with rain? Potentially catching pneumonia doesn’t seem that romantic to me.
- Driving a partner to the airport at 5am.
If this isn’t the ultimate act of true love then I don’t know what is.
Use instead of: Chasing someone through the airport. ‘Being with me will make you so much happier than moving on with your life and pursuing your dream career! Whoops, is that airport security behind me?’
What other supposedly romantic moments do you think have become clichéd? What do you think make better alternatives?