10 more of the WORST Romance Tropes in Books
You already know I love romance. I'm a romance writer and reader. I just wanna see love blossom! Is that so wrong? But just because I love the genre doesn't mean I love every single story within it–and that's what we're talking about today.
In the past, I’ve told you the worst romance tropes that I've found, and wow, how they evolved over time! It's a new era and a new day to talk about brand new shitty romance tropes. I will forewarn you, some of these tropes are sexual in nature. So if that's not your thing, scoot out of here. This ain't for you.
But overall, these tropes are widely seen in the romance genre, and I hate every single one of them. I am doing my best to not overlap any of the tropes from my previous romance videos, though I will admit they still suck. This is all new and not even remotely improved. Please stop writing this crap.
Let's dive in. Oh, and did I mention brace yourself?
This video is sponsored by GetCovers. As always, all opinions are my own.
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Number 1: The Brother of the Ex
Guess we're keeping it in the family–just the way the Alabamians like it. I can't be the only one who thinks it's weird to date someone closely related to someone you've already been with? I actually know people who've done this in real life, and honestly, it's fucking gross. You get to attend every family function with the looming horror that you know exactly how the inside of your brother-in-law's mouth tastes. You get to sit across the table from your sister-in-law and think to yourself, “I've been inside you.”
It's weird, I'm sorry. I’m not actually sorry. I don't like running into my exes, let alone seeing them at every family event. And yet there is an entire romance sub-genre devoted to dating the brother of your ex-boyfriend, specifically. Why? Are you just going down the family line, hoppin’ from dick to dick until you finally get your happy ending? Every man in that family knows what you look like naked. Do you really want that? Apparently so, because these books exist in droves. But that doesn't mean I have to understand the twisted minds of hill people.
Number 2: The Infantilized Female Love Interest
She's a grown woman, but she's four-foot-eight. She's very angry, but that's okay because she's so cute when she's mad. Have you seen her hands? They're the size of a baby's! Tell me you’re a pedophile without telling me you're a pedophile.
Listen, I am aware that some women are tiny. I have an aunt and a cousin who are both four-foot-nine. But you’d think that being below five feet was the norm given how many diminutives there are in fiction. And who's usually writing these women? You guessed it, grown-ass men. And sometimes grown-ass women. Why are you infantilizing your own gender? Oh, internalized misogyny. How could I forget?
I'm not saying your leading lady can't be short. Shorties are awesome. Hell, Leila is five-foot-three, and she's a badass. It's just alarming how often I pick up a book and the female love interest is the same size as a prepubescent child. It's just concerning that making her teeny-tiny is such a fierce priority–as if making her an average height or worse, tall, is so detrimental to her character. Plot twist, the average woman in the U.S. is five-foot-four. If that intimidates you, I've got nothing for you. That's just weird. Speaking of pedophiles . . .
Number 3: Graphic Teen Sex
Jesus Christ! I am a thirty-five-year-old woman. I do not need to read about two children having sex.
“But Jennaaa, they’re not children. They're sixteen years old.”
They’re practically fetuses.
I'm not saying you can't write a teen sex scene, we all know teens are horny as hell. But does it have to be graphic? Do you need to describe all the positions and parts? You’re making me uncomfortable.
And honestly, teens probably aren't all that good at doing the do, so why do you wanna be graphic anyway? No one is interested in hearing about Billy’s Six Pumps of Coital Mediocrity. Best thirty seconds of her life, I'm sure. Save the graphic stuff for adults who know what they're doing. Let the teenagers screw in private, please.
Number 4: I Love You Because the Plot Says So
The characters get together because they're supposed to. Not because they have any chemistry. Not because they share any moments of bonding or intimacy. Certainly not because they have any deep conversations. Who even talks anymore? Cliff and I haven't spoken in years.
This issue is less of a trope and more so just bad writing. The problem is it's become increasingly prevalent over the years. A lot of writers are so focused on crafting saucy sex scenes they forget that sex isn't a requirement of the romance genre. You know what is a requirement? Romance!
It's not romantic to shove two characters together just for the sake of the plot. You have to at least try to build moments of chemistry. And if you don't know how to do that, for God's sake, learn! Because your book sucks and doesn't bring any heart flutters. Fix that.
Number 5: They Came as One
Literally. We're talking about synchronized orgasms. I'm not saying it's impossible. It's definitely doable. However, timing your orgasms to happen concurrently takes a lot of practice and a deep understanding of your partner's wants and needs. It's not something that magically happens overnight. And therein lies the problem . . .
I read a lot of books where the characters come at the same time the first time they have sex together. Even worse, I've read books where they come at the same time and they were virgins. This is literally the first time they've had sex, period. Are you serious?
I'm not against writing synchronized splooge, but can it at least be between characters who've had sex together? And honestly, it's not unsexy to write about your characters coming at different times. If anything, you get to write two orgasms instead of one. Who doesn't love that?
There's only so much I can pretend to believe. Might as well give your characters wings and have them fly off into the sky while fucking. Oh, wait. Someone’s written that too. Jesus Christ.
Number 6: “I’m Never Gonna Tell Them How I Feel.”
“But I'm gonna get real mad when they date someone else . . . Humph!”
I understand that it's hard to express romantic attraction. Rejection is brutal. And I can understand resisting for a few chapters, that's just good pacing and suspense. But when we go hundreds of pages or even multiple books and they still haven't expressed their feelings . . . Honey, you don't deserve 'em! If you're not willing to fight for them, they can certainly do better than you.
You can't convince me to root for this character because they have no backbone, which is incredibly unattractive. And tell me why every single time they finally reveal their feelings when the other character is happily involved with someone else? Bitch, you are toxic! As Kelly Clarkson wisely said, “You had your chance, you blew it.”
Listen, relationships take courage, humility, and vulnerability–and all these things are required in a love confession. If you can't wrangle up a spine, you're probably not ready for a relationship anyway.
Number 7: We Can’t Be Together . . . for Reasons
I am the biggest fan of forbidden love. I am obsessed with stories about characters who can't be together because of some outside force. But there needs to be an outside force, obviously! Or is it obvious? Because I've read a lot of books where the characters declare that they can't be together, because they said so.
I am literally rooting for the forbidden aspect, but you gotta give me a reason. What is the reason? It can't just be, “I'm no good for you.” Because no fucking shit! None of us are good for anyone. We are all garbage people roaming this landfill we call Earth. Just give me an actual reason for their separation so I can mourn, pine, and long for their reunion. But if you give me nothing, you’re gettin’ nothing in return. I don’t have time for a weak-ass romance, bitch.
Number 8: The Jackrabbiting Sex God
This is usually a male character paired with a female character, and we’ve been told throughout the entire book that he’s an absolute beast in the sheets. And then the time comes and it’s a whole lotta nothing. Honestly, this doesn't make me hate the story, it just makes me feel really bad for the author. If they’re a man, then holy shit, leave vaginas alone. You’re destroying them. If they’re a woman, then I just wanna wrap them up in a blanket and hold them gently. It’s gonna be okay. One day you will find someone who treats you as more than a sock.
The problem with sex scenes is they can be super revealing. So if you’re gonna write them, make sure they don’t reveal all of your baggage. If you write a jackhammer session, people are just gonna feel sorry for you, and probably your partners.
Number 9: Terrible Language for Private Parts
“Moist hole." "Wet folds.” “Velvet-covered steel.” “Big, bouncing boobies.” “Meat wand.” “Gobs of pearly goo.” These are all actual phrases I’ve seen written in books. They’re also the reason I’m in therapy.
I understand that pee-pees and ta-tas might be hard to write about, but here’s a solution: Keep it simple, stupid. Call it a dick. Call them breasts. It’s that easy. Stop trying to reinvent the wheel. Or I guess, rebrand the balls. You’re just making your intimate scenes unbearable to read. I’ll send you the bill for my Lexapro.
Number 10: Incest
I never thought I’d see the day when this was on my list, but writers have gotten really weird. I’ve got no problem with including incest in your story as a general facet of the world or society. Pretty much anything can be written in fiction–it’s the way it’s portrayed that matters. It’s one thing to write about incest; it’s happened in the world for centuries. It’s another thing entirely to romanticize it. *Gag*
Pretty much anything can be written in fiction–it’s the way it’s portrayed that matters.
That’s exactly what happens when the main ship of a literal romance novel is incestuous. Romance novels . . . romanticize. See how that works? I’ve seen romance novels where a father and daughter start hookin’ up. I’ve seen it where cousins are getting married. I’ve even seen twins being shipped. I’m not talking about the Lannisters. I’m not sure anyone was shipping them. But are you fucking kidding me? What about this is appealing? Their children are gonna be fucked up.
And before anyone accuses me of coming for House of the Dragon, first of all, I haven't seen it so I don't have an opinion. And second of all, it's irrelevant because it's not a romance. Calm down.
I don't think I need to elaborate on this point. Anyone who's arguing in favor of romantic incest honestly can't be helped and it's not my problem. I just wanna read romances about people who aren't related to one another. It's a low bar but somehow people are limboing right under it. The world's trash.
So that's all I've got for you today!
Yep, those are ten romance tropes that truly fucked me up, and not in a good way. If you like any of these tropes, just leave. Your family must be so ashamed.
Which trope on this list is your least favorite? Comment below.
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