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Trope Tuesday - Fake Relationships


I love a good fauxmance. I’m talking about the fake relationship trope, of course, when two characters pretend to be a couple. Because it’s a romance, we know that eventually their reasons for beginning the farce will pale in comparison to their real feelings for each other, their plan will backfire, and they’ll end up falling in love. It’s an all ages trope, meaning it can be pulled off with younger characters and adult characters alike, who for some reason or other (making someone jealous, needing a date for a family or high school reunion) pretend to be a couple. We also see this trope in fake engagements stories and marriage of convenience, everywhere from Hallmark movies to romcom books.


But one of the things I love about the fake relationship trope is the trust between the fake couple from the very beginning. Whether the protagonists are newly introduced or best friends, there’s a little leap of faith that needs to be taken in order for them to trust each other well enough to go into this charade together and have each other’s backs. The golden moment for me is that scene where the two characters craft the scam and kind of negotiate the terms. There’s so much room for awkwardness and tension. I also love that when things are “fake” the couple lets their guard down a little bit. There’s seemingly not as much to lose, so they take those risks like holding hands or kissing, all in the name of their cover, but then whoops! There’s this unexpected reaction where they’re attracted to the person and the lines begin to blur.


I’ve learned a few things while writing a contemporary romance with fake relationship vibes, and I think the most important one worth mentioning is this: The arrangement must be mutually beneficial—both characters need to have something to gain, as opposed to one character just going along with it for the sake of being accommodating to the other person. When both characters need something that they can only achieve by partnering up with the other, it increases the tension overall and gives both characters goals, rather than having one of them just along for the ride and being a doormat. In Only For You, Emily had a secret crush on Tim, which made her intrigued by the idea of the fake relationship, but there had to be something in it for her too, besides just getting to hang out with him more and live out this fantasy. Enter her grandmother insisting on having her birthday party on a boat, during a time when Tim’s tours were booked solid, and now Emily’s holding some of the cards.


Some of my favorite books and movies highlighting the fauxmance are: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before; Accidentally Engaged; The Proposal; 10 Things I Hate About You; Written in the Stars; Take a Hint, Dani Brown; and The Duke and I. Add your own picks to the comments!


Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash