All about LURVEEE
do you have any tips for writing romance, or even just romantic attraction/crushes? i’m aromantic, and it’s really difficult to find advice about handling romance that isn’t written with the assumption that the person looking for advice understands it on a personal level. an explanation as to how it relates to the sexual side of things would be extremely helpful as well! -Anonymous
Much like the question I answered about friendships, this is a big area. We all have different kinds of romances in our lives. What I’ll do is go through some of the big ones for you and describe how they feel, typically advance and some of the problems/solutions your characters might find together. I’ll throw in how they can relate to sex, too.
Bear in mind that these are mostly out of my own personal experience, so you may come across more ideas from other people.
Naive love is often the first kind of love that people experience. They become so blinded by attraction (usually physical or aesthetic - this is the stage where people are attracted to someone being ‘cute’ or their external persona as a bad boy or popular girl) that they fall in love with the idea of the person rather than the person themselves. This kind of love is often initially drawn out and involves a lot of obsessing, which heightens our desire because the object of our affection becomes unattainable in our own minds. When we have them, the combination of our long obsession and intense fantasising becomes the force that keeps us with them.
In these relationships, we’re the most likely to change ourselves in order to please our partner. This is where you’ll hear girls asking if they should lose their virginity or smoke drugs in order to impress a boy, or boys pretending to be more masculine or exaggerate what the girl finds attractive in them.
The problem with this kind of love for people/characters is that this isn’t a healthy development. It creates pressure to be something you’re not, because of the pressure to live up to the other person’s fantasy. When you inevitably can’t, the relationship breaks down and falls to pieces as disappointment and realisation sink in.
This can be the most awkward sexual relationship possible. Since this kind of attraction is common in young people, sex becomes a way to impress the other person in order to keep them. There’s very rarely communication about it beyond ‘can I do this to you’, which risks damaging someone’s perspective on sex altogether. There’s little passion and a focus on getting the technique right, and when neither party will tell the other person that it’s not what they like or guide them as to how they do (for fear of losing them), sex can break down the relationship very quickly.
In short, it’s aesthetic, it’s obsessive and it’s very, very fragile. Your characters would be frantic about making sure they present themselves in a certain way to their love interest and wouldn’t perceive sex as an intimate bond so much as a hooking mechanism. Losing them would be their ultimate fear, but their love is despite flaws that they refuse to see. Denial, making excuses for bad behaviour and constantly taking the blame in arguments are all characteristic of naive love.
Mad love is probably the most destructive of all relationships. It’s almost the teenage sibling to naive love. In these relationships, the hook is the sex. The person becomes a fantasy that’s addictive to a person/character and/or enables them to feel powerful or sexy.
These relationships usually come from an inexplicable attraction. You see someone and you can’t say what it is about them, but they make your throat dry and your heart race. Your fantasies of them are almost purely sexual, and when you finally talk to them, things develop quickly, if the attraction is mutual. There’s a lot of talking at the beginning of these relationships; staying up until 3am before work or staying up all night just to read their blog. Often, the foundation is an intense intellectual connection rather than an emotional one.
Once there’s a foundation of liking the person for a few of their traits, people in these relationships quickly move on to an impassioned sexual relationship. These are the people who say they’d rather stay in bed together all day than go out somewhere with one another. They become addicted to the physical relationship and mistake it for true love.
These relationships turn destructive in several ways. The first is the likelihood of cheating, because if the relationship hits the point where the sex is slowly becoming less frequent, the addiction remains and one or both want to renew how it has made them feel. The second is violence; often people are so desperate to keep that connection that when something goes wrong, their passion comes out in entirely the wrong way. The third is simply that the relationship draws to a natural close. Sex and intellectual connection can only sustain relationships for so long before the lack of genuine emotional attachment creates arguments, resentment and anger. People who aren’t emotionally invested in one another are far less likely to go out of their way to help their partner or consider their feelings.
The summary for this would be that the physical and intellectual aspects overrule everything else and are mistaken for love. The addiction becomes a madness that becomes destructive, and the relationship will eventually destroy itself. Characters in this kind of relationship are likely to experience severe highs and lows when their relationship is going well or terribly, and any hint of betrayal or losing that sexual/intellectual connection will cause immediate panic and overreaction.
This relationship involves two specific kinds of people/characters; the broken and the fixers. ‘Broken’ people/characters often endure very low self-esteem, fragile/problematic mental health, an over-reliance on others and a need to have somebody save them. ‘Fixers’ are people who take their satisfaction and fulfilment from being that saviour and making the broken person/character feel better.
Sometimes, these relationships really work well. It requires the ‘broken’ person to be aware of the necessary equality in a relationship and to understand that the fixer is also a person who isn’t okay all of the time. It becomes problematic when gratefulness is mistaken for love or dependency is the only thing keeping them together. They will inevitably depend on one another for what they need, and these relationships can often last a long time on that fulfilled need alone.
Sex in these relationships can be a tricky area. Sometimes the fixer takes on a very dominant role whilst trying to be sensitive to their partner’s needs, whilst in other situations, it doesn’t happen often. This relationship does not rely on sex to keep it going and sometimes it falls at the wayside next to the fulfilment of more emotionally vulnerable desires. It’s a relationship built on the foundations of feeling safe and needed. If sex is a a common part of the relationship, the fixer is usually the one giving the majority of the attention (which can sometimes lead to resentment and sexual dissatisfaction).
The things to define when looking at this kind of relationship is why they both need one another so much and where their need to fix/be fixed comes from. If the relationship breaks down, it will be extremely painful for both parties because there’s often a sense of ‘us against the world’ and a feeling of failure on the fixer’s part, or abandonment on the fixee’s part.
The One True Love
People who have found ‘the one’ are renowned for saying ‘you just know’. I’m fortunate enough to believe I’ve done so, and I think I can explain why it feels different to other relationships a little more concisely than that.
People often go through life trying out relationships that don’t work. They fail to fit into one another’s lives the right way, or there’s just something missing. When meeting ‘the right one’, they fill a void that you never realised was there to begin with, as though your life knew all along that nobody else was going to fit into it but them. Some people realise it immediately and some people realise three months later that they have no idea how they felt anywhere near whole without that person before.
These relationships aren’t common and they are hugely defining moments. This is the love that people would gladly die for, the kind that creates words like ‘ya’aburnee’ in Levantine Arabic (which, literally translated, means ‘you bury me’, an indication that the person would rather die first because they can’t bear the idea of the pain). This bond is intrinsically permanent, two halves coming together and being unable to leave one another.
That doesn’t mean it’s always harmony, though. Sometimes there are arguments and sometimes they hurt one another. Some people don’t realise someone is ‘the one’ until they’ve done something to hurt them and the threat of them leaving becomes real. These are the relationships that, when tested by fire, find a way to last. Their rarity makes it considered an idealistic cliché to write about it, but it does exist, and it can be written effectively if you know your characters.
The sexual aspect of this kind of relationship is about intimacy and communication. These lovers feel so comfortable with each other that they can guide and instruct without fear of losing them, and their intimate expression of how they feel unified. Sex is an expression of something far deeper than a physical desire, but an emotional desire to be completely absorbed into one another.
I hope that explains some of the ways your characters would be affected by love and how they might feel when they’re with someone. If it’s not sufficient, please feel free to contact me via the ask box on my blog, and I’ll be happy to talk through situational details with you.
When it comes to the actual writing, concentrate on what a character does and says rather than trying to express precisely what’s going on in their heads. It’ll make it easier for you personally whilst conveying the intended meaning to your reader. People do crazy and illogical things when they’re in love (or think they are). Love is defined as something that makes you put others before yourself, and romantic love, real romantic love, is no different.