Writing How do romantic relationships work?

MrNobody

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So I’m starting to plan out a story I want to write. The problem is that I plan on having a few of my characters in a romantic relationship, thing is I don’t know what people do in a relationship.

Any advice?
 

tiaf

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is the main focus on their romantic interaction or their daily life and are they together for a long time already or freshly in love?
 

Phantomheart

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Read slice of life comics, they give you glimpses into what couples usually do without going too deep into the idea of sexual attraction, and rather the more long term ideas of relationships.
Here’s one that I recommend for more slice of life and ‘cute’ examples of relationships: My Giant Nerd Boyfriend

Relationships themselves can be complicated, and love is this bubbly feeling at first that can be confused for lust.

Couples that end up lasting beyond the years are inseparable. They are friends beyond friends that have an indefinite trust within each other, a bond inescapable because of how much time, devotion, and affection has been put into it.

But they don’t start out perfect. Relationships will always be complex because you are trusting your livelihood, your emotions, your secrets, with another person.

Simple examples of what couples do are as follows:
  1. Spending time with each other
  2. Showing affection to each other
  3. Learning about each other
  4. Growing closer to each other
  5. Try to understand each other
These things are usually accomplished through ‘dates’ a system of courting. These dates usually comprise of the couple spending time with each other, flirting with each other, and then a conversation over food. They also include trips, vacations, and outings.

Hope this helped.
 
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This really depends the people involved. Is one of them shy? Bold? Perceptive? Cold? Emotional? I think you understand where I'm going with this. You have to take this into consideration before you ever write a romance. Don't make characters do things that are out of character unless you have a really good reason why.

Anyway, relationships can be broken down into stages. Sometimes. Like I said before, this depends on the characters involved. I'll try to generalize relationships but I will be giving you different examples of how these stages can be.

1. The first step is normally falling in love. This can be either the usual "love at first sight" or the slow get-to-know-you type of deal. This can either be mutual between each character (like the Romeo and Juliet type of romance where two fall in love within their first conversation. ._. ) This can be one sided where one falls in love immediately but the other takes their time as they come to know the other. Or they can have a slow romance where they take a while to love each other. (Some go the childhood friend route where the love interest already fell in love when they were young but this isn't really explained because it happened in the past. This allows you to mainly focus on the MC or the other character in the romance.)

2. The confession. This is the part where most mangas decide to stop because they don't want to write an actual romantic relationship. This a crucial part of a romance. How this confession occurs can also differ greatly. Sometimes is just one person saying they love the other and the other reciprocating. Other times it's one sided. This again depends on the characters you are writing.

3. Building. Now is where the actual relationship starts. Things normally start slow with the characters slowly getting more and more open with each other with their emotions. This can start with small actions such as hugging, hand holding (lewd >.>), or kissing (and by kissing I mean little pecks on the cheek or lips. Not full blown tongue or kissing *other* places.) Some couples don't normally do this in public until they become used to expression affection in front of others. Some just don't care. Again, depends on character (I'm sensing a pattern here.)

That's how romantic relationships normally unfold. Important thing to note is that for a relationship to work out, a few things are required. These things are:
  1. Love. It needs to be real genuine love, otherwise it will just fall apart.
  2. Honesty. Just be friggin honest with each other about things whether it's emotions, life, or just small problems. If people don't talk to each other, things start to break.
  3. Respect. Respect the other's space and feelings. Don't push them and let them go at their own pace.
(Note that these are for when you are IN a relationship. This is not for when you aren't actually a couple.)

Now here a few other things. How fast your relationship goes can vary tremendously. If the other is a complete dense moron, then things will be slow. If you both are quite honest, then you can get to the romance very quickly. Relationships don't just pop out of thin air. The characters must get to know each other well and be in love before a relationship can be truly called romantic. Like I said before, don't make characters do things out of the norm for them. If one is normally cold, don't make them suddenly warm at times without reason. If someone is a block head, then they shouldn't be suddenly perceptive about people and their feelings.

I hope this helps. Romance is a very nuanced thing and I generalized it maybe a bit much. People are very different and how they bond is unique. Don't force something that doesn't flow.
 

Ninetailed_Furball

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@FriendlyDragon has it pretty well.

It's all about two (or more) people who want to spend time together, along with anything they want that comes along with that. Not always all members want the same thing, or at the same rate as well, and there's the thought of giving vs receiving. People won't necessarily just act to receive something, but prefer the giving side instead, and I'm not talking about gifts.

Like, some people may prefer hugging vs getting hugged.
 

Jemini

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Simple examples of what couples do are as follows:
  1. Spending time with each other
  2. Showing affection to each other
  3. Learning about each other
  4. Growing closer to each other
  5. Try to understand each other
You're forgetting one.
6. Fight over simple misunderstandings, miscommunications, or perceived slights.

Fights are what happens when couples don't fully understand each other, and then the resolution of those fights is how they REALLY learn about each other fast and really start to grow closer. Fights are things that just happen in a relationship, and that's something that you have to keep in mind to be realistic. Actually, the thing about the fights, it doesn't matter what it's about but how they resolve the fight is something that really shows a lot about what kinds of people they are and what the nature of their relationship is really like.

(Hint: Good successful relationships really dig into the issue and try to come up with solutions so that the problem either doesn't every happen again, or if it does then it won't be as bad next time. Usually involves some kind of promised change in behavior for the future. Relationships where they decide to just forgive each other and put this issue behind them without actually getting to the heart of what caused the fight in the first place are relationships that are doomed to failure.)
 

Phantomheart

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You're forgetting one.
6. Fight over simple misunderstandings, miscommunications, or perceived slights.

Fights are what happens when couples don't fully understand each other, and then the resolution of those fights is how they REALLY learn about each other fast and really start to grow closer. Fights are things that just happen in a relationship, and that's something that you have to keep in mind to be realistic. Actually, the thing about the fights, it doesn't matter what it's about but how they resolve the fight is something that really shows a lot about what kinds of people they are and what the nature of their relationship is really like.

(Hint: Good successful relationships really dig into the issue and try to come up with solutions so that the problem either doesn't every happen again, or if it does then it won't be as bad next time. Usually involves some kind of promised change in behavior for the future. Relationships where they decide to just forgive each other and put this issue behind them without actually getting to the heart of what caused the fight in the first place are relationships that are doomed to failure.)
It definitely depends on the frequency of said fights because fighting can be both unhealthy and healthy behavior. Though I wouldn't have classified it as forgetting a virtue altogether. Thanks. I was only giving simple answers since fighting in romantic relationships have to be written with consideration otherwise the author seems obtuse, though I should have mentioned that beforehand (my bad).

Bickering, regular banter, different opinions? Yes, these can be healthy. But disagreements should never be the base of a relationship or to be the understanding of a relationship. That is just asking for an abusive relationship.

Writing fights in romance novels are also especially hard for writers who haven’t had any romantic relationships or went through horrible experiences with them. So for beginner authors, it is best to start off gentle. Unless you are going into a full blown romance @MrNobody and are going to focus on the entirety of what a couple is made up of, their history, and so on, such as in a psychological romance book, then it might be easier to stay to the fluffier side of relationships.
 

Jemini

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It definitely depends on the frequency of said fights because fighting can be both unhealthy and healthy behavior. Though I wouldn't have classified it as forgetting a virtue altogether. Thanks. I was only giving simple answers since fighting in romantic relationships have to be written with consideration otherwise the author seems obtuse, though I should have mentioned that beforehand (my bad).

Bickering, regular banter, different opinions? Yes, these can be healthy. But disagreements should never be the base of a relationship or to be the understanding of a relationship. That is just asking for an abusive relationship.
As I said, it's less about the fighting itself and more about the resolution. That's the part that actually does define the relationship. Fights are something that, unfortunately, happens in a relationship. The thing that forms the basis for the relationship is the trust required to get over that.

I also find it could be a thing that ought to be emphisised a little more, especially on the notion of having the male side of the romance stick up for himself a little more. There are a lot of romances I've seen lately that have women who are just bitchy paired with a guy who has no back bone. That's definitely an abusive relationship in my book. The idea of pairing said bitchy woman with a guy who actually DOES have a back bone and that being the basis of their fights could make for an interesting relationship dynamic. Perhaps the woman does have some legitimate complaints, but doesn't know how to express herself other than nagging. The guy with the back bone stands up to her and they fight, and then they wear on each other until she becomes less bitchy and he, at the same time, begins to address some of the legitimate issues she was just doing a bad job of pointing out in an effective manner.
 
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