Romantic Moments That Are Cute To Read About, But Would Be Major Red Flags In Real Life

There’s a soft spot in my heart for romance novels where the guy is a total d-bag to everyone but “the love of his life.” He’s possessive and charming, and totally hot. But, when reading, it’s important to consider whether you would ACTUALLY like that guy in real life, or if you’d see him for the a-hole he is.

Recently, someone asked women about the romantic gestures and tropes they love in books but see as red flags in real life.

Is It Actually Romantic, Or Just Plain Weird?

Allie and Noah from The Notebook
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | New Line Cinema
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | New Line Cinema

There are truly some super iconic book couples out there, like Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, Anne and Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables, Allie and Noah from The Notebook, and even Ginny and Harry From Harry Potter.

The list goes on and on. Yet, it has to be noted that even some of our favorite romantic gestures in books are actually toxic.

Who Doesn’t Love A Little Bit Of Drama?

couple holding hands at night on a rooftop overlooking the city
Photo Credit: Josh Hild / Pexels
Photo Credit: Josh Hild / Pexels

Even though nothing beats a happy, healthy couple IRL, some of us like reading about cringey, toxic, obsessed, overly controlling lovers in books.

And even though we don’t necessarily want that in our own relationships, all of the drama is fun to read about.

The Women Of Reddit Shared Their Opinions

woman reading among bookshelves
Photo Credit: Polina Zimmerman / Pexels
Photo Credit: Polina Zimmerman / Pexels

Recently, user cutiemaan asked the women of Reddit to share the romantic gestures and tropes they love in books but see as red flags in real life.

The post received thousands of comments, and just to warn you, some of the responses get pretty steamy.

The Violent A-Hole

couple staring into each other's eyes outside at night by a streetlight
Photo Credit: Katerina Holmes / Pexels
Photo Credit: Katerina Holmes / Pexels

“The violent a-hole that treats everyone like [crap], except for one character.”

“Their ‘soft spot’ is the character they don’t treat badly.” —M3tal_Shadowhunter / Reddit

Cliché Romantic Tropes

three women whispering to one another outside at the beach
Photo Credit: Ben White / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Ben White / Unsplash

“Throwing rocks at a woman’s window. I’d be so annoyed, if you’re not able to get ahold of me over the phone then I definitely don’t want to talk to you.”

“Also, it probably scratches up the window.” —Super-Time9926 / Reddit

Jealousy Is Entertaining

man and woman in bed, woman looking over at man's phone
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels

“Jealousy. I hate it when people act jealous in real life, I have NO patience for it.”

“But watching someone act all jealous and stupid during a romantic movie is so entertaining to me, I end up feeling a lot of sympathy for them.” —prettyxxreckless / Reddit

When A Character Leads Two People On

woman resting her chin on her hand
Photo Credit: Vinícius Estevão / Pexels
Photo Credit: Vinícius Estevão / Pexels

“Stringing along two people that are into you because you can’t make your mind up.”

“Fairly harmless to read about because it adds drama, it’s the ick in reality.” —IrritatedMango / Reddit

Possessiveness—Hot, Toxic, Or Both?

Anna and Christian from 50 Shades Freed
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | Universal Pictures / Focus Features
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | Universal Pictures / Focus Features

“Possessive behavior. Won’t tolerate that in real life, but it’s fun to read about in books.” —YarnAndMetal / Reddit

“I was going to say this too. That possessive/protective behavior is a fun fantasy but would get so old so fast in real life.” —breadstickez / Reddit

When They’re Overly Self-Confident

man in suit seated on couch
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

“Being totally self-confident to the point of arrogance. Super charming in a character who actually has the skills and accomplishments to back it up (and who, crucially, still treats the other characters with respect).”

“IRL, it’s obnoxious AF. Like, okay, Brent from Marketing, keep talking about what a genius salesperson you are, I’m soooo impressed. It also doesn’t help that these losers almost always treat everyone around them like dirt.” —Amy_Ponder / Reddit

Angsty, Melodramatic Relationships

couple seated on a couch looking back
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels

“I love the romance genre and there’s a lot there that I would never tolerate IRL but love to read. Mainly heros that are brooding, aggressive, domineering, controlling, etc. The more angst the better. The more melodrama the better.”

“Meanwhile, in my own relationship, we have great communication, no drama, and our relationship is calm and easy. As it should be, I think. But if I were to read about my own relationship I would be like ‘I’m bored.'” —crazynekosama / Reddit

Covering Up Your Issues With Intimacy

couple staring at one another eye to eye
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels

“Smoothing things over with great sex. In my past relationship, he used sex to distract me from the real issues we were having.” —Super-Competition-57 / Reddit

“The last thing you want to do is to get intimate with someone who wronged you.” —mjigs / Reddit

No Means No

ferris wheel at carnival
Photo Credit: Wendy Wei / Pexels
Photo Credit: Wendy Wei / Pexels

The Notebook was very creepy that way. Guy: ‘go out with me.’ Lady already with a date: ‘no!'”

“Guy proceeds to stalk and endanger himself for her attention.” —BleachGel / Reddit

The Alpha Male

man and woman on romantic date at restaurant
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels

“I kinda like alpha males in books who kind of take charge. Throws the lady over his shoulder and tells her to be quiet.”

“Don’t try that in real life though.”—MitaJoey20 / Reddit

Who Can Forget About Homewrecking And Stalking?

man staring at woman through bookshelves from TV show You
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | Netflix
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | Netflix

“Stalking—in books, it’s like I’ve loved you and have been watching you for the past 5 years. In reality that’s creepy af.”

“Trying to be a homewrecker. Book it’s all cute because they love that person and they are better for that person than who they’re currently with! IRL it’s pretty trashy to go after someone who’s already taken whether dating or married IMO.” —mfaber3 / Reddit

When The Main Characters Do A Complete 360 And Go From Enemies To Friends

couple staring at one another by the water
Photo Credit: Ryan Jacobson / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Ryan Jacobson / Unsplash

“It’s gotta be enemies to friends to lovers for me. Enemies right to lovers just has too much risk for me to suspend my disbelief.”

“But I love it when the enemies thing was really the characters misunderstanding each other or being forced to be on opposite sides but given the right circumstances get along really well.” —ohdearsweetlord / Reddit

The Overly Possessive Boyfriend

man looking out window
Photo Credit: Anastasiya Vragova / Pexels
Photo Credit: Anastasiya Vragova / Pexels

“Toxic/possessive/overbearing behavior. Reading it is sweet/hot, but in real life you’d run away quickly because any woman with an ounce of self respect knows not to accept it.”

“It’s an interesting juxtaposition.” —otakuvslife / Reddit

The Guy Who Takes Charge

man carrying woman into the water at the beach
Photo Credit: Roberto Nickson / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Roberto Nickson / Unsplash

“I love damsel in distress stories, where the big strong man [takes] charges and [saves] the girl, despite herself.”

“IRL, a guy that [takes] charges without even asking is big red flag.”—Marawal / Reddit

People Who Try To “Save” Someone Else

woman crying in field
Photo Credit: Hazzel Silva / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Hazzel Silva / Unsplash

“Trying to ‘save’ someone from their pain, trauma, etc.”

“IRL being helpful and supportive is wonderful, but if you find yourself trying to save or fix another person, it rarely ends well.” —bellumed / Reddit

Love Triangles

two men staring at woman
Photo Credit: Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash

“Love triangles, I love reading about them, the deceit, the lies. In real life..keep me out. Someone usually gets killed.” —windysunshine / Reddit

Yep, that definitely seems like the kind of thing you want to avoid in real life.

The On-Again, Off-Again Relationship

students at a graduation ceremony
Photo Credit: Caleb Woods / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Caleb Woods / Unsplash

“The high school/college/early in life couple who breaks up but will always love each other and stays in touch.”

“If I knew my partner had a person like that in their life I’d be furious but I love the trope.” —urball / Reddit

Suppressing Feelings

man chasing after woman during sunset
Photo Credit: Eric Ward / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Eric Ward / Unsplash

“Not talking about what’s actually wrong and just suppressing those feeling until way later in the book or series…”

“Like if you are in love with me just tell me, don’t brood for 3 years.” —KalmKashew / Reddit