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?
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?
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
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
“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
“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
“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
“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?
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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?
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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, 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
“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
“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