Basic Tips To Write Healthy Relationships
Romance is a popular genre, but it's often handled quite badly. Relationships that would be unhealthy - even abusive - are frequently treated as normal, even desirable. So, here's a list to help you avoid some common pitfalls.
Make sure the characters have something in common.
Infatuation (AKA "love at first sight") is great for drawing people together, but it's not what keeps them together - there will come a point when basking in each others' beautiful presences just won't be enough. Make sure your characters have some interests or goals they share - eg, Marie and Pierre Curie shared a passionate love of science and enjoyed working together.
...But don't make their interests exactly alike.
Make sure your characters have some interests they don't share, and indeed enjoy doing apart and even with (gasp!) other people! Fictionland often presents a couple whose lives completely revolve around each other as romantic and desirable, but in reality this is extremely unhealthy.
They should act comfortable around each other.
Unless they're early in their relationship, they should not be afraid to just be themselves, nor worry too much whether they're saying the "wrong" thing in front of the other. If your characters are practically at the altar, yet one of them is fretting over whether what xe said will go over badly, there's something wrong.
They should not ignore friends from before.
Sure, new relationships will take up some time, but don't have your characters completely or almost completely stop hanging out and doing things with old friends. Healthy relationships do not mean the annihilation of one's former social life as one knows it.
They should not feel particularly jealous or threatened when the other talks to or hangs around with someone else.
Your characters should trust each other enough that they don't become jealous whenever the other hangs around someone else. Likewise, they shouldn't assume that this someone else is an "old flame" or such. Sure, a little jealousy early on when the relationship isn't solid isn't amiss, but if your characters are supposed to be in a stable, committed relationship, jealous behavior is a sign that there's something wrong.
One should not be completely or almost completely dependent on the other.
While this can sound pretty in print, in reality it's a horrible situation! It's horrible for the "strong" partner because that's way too much responsibility to put on a person, and it's horrible for the "weak" partner because if something happened to the "strong" partner, xe'd be left up a creek without a paddle!
Remember, engaging in control freak behavior because "X just loves Y" is still being a control freak.
And it's freaking creepy, especially to those of us who have had to deal with emotionally abusive/manipulative people. Edward Cullen's behavior in Twilight actually sent chills down my spine when I read the book.
Remember - in real life, abusers and control freaks frequently have nice-sounding justifications for their behavior - "I just didn't want you to get hurt!" or "I couldn't stand the thoughts of him treating you like that!" If a character acts like a control freak/abuser, xe is a control freak/abuser regardless of intent.
Remember, mind games aren't a sign of a healthy relationship.
- Asking the other person questions that there cannot possibly be any "correct" answer to ("Do you think you love me more than I love you?"), or trick questions that concern their relationship.
- Making the partner feel like there's no way xe could leave the relationship and not be a horrible person - eg, "If it weren't for you, I'd kill myself/slide back into depression/start drinking again."
- Dismissing or trivializing the other person's feelings. ("You're clearly misinterpreting/overreacting about this...")
- Treating the other person as weak or incompetent. ("Oh, you obviously can't carry that luggage to your room. Let me take it for you.")
- Victim-blaming in any way, shape, or form - eg, "Look what you made me do!" or "If you didn't want X to happen, you shouldn't have done Y!"
Ask yourself if the contents of these pages sound like your character.
Check out 13 Clingy Girlfriend Signs And How To Avoid It and the Obsessive Love Wheel. (Phase One of the Obsessive Love Wheel fits Bella Swan pretty well, don't you think?) If these sound like one or more of your characters... yeah, there are some problems going on. These are the kinds of things you shouldn't see in a healthy relationship.
If you liked this, you might also be interested in:
Things To Avoid When Writing Romance Novels
Tips to Write & Roleplay Believable Successful Long-Term Relationships
Tips To End Canon Ships Better & More Believably
Plot Punter - Romance Edition
Couple Development Questions
Basic Tips To Write Better Abuse Victims & Abuse Situations