Not all of us read romance books, but we’ve all experienced at least one terrible romance trope in some kind of story.
Since I do read a lot of romance, I feel like I’ve experienced enough terrible tropes that I know which ones I’ll never want to read about again. The reason I read romance books is because I love escaping my own mind and reading hilarious hijinks and shenanigans of two people falling in love. But when you come across a trope that brings more frustration than drama, especially when you’re so familiar with the formulaic nature of romance books, it can really discourage you from reading a book like it again. Know what I mean?
Some of these tropes are on my Will Never Read Again list while others are more of a nuisance, but as a whole, they’re definitely not favourites of mine. That’s a list for another day.
1. The Miscommunication Trope
Nothing ruins a good romance book than the classic Miscommunication trope. Have you ever read about a couple where one of them gets a story or situation wrong and rather than actually discussing the issue, they just pull assumptions out of nowhere, go from zero to a hundred, and call the whole thing off? Just for the drama of it all? When the whole thing really could’ve been solved with a single conversation? Yeah, that’s this trope. And that’s why I hate it. I feel like this is the most common trope because it’s so easy to bring miscommunication into a story, especially a romance book, since it can create drama out of literally nothing. But as a reader, it’s so frustrating because you clearly understand the two sides of the miscommunication and can see how easy things will be solved if the protagonists just talk to one another! Like, come on. And you really never know what books will use this as their climactic drama so it’s hard to avoid the trope like you can others. But I will always lower my star rating if I come across this trope; that’s what you get for making me read through nonsense where idiots simply choose not to talk to each other.
2. The Age Gap Trope
This is more of a personal preference battle than anything, but stories with a relatively large age gap give me the creeps. And unlike our last trope, it’s pretty easy to avoid books with the Age Gap trope because the synopsis almost always indicates it. Now, when I say the Age Gap trope, I’m mostly referring to a relationship where there’s at least ten years between the two protagonists; I’m fine if it’s around five years difference, and pushing it with seven years. Everything else is a no go for me. I know it’s some people’s thing, but it’s not mine. It feels weird to me and always resorts to the younger person adapting the “I’m mature for my age” persona while the older person is either seen more as a weird predator or creepy for not finding someone their own age. Bonus points if one protagonist is barely even 20 and the other protagonist is pushing 40. Like that person had graduated high school before their love interest was even born. Ew. Keep those away from me, thanks.
3. The Accidental Pregnancy Trope
I wouldn’t say I hate this trope as much as I do the others, but to me the use of the Accidental Pregnancy trope is more out of laziness than anything. It’s a bit similar to Miscommunication, except the synopsis will again tell you if this is a plot line in a book before you pick it up. These occur more in serial romance books rather than standalones, but it just never turns out to be a fun story. Sure, it’s cute to see the two people learn to care for one another as they go through the pregnancy journey but it’s always littered with “they’re just with me because of the baby” and that can lead to miscommunication, and that’s why it can be annoying! It’s also almost always a product of a random hookup with two very unlikely characters and feels like it’s the author just finding something to do with these characters that they didn’t know what to do with. It can be executed well, I will admit, but again it’s not a trope I’d gravitate to in a book.
4. The Student/Teacher Trope
Do I really need to explain this one? Teachers should not be dating their students. Not in real life, not in books, not in television shows or movies. Never. It’s a gross abuse of power, it’s almost always illegal, and I hate it.
5. The Cheating Trope
I feel like this has been used so much in romance books that it has become a trope rather than just a matter of circumstance and it’s very irritating to get through. I just…why does one character have to cheat on whoever their significant other is? Why is it encouraged? I feel like this trope makes it ok to cheat because “as long as you’re cheating with the right person it’s fine.” And it doesn’t matter if the person being cheated on is a jerk or an overall horrible person; it’s still a terrible thing to do. Again, it’s a trope that’s kind of unavoidable because you never know when you’re going to experience the Cheating trope, save for a few books that have it in the synopsis, but it’s not a fun thing to read about. Even if the two people deserve to be together, it’s not worth cheating on someone for. Plus, that kind of creates habitual cheaters, don’t you think? Not a fun way to start a relationship if you ask me.
While I know that there are people out there who love reading books with these tropes, and obviously people like writing them, I just know that it’s not for me. These tropes have an audience but that audience simply isn’t me. And that’s ok.