What Makes an Attractive Couple in Fiction?

Creating believable couples in fiction is often hard work. You’ve created two cool characters. Why shouldn’t they end up as a romantic couple? But sometime, no matter how hard you try, you can’t get the romance to work. What makes an attractive couple in fiction?

I found the answer last week when I reposted author Penny Zeller’s post on seven must-haves for a romance novel. One of her must-haves stood out to me.

“While it may be a while before they like each other, there does have to be a level of attraction [between the male and female leads]. Make sure that attraction covers more than just appearance.”

Penny Zeller

In a romance, there must be more than physical attraction between the leads and the author’s determination that they have to become a couple. In fact, when I’ve paired two characters as a romantic couple and found I can’t get them to behave as such, I realize I can’t force it. Something is wrong with my character development. If you find you have two characters who should be romantic and refuse to cooperate, try the techniques below.

Mutual Respect about Something

I’ve read about the trope in romance novels called enemies-to-lovers; when a male and female can’t stand each other at first, but eventually fall in love. I’ve never bought this trope. If you can’t stand the other person at first glance, how do you get over that first impression? But as I thought about it, there could be something that both characters agree on, allowing them to see something positive in the other person and that can lead to lowering barriers.

That mutual respect can center around their jobs–maybe both are teachers and have very different approaches to education but come to realize the the other person’s approach is effective. Hobbies are also something that can generate respect. One character can be more advanced in the hobby–for example, fencing–but respects the hard word the other character is applying to the hobby as a newbie. Or it can center on family. Both characters have a relative with special needs that they help and recognize how hard this job is.

Admiration for a Quality that is Lacking

I’ve found I often admire in my husband what I lack or have very little of in myself. Such as he has a very logical mind and positive outlook. I’ve also discovered that many real-life couples are cases of opposites attract when it comes to personalities. The extroverted man is attracted to the introverted women. The laid-back woman is attracted to the goal-oriented man.

If you want to venture into the dark side of a relationship, you can turn admiration into jealousy. When one half of a couple grows jealous of the other, serious trouble is brewing. Even worse, it can lead to competition, which will gravely injure the relationship.

What makes attractive couples for you? Which stories have the best couples?

For more tip from romance writers, click here.

2 thoughts on “What Makes an Attractive Couple in Fiction?

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  1. I like couples in which one character helps the other through something similar to what they’ve gone through before. I like what Penny said, that the attraction needs to be about character qualities too.

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