How I Try to Write Realistic Relationships

Posted February 28, 2019 by Clo
10 Comments

silhouette of embracing couple in front of setting sunAhem.

My dating experience is 3 months: a sort of date and no kissing experience. This can sometimes make it hard for me to write relationships in stories when I want to make sure they’re realistic. Not too lovey-dovey but not too erm…cold? We’ll go with cold, haha.

Related: Three Love Clichés I’m Done With (And They Need to Die)

Disclaimer: I’ll be referring to writing fan fiction throughout this post, as I just happen to use it to explore so I can keep my brain cells not crispy from world building. I do write other genres outside fanfic.

Arguments

Couples aren’t going to agree on every single thing. If they do, they’re an exception since there’ll come a point where we disagree with our partner. Arguments come in so many forms and I actually have a ton of fun exploring them in fanfiction. I have no doubts it’ll be fun exploring them in original works too.

Arguments range from:

  • petty things where you’re both half joking and it’s not serious
  • you’ve actually annoyed me now
  • full-scale argument leaving us wondering if they’re gonna break up.

Of course, there’s a ton in between which add something new to the table. Arguments can be caused/provoked by many different things, which give us as writers so many ways to stir the pot. 😉

I do enjoy causing full-blown arguments over something petty though, it brings me delight watching people wonder if I’m gonna break them up. Or if they’re gonna give each other the cold shoulder.

Cute Moments

We live for cute moments, whether it’s hugs, cuddles, kissing or just how two characters interact with one another in a scene. I have a habit of throwing a sassy remark into the dialogue nearly… all the time? (Oopsies)

sassiness + cuteness = melted hearts.

I’ll also say that I’m thankful for all the contemporary I read, which helps me write cute moments I’ve experienced none to date. *shrugs* Books are wonderful things, hehe.

Related: #Starstruck by Sariah Wilson review

Facing Problems Together

Now, this is something I’d love to see MORE of in all books. I don’t care if you’re about to be killed by some evil witch or the King has got a sword against your throat. Watching couples face their problems together, working as a team, realising, “Oh, hey, we actually work well together,” always makes me smile. It’s a testament to their partnership I guess in my eyes.

Sure there’ll be fallouts here and there and differences of opinion, but overall, good couples should equal awesome teamwork.

Vulnerability & Opening Up

Relationships of any kind should hopefully give you a space to open up and confide in someone. It should also let you be vulnerable without worrying that it’s gonna come and haunt you later. It’s always interesting writing these sorts of scenes, particularly for me as I write in first-person POV and am usually trying to get inside the character’s head. Their past, memories who they are… yes, it’s led to me crying whilst writing.

My parents and grandma are used to me typing whilst crying at this point and reading whilst sobbing. I love reading books where you have a moment of vulnerability with a character (or two!). It lets you peek inside them: at their heart, who they are and what they’re scared of.

The Calm, the Storm & the Momentary Bliss

Life isn’t just a straight line in whichever direction you want to go in. There are turns, stops, falls, highs and low just like in a relationship. There’ll be lows, highs twists and many hurdles sometimes in the way. A lot of books and the media we consume gives us this illusion of a smooth sailing relationship with no arguments – just all love, cute moments and a happily ever after. Life isn’t like that.

Happily Ever Afters are important to have, though but should be balanced with the more realistic approach to a relationship, I think. Just like day balances night and vice versa.

Are you a writer? How do you try to make relationships more realistic? If you don’t write, what makes a relationship more realistic to you in a book?

Clo is an 18 y/o bookdragon from the UK, England. She's currently studying Graphic and Digital Design at college. Primarily found on her own blog (Book Dragons). Sarcasm is her default, addicted to tea oh and she'd rather you didn't save her from a dragon.

She's also a Co-Founder of Bookend Events, a quarterly event with the aim to bring the bookish community, closer together.

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10 responses to “How I Try to Write Realistic Relationships

  1. I absolutely ADORE seeing couples working together and facing problems together. That’s one reason I really like the Shadowhunters Chronicles by Cassandra Clare. Seeing how everyone works together is so fantastic, and you get to experience another side of them as a pairing.

  2. I think to me the most realistic feeling relationships are ones where every argument doesn’t automatically come with the threat of them breaking up. Claire and Jamie from Outlander are among my favorite couples simply because if there’s one thing you can count on in that series it’s that they’ll stay together unless outside circumstances give them no choice but to split up.

  3. I feel like realistic relationships can be SO hard to write sometimes, because what makes sense in our head as we are writing- will it make sense to a reader haha? I always wonder. 🙂 I agree with a lot of this though, especially the Facing Problems Together. After all what brings people closer than some adversity right lol??

  4. Great post! I think writing realistic couples becomes hard because you only write certain scenes and cannot include everything. Books have page limits and word limits because at the end of the day if you add everything, it’ll be more than a 1000 pages!
    Choosing those scenes correctly is the key to writing a realistic couple according to me.
    Also, I agree with all you’ve said as the key to writing realistic couples! Great post xx

  5. I don’t write personally but being older and married, I still remember my teen years and gosh, anyone who says the teen years are the best of your life clearly doesn’t remember being a teen themselves. Even the most confident of teens can experience period of doubt, their confidence shaken and the awkwardness of new situations and navigating finding who you are. Throw in dating and it’s a whole mess.

    One advice I’d give to authors is to remember at the beginning of every relationship, it’s awkward and you’re both on your best behaviour. You want to be the best version of yourself around that person and even scared to fart in front of them. It can take time to build up to even kissing, that first kiss, no one knows what they’re doing. I refuse to believe that any teen is that slick. It’s those awkward moments that you look back on so fondly though so even if you’ve yet to experience all those firsts as a teen, enjoy them when they come around and don’t be afraid to be awkward, fart and smile and enjoy learning who you are first and foremost before you learn who you are together.

  6. I always hate when the author abruptly makes a character sweet or stubborn when they’re not normally so and there’s no build up to it, it usually has me view the relationship as cheesy at that point, so I always look for authors who are true to their characters while giving me ships to go down with.

  7. Those are great things to have to build an organic feeling book relationship (real one, too). I’d definitely love to see more of all of these. Thanks!

  8. I love this post and I hate it when the leads have a forced relationship. I adore relationships with arcs that grow together and bring out the best in each other.

  9. This is such a fantastic post, Clo! I love how you think about the various things that can make a relationship feel more real, especially squabbles. I’m not a writer so I don’t really have anything personally to add, but as a person that general doesn’t reach for romance but can swoon hard for a good romance subplot, I love relationships that aren’t all sunshine and roses: they don’t always agree, but their feelings for one another act as a guiding light. I am also a person that likes seeing characters suffer heartbreak and loss because I find a lot of value in character growth and development to overcome those losses (and I’m also evil)