Writing realistic relationships is always a challenge. Back in February, I took a stab at helping other writers by posting a blog about how to write realistic relationships. It was a pretty successful post and has led to some interesting conversations between myself and some friends concerning the topic. During one of those many conversations, we began to discuss the different types of relationships we have encountered in literature. It was this exchange that led me to revisit the topic of realistic relationships and their many forms.
Today I want to lay out some of the more common types of relationships I have read or observed in stories and entertainment. This is not meant to be a full list but it does give you an idea of how some relationships may function when writing them into your literature. I have narrowed down the list to eight types with their summaries, pros, cons and possible longevity. Any questions or comments are always welcome.
Independent Dependancy – Two very independent souls have found one another and after some consideration have decided to enter into a mutually beneficial relationship or marriage.
Pros – Each character in the relationship keeps their independent nature and can most likely carry on their usual mannerisms with the exception of compromising the benefit their partner and they have agreed upon.
Cons – Due to the independence of the two in the relationship, it becomes very tit for tat or what is in it for me outside of their agreed upon benefit. It is also perceived as a very shallow type relationship on the outside.
Longevity – Indefinite so long as the mutual benefit is still present. This is their glue.
Best Friends – They are pals and comrades in near everything. While they may not be perceived as romantic on the outside, their brand of romance is filled with belly laughs and inside jokes.
Pros – These characters tend to bring the best out of each other and do their best to support one another. This makes it easy for development and growth to happen naturally for each character independently or together through a story.
Cons – The romantic long walks and high romance is not as present in this type of relationship and can leave some to feel like their connection is not very fairy tale like.
Longevity – Indefinite, even if there is a reason why these two go their separate ways it is most likely they will stay friends or still care for one another.
The Romantics – The presence of romance, gifts and a show of chivalry is necessary for this kind of relationship. They tend to enjoy the traditional idea of love.
Pros – Such romantic characters lend well to those heart-stopping moments of kisses and embraces that set aflame the soul.
Cons – While the romance is wonderful, these characters will struggle in the mundane moments of the story as their spark comes from the ability to find romance in everything.
Longevity – Unknown. Due to the need for romance, in the end, there is no telling if they settle down and can keep it up or if the romance will die out and they will go their separate ways.
Gasoline and Fire – These two characters come together for one reason or another and find their passion to burn too hot to last. They are incredibly riveting to watch as they are explosive together in both a good and bad way.
Pros – The passion of these two characters can lead to some memorable scenes of either their fights or their more intense loving moments.
Cons – It becomes obvious very quickly that these two characters cannot keep this up forever and their fights can become a hindrance to their development no matter how great the fireworks are.
Longevity – Terminal. The flame of this relationship will burn both of them up eventually.
Domination and Submission – A mutually beneficial relationship where one party leads and the other follows. They both respect one another but the more dominant personality tends to lead the way through the bumps.
Pros – With a mutually agreed upon dominant in the relationship there is always one character who makes the call and one that follows, it makes it a smoother ride through issues between the two in the story.
Cons – Because there is only one person in the dominant position it leads some character development out for the submissive at times due to their follow the leader mentality.
Longevity – Indefinite, so long as both agree to their parts and trust one another the relationship can last.
The Complacent Couple – After years of being together for whatever reason, they have found themselves simply tolerating each other for either mutual children or simply complacency. The romance is dead but they are used to each other enough to get along for appearances.
Pros – These two are very used to one another and tend to be very good at smoothing things over in public.
Cons – Because of their complacent mentality with one another the romance is boring and rarely exciting to read.
Longevity – Unknown. Depending on if they ever wake up and start the romance over or if they decide to finally leave, there is no telling.
The Co-Dependant Couple – One or both parties in the relationship constantly need approval or attention from the other. They are miserable or unhappy when they are not around their other half.
Pros – These characters are attached at the hip and tend to be side by side a lot during situations and are hyper-aware of each other’s schedule and habits.
Cons – This dependency upon one another can hinder their development in a story and become irritating for some to watch.
Longevity – Unknown. If both parties are co-dependent then it could last, if not, it will wear out the non-dependent party.
Abusive and Harmful – This relationship is a situation of a bully and a victim. While it is sometimes denied to count as an actual relationship, it does exist between romantic partners.
Pros – The only pro for stories with an abusive relationship is to show the strength of the victim to overcome the bully or to show the villainy of the bully in the relationship.
Cons – This relationship will make people angry very quickly. Reading about someone being abused will make the abuser a prime target of hate.
Longevity – Terminal. This kind of relationship ends either when the abuser is fed up with their victim and finds a new one or when the victim finally walks away. It rarely lasts.
As you can see, relationships can vary in their nature throughout both real life and fiction. Being aware at how they function and contribute to your story helps give characters life.
Do you agree with my list? Do you have any others to contribute? Please let us know in the comments!