Romance Cliches

Everyone knows Romance is the most clichéd genre but we still love it. Matter of fact, it’s seeing how the author handles that particular cliché that keeps us coming back for more.

To cut back on some confusion, cliché doesn’t mean predictable. While a predictable romance is more than likely full of clichés, a clichéd romance is not always predictable.

So let’s list off some clichés (some because there’s no way I’ll think of them all, and even if I could, the post would be incredibly long). If I miss any, by all means, feel free to add to the list in the comments section. 😉

– Mistaken Identity: This one takes several forms. It could be a simple “oops, I thought you were someone else” or one of the main characters clinging to a first impression (or some impression) they won’t be convinced is wrong until the relationship is almost over.

These are fun because the reader knows the deal but the characters are in the dark and you spend half the time wondering why they just don’t get their head out of their ass and open their eyes. More often than not, it’s the guy being the ass about something he heard about he heroine and she can’t convince him otherwise.

– Mistaken Virgin: This almost fits into mistaken identity, but it’s a cliché all its own. It could almost be a sub-genre. We all know the story: hero finds heroine in a situation that isn’t healthy for chastity and is convinced she’s not a virgin. The heroine will swear up and down she is but the hero isn’t buying it. They fall into bed together somehow and then the hero finds out the heroine was telling the truth.

That’s when the fun begins. Suddenly the hero is pissed because she should have told him. But she did! She should have made him believe. She tried! And why is this her fault!? After the surprise virginity is discovered, the hero shuns the heroine out of remorse, which makes the heroine all weepy. Some outside conflict makes the hero finally talk to the heroine and then all is right with the world.

– Knowledgeable Virgin: I’m sorry, this one ticks me off. The heroine says she’s a virgin. I’m not the hero, so I have no problem believing her. Then the sex scene rolls around. Suddenly, the virgin is deep-throating and doing anal with the best of them. Okay, maybe she was a technical virgin.

There are certain things virgins shouldn’t know how to do but Romance tends to toss that out the window for a great sex scene.

– No Woman Before: This is usually the vampires and other immortals spouting this one. The hero has lived for hundreds — possibly thousands — of years, but the minute he sees the heroine he feels things he has “never felt before”. *rolls eyes* This guy seriously needs to get out more if he’s never fallen in love before meeting the heroine.

I give it a pass on soul mates (that’s next) since that’s a way different than love. But, I have to blow the BS whistle when a centuries old man has never experienced love. In a contemporary setting with a normal lifespan, I’ll totally buy it. Occasional love is almost as hard to find as true love, but the immortals have no excuse.

– Soulmates: I’m totally guilty of this one and I use it quite often. Do you know how much can be forgiven once you plop that soulmates tag on a story? EVERYTHING. 🙂 The hero was being a jerk (or the heroine a bitch) because they were fighting against this otherworldly pull towards this one person who was fated to them from the beginning of time. This cliché is literally a ‘get out of jail free’ card, which is probably why Romance authors gravitate towards it. Not to mention, the concept there is ONE person who is absolutely perfect for you and meant for you is the dream of most everyone — male and female alike.

– The Secretary: She’s been his assistant for weeks/months/years, but all-of-a-sudden she’s prime dating material. This cliché happens in real life so often that it had to show up in Romance. Only prob is, the real life version doesn’t always turn out as happy as the fiction.

– Amnesia: Many a hero has taken advantage of an amnesiac woman to get her to fall in love with him before she remembers she was about to leave him. Or, the hero or heroine’s memory-less state endears them to the hearts of the other main character and they can’t leave until the mystery of this person is solved, falling in love in the process.

– Baby Surprise: She’s pregnant and she’s waiting for the right moment to tell him. The right moment turns into a hurried confession blurted out at the most inopportune time. I’ve done this one a few times. The hero never reacts happily, does he? It wouldn’t be fun if he did.

– Stuck Together For the Duration: Somehow the hero and heroine were thrown together in a situation they can’t get out of (captured, deserted island, partners in a game show, etc) and they have to put up with each other — usually in a pissy way — for the duration. Once they are done being mean to each other, they fall in bed and life is happy until the next obstacle presents itself.

– Best Friend Turned Love Interest: He’s hung out with her for years (or vice versa) and they are the best of friends. One day, one of them gets that spark and the friendship becomes strained because friendly love has turned into romantic love. While trying to act like nothing is different, the friendship falters until the guilty party confesses. Only to find out the other side of the equation feels the same way but was better at hiding it.

And that’s my contribution. I know I missed tons of them but I’m tapped out. Feel free to add to the list.

Next Weeks Topic: Backing Up Your Work – you’d be surprised how many people don’t.


  1. I’d like for argument’s sake take on the immortal argument and suggest perhaps due to mistreatment that he shunned mankind only to come out to feed, he didn’t bother with people and lived out his days as a hermit. Well what do think?

  2. Selena, that’s another cliché all it’s own. It usually ends up with him picking a random female victim who he either can’t bring himself to hurt or she just happens to be his soulmate. 🙂

    But, I’ll take that as a valid excuse. It still means he needs to get out more.

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