Falling In Love With: Friends-To-Lovers

Tropes are tricky things to pull off. They're loved, they're hated, they work terribly, they work well.  But I guess everyone has a trope they're a sucker for, and this post is about my personal favourite: friends to lovers.

The Trope Of Friends-To-Lovers in Fiction

Friends-to-lovers is a well-known trope, but one that can elicit just as much protest as it does adoration. How often have you heard someone wail "Why couldn't they have stayed friends?!" And often, I think they have a point: in some books and movies, it's unnecessary for friends to become lovers. It's as if the writers think they can't write a loving relationship if the two characters aren't actually in love with each other, and in cases like these, the relationships become contrived. The characters end up losing important personality traits because they've been thrust into a situation that doesn't suit them as individual people. 

Friends don't always need to become a couple. Of course not. Sometimes, a friendship just stays a friendship, and that's beautiful in itself. I love those relationships. I would have thrown a fit if Joey and Phoebe had ended up together because theirs was a well written platonic friendship and anything else would have been forced and unnecessary. Thankfully, the writers and actors knew these characters so well that they avoided a romantic entanglement. The relationship - the friendship - was saved.

I love friendships so much. But when two friends start to see each other differently and it's done well.....for me, that's something extra special.

I think a good friends-to lovers is when writers pay attention to the characters involved and stay true to their personalities. They make the move from friends to couple gradually, they make it natural, and they don't butcher the characters' personalities or their already existing bond. They're careful with the dynamic. They take it slow,  and they nurture the relationship in its evolution. It's when the friendship stays, but some romance is added; the friendship isn't replaced with romance.

"I cannot lose you, because if I ever did, I'd have lost my best friend, my soul mate, my smile, my laugh, my everything."
from Pinterest 

It was Monica and Chandler who cemented in me this love for the friends-to-lovers trope. The writers executed this relationship so so well, and it stuck in my mind and heart not only as great "watchable" enjoyment, but also as a great writing device. As a writer, suddenly all I wanted to do was write a friendship that slowly and tenderly blossomed into a romantic relationship. I was obsessed.

There's just something about friendship. We human beings are hard-wired for relationships, and I think there's something so honest and vulnerable about a relationship that has history, that has two very different people brought together over something they share, that has inside jokes and understanding unlike anything else. With friends to lovers, this manifests beautifully. It's a slowly developed relationship. It's a relationship between two people who know each other inside out, who have shared experiences, inside jokes, a past, pains and joys and struggles, and different circumstances and situations. A true friendship weathers storms. It brings a smile to a tearful face. It holds a hand during the darkest hours of a person's life. It demonstrates a connection between two people that is not easily shaken. It is committed, it is supportive, it is sacrificial, it is unselfish. It is mutual respect and trust and the purest form of love. As the Bible puts it: "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.' When you have a friend and a romantic partner? I can imagine nothing better. 

True friends know each other - they have seen each other at their worst and at their best, and they have stuck around. When that already deep relationship becomes romantic, it changes, but there's no reason why it shouldn't get stronger.

These days, I feel as if so much emphasis is placed on appearance and chemistry and "sparks flying". Genuine connection is dismissed. Love becomes superficial. Passion trumps commitment. Heat means more than lasting devotion. And maybe that's another reason why I love friends-to-lovers: it comes from a place of friendship, a place that has been developing and growing stronger for years. It's made to last. It means that there's already something deep and meaningful there before the two people become a couple.

That's one of the many reasons I love Brigid Kemmerer's books. Her couples are always friends before they become a couple, and those friendships are dynamic, flawed, and deep. Appearance hardly plays a part in the relationship - instead, it's the characters' souls that connect. The characters work at their relationship, they make mistakes, and they see through the surface to the true core of each other's being. It's beautiful.

Why I Love This Trope

It's hard to put into words what friends-to-lovers means to me or why it touches me so deeply. When you have that kind of relationship with a person and it becomes something more - becomes something romantic - I just think it's beautiful. I don't believe every friendship needs to turn into a romance to demonstrate love (definitely not) but I do, and always will, love a good friends-to-lovers relationship. Whether that's in a book, or real life, it wins me over.

What are your thoughts on friends-to-lovers? 

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