3 Reasons Why Many Roleplay Romances are Unhealthy

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  1. Crowding
    I've touched on this in a couple of past workshops (Flirting and Romantic Plot Candies), but a super-common problem in roleplay romance is that once they're in a relationship, the two characters never give each other any space! It is common when infatuated (the fuzzy warm feeling, butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling when you first fall for someone) to not want to anything but kiss and cuddle, but this feeling doesn't last forever, and even when someone is infatuated, it's pretty common knowledge that nobody wants to be smothered. People in a healthy relationships give each other time to spend with their friends, family, and just as importantly, by themselves. In a roleplay, make sure your character is well-rounded with friends, family, hobbies, ambitions, and commitments like school and a job; this will not only make your character a rounder person (as opposed to 'the girl/guy who's dating NAME'), but it will make it much easier to find believable reasons to separate the couple so they can get some air. This can also open up more interesting plot events, like a big date night after they haven't been able to see each other in a while, or making friends who get jealous, or dealing with dissenting opinions of friends and family.
  2. Guilting
    "If it weren't for you, I don't know what I'd do."
    "If you ever left me, I'd probably slide back into drinking/depression/drugs"
    "I'm so glad you're here to protect me, I'd probably be dead without you."
    All of these phrases, while they may be meant sincerely, can make the person they're said to feel like they can't leave the relationship, or they'll be to blame for sending the other person into some terrible tragedy. It is true that no matter what the situation is, it sucks to get your heart broken, but telling your lover that if they left you would literally die or have no reason to continue living is just manipulative, even if it's not intended that way. There are less guilt-trippy ways to let someone know you're glad they're with you! "I'm so lucky to be with you", "You're one of the best things that's happened to me", "You always make me feel better", are all great ways to tell a lover that they brighten your day, without the implication that they'd also be to blame for ruining your life if they left.
  3. Interests
    Characters in a healthy, potentially long-term relationship should have things in common besides mutual good looks. It's also a fairly good sign a relationship isn't set in stone if the characters disagree on a fairly important subject like pro life vs pro choice, whether or not they want children, even things that may seem trivial can be a damaging disagreement if one character feels very strongly about it. For example, could you see someone who decided and defined most of their daily life based on astrology dating a solid pragmatist who thinks horoscopes are retarded for very long? Or what about a career woman dating someone who wants a wifemaid to settle down with? It's important for characters not only to have interests in common that they can talk about and explore together, but that they don't diverge on anything so important that it couldn't be compromised in a way that would make both characters happy in the long term. Similarly, while every couple fights and bickers sometimes, if these kinds of disagreements happen too often, people start to wonder why they hang around each other if they annoy each other so much.
Because folks seem to have developed a habit of taking these workshops personally or too literally, allow me to say this ahead of time: This is not a list of NEVER DO THIS rules. These are some INDICATORS that a relationship may be unhealthy. If the relationship is a summer fling, it would make sense for the characters to have not much in common besides hormones. If conflicting opinions or interests is something the characters have to (and are capable of) get over or compromise on as a means of developing their relationship, that's great! I'm sure there are lots of other good reasons for these three elements to be present in a story, but in general, if someone is trying to write a believably healthy, long-term relationship, these usually come off as red flags.
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