MistakenForRomance Mistaken for Romance YKTTW Discussion

Mistaken for Romance
When the love between two people is mistaken by others for romantic love.
(permanent link) added: 2013-11-13 04:16:16 sponsor: Sahira (last reply: 2013-12-06 23:52:36)

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The Doctor and Donna: We're not a couple.
Doctor Who, "The Unicorn and the Wasp"

As we know, there are many different kinds of "love", and people often confuse "friendship love" or "brotherly/sisterly love" with "romantic love". In this trope two people love each other. Some or many people, perhaps even those who know the two well, take his to mean they are romantically involved, but contrary to popular belief, they are just friends.

The key to this trope is that though affection and even love exists between the two people, it is not and never will be romantic (though in some cases there was the potential for it at some time in the past). Neither of the two friends have (or ever will have) any interest in the relationship becoming romantic, unlike in the Just Friends trope which requires this. However, like Just Friends one or more bystanders/others think that the love is a romantic one and may try to call them out on it.

The two may be (but are not necessarily) Heterosexual Life-Partners, Platonic Life Partners or Like Brother and Sister. If a third person gets involved with one of the people and then finds out about the other it can turn into an Imaginary Love Triangle.

If they are the same gender, this trope overlaps with Mistaken for Gay. Different to She Is Not My Girl Friend in that the two are not remotely romantically interested in each other, it is all in the eyes of the beholders. For cases when the two turn out to be related, see Relative Error.

Compare Platonic Life Partners.

Contrast Everyone Can See It where instead of mistakenly identifying the type of affection between two people, the bystanders are simply being more perceptive than them; and Strictly Professional Relationship where one or both would like to be romantically involved but their professionalism prevents it.

Not to be confused with Just Friends where, despite saying they are strictly platonic, the friends are really not.

Could be Truth in Television.

NOTE: This is a love trope so there may be unhidden spoilers ahead.


Anime and Manga
  • Takatsuki and Saori from Hourou Musuko are mistaken for being boyfriend and girlfriend by their respective Stalkers with a Crush. This assumtion goes away when they learn Takatsuki's sex.

  • In Return of the Jedi Han Solo thinks that the love between Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa is romantic. However, although their love probably was originally romantic, this changed when they found out they were siblings.


Live Action Television
  • Sherlock. The title character and John are Heterosexual Life-Partners but their obvious (though prickly) affection for each other is frequently mistaken for being romantic.
  • Doctor Who. Agatha Christie briefly mistakes the Doctor and Donna for a couple before pointing out that neither are wearing a wedding ring. This becomes a running joke throughout the season.
  • In the Black Books episode "The Blackout" Fran sees her boyfriend having dinner with another woman (who turns out to be his sister) and showing affection for her. She mistakes his love for romantic and sees an Imaginary Love Triangle.

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