uughÖ this tropeÖ
i mean, there is really nothing wrong with it when done right
but there are so many possible ways it can go really shitty
consider whether your story fits one or more of these possibilities:
1. One of the characters really likes the other, but the other isnít terribly enthusiastic about it.
No, the second one isnít in the wrong. No, they donít ~just need to see the otherís feelings~. The second character is fully within their right to refuse a relationship if they are not into it. Unrequited love. Play it as such. Guilt-tripping a character ďbut they like me why donít I like themĒ doesnít make them suddenly develop feelings for the other (other than, duh, guilt). Iíve been through that guilt trip of being on the receiving end of a crush myself. Itís not pretty and it did not make me like them back. Did not. Did not. It does not work that way.
2. The characters would make an extremely cute couple but neither actually want to / think of becoming one, itís just an outside opinion.
Their relationship or lack of one is their business. Period. Everybody else with their sense of aestetics can go write their slash fanfiction. They are welcome.
3. One or both of the characters are not open to a romantic relationship because of:
- previous relationship having gone wrong;
- previous relationship having ended in tragedy;
- previous relationship actually still lasting;
- fear of commitment;
- some sort of prejudice / character misjudgement of the other character;
- anything else.
If they are not open, they are not open. There is not a ready-made relationship that they just need to open their eyes to see. Itís not there. If one of the characters is not open to the relationship, there is no relationship, as it, by definition, is a mutual thing. Fear of commitment, prejudice, past trauma - all of this can not be overcome by just trying what you are afraid of. Your character can try, of course, and even succeed, but it will not be magically removed the moment they dip their toe in the waters of love. Donít write it as being. Donít. Itís bad writing. Very bad.
(I mean you can do this sort of dynamic right, but the thing is, it wonít fit this trope by any stretch of definition)
4. One or more characters are not open to a romantic relationship because of a desire to devote themselves to:
- other family, elder relatives or siblings or kids;
- literally anything.
Once again, if they are not open, they are not open. Romantic relationships are not the most important thing in a personís life that should trample everything else. Breaking up or never starting a relationship because you donít have time to devote to your partner is not the betrayal of all that is good and pure in the world. Only a character themselves can decide what is more important. If someone else thinks them being a couple with someone is more important, that someone else can - see #2.
5. The characters just canít get along. They are very cute when they do, and even cuter when they donít, but they snap at each other at every possibility and just fight, fight, fight all the time.
Characters can be in a relationship despite fights. I repeat, DESPITE. Not because. Enjoying the presence of the other is the basic requirement for a relationship. If they donít enjoy it, FOR WHATEVER REASON, the relationship is not ~there for everyone to see~. Or to be more precise, itís not that sort of a relationship.
(Something that gives off this vibe can also be an abusive dynamic. You donít want to romanticize that, and you donít want your character to be pushed in a relationship that hurts them that they want to escape because itís ~so cute~. Actually this applies to #1 as well)
6. THE MOST ANNOYING ONE
They are friends. They are very close friends. They mirror each otherís expressions. They sneak looks at each other all the time. They hold hands. They wear each otherís clothes and repeat each otherís catchphrases. They would give their life for each other. When they havenít seen each other for a long time, they can barely be torn apart when they finally meet.
Yet, they fiercely deny that there is anything romantic and/or sexual between them.
Well, they are either lying or in denial, right?
FUCKING VERY VERY VERY VERY WRONG
even if their orientations are compatible
even if they are each otherís type
PLATONIC FRIENDSHIPS STILL FUCKING EXIST
VERY CLOSE PLATONIC FRIENDSHIPS ARE A THING
evidence that two people are very fond of each other is not evidence that there is anything romantic between them
(sexual things are physical enough for evidence to be more specific and physical, so Iím not touching that, but sexual =/=> romantic and romantic =/=> sexual)
only the two people can know what is going on with their relationship, and whether or not itís romantic
itís up to them
and only them
barring telepathy, of course, but a telepath can also be biased, so I wouldnít trust them either
there can be clues of specifically romantic things, true, and people can be oblivious or, more often, in denial about them
but MUCH MORE OFTEN itís just a possibility of close platonic friendship being discounted in favor of NOW KISS