"Only those whose lives are brief can imagine that love is eternal. You should embrace that remarkable illusion. It may be the greatest gift your race has ever received."
"Had we but world enough and time," the poet said to his reluctant Love Interest
, "this coyness, Lady, were no crime," and he'd be willing to wait for centuries for a Relationship Upgrade
. Normal human beings don't have centuries to work out their romantic lives, but the genres of fantasy and science fiction are full of couples who do. Naturally, if you and your beloved are both immortal, or even just really, really long-lived, you may have all the time in the world in which to fall in love, court each other, hook up, break up, and come back together. You might spend centuries in the Will They or Won't They?
stage before getting your Happily Ever After
, and why not? You have all the time in the world for drama. The result is a Romance Arc
which could extend backwards into ancient history or forward into the far future.
Vampires may be especially prone to this trope (when they love other vampires
rather than humans), but it can also apply to werewolves, The Fair Folk
, artificial humans or robots, and—in some works—magic users whose power grants them exceptionally long lives
. A Society of Immortals
may display a large number of such relationships, given the greater odds that any immortal character's romantic partner would also be immortal.
Note that any romantic/sexual relationship that lasts for an unnaturally long span of time may count for this trope: it doesn't have to be an entirely happy or healthy relationship. As a result, this trope may overlap with Living Forever Is Awesome
if the relationship is a happy one, but if it is a destructive or angst-ridden one it may fall into the other end of the spectrum
. See You Are Worth Hell
for situations where Eternal Love is combined with And I Must Scream
This trope differs from the Mayfly-December Romance
in that it only applies to couples where both parties are immortal or near-immortal.
Contrast Time Travel Romance
and Reincarnation Romance
, where the romance arc is extended through time by other means.
open/close all folders
Anime And Manga
- Mnemosyne has a thousand years-long romance between Rin and Tajimamori, both immortal and eternally young.
- Baccano! has two immortal couples. Firo and Ennis aptly demonstrate this trope by dating for 50 years before finally getting married, while Isaac and Miria have been in constant company for about 75 years. Note that it took the latter 70 years to even notice they were ageless and immortal.
- In Axis Powers Hetalia, it is inferred that Germany is the Holy Roman Empire, meaning that he and Italy found each other again. Daawww...
- The elves Mesha and Tark in Gold Digger. Married elves form a psychic bond, which is irrepairably broken if they are ever unfaithful to each other.
- Some relationships for the immortal Fables work like this, some don't. Beauty and the Beast appear to have this, though they both freely admit that making a marriage last centuries is extremely hard work, and they have their ups and downs. This is contrasted with Prince Charming, who has been married and divorced three times (to Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella) and by now doesn't even try to pretend that he'll be ever-faithful to the current object of his affection.
- This trope gets discussed in the Peter and Max novel, where Max refers to Peter Piper and Bo Peep having "that rare storybook sort of love, where once can't live without the other".
- Bigby spends a while telling Snow White that he has a combination of this and love at first sniff for her, though it took him centuries to act on his feelings, due to his natural reserve and his taking a long time to get sufficiently accustomed to human company and his own newly human body to work out what he was feeling towards Snow. As of issue 50 They Do, and raise seven extremely magical children together.
- In the Suikoden III fic "Eternity, it takes a few centuries for Chris and Hugo to get together.
- In the Harry Potter fanfic Death of Today. A surprisingly sane and horcrux free Voldemort and his soul mate Izar Black are set up to become this. But this being Voldemort it involdes playing 'games' and messing up with societal order in an effort to keep themselves entertained for eternity. Still Izar fully expects to become sick of living after a millenia of so.
- In the epilogue to Infinite Legacy, Bruce's and Wonder Woman's immortal daughter hooks up with the well over a century old and long widowed Superman. Another author has expanded it into a sequel, already twice the size of the entire original fic.
- Pops up also in Axis Powers Hetalia fics, given that it's possible to have relationship arcs spanning centuries.
- In the fluffy Death Note Crack Fic A Charmed Life Ryuk decides he wants to keep Light forever.
- Subverted at the end of the Andromeda fic "Harper Learns". Trance turns out to be a member of some immortal elf race, and intends to sacrifice her immortality to live with Harper. When Harper asks another member of the race why can't they make him immortal as well instead, the guy explains that, for one thing, a sacrifice of her immortality is much more socially acceptable, and for another, he can say from personal experience that this trope doesn't really work out in real life.
- In Hancock, Hancock and Mary have had an off-again-on-again relationship for many centuries. However, this trope is inverted in that the superman/woman pairs lose their powers when they come together so that they are able to grow old together and die, should Who Wants to Live Forever? kick in.
- The film version of Stardust ended with Tristan becoming a star, and living forever with Yvaine. (In this story, stars are actual, living people, not just mementos of the dead.)
- Thor: Any Asgardian (or Frost Giant) can have a relationship of this nature with their own species, because of their extremely long life spans. Additionally, as they are going to explore a Sif/Thor/Jane Love Triangle in the sequel, Thor: The Dark World, it's possible that Thor and Sif will end up entering into this sort of relationship later on.
- In Only Lovers Left Alive, there's every indication this is the kind of relationship the immortal main pair have, though they'v lived apart and had dalliances with mortals along the way.
- In the Mercy Thompson book Silver Borne, Sam and Ariana are given a chance to meet again after centuries and rekindle lost romantic possibilities because of their respective long lives.
- Gaston and Freia, from Elizabeth Willey's The Well-Favored Man, are said to have taken decades to fall in love. They can do this because members of their family live for centuries.
- Andrew Marvell's poem "To His Coy Mistress" invokes the possibility of a never-ending love affair only to reject it: since the speaker in the poem and the addressee are both mortal, they'd better hook up sooner rather than risk never getting together at all.
- The Dresden Files has an Unholy Matrimony example between Nicodemus Archleone and Polonius Lartessa, both made immortal through Demonic Possession over a thousand years ago. Many characters, however, reasonably suspect that their twisted relationship cannot be love in the usual sense.
- The Cullen family of Twilight is made up of four vampire couples and a vampire/werewolf couple.
"More than eighty years had passed since Carlisle had found Esme, and yet he still looked at her with those incredulous eyes of first love. It would always be that way for them."
— Edward, on Carlisle and Esme
"But of course it made sense that Alice would be watching out for Jasper's future. He was her soul mate, her true other half, though they weren't as flamboyant about their relationship as Rosalie and Emmett were."
— Bella Swan explaining Alice and Jasper's relationship
"I got luckier than I deserved. Emmett is everything I would have asked for if I'd known myself well enough to know what to ask for. He's exactly the kind of person that someone like me needs. And, oddly enough, he needs me, too."
— Rosalie's feelings.
"No measure of time with you will be long enough, but let's start with forever."
— Edward to Bella at their wedding.
"The gravity of the earth no longer tied me to the place where I stood. It was the baby girl in the blonde vampire's arms that held me here now. Renesmee.
— Jacob imprinting on Renesmee.
- Roger Zelazny's The Graveyard Heart features a couple who achieve their long-lasting relationship through science rather than supernatural forces: they're members of a group that put themselves into cryogenic stasis for years at a time, only coming out of it to throw a huge party, and going back into stasis afterwards.
- In Greg Egan's Schild's Ladder, before Tchicaya finally gets to have sex with his childhood lover Mariama he contemplates "Nothing could have lived up to four thousand years of waiting. Except perhaps an original theorem."
- Diana Wynne Jones's A Tale of Time City features an immortal or near-immortal couple: Faber John and The Time Lady. They have been separated for thousands of years but that doesn't seem to have broken their love for each other once they're reunited.
- This trope applies to all of J. R. R. Tolkien's Elves, since they are immortal and it is stated that they fall in love early and for life. But an outstanding example is Elu Thingol who meets Maia Melian in a forest and then they spend centuries just standing there and looking at each other. Also of note are the Valar, who existed before the physical world and, as far as we know, entered it already paired up (except for perpetual bachelor and bachelorette Ulmo and NiŽnna, and Melkor).
- The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel has Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel, naturally.
- In the closing moments of Greg Bear's The City at The End of Time, it is revealed that Sangmer and his love, who are forced to spend literally eternity apart in order to prevent the end of everything, meet again every time the current universe reaches it's end, only to part again when the next one is created.
- The High Elves Caelir and Rhianna in Graham McNeill's Ulthuan Duology. Rhianna must take her ancestor's place on the Isle of the Dead, being trapped there forever, and Caelir, dying from a wound, chooses to stay with her. The two are kept together and will eternally be in a moment of perfect bliss with each other.
- Deconstructed by C. S. Lewis in The Four Loves. It is pointed out that expecting eros to be more then intermittent is unrealistic and besides unfair to your love interest (your emotions are not his/her fault after all), that you should have friendship and affection as well and in any case, if you really want Eternal Love the only way to get it is to submit it to God so he can not only love you but bless your love of other humans.
Mythology and Religion
- According to a Greek myth, the wedding night of Zeus and Hera lasted 300 years, and since they both were happy this was the happiest era in the world's history.
- One wonders if some of Oberon and Titania's relationship woes in A Midsummer Night's Dream stem from the fact that they've been together forever and are getting bored.
- Warhammer has a few. Orion and Ariel, the Wood Elf King and Queen, are immortal demigod spirits bound eternally to one another, and the vampire counts Vlad and Isabella von Carstein grew to be passionately in love throughout their unlives (until Vlad was finally slain centuries later, and Isabella committed suicide rather than face eternity alone).
- Deconstructed in Errant Story, where the long-lived elves consider a near-eternal relationship to be tragic because you'll eventually grow bored with each other. One of their greatest forms of romance is when your partner dies at the height of your love, so you can go on remembering all the good times without having any bad times to deal with. Thanks to their short life spans, humans were considered ideal for this purpose.