Do I give a romance a unhappy ending?:

Total posts: [10]
1 LastHussar31st Mar 2012 05:53:50 AM from the place is here.
The time is now,
At 17 Gabriel fell in love. At 18 she broke his heart and left him for someone else. He never forgot her.

25 years later he saves her from an abusive husband, over the months they end up together, and he helps her grow as a person. She tries to fix her marriage, and leaves him one more time 18 months later, but husband hasn't learned, so she leave husband again. This time she doesn't need rescuing, she is strong enough to leave on her own.

As it stands she goes back to Gabriel in a big make up scene, and this time it is clear (I hope) it is forever.

Its been suggested that I don't give Gabriel the happy ending - She finds someone else who only knows the 43 year old her. She is able to do this only because Gabriel has had such a positive effect on her life.

Gabriel is left with nothing - his ex wife was emotionally abusive, and rescuing the love of his life broke the marriage (even though nothing happened at that point). The girl he has borne a torch for for 26+ years is out of his life for ever, and his best friends widow has found a new man, with Gabriel also helping here too.

He's an Adorkable, Clueless Chick Magnet, who can't fix his own relationships, but can fix everyone else. I'm not sure I can not just kick the woobie, but use him as a football.

What do people think?

edited 31st Mar '12 5:56:55 AM by LastHussar

Do the job in front of you.
2 LoniJay31st Mar 2012 05:58:39 AM from Australia , Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
If it fits the characters, I don't see what the problem is.

Just because his romances didn't work out, it doesn't mean that the ending has to be a bad one, right? Surely he has other stuff than romance going for him?
Be not afraid...
3 Night31st Mar 2012 07:24:43 AM from Jaburo , Relationship Status: Drift compatible
The future of warfare in UC.
Does it fit the tone of the work and behavior of the characters?
Nous restons ici.
A realistic bittersweet ending beats the a fake happy one. Go for it. If you really must throw him a bone, have him find a deep, meaningful contentment in the knowledge that he has touched so many lives positively.

edited 31st Mar '12 8:35:39 AM by KillerClowns

5 LastHussar31st Mar 2012 05:04:50 PM from the place is here.
The time is now,
The sad alternatives feel contrived.

As it stands husband abuses her. Unlike previous times she walks out first time, no rescue needed. She then looks back at what Gabe has been telling her, and finally accepts she has been through a string of emotionally abusive relationships, starting with the boy she left Gabe for when they were teens.

Gabriel is the only man who has not tried to control her in some way - In fact both times she left him (at 17 and 43) he has said "I don't want you to go, I want you to be with me, but you are a grown up, I can't tell you what to do." Both times - especially at 17 - she wanted him to say 'I forbid it' (Nicky @17, hung around her, but Gabriel would not say 'You mustn't talk to Nicky').

However now she is strong enough to walk away from the abuse, and is able to understand Gabriel was treating her like an individual both times.

In the current ending he actually tells her that she is strong enough not to need him, and to leave him, and she responds that it is her choice now.

Sorry to go on, but if I'm going to destroy his happy ending, I need to know it is the right thing to do for the book. Be clear, if she was to walk back into his life, he will drop who-ever he is with for her, and he knows that, and feels guilty over it.

edited 31st Mar '12 5:06:42 PM by LastHussar

Do the job in front of you.
6 BearyScary31st Mar 2012 05:45:34 PM from A Planet That Looks Like It Has Chameleons , Relationship Status: Faithful to 2D
I think Gabriel deserves at least a slightly happier ending than the unhappy one. Giving him an unhappy ending seems to beat the Dogged Nice Guy and Being Good Sucks drums too much. Remember: Tropes Are Not Good, and subverting a trope interestingly will make it more memorable than playing it straight.

Why would having the female love interest leave him at the end have to be an unhappy ending? Can't we give Gabriel someone new to look forward to, maybe?
On the other hand, she doesn't owe him to go back to him. Regardless of how much he helps other people find stable romances, she isn't obligated to reward him for that. To believe that he must find love with her stops treating her as an individual and instead treats her as a prize, an object.

Presumably they won't consciously be treating it that way in the story so it could be somewhat ignored, but that's the way the story itself ends up treating her. You're saying that him not getting the girl is using the woobie as a football. If he's a bit unhappy, that's fine, and if he hoped to rekindle the relationship, that's expected - but if he actually anticipated that they would become involved just because he rescued her, then he's not as good a person as the story seems to believe.

I agree that Did Not Get the Girl doesn't have to be an especially unhappy ending, though. He's helped people, left his own abusive spouse, and can talk with someone he cares for again. And if he's held a torch for her all those years, then it's probably not humanly possible for a normal marriage to match his expectations. Besides that, romance isn't the only way to find, or a prerequisite for, happiness. Give him something in his life beyond love, if you feel he needs a reward, and give him success in that.

edited 1st Apr '12 10:52:06 AM by greedling

You will not go to space today.
[up]Just gonna take a moment to say this is damn good advice. I was kind of trying to say the same thing, but this sums it up better.
9 Morven1st Apr 2012 12:19:28 PM from Seattle, WA, USA
You can show how he has learned and grown through these experiences, and not every relationship ending has to be unhappy — some just aren't going to be.
A brighter future for a darker age.
Responsible adult
If it feels contrived and not in line with the characters, avoid it, be it happy or sad. The key is to do what feels natural. If having them randomly break up feels like a Diabolus ex Machina to you, then avoid it.

If you wanted to, you could leave it ambiguous as to whether they end up together or not, and leave the audience to draw their own conclusions.
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Total posts: 10