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Childhood Friend Romance
aka: Unlucky Childhood Friend

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Zazu: Oh, just look at you two! Little seeds of romance blossoming in the savanna. Your parents will be thrilled, what with your being betrothed and all.
Simba: I can't marry her, she's my friend!
Nala: Yeah, it'd be so weird.

Childhood Friend Romance is a part of romantic plots, when characters develop romantic feelings for someone who they spent their childhood years with.

Often the pair will see each other as Just Friends (and may even deny accusations that they might have a different type of relationship); then, when puberty hits or when they meet again after being apart for some time, they will realize that the other is all grown up. If the pair goes through a Puppy Love phase from the very beginning, a Childhood Marriage Promise may be involved.

Do beware, however, that the less fortunate side of a childhood romance also exists. Growing up involves more than just an upgrade to looks; the transitionary period from an impressionable child to a more-grounded teenager/adult takes years, and a lot can happen to the prospective couple during that time. Even if they spend those years staying in touch, both the sweethearts and the circumstances around them may change to the point that a true relationship between them may not last (or in some cases, can't even begin). This trope is about the sparks of a Childhood Friend Romance being in the air — the romance working out is not a qualifying factor.

Resistance to see a childhood friend as a potential romantic partner is known as the "Westermarck Effect", a theory that claims that people who grew up together before the age of 6 are likely to become hardwired to think about each other Like Brother and Sister, with a Stupid Sexy Friend squicked reaction to the notion of romance. (Other studies question this on the basis that though few of the people they examined had major romantic relationships with childhood friends, many had crushes and romantic feelings that just didn't make it.)

As an Ending Trope, spoilers ahead. Just the Title is a spoiler in this case!

Subtrope of Childhood Friends.

See also Patient Childhood Love Interest, a subtrope common in Harem Series. Compare also with High-School Sweethearts. Often benefits from First Girl Wins.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Comic Strips 
  • For Better or for Worse:
    • Michael Patterson and Deanna Sobinski went to elementary school together, were parted when Deanna moved away, and reunited in university. Then they got married.
    • Anthony Caine and Elizabeth Patterson met in elementary school as well. She moved away and then moved back home. They got married in the finale.
  • Safe Havens: Candide is destined to be the unlucky childhood friend for Leonardo, for a number of reasons, the biggest one being he's Leonardo da Vinci, and he must go back to the past to fulfill his destiny there, and the history books show he never married. She gets a sweet consolation prize though: it's implied that she's the real Mona Lisa.

    Films — Animated 
  • Billy and Emily in Annabelle's Wish start off as childhood friends, with her helping to defend him from the local bullies who taunt him for losing his voice. At the end of the movie, after a long Time Skip, they're shown to be married.
  • Bambi and Faline became friends when they were fawns. After the Time Skip, they fall in love with each other and the film ends with them having twins.
  • Barbie and Kevin in The Barbie Diaries are mentioned to have been best friends since they were kids, and at the end Barbie realizes he, not Todd, is the guy for her.
  • In The Book of Life, Manolo and Maria were close friends before she left to study abroad. Both fell in love 10 years later and become husband and wife by the end.
  • Nita and Kenai in Brother Bear 2. The whole plot revolves around them because Nita is in an Arranged Marriage but she can't marry her betrothed because the spirits already consider her married to Kenai through a little necklace he gave her when they were kids.
  • This trope is heavily implied in Epic (2013) between Queen Tara and Ronin. Queen Tara makes playful digs at his serious nature, flirts with him, and is constantly trying to convince him to smile during the pod ceremony. Meanwhile, Ronin makes it all too obvious that he's crushing on her big time. Of course she's murdered before any of it can come to fruition, and several characters can't help but mention it when they hear the news.
  • Frozen:
    • Frozen: Averted with Anna and Kristoff, who technically meet once as children, but never see each other afterwards as Kristoff is taken in by the trolls while Anna is shut away in the castle along with her sister.
    • Frozen II: Played straight with Agnarr and Iduna. They met as children during Arendelle's expedition into the Enchanted Forest. However, Agnarr wasn't aware that Iduna was the Northuldran girl he met until she revealed it to him in their adulthood.
  • Gloria and Mumble in Happy Feet are close from childhood; Gloria saw Mumble come out of his egg (even being the one to encourage him to hatch as she tapped on his egg) and defended him when his classmates mocked his inability to sing. Eventually, they mate as adults.
  • In Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart, Joe seems to be harboring a crush on Miss Acacia from even before the titular Jack showed up, but it doesn't end favorably for him.
  • The Lion King: Simba and Nala. They grew up playing around and then, after they finished growing up, they became the Ruling Couple of the Pride Lands.
  • Madagascar: Gloria and Melman. Though they're only friends during the first movie, it's shown in the sequel's opening sequence that both grew up in the Central Park zoo, and Melman always had a crush on her since that moment. Later in the movie, Gloria would start a relationship with Melman after leaving Moto Moto, which remained in the third movie onward.
  • Derek and Odette in The Swan Princess. Though it started as an Arranged Marriage that they both protested, and they didn't really get along, love came quickly once they were adults.
  • Carl and his deceased wife Ellie in Up. Much of the plot revolves around his pain from believing that he failed to fulfill his promise to her.

    Web Animation 
  • Helluva Boss:
    • Blitzo and Stolas are a subversion and a deconstruction. The two meet as a kids during a circus performance and Stolas is instantly attracted to Blitzo. Despite the fun the two have, Blitzo merely used Stolas to rob the Goetia palace of its royalties as commanded by the former's greedy, abusive dad. They also just spend a day together as kids, thus they couldn't really be considered "friends" despite the fun time they had.
    • Stolas deludes himself into thinking this trope is in effect once they reunite several decades later, but Blitzo knows that they really weren't and even plans to confess the truth to Stolas. That is until Blitzo realizes he can play along with Stolas' delusion to steal the Grimoire.
  • Subverted with Jerry and Jackie from the HotDiggedyDemon series Jerry. They first met when they were young, hit off immediately, and it's implied that Jackie seems to harbor some feelings for him as an adult...but she never commits, opting instead to take his money and sneak away after every one-night stand.
  • Manga Room: Ren Matsushita and Sakura Hanomoto were childhood friends and dating each other. Unfortunately, their relationship was cut short due to Sakura's death and it took Ren a long time to recover.
  • RWBY: Ren and Nora have been together since they were both orphaned as young children, and other characters initially think they are an item until corrected. Nora has been in love with Ren for years, but only starts becoming open about her feelings from the end of Volume 4. Although they have the Big Damn Kiss in Volume 7, they don't discuss where their relationship is going until Volume 8, when Ren is finally ready to admit he's in love with her. However, Nora is struggling to figure out who she is as a person, so asks Ren to wait for her; he agrees without hesitation.

    Web Original 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Unlucky Childhood Friend, Victorious Childhood Friend, Childhood Friend Love Interest, Childhood Sweetheart


Marfa and Ivan's story

Marfa sings to Dunyasha about how she grew up together with her beloved Ivan.

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