Follow TV Tropes

Following

False Soulmate

Go To

"'Follow your heart.' Ha! – Sometimes the heart sends confusing messages. Contemplation, counseling, friends, and readings can help us sort our true convictions from the false ones, though we flat-out disagree with the advice sometimes. Yet even THAT may tell us a lot. We usually need help sorting it out. But there's always a lesson!"
Mary Rose, Beware the False Soulmate (California Psychics Blog)
Advertisement:

A False Soulmate is a person who someone has a deep romantic love for, but the relationship is for some reason not meant to be, perhaps because of the Love Interest not sharing the same feelings, incompatibility, or misjudgment of character. Alternatively, the relationship ends up being a failure or catastrophe because the Love Interest's personality or behavior has changed in a negative way (e.g. the Love Interest may be unfaithful, a user, a criminal, mentally unstable, or a drug-addict). This may stem from Puppy Love or personality traits that the Love Interest either had or had more of when they were younger. The Serial Romeo is particularly prone to encountering this.

This often overlaps with Romantic False Lead. Compare Love Cannot Overcome, Loving a Shadow, Starcrossed Lovers and Unlucky Childhood Friend. Compare and contrast with One True Love.

Advertisement:

Due to the nature of this trope, there may be unmarked spoilers below.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Domestic Girlfriend: After something serious and public happens between Natsuo and Hina, their parents wonder if they are destined to be together, and they made unnecessary trouble when they stopped them from dating because they're step-siblings. Hina's sister, Rui, overhears and begins to get very depressed that Natsuo and Hina might be meant for each other, since Rui and Natsuo are dating. When she tells Natsuo what she's worried about, he tells her in no uncertain terms that he doesn't feel that way about Hina any more.
  • Athrun Zala and Cagalli Yula Athha went down this path in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. In SEED, they ended as the Beta Couple to Kira and Lacus. In Destiny, they eventually grew apart due to Athrun getting involved with ZAFT again, Cagalli's position in the Orb government (and the stress involved), her Arranged Marriage to Yuna Roma Seiran, and differing views on Chairman Durrandal's real goals and motivations.
    • While there seemed to be a bit of hope for the two reconciling near the end of Destiny, Word of God has stated that they're "just friends now".
  • Most of the first chapter/episode of Yona of the Dawn emphasizes Yona's huge childhood crush on Su-won; even Hak comments that they're perfectly matched for each other. However, Su-won ends up murdering Yona's father and chasing her and Hak from the castle. As such, Yona's idealized image of Su-won shatters and it takes her a while to recover from the heartbreak. As the manga goes on, she slowly and unconsciously falls for Hak, only realizing it until after she's already in love with him.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man being that it originated as a teenage hero has a problem in that the constant running melodrama that Marvel likes spinning since their adoption of "the illusion of change" corporate mandate makes it difficult for any girl to be Spider-Man's soul-mate for long, at least on the part of editors and executives if not necessarily writers and fans:
    • Gwen Stacy was Peter's first real relationship, the first girl he fell in love with, and both Lee and Romita Sr. thought initially that she would be the Official Couple. But readers never liked the relationship, and saw her as a bland character and didn't care for the fact that she liked Peter but hated Spider-Man and wrongfully blamed her for her father's death. Even Stan Lee admitted that he saw Gwen as uninteresting. The writer Gerry Conway saw Gwen as a false soul-mate but felt it would be interesting and add drama for her to die in a famous storyline, that in his view allowed him to satisfy both groups. Gwen fans could see her as Peter's The Lost Lenore while those who didn't care for her could happily start rooting for Peter to get with his real soul-mate, Mary Jane Watson.
    • Mary Jane Watson is a zig-zagged example. Originally she was established as a Blind Date Peter's Aunt May had set for her nephew who largely avoided her because he didn't like the idea of being such a loser that he needed his Aunt to be his wingman. After early hints that Peter was making a mistake skipping on her (namely that Liz and Betty run into her and their thought bubbles confirm she is incredibly pretty), many thought that she was set up as the Last Girl Wins (in a time when Marvel Comics hadn't adopted Comic-Book Time early readers believed that the story would eventually have an ending) which was buoyed after her iconic appearance. Gerry Conway who had read the comics since the beginning and who like all readers saw MJ as fitting set them up as a couple, and he repeatedly stated that MJ and Peter were made for each other. But a perfect relationship had the problem of potentially leading the story to an end, Marvel has tried to push back even if in practical terms, she is Spider-Man's most common, recurring, iconic relationship and is the most important relationships the pair ever had.

    Fan Works 
  • In Splint, Ingrid ended up being this for Cadoc. They were married and had a son together, but while Cadoc loved her, he tended to put his duty to Gondor first and spent a lot of time away from home. Ingrid eventually got sick of this and her love for Cadoc faded; not even a year after their divorce, she remarried to Baladnor, whom she seems much happier with, while Cadoc eventually finds love again with Rukhash, who appears to understand him on a more fundamental level than Ingrid did.
Advertisement:

    Films — Animation 
  • Corpse Bride:
  • In Frozen, Anna is convinced Hans is her true love, as she's immediately attracted to him and they appear to have a lot in common, but she's actually rushing into the relationship because she's desperate to be loved by someone and doesn't really know much about him; she agrees to marry him the same day they met without really thinking it through. When others point out why it's a bad idea, however, she insists it's true love. By the third act, Anna seems to be having some doubts about whether Hans is really her true love, but she still goes to him for a true love's kiss when she's cursed. It then turns out that he's a manipulative and calculating sociopath who faked his romance just to gain the throne, taking advantage of her desire to be loved.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens: Derek to Susan. He is a vain weatherman who is more interested in furthering his career than in his fiancée's needs, and after Susan spends the first half trying to win her freedom and return to him, he rejects her because he isn't interested in having a wife who overshadows him, in more ways than one.
  • Shrek: Played straight when Princess Fiona believes Shrek is her true love because he rescued her. Cue hysterical laughter from Donkey and Shrek. Shrek solely rescued her for Lord Farquaad so he could get his swamp back. Subverted when Shrek really is her True Love, as evidenced when they kiss and she turns into an ogre.
  • Strange Magic: Roland for Marianne. They're supposed to be getting married at the start, but it's obvious that Roland doesn't much care for Marianne as a person; he's mostly interested in her because she's the crown princess. Marianne then catches him cheating on her before the ceremony and wants nothing more to do with him. She later admits she was taken in by his charms and good looks, and didn't really know him. And then it turns out her true love is the Bog King; this is exemplified in the ending where Roland's attempt to use a love potion on Marianne fails, because her genuine love for the Bog King makes her immune.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Earth Girls Are Easy: Ted to Valerie. Sure, they've been together a long time and are engaged to be married as the film starts, but it turns out "Doctor Love"'s been cheating on her with various nurses for quite a while too. The flashbacks that appear during "The Ground That You Walk On" make clear that her affection for him has always been greater than his for her, and in fact a nuisance to him on more than one occasion. Still, he's so vain that her leaving him for good would be wounding, so he swears up and down that he'll be faithful to her from now on. To make matters worse, even with her awareness of his flaws Valerie does still care about him enough to believe his claims; besides, she doesn't think that an actual "Mr. Right" could exist...and then a periwinkle-blue alien starship pilot who cleans up very nicely into Mr. Fanservice enters the picture...
  • Enchanted: Towards the end, True Love's Kiss indicates that the couples Prince Edward/Giselle and Robert/Nancy aren't meant to be with each other, but that Prince Edward/Nancy and Robert/Giselle are.
  • Forrest Gump: Jenny to Forrest. Eventually subverted when Jenny brings herself to realize that Forrest is the only one who has always been there for her throughout her life, and they get married.
  • Letters to Juliet has Victor and Sophie. Being a bit of a Cloud Cuckoo Lander, Victor unintentionally neglects Sophie throughout the whole movie. It wasn't that neither of them didn't love each other but both sides didn't see the other's presence as a necessity. Not to mention they have differences that didn't make their relationship work (Sophie didn't share Victor's passion for cooking and Victor didn't appreciate Sophie's passion for writing as much).
  • In Maleficent, King Stefan is this to Maleficent. They have a Childhood Friend Romance and on her 16th birthday he gives her what he calls a True Love's Kiss. However, over time his ambition causes him to grow distant and stop visiting her. When he does finally come to see her again, he uses their close relationship to lower her guard, drugs her and cuts off her wings to gain King Henry's favor and become king himself. Maleficent is so devastated by Stefan's betrayal she is convinced that true love doesn't even exist and when she curses his daughter in revenge, she uses true love's kiss as the escape clause precisely for this reason.
  • Mrs. Doubtfire: Daniel and Miranda Hillard divorce and never get back together.
  • Sleeping with the Enemy: Martin is a wealthy investment counselor who's charmingly handsome on the outside, but his true colors don't show until after he and Laura are already married in the beginning.
  • Solo: Qi'ra proves to be one for Han Solo (which is pretty much a Foregone Conclusion, seeing as Han's Love Interest in the original Star Wars trilogy is Princess Leia). They're very much in love as teenagers on Corellia and share a dream of escaping the planet and travelling the galaxy together. Even after being separated for three years, Han never stopped loving her or trying to find ways to get back to her. By the time they meet again, however, Qi'ra has changed quite a bit and has different priorities, though Han doesn't see it (or refuses to). In the end, Qi'ra abandons Han to pursue a career in the Crimson Dawn; even before that their relationship was on the rocks, as Han initially assumed she was the one who betrayed him to the Big Bad, while she was potentially willing to kill him to save herself. Interestingly, Qi'ra actually shares some traits with Leia, Han's Second Love.
  • Stardust: Victoria to Tristan. She's a spoilt and geniunely stuck-up brat who is sweet to Tristan more out of pity than any strong feelings toward him, even though he wants to propose and spend the rest of his life with her. He later falls for (the "star") Yvaine instead, who actually loves him in return, once he realizes this.
  • Teen Beach Movie: Mack and Brady end up trapped in movie Wet Side Story. By coincidence, Mack is where Lela, the female lead, should be when she met her boyfriend Tanner; and vice-versa with Brady and Tanner. As a result, he and Lela believe wrongly that, respectively, Mack and Brady are their soulmates. The latter two spend the rest of the movie trying to put them back in the right path.
  • Wolf: Charlotte Randall to Will Randall. He separates from her after he discovers she's been cheating on him, but before she gets killed by Stewart Swinton, whom she's been having the affairs with.

    Literature 
  • In the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, Tamlin is revealed to be this to Feyre in the second book, A Court of Mist and Fury. Much of the first book is dedicated to developing their romance and by the next book they're getting married, but it soon becomes clear this isn't going to have a fairytale ending. Both of them are traumatized by their experiences Under the Mountain, with Tamlin acting like nothing happened but becoming protective of Feyre to the point of possessiveness, leaving her feeling suffocated and emotionally unsupported. The fact that as his wife she'd clearly do little but give him heirs and stand around looking pretty also gives her serious doubts about marrying Tamlin, right up to the moment she walks down the aisle. Then there's the part where Tamlin locks Feyre in their house even though he knows it's a Trauma Button for her, causing her to have a severe panic attack. It's eventually revealed that Feyre's true love is Rhysand, whom she has a mating bond with and who comparatively treats her better. When Tamlin finds out, he doesn't take it well. At. All.
  • Ayla and Jondalar both have experiences with this in Earth's Children:
    • Ayla is this to Ranec in The Mammoth Hunters. He falls head over heels for her in just a few months and is convinced they are meant to be, going as far as asking her to become his mate, which is equivalent to spouse in modern culture. Ayla ends up moving in with him, considers staying with the Lion Camp instead of following through with her original plan to move in with the Zelandonii and even agrees to marry him...but her heart isn't truly in it. She eventually breaks things off with Ranec and goes back to Jondalar, the man she truly loves (and it's strongly hinted that it's her destiny to be with him and become part of the Zelandonii). Ranec is pretty distraught but he eventually gets over it somewhat and ends up mating his ex Tricie, whom he was intending to marry before he met Ayla.
    • Zelandoni Who is First, formely known as Zolena, was this for Jondalar. Their relationship was never ideal due to her being several years older and his donii-woman – her role was to introduce an adolescent Jondalar to the 'Gift of Pleasure', but nothing more. Having a serious relationship would be considered quite scandalous and could've gotten Zolena in trouble (Jondalar mentions that as the older woman, she would've received more blame). Despite this, Jondalar deeply loved her and was never interested in being with anyone else, while Zolena herself even considered breaking the taboo and mating him. The incident with Madroman, wherein Jondalar beat the crap out of him for publicly revealing their Secret Relationship made Zolena realise it would never work out and she broke things off. Years later, Jondalar meets his Second Love Ayla and while they also face many challenges to their relationship, they're ultimately more compatible and end up Happily Married. Zelandoni herself greatly approves of Ayla and thinks it was destiny she and Jondalar didn't end up together, as otherwise, she would probably not have become Zelandoni Who is First.
  • Edenborn has Deuce, who invokes every trope in the book in his long-distance romance of Penny. He succeeds, but later realizes she's massively unstable and manipulative.
  • The Great Gatsby has one of the more famous examples. Gatsby pines after Daisy for years, and is sure that if he can build a fortune and win her love, they'll live happily ever after. The fact that she's married doesn't dissuade him, and he never seems to notice how shallow, careless and self-involved she is. Things don't work out in the end.
  • Katniss is this for Gale in The Hunger Games trilogy. He's in love with her and believes that they belong together, but while she loves him too in the platonic sense, she never ends up falling in love with him. Any chance of them ever being together is thoroughly destroyed in Mockingjay, after Katniss learns that Gale may have had a hand – wittingly or not – in the death of her beloved sister Prim; she ultimately ends up with Peeta, stating in the epilogue that she feels he is better suited for her than Gale.
  • The Memory Wars has Laura. Nathan spends time in the first book trying to maintain and save their relationship, but it falls apart when she reveals that she is pregnant with his best friend's child.
  • In Night World's Dark Angel, Angel is revealed to be this to Gillian Lennox. He starts out as the one person who understands Gillian the most and she frequently confides in him, regarding him as being as important to her as David. Angel later claims outright that they're soulmates. However, Gillian gradually becomes alienated from him due to his increasingly disturbing behavior, realizes she doesn't like the person she's becoming under his influence and also comes to realize she doesn't really know much about Angel as a person. It's revealed near the end that David is her real soulmate.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • It's indicated the late Lyanna Stark is this to Robert Baratheon, who is in denial. While he undoubtedly loved her a great deal, his view of her and their relationship is very rose-tinted. Robert views Lyanna as the only woman he ever truly wanted and is convinced they would've been happy together, often unfavorably comparing her to his hated wife Cersei. However, Eddard Stark notes that Robert didn't know Lyanna as well as he thought he did. Lyanna also wasn't nearly as keen on their betrothal as Robert was and was doubtful Robert would stop drinking and womanizing after they married. A popular fan theory is that she may even have willingly run off with Rhaegar Targaryen, rather than being kidnapped by him (in the television adaptation this theory is confirmed in Season 7, though it remains to be seen how this plays out in the books).
    • Prince Joffrey is this to Sansa Stark. Dear god. Even before they're betrothed, Sansa is smitten with Joffrey and thinks they'll live happily ever after just like in the songs and stories. She's convinced they're in love and either makes excuses for or is blind to Joffrey's horrid behavior. She even tells Queen Cersei about her father's plan to send her and her sister home so she can stay with Joffrey, leading to Eddard being arrested for treason and his household being massacred (Sansa's only eleven and very naive, so she initially doesn't understand the implications of her actions). It's only when her beloved prince has Eddard beheaded in front of her after he promised to be merciful that Sansa finally realizes how monstrous he is and that he doesn't care about her, even enjoying causing her physical and emotional harm.
  • Callista and Luke in Star Wars Legends. There's a period where it seems like they're deeply in love and Luke is doing everything he can to help her, but then she decides to leave him to figure out what's going on with her Force connection. Luke moves on, eventually marrying and having a family with Mara Jade.
  • In Twilight, Bella Swan turns out to be this for Jacob Black. He falls deeply in love with her, but while Bella does admit to loving Jacob, she states she loves Edward Cullen more. It doesn't help that as a werewolf, Jacob's One True Love is his 'imprint' – when a werewolf 'imprints' on someone, they instantly recognise that person as their soulmate and become devoted to them; this doesn’t seem to be the case with Bella. In fact, Jacob wishes he would imprint so that he'd stop pining for Bella. In the end, it's revealed that Jacob's imprint is in fact Bella and Edward's daughter, Renesmee, and the author even hints that part of the reason Jacob fell in love with Bella in the first place was because he was subconsciously 'waiting' for Renesmee.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Grant Ward is this to Skye/Daisy Johnson during the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: he's a HYDRA agent who has been faking almost his entire personality since they met. When she finds out the truth, she's completely repulsed, and events in the second season, namely her shooting him, plus Word of God from the actor indicate that the ship is totally sunk. Ironically, Daisy thought Lincoln Campbell was alive and dating her in the Framework in Season 4. Turns out it was Ward.
  • Peyton for Mac on CSI: NY. They were fairly serious in season 3 and very early in season 4, although Mac still struggled with losing his wife. But she eventually leaves him with a Dear Mac letter. When she returns for an ep in season 6, she explains that she knew that she couldn't give up her ties to her home and family in London, and didn't want to force him to choose between her and his life in New York.
  • Galavant:
    • Galavant and Madalena. The opening song is about how they are so in love and he will do anything to save her, but she quickly dumps him about five minutes in, choosing fame and fortune instead. But Galavant himself won't realize that Isabella is his true soulmate before the sixth episode.
    • Madalena was maybe this to King Richard, as well, as it turns out that she deceives him and Richard sings "Maybe you're not the worst thing ever" to her right in the episode two. In season two, Richard's actual soulmate turns out to be Roberta.
  • Game of Thrones confirms Lyanna Stark was this to Robert Baratheon. They were set to marry until she was kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen and later died. Robert mourns her for the rest of his life and openly states she was "the one thing I ever wanted". No one, not his numerous lovers and not his wife Cersei, could ever replace Lyanna in his affections (which doesn't help his marriage any) and he's convinced he would've been truly happy with her. However, it's implied that Robert over-idealized Lyanna and she didn't love him the same way. It's eventually revealed that Lyanna was actually in love with Rhaegar and she wasn't kidnapped; she willingly eloped with him and bore his child, dying of childbirth complications.
  • The Good Place: In the afterlife, soulmates are paired together. One of the first things that happens is Eleanor explains to her supposed soulmate, Chidi, that she's not supposed to be in the Good Place at all. They spend the rest of the season as platonic friends. Then it turns out they were actually in the Bad Place the whole time; the soulmates were just one of the ways they were being tortured, paired up with people who would annoy them for eternity. The soulmates were switched up in many of the reboots (including one where Eleanor was paired with Tahani), but Chidi and Eleanor did end up in romantic relationships several times. Michael eventually confirms once and for all that soulmates are not real.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Surprisingly, the main character Ted was this to his fiance Stella. In Robin's own words, Ted was "disappearing into someone else's life". Stella would later apologize to Ted for leaving him on the day of their wedding and explained that while she did love and care for Ted because he helped her believe in romance again, she was always in love with Tony.
    • One of the major criticisms for the series finale is The Mother being this for Ted. It probably wasn't intentional but most fans took it that way.
  • The Middle:
    • In Season 8, Axl Heck's refusal to give up on his ill-advised relationship with April kept him from being with his real love Lexie Brooks for months.
    • In Season 9, Sue Heck dated the dumb and clumsy Aiden while she and Sean Donahue were too afraid to tell each other how the other felt.
  • Stefan and Elena from The Vampire Diaries were originally the certain endgame of the show in the first two seasons. There has been a dramatic shift to from Stefan and Elena to Damon and Elena becoming the series's endgame ever since the season 2 finale. Damon and Elena are certainly the fan-preferred ship.
  • Possibly Yennefer for Geralt in The Witcher (2019). They fall in love and he's one of the first people in years she feels she can lower her guard around (and vice versa). But then she learns that Geralt's final wish to the djinn in Rinde linked her to him, leaving her visibly disappointed and angry, as she believes her feelings for him are not real and are only caused by magic. Even when Geralt insists that their love is real, Yennefer has doubts and abandons Geralt.

    Video Games 
  • Penelope is revealed to be one of the Gold Digger and Evil All Along variety in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. Bentley is convinced that she's a Nice Girl who helped him get over his developing resentment towards Sly. In reality, Penelope is a jealous sociopath who only pretended to love Bentley for his skills so she could make a fortune in weapon designs. Bentley does not take the reveal well, and his attempts to reason with her almost gets him and Sly murdered.

    Western Animation 
  • This is weaponized in Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama. Drakken had modified one of his synthodrones to resemble a hot 17-year-old boy, and sent him to the school to start an relationship with Kim to keep her distracted during his grand scheme. When Kim finds out the truth, she's heartbroken, and Rufus destroys the synthodrone in retaliation.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report