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Friendship as Courtship

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Most Western cultures expect that a marriage proposal is preceded by some form of courtship period. Fiction generally reflects this, with most Relationship Upgrades occurring via the characters involved switching from platonic friends to dating each other.

However, some characters have known each other long enough that any courtship would be redundant. After all, good friends who have been close for a long time — in many cases, since they were children — presumably know pretty much all there is to know about their prospective partner. So, when they finally realize (or acknowledge) that there is Unresolved Sexual Tension between them, it ends up resolved by an on-the-spot marriage proposal.

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Compare to First Girl After All and Fallback Marriage Pact. A Childhood Marriage Promise might involve this if the two actually end up together. Contrast with Fourth Date Marriage (when characters have only just met and get married) and I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship and Better as Friends (when one or both prefer friendship to romance). For the more antagonistic variant, see Rivalry as Courtship (though there can be overlap if it's a Friendly Rivalry).

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Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • At the end of Fullmetal Alchemist Edward proposes to Winry (well, sort of). They've known each other from a young age and have been Love Interests the entire series, and Ed has had Single-Target Sexuality towards only her, but prior to that they never even outright said they loved each other, let alone dated. It's nevertheless a happy marriage, and Word of God notes that they go on to have several children.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Law & Order: UK fanfic Dreadlock Holiday, Matt Devlin flees to Jamaica after being humiliated in court over an error made during an investigation. Alesha follows him to apologize and they end up declaring their love for each other and consummating their relationship. After several days of bliss, he impulsively proposes and she accepts.
  • This is technically the case for the leads in Cinderjuice and its sequels. Despite how it appears to certain members of the supporting cast (mainly her parents), they at no time actually date, and instead go from being Best Friends to being Happily Married via Magically Binding Contract. This (mostly) makes sense to them, because there's never really been anyone else for either of them.
  • The main pairing in Beyond Heroes: Of Sunshine and Red Lyrium have been friends for over a dozen years at the time of the story, since she first arrived in Kirkwall. There is no courtship per se; the hero confesses his feelings in the form of a marriage proposal. When asked about it later, he comments that the courtship "was apparently happening for a few months before I realized it."

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement ends with Queen Clarisse's longtime bodyguard's spontaneous proposal to her following an hour and a half of Unresolved Sexual Tension, which she accepts.
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral: Bernard and Lydia hook up at the first wedding. Theirs is the second, taking place only 3 months later. Dialogue implies that they've known each other for years and therefore don't really need to date, thus explaining their rapid trip to the altar.
  • Made of Honor: Tom and Hannah marry at the end without any apparent dating, having learned enough about each other and fallen in love over a decade of friendship.
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    Literature 
  • Defied in The Son's Veto. The protagonist is a widow, who wants to marry her Unlucky Childhood Friend (having married her first husband because she didn't dare refuse), but can't because her son doesn't want a commoner for a stepfather.
  • Emma: When Emma and Mr. Knightley realize that they love each other, they get engaged with no formal courtship. They don't really need one, though, because they've known each other for literally her entire life and have been the best of friends for years.
  • This is mixed with Pair the Spares at the end of the first Arcia Chronicles duology. Shander Gardani is a former palace guard captain who is elected by the people as their new king, while Illana Yambor is a Fallen Princess, being the daughter of the previous king. They have both just lost the woman and the man, respectively, whom they loved; but he needs a family to start a dynasty, while she is about to be Locked Away in a Monastery, so he asks her to marry him instead, if only because they've always been on good terms with each other before all of this happened. It turns out to be a Perfectly Arranged Marriage, however.
  • In The Cosmic Computer by H. Beam Piper, Conn Maxwell and Sylvie Jacquemont were just friends for half the book until they suddenly decided to get married at the end.
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns: Immediately after they consummate their relationship, Tariq proposes marriage to Laila. They've been best friends since they were children and their relationship had recently become romantic in nature (although it's also because Tariq is moving away soon and wants Laila to come with him). Laila wants to say yes, but ultimately refuses because she feels she'd be abandoning her parents. When they meet up again after eleven years apart, they find they still love each other and pick up where they left off, getting married soon after Laila's abusive husband is killed.
  • Boq tries to invoke this in Wicked by offering to be friends with his crush Galinda and work up from there. It doesn't work.
  • In the Chronicles of Prydain, Taran and Eilonwy meet and become friendly in the first book; since she has nowhere else to go and her entire family is dead, she comes to live with him at his master's house, Caer Dallben. They remain friends as they grow up, and while Taran gradually works out that he's in love with her, he doesn't make too much of an effort to court her - mostly because she's a princess and he doesn't even know who his parents were. Finally, near the end of the very last book, he blurts out a marriage proposal which she accepts, noting that she's been wondering when he'd finally get around to asking.
  • Gone with the Wind. Rhett proposes to Scarlett (on the day of her second husband's funeral) after years of. . . actually a rather antagonistic relationship, but they still know each other well enough to not bother with either a proper mourning period or typical courtship, marrying very soon afterwards.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The White Queen: Because they are Childhood Friends imbued with Puppy Love, Richard of Gloucester and Anne Neville's burgeoning romance requires merely four encounters (once at the Battle of Tewkesbury, once at a hunting gathering, and twice in a garden) before he pops the question, which she eagerly accepts.
  • Blue Bloods' Jamie and Eddie get engaged after a Near-Death Experience makes them finally realize and admit that they love each other, clearly deciding that they don't need to date after several years of friendship and being partners.
  • This presents a problem for Another World's Jake and Vicky when they decide to take their relationship to the next level. Jake can't come up with any ideas for their first official date—when another friend suggests that they go out for burgers and beer, he dismisses the idea, saying, "We do that all the time!"

    Theatre 
  • Half of the couples in The Drowsy Chaperone: Underling has been Mrs. Tottendale's butler since Mr. Tottendale was alive, and it's implied that Kitty has been a problem performer for Feldzieg for a while. Regardless, the pairs end up married by the end of the show.
  • In The Sound of Music, Georg and Maria get from the love confessions to the marriage proposal in the space of just a few minutes. It works anyway, because a) they've been sharing a house for months already, and b) they are so obviously right for each other that it makes perfect sense.

    Video Games 
  • The default in Harvest Moon. Some games have dates (anywhere from a few festivals a year to more formal ones), but for the most part courting consists of giving your love interest presents, seeing their heart events, then proposing (or, in some cases, waiting until they propose to you).
  • In Fire Emblem the support system requires a pair of characters to carry on a thread of three or four related conversations before they declare their love for one another. It's implied that they talk more than three times and these are the only conversations the player gets to hear. And occasionally it's implied that they start dating after the final conversation and then are married sometime later in the epilogue. However, in Awakening, by conversation four someone actually pops the question, engagement ring in hand.
  • In most BioWare games, initiating a Romance Sidequest usually requires first building up the Relationship Values (i.e. becoming friends) with the potential love interest, or at least hitting several Event Flags to the same effect.
  • This is basically how romance works in Skyrim. The setting is so frigid and full of danger that the residents just don't have time for fripperies like courtship, so once a connection is established between two people, they agree to marry and make arrangements with the priest. In terms of the game's mechanics, if the Dragonborn does a favor or resolves a quest (of varying difficulty) for an NPC, the game thereafter regards that NPC as the player's friend; as long as the NPC in question is one of the 22 potential spouses, the player then has the option to marry their friend.

    Visual Novels 
  • Zigzagged in Double Homework. The protagonist and Rachel dated before, and along with Morgan and Amy, Rachel can end up in a zone somewhere between friendship and dating with the protagonist. Lauren averts this trope by asking the protagonist out right away, and then by putting the question to him early about whether or not they are "dating."
  • In Melody, this is used in general for the protagonist's relationships with Melody, Becca, Amy, Sophia, and Xianne. Lampshaded with the relationship “levels” with Melody; “Friends” and “Best Friends” come before the romantic levels.

    Webcomics 
  • In Ozy and Millie, at the end of the strip's run, Ozy's dad and Millie's mom decide to get married after years of being very good friends. Interestingly, Ms. Mudd proposed to Llewellyn while they were washing dishes. Although the comic ends right after their wedding, Millie discusses the idea that she and Ozy could end up invoking this trope even though they are now step-siblings.

    Western Animation 
  • Varrick and Zhu Li from The Legend of Korra have been working together for years but their relationship was always on a platonic, professional level. She eventually gets sick of feeling like a Beleaguered Assistant who isn't treated as Varrick's equal, but right before they go into a dangerous battle, Varrick proposes to her. They get married afterwards.

    Real Life 
  • Apparently, this was the case for Mister Rogers. According to his widow Joanne, they had been friends in college and continued to correspond by letter after they graduated. One day she got a letter from him asking her to marry him, and after thinking it over, she called him to say yes. They remained Happily Married until his death.
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