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The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life

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"For THIS, I'm missing a date?"
Terry McGinnis, on the receiving end of a beating, Batman Beyond

What you do for a living is typically a big part of who you are, and when you start getting serious with a boyfriend or girlfriend, you probably like to talk about how your day went. But what if you spend your day saving the planet from alien invasions? Or hunting down vampire serial killers? What if what you do for a living is so fantastical telling them about your Secret Identity will convince them you are a liar (in which case they dump you), convince them you are insane (in which case they try to have you committed and/or dump you), or horrify them to the point where they (guess what) dump you? Of course, the people you work for in this fantastical world may insist that should you ever tell your significant other, you'd have to immediately kill them.

Is it any surprise, then, that the Masquerade will (make you) kill your dating life?

A lot of times, the pool of eligible bachelor(ette)s in on the Masquerade is rather small, and since Everybody Has Lots of Sex, it won't take long for you to work your way through them. But if you try to date outside of the masquerade, be prepared to stonewall every time your new beau asks "So how was your day?" or "When do I get to meet your friends at work?" or "Why do you always come home with blood-stained clothes and smelling of gunpowder?" Expect much angst about having to lie to the current most important person in your life that doesn't have a spot in the opening credits. That's if you can keep the many, many lies from collapsing in on themselves, that is. These relationships tend to end in one of three ways (don't they all?), with several subtypes:

  1. The strain is too much, and you break up.
    • A. Your Love Interest senses you're hiding something and threatens to call it off if you don't come clean. You can't, so they do. Or maybe you try to come clean and either they don't believe you, or the proof you provide freaks them out.
    • B. You can't stand lying all the time, and call things off yourself.
  2. Your Love Interest is introduced into the Masquerade.
    • A. Your Love Interest is kidnapped or otherwise put in danger, and you have to apply your Phlebotinum right in front of them.
    • B. They walk in on you while in the middle of official Masquerade business, and won't leave until you explain why you just staked some goth guy through the chest.
    • C. Your Love Interest has known about your Secret Identity for a while but still isn't on board with your sudden disappearances and supervillains trying to kill you every single day. Not to mention, getting kidnapped and used as leverage every other week is pretty annoying.
  3. Your Love Interest is already part of the Masquerade.

Usually, the Love Interest freaks out. Rarely... very rarely... the Love Interest doesn't freak out at all and instead reacts with some variation of "Huh... well that explains a lot." Of course, adding a regular character who is in the know will remove a huge source of drama, so any girlfriends or boyfriends that find out about the Masquerade have a life expectancy of a few hours. Compare It's Not You, It's My Enemies. May be because she or he Loves My Alter Ego. A subtrope of Keeping Secrets Sucks. If your heroic job threatens your dating life for reasons other than its secrecy, see Loved I Not Honor More. If letting the Love Interest in on the secret is what causes the break-up, that falls under Love Cannot Overcome. As such, it is an aversion of Understanding Boyfriend.

See also Muggle–Mage Romance, on which this trope can negatively impact.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Lelouch Lamperouge of Code Geass suffered several problems with his love interests—particularly Shirley—because of his masquerade as Zero to which her death can be directly attributed.
    • Initially with Suzaku and Euphemia, but having their respective masquerades broken allowed them both to genuinely get to know each other. But Euphemia didn't tell Suzaku about Lelouch being her brother and still trusted him, which got her killed.
  • This is a common theme of Codename: Sailor V, in which Minako's love life is forever ruined by her duty. In the very first issue, she crushes on a boy who suggests she wear a red ribbon in her hair (said ribbon being an iconic accessory of the character). He turns out to be an agent of the Dark Kingdom and she is forced to kill him. Throughout the series, various one-shot crushes come in and out of her life, forever chased off in some fashion by the consequences of her job. Finally, she seems to be getting somewhere when her Mysterious Protector, Kaitou Ace, finally gets close to her...only to be revealed to also be Danburite, the Big Bad of the series. Upon her killing him, he leaves her with an (accurate) prediction that she will never find love because she will always put her duty first.
  • Gunslinger Girl:
    • Something like this happened to one of the handlers. His girlfriend even pointed out how he always smells like gunpowder despite supposedly working for "a social welfare agency".
    • A literal version occurs with cyborg girl Rico, who finds herself attracted to a boy she meets while doing her recon. When she runs into the boy during the hit, the brainwashed girl obeys her handler's instructions and shoots him dead.
  • Around halfway into Kaitou Saint Tail, Meimi realizes she doesn't actually want to hide her Secret Identity from Asuka Jr. anymore because it's basically tantamount to deceiving him, and she knows he has a very honest personality and hates deception; however, she's also afraid of it potentially being such a Berserk Button for him that he'd come to despise her on the spot if he finds out. As it turns out, it is ruining her dating life, but not for the reason she thinks: Asuka Jr. has been falling in love with her and has actually been suspecting her to be Saint Tail for a while, but that's less of a problem to him than the fact he has no idea what she's thinking and can't tell if she secretly hates him, because she's been repressing all of her feelings out of guilt and forcing him to use increasingly roundabout ways to figure out what's going through her head.
  • In Knight Hunters, Ken Hidaka's entire love life can be summed up this way. He breaks up with his first girlfriend, Badass Biker Yuriko, because he simply can't handle lying to her and can't see any other way to keep her safe, then does it again when the first one doesn't quite take; the second, Reiko, turns out to be one of his targets, so that doesn't end at all well either. Unsurprisingly, by Gluhen he seems to have given up dating entirely.
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch has the mermaids be under a Geas in that revealing their identity as mermaids to a human will result in them turning into foam. Naturally, this means any mermaid who falls in love with a human will have to hide a huge part of their life from their partner, and in the manga, part of Lucia and Kaito's relationship troubles come from the fact that even after Kaito decides to toss the Two-Person Love Triangle out the window and commit to Lucia, she still has to keep secrets from him. It later turns out that the need to hold up The Masquerade was exactly what ruined Sara and Mitsuki's relationship, leading to her going over the edge and becoming The Dragon. Ultimately, Kaito turns out to be not actually human and therefore fair game to find out about Lucia's identity, while Hanon and Rina manage to make it all the way to being Happily Married with their human lovers Nagisa and Hamasaki without spilling; in Hamasaki's case, the manga implies that he's figured out that Rina is a mermaid, but is deliberately not confirming it because he can tell there's a reason she can't say it.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: More social life than dating life, but that the Magical Girls have little spare time and few people they can bond with is a major theme.
    • Special mention goes to Sayaka, who is never able to tell the boy she loves about being a Magical Girl because it also made her a lich. This ends badly.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew has this be the main issue between Ichigo and her would-be (eventually actual) boyfriend Aoyama. They vow to meet up, but Ichigo needs to fight off the aliens and ultimately arrives late at the meeting place, apologizing. And even when she isn't fighting, if she gets too excited, she grows cat features (or turns into a cat completely) and has to hide those from him, too. Despite Aoyama being an Understanding Boyfriend who doesn't seem to begrudge her in the slightest, Ichigo is left under immense mental strain wondering when the tipping point will be for him to start hating her, or feeling that she's a failure of a girlfriend for constantly lying to him. By the time she comes around to revealing it to him, it turns out he'd already figured it out a long time ago, but had decided to pretend he didn't because he could tell she didn't want him to know, and was afraid it'd ruin their relationship if he'd brought it up; in fact, the stress of secret-keeping on his part and being unable to do anything to help ends up in him accidentally tapping into the powers of the Big Bad to manifest the Blue Knight.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Bruce Wayne, of all people, admits this to Vicki Vale when he realizes this is why she's deduced his secret identity, thus why Ra's al Ghul wants her dead.
    • Tim Drake, the 3rd Robin, has a fondness for dating civilians (Arianna, Zoanne, Tam) in comparison to the other Robins. These relationships always end up going south, unsurprisingly. With Arianna and Zoanne, they have no clue of his secret identity, and with Tam, she managed to keep his secret AND dodge all death threats at her for being associated with him fairly well but broke up anyways. Even with his longest relationship, Stephanie Brown (Spoiler), they were dating as superheroes and not civilians because he couldn't give away his real identity. They had problems due to Robin's secretiveness and only patched things up when Batman, who was the one who had forbidden Tim from telling her in the first place, forcefully revealed Robin's real name to her without discussing it with Tim.
  • Bombshell, of many Ultimate Marvel comics. As soon as her boyfriend found out about the incident between her and the Cloak and Dagger duo, he immediately broke up with her on the phone after she pleaded with him to stay at his place. Even Miles and Jessica felt awkward for her.
    • One of her ex-boyfriends, Sid, finally gets revealed in the second issue of Cataclysm, where she acted abrasive, probably due to a previous incident. Of course, before anything is fleshed out about him, a car drops on top of him.
    • In the first issue of the All-New Ultimates, Lana deliberately sets up time with her Poey and she comes back from a hot date rather disappointed and let down. And then her boyfriend Poey is offed by Diamondback and her gang as revenge for screwing up a drug operation.
  • In Go Go Power Rangers, Kimberly is seen dating a teen named Matt and is constantly having to leave him to go save the day. When they get caught up in the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Shattered Grid storyline, he ends up finding out their identities and begs them to confirm it to him to stop the lies. They can't because of Zordon's three rules and he walks out on Kimberly and the others.
  • In Invincible, Mark's first girlfriend Amber was a Type A as she suspected he was a drug dealer due to his frequent disappearances. When he does finally tell her he's a superhero, she's initially fine with it until she realizes that she's not equipped to handle the knowledge that her boyfriend could die at any moment and wouldn't always be there, and they break up as a result.
  • Justice Society of America: It happens to Billy Batson as Captain Marvel when he starts dating Stargirl. Billy is 16, Stargirl is 16 and knew that Billy was 16, and that Billy was Captain Marvel, and that it was still Billy's basic personality when he was in Captain Marvel mode, even if his alter ego looks like a thiry year old man. But the rest of the Justice Society, did not know about Captain Marvel's secret teenaged identity, which made the relationship look highly improper. Jay Garrick, the Flash, flatly told Captain Marvel to break it off, and he did so rather than reveal his identity to the older members of the team.
  • In the MAD parody of the Adam West Batman series, Robin does a Face–Heel Turn because he's upset with being a victim of this trope time and again.
  • The Simpsons: The Superman example is parodied with the Radioactive Man comics, where the hero thinks this is what's happening... and it isn't. Gloria Grant really can't stand his alter-ego of Claude Kane the Third. In another instance, she mentions that despite having gotten married to Radioactive Man no less than three times, they've never actually dated.
  • Spider-Man:
    • If this trope had an Anthropomorphic Personification, Peter Parker would punch it so hard the blue highlights would fly out of its hair.
    • Gwen Stacy is an infamous example. She hated Spider-Man because she blamed him for her father's death (despite being a former police chief, which would already put a target on his back) and it's much later revealed she found out soon before her death that Peter was Spidey. And of course, she died from dating him via the Green Goblin.
    • Although he did marry Mary Jane Watson, the number of times his crime-fighting got in the way of dates, it's an exception. Plus, in One More Day, with his identity discovered by the whole wide world and everyone in danger because of it, he opts to lose his marriage by having a general amnesia imposed upon the world in order to resume the masquerade all over again. However, in The Amazing Spider-Man (2018) they got back together after MJ decided she was okay with this part of Peter's life.
    • His first love interest, Betty Brant, was a straight type-A. She was a Single Woman Seeks Good Man and it's why she was drawn to Peter. His superheroing, however, does cause tension, and she thinks he's a bad boy. They end up becoming close friends later.
    • Liz Allen and Debbie Whitman might qualify as well... both very interested in Parker until they realized he's quite unreliable on dates.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man isn't exempt from this either. Mary Jane originally breaks up him after she begins having nightmares about him dying, coupled with the fact that she suspects Gwen Stacy has feelings for him. Gwen briefly dates Peter but dumps him when he's replaced by Chameleon.
  • Supergirl:
  • Superman:
    • Pre-Crisis Clark Kent avoided romantic relationships because he feared that his enemies would target his love interest.
      • Strangely, he didn't seem to realize that Lois Lane, and occasionally Lana Lang, were often targeted, anyway, both due to their occupation and the fact that everyone knew they were close despite not being official couples.
    • In Krypton No More he is having lunch with Lois when he realizes he has to help his cousin fight an alien army, and he shoves Lois out of his apartment.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Case Closed fanfic Dominoes, Ran is a superheroine-in-training under the tutelage of her boyfriend Shinichi's superhero father. Except said boyfriend is deliberately kept Locked Out of the Loop in order to "keep him safe," to the point where his father uses abuse tactics to keep him ignorant and obedient. Not only is Ran constantly ditching Shinichi with shoddy excuses to run off with his adoptive brother, but Ran herself has slowly adopted his family's habit of shaming him when he steps out of the lines they draw for him without his consent. Upon finally discovering her secret, Shinichi gives her a second chance to prove she can support him; she fails due to her superhero duties calling her away, and Shinichi breaks up with her on the grounds that they may love each other, but she hasn't treated him as her partner in a long time.
  • In Frozen Moonlight, Aoshi attempts to break things off with Misao when they are attacked on their first date, but she refuses to accept that as reason.
  • Here There Be Monsters: Being Shazam! killed Billy's relationship with his erstwhile girlfriend Cissie Summerly. Billy could not commit himself totally to their relationship because he would not reveal his hero identity; and it did not help that Cissie grew older whereas his powers ensured he never did.
    Cissie Summerly had been his girlfriend, some years ago. But things got in the way. One of them was Captain Marvel. Another thing was the fact that Cissie got taller, more mature, more beautiful, and Billy didn't.
    She had also wanted Billy to get more serious about their relationship. And Billy didn't want to.
    So it wasn't surprising that she told him that she wanted to date around, shortly after that. And, shortly after she told him, she had drifted out of his life altogether.
  • In i'm giving you a nightcall, Ed ended up dumping Roy when the latter shot him and was put in charge of arresting him. Even before that, Ed had to leave in the middle of dates for Fullmetal business.
  • Inverted in No Chance for Fate: Ami had no social life prior to becoming a Sailor Scout. After becoming a Sailor Scout, she gains a boyfriend in the boy she tutors, Ranma. Who perfectly understands about fights causing one to miss dates and would lend a hand in battle.
  • Inverted in Precocious Crush. Mindy and Dave's secret life as heroes seems to be Mindy's only hope of attracting Dave's attention. Though, granted, this is exclusively because the only guy Mindy is interested in is Dave. Boys her own age are certainly interested though.
  • In Storm on the Horizon, after the events of Life Is Strange and her subsequent "suicide" that removed her from the timeline, Max moved to San Francisco and became a barista and photographer. While she was able to cover up her powers, her eternal youth was a different story entirely, making her romances with people her age increasingly skeevy. What's more, the nature of how she saved Chloe meant that she can never be with the one person she truly loved.
  • Two Letters: Alya attempted to avoid this after Nino was akumatized into Rocketear over a misunderstanding, revealing she'd secretly become Rena Furtive. Unfortunately, Marinette considers this to be an unforgivable betrayal... in no small part because Marinette dealt with how being Ladybug strained all of her relationships for over a year and a half before finally cracking and trusting Alya to be her Secret-Keeper. Alya didn't even last two weeks, spilling her Secret Identity the instant she realized her boyfriend was upset.
  • In A Very Kara Christmas, Linda Lee decides against going out with Dick Wilson because, until she has not perfected her "normal, innocent human girl" act, he could figure her secret identity out.
    Linda looked at him, appraisingly. It might be fun. Dick was a cute guy, an athlete with an ego not too far out of control. Still, Kal had said that, until she got her role-playing down perfect, getting too close to a guy would be dangerous. Ergo: no dating.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Batman Forever Bruce Wayne hides the fact that he's Batman from Dr. Chase Meridian...even as she demands to see Batman. She gets her wish, and Bruce still almost would've kept his Masquerade in force...until Two-Face and The Riddler kidnap her.
  • A large element of the "indie short film" Eagles Are Turning People Into Horses. In fact, the point is for the "broken masquerade" to scare his girlfriend away.
  • As part of Daredevil (2003)'s deconstruction of vigilante superheroes, Matt Murdock is implied to be good at getting women but no good at keeping them. He's shown listening to a woman dumping him via answering machine for repeatedly Not Staying for Breakfast (because he's a vigilante who works at night and has to sleep in a sensory deprivation tank) or even inviting him to his apartment (actually a crypt where he stashes his Daredevil stuff). When he decides not to accept the advances of Elektra Natchios, his friend Foggy sardonically congratulates him on cutting straight to the inevitable conclusion.
  • In Men in Black there's a third type: inductees are to sever all ties with their old life - including loved ones. One scene shows Agent Kay pining over a lost love (and is later reunited with her, but only after he leaves MIB and has his memory wiped).
    • Come the sequel, she's left him, in a pseudo-Type 1a situation.
  • Played for laughs in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005). Both are Elite Spies of different (and competing) agencies who both live an elaborate lie (similar to Schwarzenegger's in True Lies. It all goes south when they are on the same job. Classical Type 3 situation...
  • In My Super Ex-Girlfriend, it's a central theme. Jenny gets called to destroy a missile while on a date, and over the course of the film you learn how messed up a super hero's love life can be.
    Hannah: Why did G-Girl throw a shark at us?
  • In Point of No Return (an American remake of La Femme Nikita), the lead is incredibly happy with her newfound boyfriend but can't take all the lying on top of being forced to kill people. Since she can't just drop out of the secret agency that recruited her, she runs away.
  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice has this as well, with the main character having to hide his newfound magical powers.
  • In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter has to bail on the titular Homecoming dance to stop the Vulture's last heist. Just to rub it in, this is immediately after discovering the Vulture is his date's dad.
  • This trope comes into play in the 2011 version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy when Peter Guillam is forced to break up with his boyfriend in case the Circus starts investigating him. He is unable to explain his true reasons for wanting the break-up - his boyfriend says "If there's someone else, you can tell me," to which Guillam just shakes his head - and he is left sobbing as a man he clearly loved walks out.
  • In True Lies Schwarzenegger's character, a secret agent, pretends to his wife that he is an exceptionally dull computer salesman. This nearly kills his marriage. The irony is that she nearly cheats on him with a car salesman pretending to be a spy to get her in bed. At the end, the couple is Happily Married again, working together on assignments.

  • A borderline one comes up in Animorphs with Rachel. She's a popular, pretty girl and in one book, a guy wants to get together with her. She is torn because she thinks it would be nice to date someone who isn't trapped as a bird and dealing with the Masquerade, but she ultimately reconsiders and chases him off, thinking she can't take the risk. She does continue having feelings for Tobias through the series, though.
  • In Beautiful Creatures, the Caster community keeps to itself. This makes dating nearly impossible for Lena, once she starts becoming interested in the mortal Ethan.
  • Constance Verity Saves the World: Much like Connie, Larry Peril's fantastical life as the son of supervillain parents has made being in a relationship difficult. After his sort-of thing with Connie, there was Linda (who was hired to bodyguard him and didn't reciprocate his feelings), Ida (who's memory of their relationship was erased because his mother didn't approve), and Patricia (who left him for someone else and was later killed by his mother for it).
  • In The Dresden Files, The Masquerade killed Harry Dresden's dating life:
    • The only girlfriend he's ever had (as an adult, that is) got herself turned into a half-vampire while attempting to interview a bunch of vampires out for Harry's head. And eventually, Harry was forced to kill her in Changes.
    • Or the time a demon interrupted one of their dates.
    • Wizards live longer than muggles. Some of the more venerable wizards know their great-great-great-great-grandkids, and sometimes further.
    • Elaine, his teenage girlfriend. Harry killed their adoptive father Justin DuMorne in self-defense, and Elaine disappeared in the property damage. Note - they were both adopted and fairly late in life at that, so there shouldn't be any Squick involved in their relationship.
    • Karrin Murphy, a vanilla mortal, has deep feelings for Harry and he has them back, but as she knows he can live for centuries and she will only live for one at most, she and he never get together, not even casually because Harry wouldn't do things by halves. As of Skin Game the two are making significant progress towards a relationship. Becomes a full-fledged relationship in Peace Talks only for her to die in Battle Ground.
  • Discussed in How to Be a Superhero as an inevitable side effect of having a Secret-Keeper; no matter how well-meaning your significant other is, she's not going to understand superheroic issues like cleaning alien hell-slime off your costume.
  • Referenced in The Laundry Files. People in the Laundry are both legally and magically compelled not to speak of their work with anyone not cleared to know about magic and the occult, so Bob reflects on the difficulties this situation creates for one's social life when you're not permitted to explain a single thing about one's work. Bob and others in the Laundry are basically forced to only date within the agency, which for Bob meant a very restricted dating pool of one delusional narcissist his age until Mo joined up. Everyone is almost entirely cut off from their families for the same reasons—all Bob's parents know is that he's a civil servant.
  • The stress of the masquerade getting in the way is part of the reason Thrix is the Old Maid in Lonely Werewolf Girl (the other part of the reason is she is a chronic workaholic). In the sequel, her only love interest turned out to be a case of Dating Catwoman.
  • Comes up in the first three books of Marie Brennan's Onyx Court series.
    • In the first book, Lune and Deven fall in love while Lune is posing as a mortal to uncover secrets in Queen Elizabeth's court. Lune spends much time angsting about how he can never know what she truly is. Initially ends in a type 1B, but becomes a type 2B once Deven gets into terrible trouble trying to find her again.
    • In the second book, Antony refuses to tell his wife, Kate, about the Onyx Court, and she calls him on keeping secrets more than once. Unusually, nothing ends up changing. Kate just eventually accepts that there are certain things that her husband can't/won't tell her.
    • The third book also plays with this trope: while The Masquerade has clearly not limited Galen's dating life, society dictates that he must marry outside it. Galen agonizes for months about whether and how to tell his fiancee, Delphia. Subverted when he does decide to tell her and her reaction, after a brief initial shock, is pretty much, "Faeries living under London? Cool!"
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel: Percy Blakeney had his marriage (nearly) killed by The Masquerade. He probably would have told his wife the truth had he not been led to believe she was a sympathizer for the other side just a few hours after the wedding. The lies and miscommunications that followed drive the plot of the book.
  • In Shaman Blues' backstory, the Masquerade managed to kill Witkacy's dating life even when he didn't know about it - his shamanic heritage pushed him to try stronger and stronger drugs, while Konstancja's watered-down supernatural sense had her see something around him, driving her away.
  • Sort-of in Super Powereds. Heroes are on-call 24/7 with no set days off, so it's not very easy to settle down. However, a number of Heroes have managed to start families, provided they find a spouse willing to accept this life. Families typically know the Hero's secret identity, so the secrecy isn't an issue, although they do have to keep it a secret from everyone else. In his heyday, Titan was known as a family man and always spoke of how much they meant to him. Then he got caught having sex with another man and fled the resulting scandal instead of confronting it. His abandoning his family killed his family life more than being forced out of the closet, and his sons have never forgiven him.
  • Spike and Cindy from the Thursday Next series are a subversion as they're happy together and Spike manages to fail to understand when Cindy subtly tells him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One of Reluctant Sidekick Mark's biggest issues with Ace Lightning is losing girlfriends who think he's an insensitive jerk whenever he stands them up to go help Ace save the world. Two series on one of them is still bitter.
  • Starts with Sydney's fiancé in the pilot of Alias and goes downhill from there. After the Time Skip between seasons 2 and 3, she barely interacts with anyone who's not in on the conspiracy or a target of her mission.
  • Wesley and Cordelia discuss this several times on Angel, usually coming to the conclusion that they're doomed to be alone forever. Given the lousy luck they both had with romance throughout both series, it seems they were right.
    • Wesley's girlfriend was introduced as the daughter of a client; the father intended to use her as a Virgin Sacrifice. She eventually breaks up with Wes after he gets shot, as she realizes how dangerous his job is.
    • Cordelia went on dates a lot in the first season but stopped when the work became more time-consuming. Her three main love interests were all part of the masquerade, as were the major love interests of the rest of the main characters.
  • Arrow is full of this for Oliver Queen in Season One. Although there's a healthy dose of guilt added to the mix. Starting a relationship with Sara Lance, then Felicity Smoak (both members of Team Arrow) solves much of the problem, but not all of it.
  • George from Being Human deals with this twice: with Sam, his rebound girlfriend, whom he nearly transforms in front of because she won't let him get out of going to a parent-teacher conference for her daughter on the night of a full moon; and, most notably, with Nina, who starts out quite angry and annoyed about being constantly left out of the loop when it comes to George's secrets and then gets introduced to the masquerade when George accidentally scratches her partway through a transformation and turns her into a werewolf. Her inability to cope with her introduction to the masquerade leads them to break up for a while.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy's social life was constantly being derailed by this. An early boyfriend, Owen, followed her one night, and nearly got killed by a vampire, without ever realizing that's what happened to him, but he got off on the excitement and wanted to do it again, so she dumped him. Scott Hope dumped her because she seemed "distant." Then with Riley in season 4, it turns out that they are both in on the masquerade, and have been hiding it from each other until they run into each other in the middle of a fight. They get over it after learning about each other though. Something similar happens with Principal Wood in season 7, though in his case he had full knowledge of who Buffy was. Xander and Willow's major love interests were part of the masquerade or, in Oz's case, introduced.
  • Happens all the time in Charmed. Most of the main characters end up married to men who were already part of the masquerade to avoid this.
  • In Chuck, Chuck's few attempts to date someone who wasn't Sarah ended up going sour pretty much for this reason.
    • One episode revealed the case where he was on the other side of the equation. His college girlfriend was actually recruited into Fulcrum probably even before they started dating. After he was expelled, her handler forced her to end the relationship. When they meet again, they're on opposite sides (he's CIA/NSA, she's Fulcrum). The irony is that he was expelled to keep him from being recruited by the government in the first place.
  • Daredevil (2015): When Matt Murdock and Karen Page initially start dating partway through season 2, him being the Devil of Hell's Kitchen puts a serious strain on their relationship, since Karen has sensed for a while that Matt is hiding something (due to Matt and Foggy not being good at inventing convincing cover stories for the injuries Matt receives as Daredevil), although she's given him room by not pressing him to tell her what is up with him. And Matt, for his own end, is reluctant to tell Karen his secret because he thinks that will keep her safe and he fears that she'll react as badly as Foggy did when he found out. For an example of this, he turns down her inviting him up to her apartment for sex after their first date because he doesn't want to have to explain the source of his scars to her. Their brief dating period is ended in "Guilty as Sin" as a result of Matt being more focused on running around with Elektra instead of contributing to Frank Castle's trial, and Karen stumbling upon a wounded Elektra in Matt's bed and thinking Matt is cheating on her. It isn't until the season 2 finale that Matt finally snaps out of this mentality and decides to tell Karen his secret in hopes of rekindling the flame.
  • Just ask Cally Stone of Dark Oracle about this one. Every potential relationship she has (and most of her friendships) get torpedoed by her attempts at dealing with the comic book that has taken over her life. Conversely, her brother Lance, and his best friend Dizzy, probably wouldn't have dating lives if the comic hadn't forced them together with their respective girlfriends.
  • This trope's pretty much in full force in Dexter. Invoked in the 4th season finale quite literally, when the serial killer Dexter was trying to kill murders Dexter's wife.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In Series 8, Clara Oswald begins a relationship with fellow teacher Danny Pink and initially keeps her adventuring with the Doctor a secret from him, despite his being puzzled by her occasional odd behaviour, such as showing up for a date covered in seaweed or for some reason wearing a space helmet. Finally, the masquerade is lifted in "The Caretaker", which causes Danny to issue a "don't lie to me again" ultimatum. The masquerade is reestablished a few episodes later when Clara lies to Danny about continuing to travel with the Doctor, while he's under the impression she's given it up. He eventually finds out the truth and tells them they need some time apart for her to figure out what she really wants. She finally calls him to try to make peace, and he gets hit by a car and dies. Then he becomes a Cyberman and gives his life to save Earth, afterwards sacrificing his one chance to come back to her from the afterlife by sending the Afghan kid he accidentally shot while in the Army.
    • In "Extremis", Bill has brought home her date, Penny, and they're drinking tea when they hear the TARDIS materializing in Bill's bedroom. A few minutes later, the Pope bursts into the room, ranting in Italian, and then leaves abruptly. When Bill and Penny go to her bedroom, they see the TARDIS — and several priests, who shrug. All this causes Penny to freak out and flee the scene. It's a good thing this only happened in a simulation.
    • In the next episode, The Pyramid at the End of the World, the real Bill goes on a date with the real Penny, which seems to be going better then it's simulated counterpart. That is, until the UN barges in looking for The Doctor, causing Penny to once again flee the scene.
  • Played straight in The Flash (2014), which isn't helped by the fact that Barry is still pining for Iris. When he finally meets a girl, their dates go sour, since he keeps getting called away by Cisco telling him about crimes in the area (although, the first time, he's able to return without the girl noticing anything). She eventually ends the relationship, since she assumes he's still not over Iris. After Eddie finds out the truth about Barry, this also starts affecting his relationship with Iris, since she can tell he's hiding something from her. Joe strictly forbids Eddie telling her the truth, and Iris goes back to her dad's home for a while. Barry seems to convince her that Eddie is protecting her from all the bad stuff he sees as a cop, and Iris appears to understand, but then she tells Eddie that this won't work in a relationship. After Iris finally figures out the truth, Eddie breaks off their relationship, as Eobard Thawne has shown him an article from the future written by "Iris West-Allen", showing that Eddie doesn't get the girl in the end. He ends up changing his mind and tries to rekindle the relationship, only to commit a Heroic Suicide to stop his descendant from killing Barry and everyone else. In seasons 2 and 3, Barry finally starts a relationship with Iris. At first, they try to separate their personal life from their life on Team Flash, but they quickly realize it's not possible and accept it.
  • Forever: Henry's secrets are a main source of tension between him and Jo, with Jo finally getting tired of being patient in the final episode. His past and the fact he can't share it also ruin his relationship with Molly Dawes.
  • Grimm: Nick's duty as a Grimm puts a strain on his relationship with Juliette; his aunt anticipated this, so she told him he should break up with her, though he didn't listen. She's used to him being out late since he's a cop, but she turns down his proposal because she feels as though he has grown distant and is hiding something. When he tries to tell her the truth about TheMasquerade, she doesn't believe him and tells him he "needs help."
    • Later, at the end of the second season, after collapsing from a gambit by one of Nick's enemies that caused Juliette to forget all about Nick, and only him, she eventually regains her memories and learns about the whole affair by pressuring his Wesen friends to be honest with her. When she sees Bud, Rosalie, and Monroe change, she leaves the spice shop only to return a minute later and reveals she will learn to handle it and wants them to tell her everything.
    • After that, they appear to grow closer again, and she even finds out that one of her best friends is a Wesen. However, even then she realizes that Nick is still hiding some things from her, such as the fact that his mother is still alive. This nearly comes to a head when Juliette finds out that Adalind pulled a Bed Trick on Nick and tells him that she's not sure she can handle it anymore. After Adalind's spell causes Nick to lose his powers, they appear to grow closer again, now that they have a chance to be normal again. When their friends are threatened, she agrees that they need to undergo a ritual to restore Nick's Grimm abilities. This appears to work, but then Juliette turns into a Hexenbiest. This appears to be a final nail in the coffin of their relationship, as she ends up leaving him and even sleeps with Renard. Later, she finds out that Adalind is pregnant with Nick's child, and Nick's unwillingness to let her kill other Hexenbiest causes her to turn against him in the worst way possible. She nearly kills Monroe, refuses any attempts to make her normal, and sets up Nick's mother to be killed by the Royals. At the end of the season, when Nick refuses to kill her, she tries to kill him, only to be killed by Trubel, who knew that Nick wouldn't be able to do it. It's later revealed that Juliette survived, sort of, and becomes an emotionless Hexenbiest assassin working for Hadrian's Wall, a secret government agency dedicated to stopping Black Claw. Meanwhile, Nick starts a relationship with Adalind, who has mellowed out significantly after losing her powers and bearing Nick's child.
  • H₂O: Just Add Water zigs and zags around on this trope with the four different mermaids (and one secret keeper) over the seasons:
    • Cleo and Lewis' troubles have little to do with the masquerade and are more mundane in nature. He's a little too involved in helping that it makes him a poor boyfriend.
    • Emma's boyfriends become pushy over the secret and Emma pushes them away over it (or it causes a huge fight). She only reveals her secret to her second love interest in the last episode.
    • Rikki starts out with the problem of being a mermaid in love with a guy (Zane) who's made it his only mission to prove Mermaids exist. Later he feels that mermaid stuff is coming before him in their relationship. Incidentally, Rikki's closeness to her mermaid sisters is strained when she lets Zane know she is, but doesn't tell them, and forbids him from telling them he knows. So we have a Masquerade in a Masquerade. Bella's initial problems with Will are much along these lines, as he's sure weird stuff is going on and wants the truth (which Rikki, Cleo, Bella, and Lewis don't want him to know).
    • Lewis as secret keeper ends up straining his relationship with Charlotte since he must keep running to Cleo (his ex) and her friends when they are in trouble since he's the only one they trust with their secret. Once that's sorted the only issue in their relationship is Charlotte is a super possessive controlling girlfriend on a mad power trip from having the combined powers of the other mermaids. Nothing can go wrong with that relationship!
  • A staple of Hannah Montana. It's particularly amusing when Miley's date is somewhere in the vicinity of a Hannah event and she chooses (poorly) to attend both engagements simultaneously.
  • Deconstructed on iZombie: Liv breaks up with Major so he won't find out she's a zombie, and the show ultimately portrays this as an extremely selfish decision that ruins his life and puts him in danger.
  • When Lois & Clark start dating, him being Superman puts a serious strain on their relationship, since she doesn't understand why he keeps suddenly running off with terrible excuses. He tries to propose to her several times, only for this super-hearing to pick up someone calling for help or a crime reported on the police band. Things get better after she (finally) figures out his secret identity and they end up getting married.
  • Happens (twice) on Nikita.
    • Three times. This is probably going to be a recurring theme for this series.
  • In Power Rangers Zeo Tommy tries to go out on a date with someone outside the masquerade only to be called away by preparations for the next monster attack. Later he actually gets to the date, only to be called away by an actual monster attack.
  • In Reaper, Andi finds out Sam's secret (him working for The Devil) and stays with Sam.
  • In The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith", Sarah Jane gets a package containing an alien being while her boyfriend is visiting. Fortunately, Clyde and Rani are there to cover for her.
  • Parodied in Saturday Night Live where Danny Devito played a mobster who kept telling his wife that he can't tell her what he does for a living. Not only does she clearly know, but she's advising him on what to wear not to be seen, which gun to use for his hit, and where to dump the body.
  • Has happened to both Clark and Oliver in Smallville.
    • Chloe, whose whole relationship with Jimmy, from beginning to end, was strained by her keeping first Clark's secrets and later, Davis'.
  • In Stargate SG-1: Samantha Carter has difficulty forming lasting romantic relationships for many reasons, including the fact that she secretly travels the galaxy and fights aliens for a living. (Being somewhat Married to the Job and having feelings for her commanding officer probably also have something to do with it, not to mention the fact that we don't call her "Black Widow Carter" for nothing.) The first time she manages to have a stable relationship with anyone outside the masquerade (romantic or not) is with her boyfriend Pete. He finds himself a little put out by her constant secrecy, but being a cop, decides to do some digging rather than forcing a confrontation. He ends up stumbling into the crossfire of a fight with a Goa'uld and getting shot, which leads Sam to give him the whole story while he's in the hospital. He actually accepts it extremely well, but their relationship eventually fails for other reasons.
    • One of their interactions does bring about this great bit of dialogue:
      Pete: I realize this must be weird for you, worrying about place settings when we can be destroyed by aliens at any minute.
      Sam: A little.
      Pete: ... We're not about to be destroyed by aliens, are we?
      Sam: No.
      • Of course, they are right about to be destroyed by aliens, them, and the rest of the galaxy.
  • Suits has obvious attraction between Mike and Rachel, but Mike realizes he can't continue the relationship while hiding the fact he doesn't have a law degree. Harvey orders Mike to end the relationship, and he reluctantly obeys. They later get together and Mike tells her the truth because he decides that he loves her too much to lie to her. She decides to keep his secret.
    • Harvey's relationship with Scotty gets strained because he cannot tell her why he is taking some very unorthodox legal actions. Telling her that his association does not have a law degree and his actions are necessary to maintain that fraud is out of a question since it would put her in a horrible legal and ethical position. It does not help that the last time they dated, she broke off the relationship because Harvey would not open up to her.
  • This happens in Teen Wolf. A Type Three for Scott and Allison. Scott loved to whine and moan about it and pass his masquerade duties on to someone else (mainly Stiles) so that he could try to avert the trope.
  • This happens in Torchwood too. When Gwen's boyfriend Rhys finds out, however, their relationship improves considerably after a bit of awkwardness with the rest of the team.
    Ianto: Well, this is unprecedented, the fiancé finding out.
    Tosh: Mainly because we're all sad and single.
  • Straker's marriage in UFO (1970) was destroyed by keeping SHADO secret from his wife. It didn't help when she caught him meeting with one of the Bridge Bunnies and he was unable to tell her why.
  • This happens in The Vampire Diaries with Stefan and Elena. This is because Stefan kept his identity as a vampire a secret from Elena.
  • On Warehouse 13, Pete's love interest fled the town after being possessed by an artifact that caused her to try and kill him. Thankfully, she stopped him before he used up his one chance to tell someone the truth about his job.
  • On The X-Files, this is a recurring plot point of Scully's of the first few seasons. She tries to go on a few dates, which inevitably get interrupted by a case or Mulder (or both).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Spycraft: The "subplot" mechanic, with about half the standard subplots being about the difficulties caused in your personal life by your spy antics and the other half being about your personal life popping up and messing up missions. It's a lot more entertaining than it sounds.
  • Truth & Justice: "Story hooks" are designed to enable this. Your Qualities (skills and traits) are also your health, so taking damage decreases them — and the first Quality you assign damage to in a fight is your vote for where your plot goes next. Mind that you can have relationships as Qualities. This lead to the joke that you could punch Spider-Man in the Girlfriend and that's why there was always trouble with Mary Jane.
  • World of Darkness: Present in all splats, and enforced for vampires (who have to include mundanes in their social circle to stay alive) and werewolves (who can only breed with mundanes and have mechanically strong basic drives). Tends to be especially bad for werewolves in the New World of Darkness, since their significant other being upset with them over disappearing every night for a quarter of each month and yelling at them about it can sometimes provoke a death rage, which is pretty much what it sounds like.

    Video Games 
  • Barry Steakfries: In the Jetpack Joyride music video "Robot Bird", Barry tells his girlfriend that he is busy fighting the scientists at Legitimate Research, and he's having so much fun doing so. She dumps him at the end.
  • A major reason why Solas in Dragon Age: Inquisition breaks up with the Inquisitor following the conclusion of their romance arc is that he is actually the Dread Wolf of the elven pantheon, The Trickster god supposedly responsible for the fall of the elven empire of Arlathan, and he refuses to get more serious under false pretenses. His plan to collapse the Veil and restore Arlathan at the expense of modern Thedas and everyone in it tends to put a damper on things as well.
  • Averted in the Persona 3 and Persona 4 games from the Shin Megami Tensei franchise. Later into the games, you will actually find your life much much easier if you date/socialize/karaoke/have coffee on a regular basis and cram only for the exams. The dates in Persona 3 are even designed such that you are only required to max out your Knowledge stat by the last quarter of the game.
    • It's more like an inversion - being in SEES or the Investigation Team is the protagonist's "in" with several girls considered highly desirable by the rest of the school.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Hatoful Boyfriend Yuuya is by far the flirtiest of the potential boyfriends, one of the friendliest and the one who shows the most interest in Hiyoko. He's also got a reputation as an "infamous studmuffin". Even the Guys Want Him! But it's quickly evident that he is The Tease - his reputation gives him a good excuse to be absent as much as he is. If pursued he fears for Hiyoko drawing the ire of his enemies and tries vaguely to dissuade her. If she insists and keeps insisting, he inducts her into the world of espionage.

    Web Original 
  • The Mythcreants comic Once Upon A Trope has a little fun with this. A man is forced to stand up his date, claiming his boss demands he do some filing. His date laments this is what he always says as he leaves. Turns out the date is the superhero and has the man's boss call him in for extra duty while she's out saving the world so the masquerade won't kill her dating life.

    Western Animation 
  • Terry McGinnis of Batman Beyond: His steady girlfriend Dana got really sick of being perpetually Stood Up, and his foray into other prospects got him into a Dating Catwoman mess. Luckily for him, Dana eventually comes around, as seen in the Distant Finale the show got in Justice League. She knows his secret identity by then, so at some point, she either figured it out or Terry wised up and just told her.
  • Danny Phantom: Danny and Valerie are type 3. Valerie breaks up with Danny because, ironically, It's Not You, It's My Enemies. (They're a Dating Catwoman pair; Danny knew her other identity, but Valerie was in the dark.)
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: Zig-Zagged via type 3B. Jake meets Rose at the start of his Masquerade, dates her, finds out she's on the other side of it and breaks up with her, gets her back via Heel–Face Turn, she breaks up with him (due to his grandfather warning that the relationship was a distraction), she starts considering getting back together with him, then she gets rewritten in history and Jake is left a wreck. His next two dating prospects at least have the decency to be a disaster right out of the gate.
    • Although, Rose eventually gets her memories back during the Grand Finale, so the door is left open for them to have a happy ending.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Grim in Love" gives us a type 2; Grim falls for and starts dating a goth woman named Malaria, but Mandy points out that she most likely will react badly once she finds out that Grim is not human, let alone the actual Grim Reaper. Grim insists that Malaria will be fine with it, and will still love him. Mandy’s ultimately proven to be right at the end of the episode, as Malaria runs off screaming after Grim reveals the truth to her.
  • Mark's first girlfriend Amber in Invincible (2021) was a Type 1 as she figured out his identity early on but broke up with him because she was hurt that he wouldn't reveal it to her sooner even after she tried to pressure him into it by acting hurt by his need to ditch her during an attack and constantly holding his lateness against him even though she knew exactly why. However, they get back together in the season finale when Amber takes pity on him after he gets his ass handed to him by his Archnemesis Dad on live television.
  • Jem and Jerrica Benton are the same person. Unfortunately, Jerrica's boyfriend Rio doesn't know this, and he falls in love with Jem. If she only told Rio the truth everything wouldn't be so complicated and she wouldn't have to be her own boyfriend's mistress. One episode had her trying to and even ran a simulation to see what would happen, but immediately ditch that plan when Rio exploded in anger. The IDW comics even went with that route when she did reveal her identity.
  • Men in Black: The Series has a pre-MiB girlfriend run into J while he and K are on stakeout. After they kiss a bit, K (who was distracted) neuralizes the girl and tells her to go home.
  • More like the Masquerade Will Ruin Your Friendship, but the same general concept applies to Peter's and Harry's friendship in Ultimate Spider-Man. Peter's inability to tell Harry the truth along with the constant ditching puts a considerable strain on their friendship.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • Marinette Dupain-Cheng has an overwhelming and unrequited crush on classmate Adrien Agreste, while superhero Cat Noir is constantly flirting with, and being rebuffed by, his partner Ladybug. Adrien is actually Cat Noir, while Ladybug is actually Marinette, but neither party knows the other's true identity (the only ones who know are their Kwamis Tikki and Plagg). In episodes like "Oblivio", "Cat Blanc", "Ephemeral" & "Transmission", once the Masquerade is temporarily removed the two hook up almost instantly.
    • Outside of the main Love Square, both heroes deal with this trope in the first two episodes of season 4: Marinette calls things off with Luka when she realizes her duties make it impossible for her to be with him, and Kagami leaves Adrien when he's unable to be honest to her.
    • Season 4 also has Alya secretly remain active as Rena Furtive after she and most of the other heroes had their secret identities exposed to Hawkmoth. Her boyfriend Nino, unaware of this, throws a fit when he witnesses her talking to Chat Noir and leaps to all the wrong assumptions. When she realizes what happened, Alya reveals Rena Furtive's existence to him, betraying Marinette's trust in the process.
  • Phineas and Ferb: In "The Beak", Phineas and Ferb decide to become a bird-themed crime fighting superhero called the Beak; Isabella, who secretly crushes on him, begins to fall for the Beak as well. To avoid putting her in danger, Phineas insists they keep their identity a secret from her at all costs, resulting in a series of lame excuses; this causes Isabella to accuse Phineas of letting her down and abandoning her, to the point he even leaves her four times in a row.
  • Peter from The Spectacular Spider-Man actually subverts this with Liz in the long run. While Peter does have to miss dates or not be an attentive BF as he could because of his duties, Liz just assumes he is busy with work and caring for his aunt. What drives their relationship to end is that Liz realizes that the girl Peter truly loves is Gwen. Foreshadowed in a prior episode when her brother called out Peter for how he has been with Liz. The fact he mentions her being okay with his work gives the implications that the real issue was Peter's own feelings. Sure enough, the next issue has him work in being a more attentive boyfriend, but eventually, she ends it.
  • In Sym-Bionic Titan, Kimmy is fed up with Octus (with Lance and Ilana) "going to the bathroom" all the time, especially when he leaves right before the prom.
  • In W.I.T.C.H., when Matt and Will started dating, he got more than a little suspicious of why she kept running off. Once he found out the reason why, he was more supportive... though, it didn't stop him from wanting to help. By the end of the second season, they evolved into a Battle Couple.

    Real Life 
  • In his autobiography, Have a Nice Day!, Mick Foley recounts having a conversation with a woman he was dating shortly before he was to lose a Loser Leaves Town match in his independent days. Mick tries his best to uphold Kayfabe, dancing around the fact that he would have to leave her when the girl revealed that A) she already knew wrestling was fake, and B) she'd deduced he was going to lose, and leave town because he'd already packed his things in his car.


Video Example(s):


Broken Friendship

(SPOILER WARNING): Lois and Clark have an argument over Clark keeping his Superman identity a secret from Lois. When their argument reaches a boiling point, Lois declares that whatever they had is over, devastating Clark (who'd planned all day to confess his feelings to her). Jimmy begins to doubt his friendship with Clark and Lois, and when both keep ignoring his calls he (unaware of everything happening on their end) decides he doesn't need them.

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