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Playing With / Break His Heart to Save Him

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Basic Trope: Being a jerk to someone so they'll leave you and stay out of danger.

  • Straight: Alice and Bob are together, but Bob leads a dangerous life and knows that she will be in danger too if she stays with him, so he puts on a facade in the hopes that she will stay away from him and from danger.
  • Exaggerated: Bob physically abuses Alice in order to make her leave him, and save her from an enemy he is fighting, who would have raped and tortured her if they had caught her.
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  • Downplayed: Bob acts slightly coldly toward Alice, hoping she will stay out of his secret and dangerous life and ask no questions.
  • Justified: Bob cares too much for Alice to allow her to be put in terrible danger because of him.
  • Inverted:
    • Bob acts even nicer. So she'll stay with him to make it easier to protect her from danger.
    • Alice breaks up with Bob, afraid that if she stays with him, Bob's enemies will come for her.
  • Subverted: Bob initially tries a half-hearted jerkass facade, but Alice immediately sees through it...
  • Double Subverted: ...before he pulls a more convincing one that successfully deceives her.
  • Parodied: Bob's enemy called him out from being a jerk to Alice. He also decided to date Alice and treat her better.
  • Zig Zagged: Bob acts like a jerk to Alice so she will get away from him. Feeling guilt-ridden, he apologizes, and she forgives him. But then he does it again, and she leaves him. He apologizes again, and she comes back. Rinse, lather, repeat.
  • Averted:
    • Bob makes no attempt to keep Alice away from him.
    • Bob breaks up with Alice for other reasons.
  • Enforced: The villain has a sniper trained on Alice and will shoot if Bob does not convince her to leave right then. The only way he can think to do so is to brutally break her heart.
  • Lampshaded: "He's never acted like that to her before; I am sure that he's putting on an act!"
  • Invoked:
    • Charlie is in love with Alice, so he engages Bob in a battle so dangerous that he will be forced to break Alice's heart to save her.
    • Bob's superiors order him to dump Alice, before their enemies can exploit her for their own ends—and Alice's doom.
  • Exploited: Charlie is in love with Alice, and snaps her up as soon as Bob has warded her off.
  • Defied: Bob and Alice say "Screw this! We're in this together!" and trust in the Power of Love to see them through.
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  • Discussed: Bob is concerned that his dangerous life might pose a risk to Alice. He mentions this concern to a friend, who suggests he break up with her to keep her safe.
  • Conversed: ???
  • Deconstructed:
    • Bob acts like a jerk to his best friend Alice so she wouldn't be drawn into his dangerous life. However, since Bob and Alice are good friends, Alice ends up emotionally scarred by Bob's becoming a jerk to her, and since she was betrayed by her closest friend, she feels like she can no longer trust anyone and becomes cold and bitter to the rest of the world.
    • Alice is pissed off when she realizes why Bob is acting like a jerk to her and confronts him about it. She points out that if he wanted her away from the danger, he could have tried actually talking to her about it instead of pulling insane and cruel stunts. His willingness to act like a jerk rather than talk to her convinces her that he is actually a jerk, and she breaks up with him over his condescending lack of respect or faith in her ability to handle matters between them as a reasonable equal, manage her own life, and make her own decisions.
    • Breaking Alice's heart wasn't enough to keep the Big Bad from going after her; all Bob did was push her away from one of the few people that could have kept her safe from danger.
  • Reconstructed: Once the danger has passed, Bob finally lets Alice in on why he acted like a jerk to her. Though it still takes a while, Alice slowly begins to accept him again, and starts to see the world without a jaded perspective.

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