Friends, not love interests

29. Juli 2015 Schreiben lernen


There’s some saying that no matter what, when you put two people in a room together, people will want them to fall in love. Tumblr is proof that they don’t even need to be in the same universe. So no matter what you do, if you’re writing two people as friends and not romantic interests (especially if one is male, the other is female), there will still be readers who want them together.

That said, here’s what you can do to minimize that chance.

  • Go easy on the flirting, which may include teasing. Friends can tease each other, but be aware of what the subject matter is. Steer away from teasing that one likes the other. Likewise, be aware of their friends’ dialogues. Don’t have a mutual friend say “when are you two finally going to date?!” and they object “it’s not like that!” because that sounds suspiciously like foreshadowing.
  • Keep physical contact innocent. They can hug and hold hands, because some friendships are like that. But not all friendships. Don’t have hugs linger, don’t have fingers brush against each other. And maybe it’s not physical, but don’t have smoldering eye-to-eyes. Word choice like that has a sensual connotation, so be aware of what effect your diction will have.
  • When one describes the other, keep it tame. Don’t talk about his handsome face or the way his lips curl when he smiles. In general, focusing on the more tender spots of another’s body (such as the lips or neck) will come off as more sensual. Language like that is typically reserved for romantic relationships. They can find their friend attractive, but you’re more likely to describe your friend as “dorky” than “dreamy.” So watch your word choice.
  • If one of them is your main character, then don’t have them think in that direction. Don’t have them explore the possibility—maybe don’t even mention it. I mean, you can. Maybe you could give a background like “I thought it was a crush, but after a few weeks I realized he was just my best friend” or something. But if you don’t mention the possibility, a reader should be less likely to consider it.

If it’s applicable:

  • Express interest elsewhere. Maybe one of them has another love interest, even if it’s just a crush. Then it shows they are capable of having romantic feelings, they just don’t have any directed towards their friend.
  • Make them romantically or sexually incompatible. Self-explanatory. Still, even if you choose this it’s important to consider all the above tactics as well, because you will always have readers who think one will “fix” the other or something stupid if your connotation and word choice is making it seem like they have a not-just-friends chemistry.

To summarize, watch your word choice. The descriptions you use will shape how a reader interprets the characters’ feelings towards each other. Connotation can work wonders, so be aware of the tone you’re writing out between them!


(Update: I hear a decent amount of disagreement about this post, so let me clarify a few things.

First, your readers will always make assumptions that you don’t intend. Often, they pick up on tiny hints in your word voice, so you  should be aware of your connotation and how it might sway a reader’s interpretation. They’ll think you’re purposely trying to set something up when in reality, you’re not. Later, they might be confused/frustrated when this assumed plot point is seemingly “dropped” with no explanation.

These tips are just pointing out ways to avoid being overly and accidentally misleading. 

Second, friendships are very unique to certain individuals. Some friendships will be more physical than others–even something typically more romantic, like cuddling or kissing, might be normal. Some friendships do lean more toward romance/romantic friendships. It’ll depend on the situation, too. A lingering hug might be a right fit during a heartfelt moment. It all depends on your specific friendship. This post focused on broad and most typically common distinctions between friendship and romance.

Third, I’m sorry if this post seems to imply romance is “better” than friendship–because it’s not. Both are important and both should be seen for what they are: an unique and irreplaceable relationship between two (or more) people. Both will have intimate moments, but there’s usually a difference between sexually/sensually intimate moments and emotionally intimate moments. Do NOT interpret this post as advice to “downplay” your friendship in fear of people assuming it’ll turn romantic. People will assume anyway, so be true to your character’s unique relationship. I’m just saying to watch your word choice.)