Romance Tropes: 10 Classics That Stand the Test of Time

Feb 13, 2023 | Genre Tips

According to WordsRated, an international, non-commercial research data group, romance novels generate over $1.44 billion in revenue yearly, making romance the highest-earning genre of fiction. Romance was the fastest-growing genre of fiction recently, contributing to 66% of adult fiction growth in 2022.

Basically, 1 in 5 books read is a romance novel.

Romance tropes are everywhere. In Shakespeare, Austen, beloved movies, and your favorite contemporary novels. Tropes are common situations in narratives that help structure a story.

Fans of romances, in particular, tend to be loyal to their favorite subgenres and tropes. Romance tropes come in and out of fashion, and some are loved by some, but hated by others.

The following is a list of 10 of the most famous and time-tested romance tropes, along with examples, for romance novels.


1. Friends to Lovers

The timeless tale of two friends who become attracted to each other and eventually fall in love.

Anne of Green Gables


The Cheat Sheet


2. Enemies to Lovers

The same tale, but this time with two enemies that begrudgingly fall in love.

Pride & Prejudice


Maybe It's You


3. Forbidden Love Romance Tropes

Two people, desperately in love, but forced apart by their families, culture, or geographical distance.

Romeo and Juliet


The Twilight Saga


4. Soul Mates

A couple knows right from the start that they are in love. Their intense bond maintains their resolve to be together while the universe somehow conspires to separate them.

The Princess Bride


From Blood and Ash


5. Meet Cute 

Scenarios where lovers first encounter each other, typically in hilarious, adorable, or serendipitous ways.

Gone with the Wind


Meet Cute


6. Belated Love

The main character is at risk of losing someone they overlooked as a love interest. Only in their absence do they begin to realize what the other character meant to them.

Little Women


Close to You


7. Second Chance Romance Tropes

A couple breaks up only to reunite decades later or maybe a character has been deeply hurt in the past and has spent years avoiding any kind of romantic relationship. Now they will meet or reunite and learn to give love another chance. It’s never too late.

The Notebook

(you know it’s a classic)

The Proposal


8. Fake Relationship

Two people find themselves in a situation where they must pretend to be in love, but in reality, they ultimately fall in love.


(also a classic)

The Love Hypothesis


9. Love Triangle

Main character has to choose between two people, one ends up with a broken heart.

Sense and Sensibility




10. The Bad Boy

A fundamentally-flawed, but usually handsome, male is transformed by a loving and understanding female.

Wuthering Heights




So, here are 10 classic romance tropes that have been used for centuries to delight loyal readers. Readers find tropes relatable. Familiar plot patterns can quickly capture their interest and tap into their idea of universal truths about life.

Use one or more of these tropes in your stories to target reader expectations and encourage them to continue reading your novel.

Which one is your favorite?

1 Comment

  1. Sydney Brianna

    Great post in the spirit of Valentine’s Day!!


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