I want the record to stand that I don’t consider myself the moral arbiter of fiction. While I will critique until I am blue in the face, I’m not one of those people that gate-keeps topics or disallows people to use certain tropes, provided there can be an honest and intellectual conversation about them.
That being said….there is one tope in romance that gets on my last nerve: the infidelity trope.
Basically, two characters who obviously have the hots for each other, but are “destined” to be apart because they already have a boyfriend/husband/wife/boo-thing, that they have already committed to.
For one thing, If you have ever been cheated on, it is easy to place yourself in the shoes of the people who are being betrayed. Being stabbed in the back by your significant other is a very traumatic experience. It doesn’t just effect that relationship, it effects the relationships you have with others going forward, both romantic and platonic.
Being cheated on not only causes you to doubt the sincerity of those around you, it causes you to doubt yourself as well. Are you so unloveable you forced your partner into the arms of another person? Did they ever care about you, or was it all a lie? Do those you care about most really love you at all, or are they in it for themselves?
All these questions and more come to the forefront when this happens.
And…the writer expects me to feel sympathy for those that betray their partner’s trust?
There are some cases where this trope is permissible. For instance, if the story takes place during a time period where arranged marriages are the norm, or someone is in an abusive relationship they can’t escape from without risking bodily harm to themselves or others, but those are the exceptions to the rule.
In a modern setting where no abuse is taking place, it just makes no sense that they can’t just pull the plug if they are unhappy.
What makes it worse is when the writer low-key suggests the cucked character deserves to be cheated on for really dumb reasons.
Ex: Karen has a doctorate in psychology and her husband is a manager at Lowes. Obviously she has to cheat on him! There’s no way he could be mentally stimulating enough for her. Poor Karen!
Of course, there is the other side to this too.
Ex: Chad is a guy with ambitions, but his wife sucks! He wants to bang that hot blond he liked in high school instead of his annoying nagging wife. The smoking-hot high school chick believes in his dreams of being a taco truck driver. His wife just wants him to do chores and be home when he says he’s going to be. What a bitch!
Don’t insult my intelligence, writer. Okay, maybe their partner is annoying/dumb/bossy, but your MC is still a piece of shit for cheating on them.
If you are going to have flawed character do flawed things, don’t try to weasel your way out of it. And, most importantly, DON’T TREAT THEM LIKE THEY ARE THE VICTIM WHEN THEY GET CAUGHT AND DUMPED LIKE A HOT POTATO.
I have lost track of all the books I have read where the author had the balls to make the cheater the victim in the situation. THE CHEATER. The person who broke their vow to that person.
You know what? I’m glad your MC feels lonely and terrible. They did a terrible thing. They deserve to feel like they are a bad person and as if they are alone in the universe.
I am so over it.
There are so many other forms of conflict your power-couple can face, you don’t need to use this trope. They could be trapped together somewhere and have to face their demons. They could fall into financial ruin, or be…I don’t know, eaten by a whale or something.
Thank you for reading!