Romance Tropes

We all have those stories we naturally gravitate toward, but don’t always have the name for why. What inherent plot structure is calling to us? Occasionally, people toss out names, but what do they really mean and did you actually sign up for all it entails?

You might be asking yourself “What exactly is a trope?” or even better, “I thought tropes were bad?”

  1. A trope, specifically a romance trope, is a plot device or theme used within a romance novel giving a recognizable starting point to the story that a reader can recognize. Though many romance books can use one common romance trope, it is their storylines and characters that differentiate each book using this common plot device. [definition courtesy of]
  2. Tropes are not inherently bad. But, like all writing, due diligence and respect should always be front and center.

It also bears noting that there are several romance sub-genres: Historical, Rom/Com, Erotic, New Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Young Adult… I think you get the idea.

Now the tropes! I won’t call this a comprehensive list, because there are more tropes than hours in a day, maybe minutes–heck, maybe seconds! They are constantly shifting, evolving…multiplying. The good news is that most are self-explanatory.

I’ll be building this list over time so that it can be thorough, accurate, & most importantly, FUN. So be sure to check back! I’ll also be including links to some of my favorite examples as well as what stories of mine have them.

Abbreviation Guide

MC = Main Character

LI = Love Interest

Find My Trope

Enemies to Lovers/Rivals to Lovers:

Best friends to Lovers/Childhood friends to Lovers: The MC & LI have an established relationship as friends, whether that’s been since childhood or not quite that long. Something happens to tip the balance from platonic to romantic. Once lines are crossed, there’s no going back.

Secret Baby

Fake Dating

Age Gap

Forced Proximity

One Bed

(You might be noticing at this point, there’s quite a bit of overlap.)


Second Chance

Fated Mates/Soulmates





Billionaire/Secret Billionaire (though, idk how you keep that a secret)




Marriage of Convenience


Neighbors to Lovers




Jilted at the Altar


Single Parent





Small Town

Surprise Pregnancy


The Dare/The Bet

Time Travel

The Virgin


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