Putting a Label On It
A guide on how to successfully write and/or roleplay a relationship.
Let’s face it, sometimes you stop to look at someones ship and you get that little alarm going off in your head. I’m talking about the one saying, “They just met and they are already getting married so something must be wrong here,”. Yes, that alarm that some of us are very familiar with. You can take or leave my advice, but I am simply giving you ways to pump your ship with a little dose of reality. Have a good read.
The Stages of a Relationship:
"Hi, my name is…"
We’ll begin with the basics of any relationship. We’ll call this “The Big Meet” (pun intended). I don’t personally think that the manner in which you meet someone makes or breaks your relationship and I’ll tell you why. If it’s meant to be then it will be. The first time you meet someone could be a fleeting conversation that doesn’t lead to anything deep or it could be a genuine attempt to get to know you. You’re probably thinking, “Paige, this is fiction,” and you are completely right! If you’re a romantic like me then you will probably want your characters to meet in a very dramatic and memorable way. I can honestly say I don’t blame you on that point.
When you’re gif chatting or writing in paras it is safe to say that your characters are going to engage one another in conversation (unless you’re just having a really boring para about them staring at each other). Let me tell you that your characters aren’t going to love each other and act as if they have known each other their whole lives after exchanging a sentence or two. They might express an interest and flirt if they like each other, but that is it. They aren’t going to get down on their knees and pull out a ring (where the hell did they get a ring) because that would freak anyone out in a situation like that. They’ll talk a bit, laugh if the other is funny, and maybe they will exchange phone numbers to continue this budding acquaintanceship. This is where we move on to the next stage.
My own person experience:
My character, Raya, was having a bad day and decided to study in the school library so that she could avoid any and all distractions. Raya usually wears her heart on her sleeve so you could tell that she was upset. Marcus, being the sweet guy that he is, decided to come up to her and say, “Smile sunshine. You never know who’s life your bringing a little light to,” and then proceeded to walk away. They didn’t talk until three weeks later when they decided to go to a Sadie Hawkins dance together as friends.
Getting to Know Each Other
It starts out with the tentative texting and the occasional phone call to see how you are doing. If they like each other enough the first phone call might be to ask someone on a date. Either way, you are still getting to know each other. Your character may be going on a date or they may be meeting up with mutual friends to hang out, still the fact remains that they are still getting used to the other’s presence in their lives.
Now, don’t get bored because this is where you can kick start things. This is where your character begins to learn things about the other person. You can share funny stories about your characters child hood and life or you can even tell the other about things that your character likes. In return, they will also learn something about the other person. From there, you can play on the other’s interest. If you are dealing with a lover of video games, invite them over to battle it out on your x-box. If they like movies then you can have your character invite them to a film festival. The world of fiction is yours to do with as you wish so take advantage of it. Once your characters get to know each other then you can move to something a little heavier.
Your characters have been getting to know each other better and have probably been hanging out a lot more at this point. It’s getting to the daily call or text and the frequent invitation to dinner. Your character is finding that they really like this person and the feeling is definitely mutual. So how are you going to transition from having a friendship to dating? Now if your characters have already been through the first date stage then you are probably moving on to your fourth date after getting to know each other. Depending on what your character is like and how far the “relationship” has progressed, your characters are probably wondering if they can kiss the other. Its a very awkward stage and I can tell you from experience that the adjustment period is rough.
"Do I tell them that I like them? Do I ask them if they want to take it to the next level?" These are the questions that your character is probably asking, if they are that kind of person. This is the point where the "conversation" happens. It’s that talk about where your character’s current relationship is going. Are they just fooling around? Are they dating? Where do they want it to go? These are the questions that need to be answered in this stage and it can honestly go either way. Your characters can confirm that this is indeed a relationship and that it should continue OR they can confirm that its simply a fling. Simple as that. Confirming the relationship is where we really get to play.
Labels Are a Girl’s (or Boy’s) Best Friend
Congratulations, your character is now in an exclusive relationship (if they didn’t confirm it as a fling, that is). Your characters should be laying a few lip locks on each other and cuddling up at this point. Do NOT confuse this for something deep and heavy, because its not. This is not the point in the relationship where you start talking about kids and a future. This is more of the time when your character starts bringing them around their friends and introducing them as their significant other. Maybe, after a period of time, your character can even invite them to meet their parents. This is a tentative time when you are defining which direction you want this to go in. Your characters like each other, yeah, but do you really want this person to leave an imprint on your characters lives? You character has to consider these things because like I said, this is their life.
At this point you can start thinking about the possibility of sex, if your character doesn’t mind not being in love when two people have sex. Just remember that sex is a big part of any relationship no matter what people say. A couples sexual interactions can truly make or break and if they aren’t sexually compatible or if they don’t truly enjoy sex with that person, then that level of intimacy can never be reached. I will add that sex isn’t the most important part of a relationship, but it should definitely be taken into consideration. Would you really want to spend the rest of your life with someone you don’t enjoy having sex with?
When Things Start Getting Serious
The parents love them. The friends love them. Questions is, does your character love them? This is the stage that can make or break a relationship. Your character might feel that they truly love the other person, but can you imagine how heart breaking it must be to hear that the person doesn’t love them in return? “I love you,” is not something that should be thrown around like a ball in a game of Hot Potato. Not in this situation. This is the stage where both parties must decide if they truly want this person to stay in their life. Uttering those three words can truly change everything. It’s sad and slightly idiotic, I know, but its true. “I love you” is the world’s strongest super glue and it can be a bitch to get off. I will say this though. If your character is ready to take the plunge then take it. You do not want to be stuck with the “what if” because it is the world’s second strongest sticky glue and its hurts like a bitch when you take it off.
If they are in love then good for you. You have successfully reached a high point in your ship. Notice I said A high point and not THE high point because your relationship can go so much further. Marriage? Kids? They are both possibilities that you can feel free to explore and work up to. Your characters have worked from just being friends to lovers. It’s a a journey they took together and trust me when I say, its definitely not over.
What You Should and Shouldn’t Do:
Do: Take your time. You are not in a race (if you are then take bets).
Don’t: Plan out every single move both characters will make. The spontaneity gives the whole experience a special spark.
Do: Be affectionate. There is nothing wrong with a little lovey dovey action. Real men show their women they appreciate them and vice versa.
Don’t: Over-dramatize the relationship. If so and so slept with Stacy’s grandmother’s cousin’s niece’s daughter and now they’re pregnant so your character decides to light so and so’s house on fire to get revenge but its okay in the end, you need to take a few fucking steps back and reevaluate yourself, okay?
Do: Accept that not all ships work out. Coming from the queen of failed ships, I can honestly tell you that sometimes it just doesn’t work out. It’s not anyone’s fault. If it is, fuck them. Your character can do better.
Don’t: Force the ship. No. Bad. Stop it. You cannot force chemistry because it doesn’t work like that. Your characters either like each or they don’t. Simple as that. Don’t go OOC and start trying to tell the other mod to make their character flirt. You’re an asshole if you do that.
These are my opinions on how I think a relationship should be portrayed. Relationships are taken very lightly in the roleplay community and I think that people should try to at least put some work into their ships. It shouldn’t be hand shake then marriage, it should be a beautiful process between two characters that you and another person have created. Treat it with respect.
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