1. Marriage is no excuse for not loving.
The concept of a loveless marriage is a potent one in fiction. Why would two characters be together if they didn’t love? The reasons are numerous, but they are almost always catalysts for getting the real couple together. Most loveless marriage examples I can think of are on soap operas, but if you have others be sure to share them.
2. He who is not jealous cannot love.
Jealousy is a also a very strong plot device. It is the motivator to propel a story forward or to throw an obstacle in its path. In many instances, the jealousy is something that causes character flaws to appear or for a relationship to be tested. J.D. Robb actually tackled this one in a new and intriguing way when an old flame of Eve's showed up early on in the series. It peeled back more layers to Roarke, deepening both Eve's and our understanding of the character.
3. No one can be bound by two loves.
The love triangle is a particularly strong plot device. But the concept of passionate love for two different individuals is one that modern romantic sensibilities struggle with. Even in a ménage storyline, one expects that there is always a ‘favorite’ or one who was meant to be.
4. Love is always growing or diminishing.
This rule is simple yet has a complex effect on story lines and characters. Feelings can be nurtured or neglected. Personal perceptions can be overcome and who two people are at the beginning of a journey may not be who they are at the middle or near the end. Look at Jeremy and Bonnie on The Vampire Diaries. In the first season, Jeremy was not remotely a possibility as a romantic interest for Bonnie. That relationship had to grow, the feelings of the two had to increase. It took time on the journey to achieve even those first baby steps on the way to a real relationship.
5. It is not good for one lover to take anything against the will of the other.
This rule seems to be more a code of behavior rather than of love itself and the most recent example of this was once again The Vampire Diaries (yes, I love my show), but when Damon forced Elena to drink his blood to assure himself that she could die permanently, it took from Elena the right to make her own choice.
6. A male cannot love until he has fully reached puberty.
7. Two years of mourning for a dead lover are prescribed for the surviving lovers.
For Damon on The Vampire Diaries this was a journey that took 145 years, not only to mourn the loss of “Katherine,” but also to foster the hope that he could save her. Katherine’s betrayal, by not being in the tomb, was a brutal moment in Damon’s grief. It laid bare the ideal that he had mourned a liar, it also opened him up to new possibilities.
8. No one should be deprived of love without a valid reason.
On television, a successful relationship often means back burner storylines and no front burner scenes. I.E. a happy couple without conflict is considered a boring entertainment. This argument created severe tension between fans of the television show Bones and the writers as they saw missed opportunities for Booth and Brennan to be together. I think the challenge needs to be met that the onus against that option is as constricting as worrying about lack of storyline if the characters are together.
9. No one can love who is not driven to do so by the power of love.
True love can redeem even the most villainous of characters. They might complain every step of the journey, but they will be driven to do the things they do because of the love they feel. Several characters are representative of this on television and in books:
- Damon Salvatore, The Vampire Diaries
- Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Eric, Southern Vampire Mysteries
- Cara, Legend of the Seeker
10. Love always departs from the dwelling place of avarice.
Couples break up over the heinous acts or choices of a partner. Matt, for example, chose to leave Caroline because he couldn’t handle her supernatural life and existence as a vampire.
11. It is not proper to love one whom one would be ashamed to marry.
Moral and ethical crises can be a great source of storyline material. Elena on The Vampire Diaries is struggling with her feelings for Damon because she doesn’t always like him, similarly Sheriff Forbes has struggled with the concept that her daughter was a vampire, something she has been taught to hate her whole life. But how can she hate her own child?
12. The true lover never desires the embraces of any save his lover.
It’s hard to imagine someone moving on from the person they “love” but sometimes, when you can’t be with the one you love, you love the one you’re with, particularly if you are trying to stay away from your true love as Angel did on Buffy and as Booth tried to do for Brennan when she said she couldn’t handle a relationship on Bones.
13. Love rarely lasts when it is revealed.
Unrequited love provides a powerful and provocative romantic inducement for readers and audiences alike. Damon on The Vampire Diaries actually “revealed” his love to Elena in the episode Rose and then made her forget. He loved her enough to let her go, but only to his brother. His later declaration that “I will always choose you,” was enough to make even the most cynical of hearts swoon.
14. An easy attainment makes love contemptible: a difficult one makes it more dear.
The more obstacles a couple must overcome, the more vital they are to the audience. The trick here is to not create so many obstacles that people believe the couple will never, ever get together (ala Bones). On Smallville, Clark and Lana finally managed it and later, so did Clark and Lois. The obstacles should strengthen the couple’s feelings, not leave the reader (or audience) feeling jerked around.
Skipping ahead to rule 31. Nothing prevents a woman from being loved by two men or a man from being loved by two women.
The romantic triangle is at the heart of many stories whether it’s Damon/Katherine/Stefan, Stefan/Elena/Damon, Hannah/Booth/Bones, Motorcycle Boy/Beckett/Castle, Jacob/Bella/Edward, Bill/Sookie/Eric, Jace/Faythe/Marc – it’s the love story that compels readers and viewers.
Have our views of romance and romantic actions truly changed that much in the last eight centuries? Not really. We believe in love, in fighting for love and in lovers being united against all odds. At the end of the day, it’s that happily ever after that we want for our favorite couples and ourselves.