Relationship Thesaurus Entry: People Who Are Dating

Successful stories are driven by authentic and interesting characters, so it’s important to craft them carefully. But characters don’t usually exist in a vacuum; throughout the course of your story, they’ll live, work, play, and fight with other cast members. Some of those relationships are positive and supportive, pushing the protagonist to positive growth and helping them achieve their goals. Other relationships do exactly the opposite, derailing your character’s confidence and self-worth or they cause friction and conflict that leads to fallout and disruption. Many relationships hover somewhere in the middle. A balanced story will require a mix of these dynamics.

The purpose of this thesaurus is to encourage you to explore the kinds of relationships that might be good for your story and figure out what each might look like. Think about what a character needs (good and bad), and build a network of connections for him or her that will challenge them, showcase their innermost qualities, and bind readers to their relationship trials and triumphs.

People Who Are Dating

Dating involves two people meeting socially, typically in an effort to identify a life partner. This is the early part of a romantic relationship, where those involved are getting to know one another by spending time together—very often, before much physical intimacy occurs. These dates are an opportunity to evaluate their compatibility and one another’s suitability for marriage, which is oftentimes the objective of courtship.

Relationship Dynamics
Below are a wide range of dynamics that may accompany this relationship. Use the ideas that suit your story and work best for your characters to bring about and/or resolve the necessary conflict. 

Two people who are eager to get to know each other
Two people who are highly compatible and interested in the same things
Two people who are very different, reinforcing the idea that opposites attractOne party portraying an image that isn’t an accurate reflection of who they are
A relationship that remains superficial, as those involved avoid topics that might ruin things
Both parties wanting it to work out so badly that they’re blind to the other person’s faults
Either party entering the relationship with recent, unresolved baggage (a breakup, the death of a loved one, being fired from a coveted job, etc.)
An uneven relationship, where one party wants more from the other person or wants to move more quickly

Challenges That Could Threaten The Status Quo
The other person needing to relocate for work, school, or familyOne party discovering that the other is seeing multiple people
An ex coming back into one’s life
One party failing to bond with a love interest’s children or pets
Secrets from one party’s past coming to light
One party becoming controlling, manipulative, or abusive
One person’s family or best friends not approving of the love interest
Being offered a job or school opportunity that requires increased focus, time, or energy
One party grappling with their sexual or gender identity
One party feeling pressured to change to stay in the love interest’s good graces
Medical or mental health needs arising that the other person isn’t prepared to handle
Discovering incompatible views on life choices (sex, marriage, children, morals, etc.)
One party facing financial difficulties 
Learning something unsettling about the other party (they’re related to someone infamous, suspecting them of criminal activity, etc.)

Conflicting Desires that Can Impair the Relationship
Both parties disagreeing on the frequency or type of communicationOne party wanting children while the other does not
One or both parties not being ready to commit or advance the relationship
One party losing romantic interest
Both parties holding onto differing religious beliefs while expecting the other to change
One party wanting a career that the other does not support
One party wanting to date others or bring an outside party into the relationship
One party wanting control over the other person

Clashing Personality Trait Combinations
Abrasive and Oversensitive, Controlling and Independent, Inflexible and Spontaneous, Proper and Rebellious, Adventurous and Timid, Extroverted and Introverted

Negative Outcomes of Friction
Arguments and fights
Experiencing anxiety or diminished self-worth
Being dumped
Staying in a less-than-ideal relationship because the character believes it’s better than being alone
Losing relationships with people who disapprove of the romantic relationship
The relationship becoming imbalanced (in the level of romantic interest, power, etc.)
Ghosting the other party 
Not attending gatherings where disapproving friends or family will be present, and missing out
Changing oneself to please the other person and losing sight of one’s identity

Fictional Scenarios That Could Turn These Characters into Allies
Discovering a mutual dislike of the same person
Sharing an important hobby or interest
Embracing an unplanned pregnancy
A geographical relocation that benefits both parties
Having a shared business interest
One party stepping into a dangerous situation for the other
One party supporting the other through a difficult time
Both parties sharing an important secret

Ways This Relationship May Lead to Positive Change
Mutual love and respect leading to compromise and increased satisfaction
Trying new activities and expanding one’s comfort zoneBoth parties expanding their knowledge of one another’s culture, religion, nationality, etc.
Taking a leap of faith and being rewarded for it
Discovering a new hobby or favorite pasttime
One party becoming more like the other (in a positive way)
Learning what it means to be imperfect, and loving someone anyway
Finding peace through extending forgiveness and grace

Themes and Symbols That Can Be Explored through This Relationship
Beginnings, Betrayal, Endings, Family, Friendship, Innocence, Isolation, Journeys, Love, Stagnation, Teamwork, Vanity, Violence, Vulnerability



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