Carrie’s Top 10 Most Hated Romantic Cliches

Carrie’s Top 10 Most Hated Romantic Cliches

Figure 1. Shirtless lanky man walking through my kitchen in a towel? No problem with that cliche. None whatsoever.

Figure 1. Shirtless lanky man walking through my kitchen in a towel? No problem with that cliche. None whatsoever.



Because you were all burning up to know them, right? Feel free to comment with your own…

1. Principal love interests meet by accidentally “bumping” or “crashing” into each other. Usually involves the spilling of books, bags of groceries or some other bulky parcel, and both parties becoming acquainted as they jointly collect up the dropped items.

2. Male offering a garment (coat, sweater, letter jacket, etc.) to female because she is cold or in distress. Often followed by male’s comment of “You’re shivering!” or “Your hands are ice cold!” 

3. Male sweeping up female and carrying her over threshold. Also includes any variation of this sentence: “He swept her up into his arms, saying, as she protested, ‘Why, you’re as light as a feather!'”

4. Any type of intimate musical exchange between principal love interests. Examples: piano or singing duets, acoustic guitar, window or balcony serenades.

5. Offers to slow dance that occur when there is no dance floor in sight. Often involves character asking “May I have this dance?” in affected, unnatural manner, in an incongruous locale (a living room, a swimming pool, the Brooklyn Bridge).

6. Marriage proposals that are made on bended knee and/or proclaimed loudly in public situations e.g. a big party, the Jumbotron at Wrigley Field. Use of middle names in either case is also wretched: 
“Jennifer Maria Schmuckatelli, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”
      “Yes, Jonathan Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt! Yes! I will marry you!”

7. Use of the phrase “table for two” when entering a restaurant. Further restaurant no-no’s include: the man ordering for the woman (“The lady’ll have the pasta primavera…”), violins serenading tableside, and characters buying dinner companions a rose from a roving flower salesperson.

8. Situations that force principal love interests into sharing a bed or sleeping quarters: 
“There are no other rooms in the hotel!”
“We are trapped in this remote cabin in the wilderness and a terrible blizzard is coming!”
  “Due to clerical error, we booked the same compartment on the night train to Katmandu!”

9. Conversations about circumstances and details surrounding a “kiss” between two parties. This can be between the principal love interests or between one of the principals and a rival:
“Come on, Ramona! Did you even mean it when you kissed me the other night?”
“So, you kissed Barbara, too? You just kiss every girl you meet, then?”
“Oh, Enrique! That kiss with Larry didn’t mean anything. With you, it’s different…”

10. Slow disrobing from a distance between principal love interests prior to intimate contact.
This only happens on television, because it looks better that way.


  • Carrie Mesrobian on May 24, 2013 Reply

    I think that is the primal scene of #8. Or the origin of it?

  • Elizabeth Fama on May 23, 2013 Reply

    Aw, darn. The Walls of Jericho scene was so cute in “It Happened One Night.” But that would be #8.

  • Carrie Mesrobian on May 23, 2013 Reply

    You totally should try it. My favorite thing about cliches is how much fun it is to reinvent them.

    • Matthew MacNish on May 27, 2013 Reply

      Whatever you do, never visit the website Ever.

  • Charity Tahmaseb on May 23, 2013 Reply

    I have the urge to take this list and work each trope into a story of no more than 5,000 words. I am trying to resist that temptation. But I think it would be a blast.

  • Kristen Lippert-Martin on May 23, 2013 Reply

    I hate it when a guy is interested in a girl and she’s all like, “I’m a mess! My head is up my ass right now for reasons I won’t explain” and instead of buggering off, the dude sort of hangs around, either waiting for her to get her shizz together or enabling her to do so all the while making solicitous comments about how she’s really beautiful inside and shouldn’t let her demons overcome her. (I’m thinking here of “Bridesmaids.”) THAT NEVER HAPPENS IN LIFE.

    Also, when girl is standoffish at first but friends/romantic interests are never put off by her behavior and keep pursuing her in this tender, “I’m just concerned about you” way. ALSO NEVER HAPPENS.

    But on your list, #4 bugs me the most. Oh! But I would love it if a couple worked together in a abattoir and they broke down a cow carcass together, all set to music. Wouldn’t that be the sexytimes?

  • Matthew MacNish on May 23, 2013 Reply

    11. Scottish sword-mongers who are excellent swimmers.

    • Carrie Mesrobian on May 23, 2013 Reply

      You are stuck on that, aren’t you? I couldn’t even finish that book.

    • Matthew MacNish on May 27, 2013 Reply

      I am stuck, yes. For some reason that got me very excited (in a literal, artistic sense, not in an aroused sense). I actually think I want to read that book (probably not though).

  • Carrie Mesrobian on May 23, 2013 Reply

    One thing students do is defend their favorites on this list! I’m always surprised by this, but I shouldn’t be. People like what they like and are influenced by their own life events.

    I should have added the proviso – these cliches will not appear in any romantic writing I ever do. Not that I want to stamp them out from the earth or anything!

  • Suzanne Stenson O'Brien on May 23, 2013 Reply

    I’m partial to number 1. My husband and I actually met this way.

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