I absolutely love ships where one character is usually serious and distant, but when they talk to that one person, their voice turns soft and gentle and is suddenly filled with fondness that they don’t show to anyone else.
Ya know what really annoys me?? What really grinds my gears???
It’s when writers give us a Male Main Character and a Female Main Character and then just expect us to want them to be together purely on the basis of them being, well, the Male MC and the Female MC. See, the reason why so many people in Tumblr fandoms reject the Standard Heterosexual Romance is because writers are too often SUPER LAZY when it comes to “filling in the blanks” (rather, they expect us to do it for them.) Blushing and pining and staring can only progress a relationship so far. Writers have to give the characters a genuine basis for a strong emotional bond, or else it all seems forced for the sake of a tired-out romantic subplot. Moreover, real relationships aren’t static. They change, and they deepen. When a relationship doesn’t do that over the course of the story, it just feels rigid.
Example: The Legend of Korra. Mako and Korra vs. Korra and Asami.
Mako and Korra ended their relationship in Season 2 mostly because it was static. In other words, they both knew dragging out their romantic relationship any further would be pointless. What came between them in the first season came between them later on in the second: Korra’s impatience, Mako’s indecisiveness. There was no longer room for their relationship to develop. Also: For all the criticism of Korrasami being “rushed,” let’s not forget how rushed the romance was in Season 1 — that is, the cloying and uncomfortable insta-love that happened with Ma//korra and Ma//sami.
Korra and Asami, however, developed their relationship over the course of two seasons, as much as some would still like to deny that. It was founded in a deep friendship first, and ultimately culminated in a believable romance. Season 3 spent time pairing them together in moments and situations that would deepen their bond, whether it was a friendly discussion about past romantic blunders, emotional support after a traumatic experience, or working together to figure their way out of an impossible situation (i.e. traversing a vast desert with a giant monster at their heels.) The writers made us want them to be together by the end, because it felt logical and real.
So many other examples, too! Kids on the Slope, Kill la Kill,RWBY etc.
Why would I ship Kaoru and Ritsuko when the story centers more on the relationship between Kaoru and Sentaro? It is their story and bond that most interests the audience. Kaoru and Ritsuko have little basis for a relationship at all, and it feels a little unsatisfying and unearned for them to be together.
Another! Ryuko and Mako. Regardless of the apparent crush Gamagori has on Mako, it doesn’t change the fact that Ryuko and Mako have a genuine attachment to each other, and support each other and rely on each other in a multitude of ways. Almost everything Ryuko does concerns Mako in some aspect, and vice versa. (And they’re canon? But no one seems to realize this?? Why???)
Last one! RWBY’s Blake and Yang. Why the writers of this show are trying to half-assedly push relationships like Blake/Sun and Weiss/Neptune on us will always be beyond me. Both pairs are based on, as I mentioned before, “blushing and pining and staring” without any real emotional depth or any basis for a relationship. Blake and Yang, however, have been shown to have a very complex and variable relationship. They went from strangers with little in common, to teammates, to friends, and finally to something more complicated than that. While Blake and Sun have few interactions, and share only the common aspect of being faunus, Blake and Yang’s interactions are way more meaningful than that. Such as when Yang confronted Blake about her obsession with stopping Torchwick, and when Blake told Yang why it was difficult for her to put her faith in people close to her.
Does this mean heterosexual couples are inherently bad? Of course not! Some great examples of when it’s done right: Royai, Shinkane, Kazubisha, Eremika, Yatori, Touken, Edwin, etc. Pairings with solid and realistic foundations, ones founded in respect, trust, and mutual benefit.
Romance writing is only “bad” when it’s LAZY, when the writers expect something from us as an audience based off of weak or nonsensical reasoning. So…there ya go.