Enjoying less "healthy" romances

I love unhealthy romances, I wish there were more of them. I have no problem separating reality from fiction, and it’s unfortunate that many would judge those who are into unhealthy relationships in fiction. I don’t see how it’s any different from, for example, liking horror movies: no one seems to assume that if you like serial killers in movies, that means you want to see people killed in real life, so how is that any different from unhealthy romances? It’s one of these things that are fun only in fiction.

Personally, I don’t want unhealthy relationships to be romanticised – I don’t want it to be presented as perfectly acceptable and normal relationships, because that defeats the whole purpose of them: I enjoy them specifically because they’re abnormal. But I also don’t want the game to preach me every five minutes about how horrible that RO and relationship with them are. I guess you could say that I want the unhealthy romance to be well written and balanced, but that goes for absolutely everything: who wants to read any poorly written romance, healthy or not.

Another thing is, I want unhealthy relationship to still include real romantic feelings towards the MC. This is why Jun/ko’s romance is so brilliant: they’re crazy, toxic and abusive, but they’re undoubtedly deeply in love with the MC.


So callisto in a nutshell…

Totally Shipping Callisto with Xena now :joy:

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I am shocked to know that there would be ppl thinking Ava/Adam route is toxic, what a blasphemy

I like that route since A is so stoic but there would be a line or two showing they’re jealous, thats just delicious haha

Tho after the third book, i LOVE N route for him being panicked and try to force us to hide. Sadly he repented just like that :pensive:

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I always reply to these things with “it depends” but whether I’ll enjoy it really does depend on what “toxic” means, sorry to be a broken record.

I’ve played some rival romances, and romanced some characters with dodgy morals, and enjoy both. I’d enjoy a game that was “we’re bad for each other but can’t stay away” or “we’re codependent partners in crime doing bad things together”. The latter is easier to pull off in a game than the former; it’s harder to write the former in a way that doesn’t feel like the PC is being railroaded, I think. I’m not so into a romance where the NPC was simply being horrible to the PC without there being the chance for the PC to stand up for themselves because that feels like it would be one-note. Never say never, though: I might encounter a game with that dynamic that I like one day.

@vera I really do need to romance Hawkins. If you haven’t played Fervency, there are some pretty intense and deranged vampiric/cannibalistic romance interests in that which you might enjoy, as the PC gets to be deranged as well.

I do think that the “red flag” trope thing simplifies and flattens things where there’s the sense of a binary between “wholesome” and “toxic” and never shall the twain meet. No “wholesome” character will ever do anything annoying/harmful or that the PC doesn’t like - only “toxic” characters do that. Which flattens characters to stereotypes rather than making them feel fully-realised, not to mention reducing the possibility of being surprised by a character. (I don’t think anyone’s saying that in this thread - but I see that sort of thing implied or even said outright elsewhere.)


I LOVE YOUR EXPLANATION. Thats exactly what i thought haha, thank youu

I think I enjoyed them immensely because it exaggerated the feeling. I mean, since it is written and we’re entirely reliant on imagination, when the words exaggerate what happen it enhance the feel i got from them. I want to feel that the ro is deeply in love with my mc, and so, yeah like that :sweat_smile:

I am so bad at writing, omg


This is so true, and that’s why I would like to see “unhealthy” elements even in otherwise healthy relationships: I wish we had more opportunities for conflicts with ROs (which could be optional, so people who don’t want them can avoid them). It’s rare for a relationship to be so perfect that the couple never has any disagreements or arguments.


I’m a big fan of toxic romance in general, but I also don’t think arguing with a partner on occasion makes a romance toxic, so I’m definitely more in the camp of… abusive romance?? I suppose? But that also isn’t really entirely accurate to my preferences. I think I prefer codependency and a boundary breaking loyalty in my toxic romance rather than downright malicious intent.

That’s why I think “romanticized” dark romance is interesting most of the time, in the sense that when you’re in such a dependent relationship, it can be very difficult to actually see the unhealthy aspects of your partner. The POV character may want to make excuses for the behavior, and the RO may not even realize that this is a bad thing to do, even if they’re aware it’s not good, either.

I loved Jun(ko) in SOH, though less the violent aspects and more the feeling that neither Jun(ko) or the ronin believed they were ever going to be able to be “better” or let go of their attachment to each other, and therefore they’d rather just end up together. Another character who really personifies this to me is Kuroyuki from the otome Nightshade, who isolates the main character by vaguely telling her the worst parts of the truth (her friends and family may be out to kill her) while keeping the things he knows would get her to want to leave him secret (he’s the reason this happened).

So, yeah! I love toxic romance, and I think a large part of why is the ability to indulge in fantasies and redo things I’ve experienced in real life, but having a degree control over what happens in the story/if I continue to read. It’s also just neat to read a tragedy where two characters may genuinely love each other, but are incapable or unwilling to express that love in normal or healthy ways. ^^


It’s short, sweet and reads utterly dependent. For Hawkins, high-relationship Warrior MC is probably the only person who can fully understand him (he’s gender-selectable, but I use male pronouns for him) and the only person to actually sway his heart, affect him so much deeper in comparison to other people. Cruel ace turms into a slushie when MC is nearby - it’s both cute and only possible if MC doesn’t value human life in the slightest.

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Never thought I’d see another Kuroyuki fan! He’s what sold me on toxic romances lol.

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Absolutely, definitely one of my guilty pleasures too. If I play a game with a safe, established romance preset at the start of the game I usually make it my mission to forsake it as soon as possible in the story. Some of my favorite games have less healthy romances, such as Cardinal Cross, Demon Heart, and Life is Strange. I think less healthy romances make for interesting dynamics that allow for more tension and plot, though for those that are writing and coding, it is good to have a variety of romances available - something for everyone . . . more healthy romances can work too, though I think you need to have really engaging characters in that case that the reader/player will be more sympathetic too.


Oh damn!! I’m surprised to see another one too! He’s really such a delight, and the game does a great job of making you believe what he’s saying depending on when you do his route! The later the better, since there’s no reason to think they won’t be trying to kill MC on this specific route. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Reading this thread has been such a roller coaster for me, because on the one hand, I don’t like toxic romances at all, but on the other, it’s so much fun to romance a complete asshole, only for the MC to out-asshole the villain. If you’re not giving me the chance to betray and/or take away the RO’s most treasured person (or thing), then you better not give me a toxic romance.

I think that’s the roleplay that I find the most attractive. Irl, the minute we discover someone’s toxic, we talk it through with our therapist and leave with our heads held high and our hearts intact. But wouldn’t it be so much fun to do the opposite? We’d be that couple whom no one likes to invite to dinner because we’re so unpredictable. Will we try to hook up in the closet? Will we try to poison each other? Will we simply sarcastically tear down each other’s greatest accomplishments while toasting to them? The Jun thing didn’t work out for me because the assholery was one-sided. Boooring.

Oh, basically the Fallen Hero books, right? I mean, yeah, we have a tragic past and all, but what’s worse than manipulating the person you love by seducing them as someone else, or offering to give fighting lessons to the person who has a massive crush on you, only to put them in the hospital every time you actually go head to head? Surprisingly the least toxic romance there is with Argent, which confirms my theory that red flag x red flag = perfection!


It legit scares me, how much I end up gravitating to the red flags ROs in games. I don’t even plan it, it just happens.

I think the unhealthiness of being with such characters creates a sense of forbiddenness- the thrill of wanting something you can’t or shouldn’t have. It’s like that one analogy that goes ‘Don’t press the big red button’ but you weren’t thinking about pressing it until it was brought to your attention, now it’s ‘If I don’t press the red button, I’ll never know what happens if I do’. Unfortunately, I’m the one who’s going to press that button and cause the nukes to start flying.

Manerkol, Jun any villain of any IF, I’m there for it.


I like them even more when it isn’t one sided. I understand for plot reasons; the whole point of the red flag is because MC is the one who will be put through some crap if they try to romance that specific character. But I’d like to be the red flag once in a while, or be just as much of a red flag as the Love Interest (Possesive, Jealous, Hot and Cold, Yandere). I wish more writers gave this option.


I think unhealthy RO’s are more popular than we think,the people who like them are usually just quiet about it for fear of being chastised or whatever. I love love loveee freaks and there’s only like 3 IFs that have them :pleading_face:. Please …more sick and twisted mfs :heart_hands::heart_hands:


The first and ultimate FAVORITE unhealthy Romance IF I ever read was:

Kill Your Boss- A BL Visual IF (Maybe Interactive)

The LI Logan had me in a headlock. :weary: He was literally the definition of toxic, but I loved his character, He was the reason I played 10 times and bought every diamond choice without a second thought. The second LI Riam, woo, he was messed up too but MC was able to take control. The last one, Noah, is for those who love a green flag. He was a sweetheart.

Be warned if you check it out, it’s UNHEALTHY!! But I 10/10 recommend if you can handle violence, explicit sexual content and a TON of action (guns, explosions, blood)


I think i actually started to play that game and then for some reason i just…forgot about it LOL. I’ll pick it back up now, you have persuaded me :relieved:

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Yep. I was thinking about Sidestep x Herald when I wrote it :grin: My favourite example of this trope.

Also romance in Demon, Fireforged can be exciting. MC is huge red flag.

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To be fair, as much as I complain about hating Jun/Ko, I would have probably enjoyed it if the MC hadn’t been forced to be “in wuv” with him and defend him at every turn. Had the MC been allowed to hate him and fight him, with him somehow wearing the MC down with mind-fuckery where he’s sweet one moment and psycho the next, I’d have probably been all over it. But enslaving my MC and saying my MC loves him? Yeah, no. As far as I’m concerned, that series ended at b4. I may be a completionist, but I have my limits and that game trounced all over them.

I agree with this completely. This is also another reason I take a huge stance against games with doormat MCs–for some people, immersing themselves in such a character can do a lot of damage. Fully immersing yourself in a story where the MC suffers constant and unending emotional abuse is not a good thing.

Yeah, I can play a toxic romance as long as there is something redeeming about it and progress toward it becoming less toxic. M’s romance in Wayhaven skirts the line of toxicity with the way the MC has been treated, and sometimes stomps over that line (the slam pig comment, the hot and cold treatment, etc.), but the latter 1/3 of b3 that all stopped and it became healthier. A, on the other hand, is flat out toxic and emotionally abusive–I know the toxicity will eventually stop (by end of b4, had I to bet), but through b3, it’s pretty damned toxic.

You and me both!


Happy to announce that this was the post that finally made me crack and buy Mecha Ace, and now me and at least one friend of mine whom I live-blogged the experience to will also shill Hawkins with you. That romance path was SOMETHING and I enjoyed every second of it. ^^


I am a street preacher and my tribune is every thread mentioning toxic romances. Cheers for murderous husbands / wives / husband and wife!