Relationships

Relationships

How to RP Romance (Without Being Creepy)

This guide is paraphrased from the user Urara on Lord of the Craft (a minecraft site and forum), originally published on Sept 12, 2012. It can be seen in its original form Here

Relationships can be fun, as long as all involved parties are respectful of each other. No matter what happens ICly, this guide is intended to prevent OOC creepiness and drama which can not only be destructive to players involved and their RP, it can be harmful to the game as a whole including other players. If everyone is having fun, great, but lets not be creeps. Creeps are not welcome on this game.

HOW TO HANDLE ROMANCE RP OUT-OF-CHARACTER

OOC RULE #1:

Seeking out your love interest – Consider your reasoning and respect others boundaries.

So! You’ve decided that your character needs to find a love interest. Well, that’s just great. So it’s time to start scouring the lands to find your character’s twu wuv. Obviously, what you need to do is hang around the Idle Lounge or Pub Channel, begging every single person who logs in to be your girlfriend/boyfriend.

In case you couldn’t tell there, I was being sarcastic. Seriously, don’t do that.

First of all, no character “needs” a love interest. If you get approved to play a character on the game, odds are that you’ve created a fairly balanced one at that with an interesting story and lots of potential. If you think you NEED a romance to make your RP interesting, you are not doing it right. There’s more than one type of RP, after all. – there’s plenty to do in game that does NOT require an IC girlfriend/wife or boyfriend/husband. If you’re looking for a love interest just for the sake of RPing romance and any old person will do, you are doing it wrong and probably are in the wrong place as that isn't the focus of the stories here.

The best and most natural way to seek out potential romance RP partners is to just go about doing your RP as you usually would. Is your character a soldier? Well, just continue being a soldier. Go do things they might do normally, go train, go take some leave to get the last mission off your mind, go joke about the CO with some of your fellow soldiers. Get to know the people in your town/unit/whatever it is you live in or where ever it is you frequently haunt. Perhaps you’ll meet a cool person IC. Going out and aggressively flirting with every person in playing a female (or gender of preference) is a faux pas. Not only does it let the people you’re flirting with know that you don’t ACTUALLY care about them (after all, any character will do!) but it makes you look weirdly desperate. People who act desperate for IC relationships give off creepy OOC vibes. That will make it less likely that you find someone actually willing to RP with you.

You must also keep in mind that your character’s love interest is going to become one of your primary RP partners. A properly RPed romance is going to take an investment of time; up to an including alternating public scenes with friends and groups outside of the partnership and private scenes with this romantic interest. So make sure that the person you’re roleplaying with is someone you enjoy talking to. It’s good that you like both the character and the person behind him or her. If you end up in a romance with someone you dislike or feel annoyed by OOC, it’s just going to suck. Think of the people you enjoy RPing with the most. What do you enjoy about them? Try to look for those qualities in any potential RP partners.

Also, a note on boundaries: if a person says “no”, respect them. If they say “please leave me alone”, whether IC or OOC, you DO it. IC harassment is STILL harassment.

OOC RULE #2:

Understand your partner! Communicate!

The cardinal rule of all working relationships is to communicate! Use your words, as they say!

So you’ve found a person you get along with IC and enjoy RPing with IC. You think this person would make an awesomesauce RP partner. There’s no harm in contacting them OOC (using OOC when RP'ing or if they've +friend'ed you, pages) and asking “Hey, so…about our characters. Where do you think their relationship is going?” Now, if this person says, “I don’t really want to start an RP romance with you”, it’s your job to gently back off and go back to how your RP was. You should NEVER demand someone RP a romance with you and, if they say no, you have NO right to be mad. That’s called an “entitlement complex” and it is not an attractive feature. You are not ENTITLED to an RP girlfriend/boyfriend and demanding someone RP a romance with you is just gross and creepy. Creeps are not welcome

However, if your RP partner replies with a “HAY YEAH, THAT SOUNDS AWESOME”, you’re good to go. However, this does not give you license to just RP whatever romantic shizz you want. Your partner is not just a prop you now get to flirt with and sometimes emote smooching with. There is a living human being behind that character and, as such, that human being may have things he or she is uncomfortable with.

For instance, maybe your RP partner is married in RL! Or in a steady relationship! In that case, you have to take into consideration not only the boundaries of your RP partner, but their significant other. Your RP partner might say “I’m okay with a little flirting and hugging, but I think RP making out is creepy.” Or “my significant other isn’t comfortable with me fading to black* with you. ” In those cases, it’s critical that you show respect for your RP partner and their desires. Demanding they participate in makeout RP or demanding they fade to black (or…more…) with you is GROSS AND REEKS OF ENTITLEMENT. You are not ENTITLED to a FTB*. You are not ENTITLED to kissy emotes. If your RP partner says “I don’t want to do this”, you say “Okay, that’s fine!” and move on with your RP.

Always ask your partner before doing something he or she might be uncomfortable with. You can do this IC by asking (“May I kiss you?”) or OOC (“Is it okay if my character does X?”). Being polite never hurts. And it’s always good to get confirmation. Just like in the real world, consent is important!

*Fading to Black, also known as FTB, is a non-explicit way to imply two characters had sex.

OOC RULE #3:

IC Feelings =/= OOC Feelings!

This is the greatest sin I’ve encountered in romance RP.

Studies show that pretending you are in love with someone can lead to a speedy increase in REAL emotional intimacy between two people. Your RP partner is, after all, someone you’re going to be spending a lot of time with. Spending a lot of time together, plus pretending you’re in love, may lead to you thinking you have a crush on this person. If that’s the case, I encourage you to take an emotional step back. Keep your distance. RPing being in love is much like being the love interest in a play. You may be stage kissing, but it’s not real. Always try to maintain a healthy emotional distance. Reaffirm some of your real life relationships.

Most of all, DON’T START AN RP ROMANCE BECAUSE YOU HOPE IT WILL LEAD TO A REAL ROMANCE. That is just CREEPY and is definitely unwelcome on this game. If you find yourself feeling entitled to a real life relationship…or even getting jealous if your RP partner already has a significant other, BACK UP. You are crossing a VERY IMPORTANT BOUNDARY. And most importantly, you are being SUPER WEIRD. As I said, keeping a healthy attachment to reality and emotional distance is important. You should regard your RP partners as friends and fellow actors, NOT as potential dates.

I’ve seen a lot of people saying “I just don’t think I could RP romance with a guy playing a girl character.” To this, I say BOLLOCKS. Most of the romances I’ve RPed have been with my good friends, who are mostly girls (I am a lady, if you did not know, dear reader). I used to exclusively play male characters because hey, I liked it at the time. Therefore, I got into a lot of romances with girls. In fact, I think it’s pretty ideal to romance a person played in real life by a member of the same gender as you. That way, there’s a strict line between the RL person and the IC person. No danger of getting creepily attached to your RP partner OOC.

This also applies to things like…in-character break-ups. If someone wants to END an RP Romance with you, it's totally okay for your character to be sad or pissed off. However, if you feel sad or angry in real life and find yourself feeling hostile toward your former RP partner, BACK IT UP. Maybe you feel sad because you lost an RP partner, but ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS remember that RP is not real life. Just because someone wanted to end the RP relationship does not mean they dislike you or hated RPing with you. And you shouldn't react to an RP break-up the same way you would a REAL break up. If you find yourself feeling like your RP relationship is a substitute for a real life relationship, you've taken it too far. Back off. Try to meet some people in real life.

Remember that your RP partner, while possibly a good friend, only signed up for the RP. He or she didn't sign up to be a RL boyfriend or girlfriend. Don't treat him/her like one and definitely don't try to force any confused feelings on them. Respect space. Respect privacy. Respect boundaries.

HOW TO HANDLE ROMANCE RP IN-CHARACTER

SO. You understand how to treat your RP partner OOC and not be a creepy person with entitlement issues. NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT THE FUN PARTS.

RP RULE #1

The Laws of Attraction

Think about yourself in real life. Odds are that you have certain people you are attracted to. You also probably have certain people you think are totally gross and would never date ever. That’s all right! You’re not shallow. Attraction is a VERY important part of relationships. If you’re not attracted to someone, you’ll probably only see them as a friend and not as date material.

Just like you, your character is going to be attracted to certain types of people and not others. Sit down and think about what type of person your character is. List what traits he or she admires. What type of person does your character get along with most? Avoid traits like “nice” or “kind”. Everyone in the world can be nice and kind at times. List things like “brave” or “self-sacrificing”. Think of traits that not everyone in the world would have. Now that you have a list of what kind of personality your character admires, you get to do the fun part. What is your character physically attracted to?

Now, when thinking of what stirs your character’s loins, per se, do NOT list things like “beautiful” or “handsome”. That’s cheating. Pretty much every character is reasonably attractive. Again, write down things that may not apply to everyone. Maybe your lady character REALLY likes men with beards. Or maybe your human has a secret love of long elven ears. List anything you think your character would like – heights, weights, hair colors.

I think it’s pretty terrible when people seeking relationships don’t give a damn about realistic attraction and just pursue whatever person happens to be in their vicinity. If your character wouldn’t be realistically attracted to a certain woman or man, DON’T FLIRT WITH HIM/HER.

Also, recall from the OOC rules of engagement, hitting on everyone that is a member of your gender of preference comes off as insincere, how can the character obviously find someone special when they just flirt with everyone. And People who act desperate for IC relationships give off creepy OOC vibes..

RP RULE #2

How to Handle Growing Feelings and Physical Love

Ah, falling in love. Is there anything sweeter? I’m sure you’d like to skip all the romantic tension and skip straight to the smooching, but love in real life doesn’t quite work like that.

In real life, we could say there are two simplified paths a relationship can take. One starts off physical, with the smooching and the FTBing and whatnots in private rooms, and slowly feelings of love grow from there. The other path starts with slowly growing feelings, then reaches the point of smooching and FTBing and such later on. Both are fairly healthy paths for a relationship to take and can reach the desired point of twu wuv. However, you must take your character’s personality and the ideas of romance in your character’s culture into consideration. For instance, it is highly unlikely that a shy scholar would suddenly jump into bed with a woman he’s just met.

Take some time to think about your character. He or she has just met someone they are strongly attracted to. How do they react? Does she blush and become shy around her love interest? Does she court her affections with gifts? Does he trail after his crush like a lost puppy? These are all important things to consider. Think about how you react in real life when you develop a crush on someone. Think about all the times your friends have crushed on someone and told you about it. Drawing inspiration from real life is always a good way to get the idea juices flowing.

Always remember that love at first sight is extremely rare. If someone you’d never met suddenly ran up to you and proclaimed “I love you!”, you’d think it was pretty weird, right? If you’ve been in a relationship or crushed on someone, odds are that you didn’t fall in love with them right away. Feelings take time to develop and mature. Try to think about what sort of action might cause your character to fall in love. It’s more realistic not to say “I love you” right away. Relationships take time.

When it comes to physical love and affection, yes, there are some types of characters who would jump into that sort of thing right away. However, consider who your character is and judge how comfortable they are with physical affection. Is your character the type who loves hugs, but hates kissing? Or enjoys the old roll in the hay, but shies away from cuddling and smooching? It’s important to consider all of these things. In real life, there are people who hate to be touched. Is your character like that? Think about it!

And…most of all, relationships are not all about FTBing*. If all you get out of an RP romance is fantasies about your character’s sex life, you’re DOING IT WRONG. Romance is not about your character getting laid! It is about character development and RPing with a good friend!

Seriously, guys, if you only want to RP having sex, go to an Adult Mush, there are plenty to choose from. FTBing should be an important part of your character’s romance, but it shouldn’t be the ONLY part.

*Subsection: Fade to Black and YOU!

Let's be honest, everyone…we can't portray real, honest romantic relationships without addressing the topic of S-E-X. Which, of course, stands for "Snuggle-Elephants" and "XOXO Kissyface". Be fair warned…this section may become…PG-13.

Let's talk about how you can deal with a sexual relationship IC without going too far and getting yourself banned.

Fade to blacks! What are they? How do you incorporate them into RP? What is the most appropriate time to FTB?

I ask you to picture a movie. Sometimes, during romantic scenes in movies (if it's not an R-Rated movie anyway), the camera will either pan away from the couple or the screen will fade to black to imply they went a little further than just kissing. TVtropes calls it a Sexy Discretion Shot. That is what we aim for when we imply that characters "fade to black". You, the players, are just giving your characters a little privacy while they…erm, dance the horizontal tango, as it were.

(Also worth noting: Rape RP, even if both parties consent OOC and a Fade-to-Black is used, IS NOT ALLOWED, DON'T DO IT, KAY?)

How do you emote a Fade to Black? The most elegant way I've seen it done is "X emotes doing something to Y as the scene fades to black." Yes, it sounds a little bit meta, due to the fact that you're breaking the fourth wall, but that's the cleanest and most elegant way to do it that I have seen. Here's a good example of what to do:

"Alice wraps her arms around Benjamin, pulling him close as the scene fades to black."

Now, what do you do AFTER a Fade to Black? Well, it's good to start back with your characters getting dressed if you don't just end the RP right there.

A note specific for Ephemeris Erudition.
FTB is based on the Minecraft Server the guide was borrowed from. We are not excluding or banning the TS. The key element that should be taken from this, be sure that what transpires between characters is consentual to by both characters and, more importantly, both players. NO always means NO, we have no interest in non-consentual romantic play ICly. OOCly this is not acceptable ever. If someone says NO, respect that. Refer to OOC rules above. No is not a word that means keep at it until someone gives in. It means stop as the potential action is unwanted. OOCly this is harassment and is bannable.

RP RULE #3

Respect. Really, don’t forget this part.

Finally, you have to realize that RPing love is not just about being nice to your love interest. It’s useless to RP romance and get married if you don’t commit to the role and act like your character really is in love. Your love interest is, as I said before, not a prop or a toy. You don’t enter an RP relationship just to show off to others that you managed to bag a husband/wife. You should only enter into a relationship because your RP partner is someone you genuinely like and want to spend time roleplaying with.

It’s not okay if you just picked the first person who came around to play your character’s girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband. It’s not okay to treat your RP partner like a trophy either. Respect and friendship and OOC communication are all critical, you know.

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Anyway, that’s what I have to say about that. I hope this has been illuminating!

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