If you’ve read young adult novels or fanfiction or really any kind of fantasy you’re familiar with the enemies to lovers trope.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Two main characters who are at odds in some way, they may be on opposite sides of a struggle (i.e. soldies or spies belonging to opposite warring factions) or have met under unfortunate circumstances and loathe each other (girl meets guy in bar. Guy is douchey and charming and annoying. Girl is forthright and takes no BS. Their personalities immediately clash). There’s also the subgenre of enemies to friends to lovers where friendship is the transitional phase to a romantic relationship.
Most enemies to lovers stories feature a very specific kind of woman. She probably knows to fight, she tolerates zero BS, she’s very brave and argumentative and not easy to get along with or handle. She may have a lot of bravado or swagger, but she often keeps her real feelings close to the chest.
The women in enemies to lovers stories tend to be the opposite of the women in more traditional old school romances. To quote Megara from Disney’s Herculues their vibe is very much “I’m a damsel. I’m in distress. I can handle this.” These women are not lady like, they’re not nice or accomodating or friendly or subservient. They probably don’t have time to shave or do their hair and if they do happen to do those things they are never doing it for the male gaze just themselves. The anger in these women, often righteous anger, is celebrated, is given weight and importance.
In these stories, even though the characters start out disliking each other, even hating each other, and their aims are also often at complete odds, these are stories where the difficult woman, the closed off and argumentative and maybe even a little b*tchy woman is able to transform the person and forces that oppose her, so much so that they leave who they were behind to join her and devote themselves to her and her victory.
Enemies to lovers stories are where the characters see the ugliest parts of each other first. They see the violence and the anger and the vitriol. They might literally want to kill each other. The story is the process of them discovering the good parts of each other.
It’s the one dynamic that demands full truth and unconditional love of both parties and isn’t that really all we want? Someone to see the worst parts of us and embrace them?
I’m closed off and extremely argumentative and I like reading about strong women who can handle themselves and are a bit difficult to get along with and someone still falls in love with them BECAUSE of everything they are not in spite of. It assures women like that we are still lovable. And yeah yeah, this is supposed to be part of our inner journey and be an affirmation that we give ourselves or whatever. But sometimes it’s nice to be reminded.