Novel Tropes #1: Commitment Issues (ft. Bridgerton Rants!)

Introducing our new mini-series: Novel Tropes is all about taking a closer look at tropes involving mental health issues in fiction. This episode, we discuss a trope often found in romance storylines: commitment issues. Can attachment theory shine light on the complexity of these issues? Also, we have some thoughts about a recent and very popular example of this trope: Bridgerton.

Mental health issues covered: attachment theory, childhood trauma, tricky relationships

Additional trigger warnings: some brief allusions to sexual consent/sexual assault

A Quick Summary of Our Discussion:

  • According to TV Tropes, a character with commitment issues doesn’t want to settle down with their love interest – they don’t want to commit to their love interest. Examples of this trope include Chandler Bing from Friends, Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother, and Runaway Bride. Nearly always, the character with commitment issues overcome this and settle down by their love interest.
  • In real life, commitment issues are usually due to a combination of different factors including your expectations and your experiences.
  • One of those factors is a person’s relationship with their parents. Or, as psychologists refer to it: attachment styles. There are four attachment styles: secure, anxious-avoidant, anxious-ambivalent, and disorganised.
  • What if we apply attachment theory to Simon Basset and Daphne Bridgerton from Bridgerton? Listen to the episode to find out!
  • We’d love to see fewer over-simplifications of commitment issues, and more validation of different life styles without these being regarded of commitment issues.

Recommended Reading

  • This article provides more information about attachment theory.
  • Here is some information about commitment issues and how to work through them.
  • Romance novels with characters with some sort of commitment issues include The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai and Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare.
  • For more details on the trope, have a look at this TV Trope page.
  • If you are curious about the Bridgerton but can’t bring yourself to read all 8 books, listen to What Would Danbury Do, a podcast that discusses all 8 books and the tv series.

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