Third Time is a Trip

So here’s what I’m wondering:  If two people have a history of hurting each other, but are still really attracted to each other, in REAL life, do they keep returning to each other?  See, I’m working on some characters for a new novel… it’s a cutting edge thriller that… oh who am I kidding.  It’s a romance novel.  Yeah, that’s what I said. Romance.  And not in the sense that it’s descended from Rome.  I mean hot and heavy kissing and lovey dovey ooey gooey mush.

I mean, the characters are also powerful sorcerers in an alternate universe, but the love story is there, so nyah.  Stop making that face.  You know you like romances.

But these two people have hurt each other deeply in the past.  First they met, fell in love, all hot and heavy blah blah blah (don’t lie, you’re disappointed I didn’t describe some of the hot loving…), and then he breaks her heart (young, stupid, that sort of thing.)

Then years pass (like two) and they come across each other again and pretty much fall into each other’s arms and get all… well, YOU know.  And she breaks his heart (chooses career over love, that sort of thing).

So tell me, after many years have passed, and many big magical events in their lives (magical because they are sorcerers and whatnot), when they see each other again, do they fall back into each other’s arms?

Yes, that’s what they want to do.  Desperately.  But is it realistic to think that they would do this?  (And stop asking me why I’m bothering with “realism” when I’m writing a magical romance!  I can write about two tapeworms falling in love in the magical land of Intestina, but if the worms don’t come off to my reader as REAL, no one will care about their hermaphroditic love!  More so with human characters.  If they do stuff that actual humans don’t do, then no one will believe them, and the novel is good only as a thing to prop up that table with the uneven legs.)

So would intelligent people go for it a third time?  I mean, the sayings go like this:  “Once bitten, twice shy” and “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”  But neither of those phrases mention what happens the third time.

Leave the story behind.  I know you WANT them to get together the third time and make it work and live happily ever after, and I’ll probably force that scenario upon the poor dears… but help me with this:  Do people do that in real life?  Do they actually try it a third time?  Or do I need to have outside circumstances PUSH them together?  Which will be more believable?  Do they fall into each other’s arms upon that fortuitous meeting?  Or do they run away from each other and Zorg the Uber-Enemy traps them in the same dungeon and they have to work together and etc. etc.?

Thanks for all your help faithful reader.  Or, y’know, readers.  I might have more than one by now. J

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19 Responses to “Third Time is a Trip”

  1. Peggy Says:

    Lust not love. Nothin wrong. Maybe age will settle them down

  2. V.P. Crowe Says:

    Okay, let’s start with the disclaimer: I don’t know whether or not people actually do that in real life. I know of couples who’ve come back together a second time, but a third? I’ll have to ask around a bit and get back to you. I think that with particular personalities and in particular circumstances, though, it could happen. And in my experience highly intelligent people are actually *more* likely to engage in risky, emotion-driven behavior that, were it anyone else, they’d be asking “Dude! Have you lost your mind?” Or even as they’re asking themselves that very thing, though they’re more likely to find a way to just justify it for themselves.

    I don’t think they’d seek each other out, though, at least not with the intention of rekindling anything (unless perhaps one of them engineers circumstances that would force them together with that in mind — which might make good story, but in real life would be dipping into psyches that I usually try to avoid, so not certain a). how that might play out, or b). if someone capable of that kind of personally manipulative thinking could also make a good hero — lol, see how impossible it is to actually leave the story behind?)

    Here’s something I think I’ve got a handle on, though. In real life, if they fall into each other’s arms right away, that’s going to make Happily Ever After a lot more difficult than if they were to either approach it cautiously, or fortuitously end up in locked in the same dungeon at the same time. Either way, I’m thinking you’re going to have some messy emotional growth and character development through conflict (real life or story, either one.)

    Meshing with story again, though (hey, details matter!) we have a pair of powerful, alpha folk who’ve had separate lives for several years. You could have it all there — unexpected (or not, depending on whether one or both of them have been actively thinking about the other all this time) explosion of chemistry, they fall into each other’s arms, which terrifies them both and they run (or push each other) away, only to fortuitously end up locked in the same dungeon at the same time.

    • lizacaruthersblog Says:

      Val, you rock! You really seem to know these characters already! I hope they speak as well to me, ha ha! Very deep and interesting. And you have a great point with the idea of their both being Alpha types. Mille Grazi!

      • V.P. Crowe Says:

        Anyway, there’s this. Your job as author, as I see it, is first to create believable characters. Once you’ve done that, then all you have to do is answer the question “Would *they* do this?” Doesn’t matter, then, what anyone else would do. 😉

  3. dianabeebe Says:

    I love this question! I think, based on my own experiences, that they run away from each other–or the one who felt most burned from their last encounter does. They sound destined to keep repeating their mistakes with each other until they mature enough (or until they are forced to work together). I look forward to reading about them.

  4. Ron Steele Says:

    From me I say, no. Not because it’s not possible but I’ve never seen it happen in real life. I know we see it on soap operas and movies and read it other novels but I’ve never even heard of it happening with any real people. That being said, it doesn’t mean we (me included) wouldn’t like to see it happen and for two people to finally reconcile their hate problems and live happily together thereafter. So, if it’s fiction you are supposed to make it happen in the story so people can try or at least dream about it happening in their own lives. Now, why am I even bothering to tell you that and what are you asking for? You’re one of the best authors I know. Do whatever you want to do. It will work out fine.

  5. katiemaud Says:

    Five words: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Yeah, yeah, not real people, at least in the way we view reality, but perhaps your sorcerers will have some characteristics in common with these famous, watched people. If they weren’t born with them, they will have developed towering egos and will be driven and ambitious. I suspect your characters will feel a great deal of competition as well as attraction towards each other. How that affects their actions is entirely up to you.

    • lizacaruthersblog Says:

      Ah yes! They are a good example! I am going to go Wikipedia the heck out of them! I think it’ll help. And you are right, I think that it’s the personalities of these characters that keep drawing them to each other. I’m hoping so. Of course, I don’t want to speak for them… Oh, wait. I do. I invented them.

  6. Mrs. Hoad Says:

    Hmmmm…intersting quandry Mrs. Caruthers. I think it all depends on the characters. How is that for a cop out? I can thinking of plenty of adults I know that would settle back into a tumultous relationship despite past experiences. Plus, I think that scenario makes for better reading, but that is just me. I lurves me some drama.

  7. redmj Says:

    My second set of 2 cents worth. I think they should do the whole we should/shouldn’t last night didn’t happen thing and then one of them die at the end. Or get seriously hurt and fall in love with the mortal doctor/nurse. Or have to turn on eachother. Yeah not your normal romance novel ending. That’s what I want to read.

  8. LuthienC Says:

    As I real romantic, I idealistically believe in true love. Soulmates. And come on, when we read romance, we want fantasy, we want the happy ending, but there has to be enough conflict, enough heartwrenching drama that we feel as though the characters deserve their happy ending.

    The third time should be the charm.

    When I read a romance where two people just get together hot and steamy and it’s all about the sex, it feels more like erotica, which does have its place, but which I do not feel is on the same level at all as an epic romance.

    So, I would like to read a story where the third time around there is reluctance, maybe one of them has suffered a serious tragedy, or trauma, that makes them reluctant to give it a go at all. Personally, I love reading about the hero having to reassure the heroine, make her fall for him, and trust him all over again, so that is where I would take it.

    Of course, if their third meeting takes place during a battle, or he saves her from an accident, or attack of some sort, Then they end up paired together against their wishes long enough for the true love to rekindle that would certainly add some of the much needed drama it takes to make a romance be “believable” (because we don’t really want it to be the ultimate fantasy, nowhere close to reality) and worth the read.

    This coming from an avid reader who reads about 40 romance novels a month, and can say what doesn’t get boring

    • lizacaruthersblog Says:

      I like your ideas. The story is finally gestating well, and the soup is bubbling. The end is unclear, but the first two heartbreaks are even now writing themselves in my brain. Thanks!

  9. V.P. Crowe Says:

    Got this from posing the question elsewhere:

    “I know a woman who did this and they are very happy together now.

    There was something like 20 years in between try #2 and try #3, but hey. Apparently when they reconnected after all that time, they found that each had been thinking of the other as the love of their life.”

    Later, she added:

    “I have a theory about this. I think it can work to the extent that the couple is willing to let go of the past. If they’re still harboring hurt and resentment, it probably wouldn’t work. I don’t think it has anything to do with length of time.”

    And this, from another:

    “[My boyfriend] and I have been together thrice.

    Once, we were 15 and not ready for it.
    Second, got together and rushed into moving in etc and split up for 4 months.
    Third (and last, I hope!) time, we are very, very happy together and planning a future.”

    So there ya go. 🙂

    • lizacaruthersblog Says:

      I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and you are totally correct. Holding on to any resentment from the past, or about the pain of the past, will destroy any relationship. I think in my tale, the two people will have become new people… and independently learned how to move past the past. So thanks!

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