Why The Meet-Hate Is My All-Time Favorite Romance Trope

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Did you know that April is National Couple Appreciation Month? Aww! And what better way to celebrate than a post about my favorite way for a couple to meet in a romance, the meet-hate.

What exactly is a meet-hate? The exact opposite of the beloved meet-cute, which is an endearing and charming first encounter between love interests — situations like getting stuck in an elevator together or bumping into each other in the street.

Don’t get me wrong — I absolutely adore meet-cutes! But I love it even more when characters kick things off with an argument or some other kind of hostile encounter. Like, they’re rival coworkers or sworn enemies or neighbors who can’t stand the sight of one another. Any situation where right off the bat, there’s instant, mutual hate. It makes you wonder how in the world they will ever end up in love. So why exactly do I enjoy it so much?

It grabs your attention from the get-go:

A meet-hate is like a throat-punch to your soul. You expect the endearing awkwardness of a meet-cute — hands shyly brushing against each other, bashful eye contact, lip biting that turns into smile. So when you instead get two characters exchanging barbs or thinly veiled insults, it grabs you by the proverbial balls. It’s the exact opposite of the sweetness you expect in a romance, and it’s part of the reason why you keep reading. You’re squirming at how awful these two characters are to one another, but you’re also morbidly curious how the love story will play out. It’s a lot like watching a train wreck: it’s damn uncomfortable, but it’s impossible to look away. 

It’s tension right off the bat:

One of the most vital things that must be established in a romance is tension. In other words, what is the driving force between the main character and the love interest? It’s what keeps the reader engaged, makes them feel invested in the story and compels them to keep turning the pages. With a meet-hate, you get the tension right off the bat. You don’t have to wait for another motive to be revealed in the story; it’s right there in chapter one. 

It keeps you guessing:

Having a book start out with a meet-hate is a brilliant way to play on readers’ emotions. Even though I read meet-hate romances often, I’m still a bundle of nerves as I devour the story. In my head, I’m thinking, “Wow. These two really hate each other. How in the world will they ever fall in love, let alone like each other?” And you keep reading because you just HAVE to find out. 

It almost always leads to steamy love scenes:

It’s like that saying, “There’s a thin line between love and hate.” In the case of meet-hate romances, it’s so true. All that passion and energy funneled into despising each other eventually comes to a head in the form of a hot and heavy love scene. There is finally a shift in all that unchecked raw passion: instead of passionately despising each other, they passionately desire each other. All those pages spent arguing, stealing glances, thinking silently to themselves that their enemy is actually quite attractive, it all leads to this: mind-blowingly hot sex. 

It leads to a satisfying climax:

One of the things I love most about the meet-hate is how it helps show the progression and growth of the main characters. In the beginning these two loathed each other. But after getting to know one another, dispelling their misunderstandings, and untangling their issues, they reach the crucial realization that underneath all the bickering and hurt feelings, they share genuine love. By the end of the book, they’re head over heels for one another. It’s proof of just how far they’ve come, and something about that is just so heartwarming and satisfying to me.  

In the spirit of the meet-hate, here are some of my favorite meet-hate romances: 

Fight Or Flight by Samantha Young

Ava, a cheery Boston-based decorator, and Caleb, a grumpy Scottish executive, hate each other from the second they meet, when they bump into one another at an airport ticket counter. They still hate each other when they’re seated together on their flight. And they still hate each other when they’re stuck at the same hotel. And yes, they still hate each other when they find out they’re stranded in the same city for the foreseeable future. But their sexual chemistry is undeniable, and they decide to work out a no-strings-attached situation because if they’re going to hate each other in the same city, they may as well have a rockin’ time in bed. 

A Good Night’s Sleep by Stefanie Simpson

Effie and Stuart are neighbors who are the dictionary definition of getting off on the wrong foot. Effie tries to be the sweet new neighbor by knocking on his door and introducing herself with a tin of yummy cookies, but Stuart is a sleep-deprived grump. He lashes out, which pisses Effie off. But you can only hate your neighbor for so long when you find them super, duper attractive — and when you realize that the only way you can get a quality night of sleep is when you’re cuddled in each other’s arms.  

Vice by Rosanna Leo

Kate hates Liam because she’s an anti-gambling protester and he just opened the hottest new casino in Vegas. Liam hates Kate because she’s disrupting his business with her well-organized protests against him. But one thing these two have in common is that they find the other attractive and intriguing. They just can’t seem to stay out of each other’s minds, no matter how hard they try to focus on their enemy status. So it’s inevitable that they fall into bed together — and when they do, it’s hotter than Las Vegas in August. 

Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

This isn’t technically a meet-hate since Evie and Carter, both Hollywood talent agents, meet at a mutual friend’s gathering and like each other right off the bat. Their chemistry is immediate and they even go out on a date, which ends in a steamy hookup. But things get hateful real quick when soon after their date they find out their companies merged and they now have to compete for the same position. Attraction and dating are thrown on the backburner as these two go all-out trying to destroy one another. 

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