Courtship (trope)

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Tropes and genres
Synonym(s)courtship fic, courting, wooing
Related tropes/genresromance, marriage
See alsoage difference, dating, didn't know they were dating, Everybody Thinks We're Dating, first kiss, first time, interspecies, virginfic
Related articles on Fanlore.

Courtship is a romance trope in which one character courts another. The characters may or may not be in a pre-existing relationship at the outset. Works can be slash or, more rarely, het or femslash.

Courtship Fic

The term is sometimes reserved for formal courtships, where the process is supposed to follow a set of rules, and ends in a formal marriage or bonding ceremony. Such stories tend to focus on the details of the rituals involved in the courtship, and are also known as "courtship fic".

Often the courted character is entirely ignorant of the traditions involved in courtship and takes some time to realise that s/he is being courted. (This can be played for humour.) Usually the courting character is significantly older, much more experienced in the culture, and/or of substantially higher status. The trope is particularly common in sources which include several different races, cultures or traditions, such as Harry Potter, Star Trek and Tolkien.

Sometimes the courtship is initiated (at least on the surface) for reasons other than mutual love, for example to protect the courted character or for legal reasons. Sometimes the courted character is initially unaware of the courting character's true feelings. Being a romance trope, the couple usually find mutual love by the end of the story.

A twist on the courtship trope is where the courtship is just a device to make the real partner realise his/her true feelings.

Example Fanworks

Recs & Themed Lists

Broader Usage

Courtship is also sometimes used more generally to refer to any period of courting, particularly when there is a slowly developing relationship which ends in marriage or a similar formal bond. Het is more common with this broader meaning. This usage can overlap with dating fics.

Couples whose relationship building is often referred to as courtship include Vincent/Catherine from Beauty and the Beast, Kirk/Spock & Sarek/Amanda from Star Trek: TOS, Merlin/Arthur from Merlin, and numerous m/f examples from historical fandoms. .

Example Fanworks