Fake/Pretend Relationship

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Tropes and genres
Synonym(s)Pretending to be Married, Pretending to be Engaged, Fake Boyfriends/Girlfriends, Fake Dating
Related tropes/genresUndercover in a Gay Bar
See alsoAMTDI, Didn't Know They Were Dating, Marriage of Convenience
Related articles on Fanlore.

Fake/Pretend Relationship is a trope found in all genres of fanworks, which includes all sorts of pretenses; marriages of convenience, undercover identities, investigations, financial schemes, immigration schemes, high school reunion dates, wedding dates, making someone jealous, and many others.

The main purpose of the trope is to throw the characters together in extended proximity and then explore the hidden, or not so hidden, feelings that develop. It has a long, long history in original media, in everything from films, romance novels and sitcoms.[1] Undercover in a Gay Bar is a slash-specific version of this trope that puts the characters in a gay-friendly environment.

Pretending to be married is on the Cliché Bingo list.[2]

The trope is sometimes used as a jumping off point for an AMTDI story, where the "aliens" call the bluff of the pretense.

A famous real-life example is described by musician Patti Smith in her book Just Kids. Trying to get away from a man she feared would proposition her (or worse), she ran up to a casual acquaintance and asked him to pretend to be her boyfriend. The friend was artist Robert Mapplethorpe, and it was the beginning of their decades-long creative romance/friendship.

Example Fanworks

The 100:

  • Our Hearts (Have Minds Of Their Own) by EffortlesslyOpulent (2016). Clarke is NOT going back to another family reunion without a fake girlfriend to shut everyone up. Lexa, her neighbor and best friend, needs powerful clients like the Griffins for her up and coming business. How inconvenient that they accidentally fall head-over-heels for each other in the process. It's a fake dating Rom-Com.

Agent Carter:

  • Having it All by hermioneclone (2015). Triad Verse AU. Peggy Carter is perfectly happy with her job at the SSR and her life with Angie Martinelli, thank you very much. But someone wants to stop her rise in the agency and concocts the perfect plan to get Peggy out: find her a third partner so she can settle down in a Triad and start a family like a proper woman. But Daniel Sousa isn’t about to be used to get to his friend and is willing to protect her no matter the personal cost. As they fight against the powers that be, Peggy, Angie and Sousa just might find that is really is possible to have it all.

DC Comics:

Harry Potter:

  • dirtynumbangelboy by magpie_fngrl (2017) Drarry After Harry’s unfortunate encounter with his ex, Draco Malfoy makes him a proposition. Draco wants his parents to stop matchmaking him and Harry wants to make his ex jealous. All they need to do is simply pretend they’re in love. Problem is… Draco already is.

Hawaii Five-0 (2010):

  • Sometimes a Lie is the Best Thing by pterawaters (2015). Triad Verse AU. Danny tells his family he's dating Steve and Catherine, which is fine until the Williams family decides Hawaii would be the best place for a family reunion, and they’re expecting to meet the people Danny insists he’s been dating.



  • each to each by Jenwryn. Lewis & Hathaway go undercover as a married couple seeking a surrogate mother as part of a case

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman:



One Direction:

Robin Hood (BBC 2006):

Sherlock (BBC):

Star Trek The Original Series:

  • Judith Brownlee, "From Whatever Distant Hill" (Eridani Triad 2, June 1971). On a critical mission to a world with a matriarchal society, Captain T'Pelle of the Saratoga and her first officer N'wambe must pretend they are mates to conform to local custom, to the point that they have to appear to be having sex while being observed from another room.

Star Trek (2009):

  • The Place Between by Psicygni. Spock and Uhura pretend to be in a relationship in order to obtain dilithium crystals from an alien ambassador.

Star Wars:

  • Marriage of Convenience by Cindy Olsen. While on a mission together, Han and Leia must pretend to be a married couple.

Stargate SG-1:

  • A Pretense of Romance by Maureen Thayer. Daniel volunteers to pretend to be Sam's boyfriend in an attempt to make Jack jealous, but the plan backfires in the most unexpected of ways.

Stargate Atlantis:

Starsky & Hutch:

  • Outcome, by Lamardeuse. While it also employs the trope, Undercover in a Gay Bar, Starsky and Hutch pretend to be gay to keep an eye on Hutch's Little Brother, Kiko and support the young man's coming out.

Stray Kids:


Supernatural RPF:

Teen Wolf

The Sentinel:

Fullmetal Alchemist:

  • A Wicked Game by Tierfal. RoyEd, modern au. Roy has lucked into the all-expenses-paid vacation of his dreams – all he has to do is convince a bunch of happy couples that he's head-over-heels in love with Ed Elric. What could possibly go wrong?

Fannish Resources


  1. ^ The Beard at TV Tropes, accessed April 18, 2010
  2. ^ The Big List of Clichés, Accessed April 18, 2010