So I have been trying to write a character that is oblivious to romantic advances because they mistake them for normal, platonic reactions. I know how they act in my mind, but I can't convey it enough to readers. A little background; The love interest is a stubborn nihilist. They don't not like romance, but they are just disinterested in it because they are focused more on their career. The reason behind their focus on their job is because they are about to be let go unless they can come up with a way to save it. The main character doesn't solve the love interest's problem, but helps them relax every now and then, making them more able to focus on their task.

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    Your question is about the character falling in love, but your text talks about the character not realizing that romantic advances are romantic. Is it that the character is falling in love, or that this character does not realize that another character is falling in love?
    – Mary
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 14:36
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    writing.stackexchange.com/questions/49692/… This is a link to a question that I asked a while ago. None of the characters involved are stubborn nihilists or anything, but I was also wondering how to show that a person is falling for another person without realizing it themselves. There are some cool answers, so maybe it could be of some help.
    – Tasch
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 18:56

3 Answers 3


One of the best examples I know for this is in both the book and movie of Remains of the Day. The emotionally repressed main character is in love with his coworker, but never admits it, either to himself or to her. There's a wonderful scene where he drops and shatters a prized, vintage bottle of wine --completely out of character for him --on the day he learns she is leaving, yet never connects the two events.

This is a good strategy. Have the character show many of the characteristic signs of romance, yet refuse to admit to them. If you want to make it explicit, you could even have a conversation like "it's so great we can be so close and intimate and still be just friends." That may seem crude and hamfisted, but conversations like that do happen all the time in real life.

It's not clear to me which character is oblivious, the viewpoint character or the love interest (or both). It's easier to show this with the viewpoint character, because you can color their perceptions and reactions. If it's the other character, you might just need to focus in on the viewpoint character's frustrations with being stuck in the "friend zone."

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    "The Remains of the Day" is the perfect example. There was such context in the scene of the dropped wine bottle, and so much sadness, and so much possibility, so much fire slowly extinguishing from denial of the oxygen it needs to bloom.
    – cmm
    Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 19:37

One thing you can try would be to write out a possible argument or scene with a bit of tension surrounding the disinterest in romance.

For example, say it's valentines day and the love interest brushes off your MCs attempt to have a romantic dinner. Being able to show (don't tell) the hurt that character is feeling and the other not seeing anything wrong with the situation will highlight the imbalance with their perspectives.

Even if you don't use this in your finalized piece, it may be enough background for you to sprinkle in details of tension (doesn't necessarily need to be a full on argument) that arise from the situation.

Hope this helps.


The best way is to show the character falling in love and not realizing it. This is done by the character acting like he's in love

Particularly common ways:

  1. The character pays attention to the Love Interest for (in his eyes) no good reason.
  2. The character continually notices attractive things the LI does.
  3. The character thinks about LI and how attractive she is at other times.
  4. The character does nice things for LI spontaneously.
  5. The character defends LI from others -- verbal more than physical, generally.
  6. The character grows jealous if others show interest in the LI, or vice versa.

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