Character Motivation Thesaurus Entry: Finding a Lifelong Partner

What does your character want? This is an important question to answer because it determines what your protagonist hopes to achieve by the story’s end. If the goal, or outer motivation, is written well, readers will identify fairly quickly what the overall story goal’s going to be and they’ll know what to root for. But how do you know what outer motivation to choose?

If you read enough books, you’ll see the same goals being used for different characters in new scenarios. Through this thesaurus, we’d like to explore these common outer motivations so you can see your options and what those goals might look like on a deeper level.


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Character’s Goal (Outer Motivation): Finding a lifelong partner

Forms This Might Take: One of the most common story goals, this one is fairly straightforward: the protagonist wants to find true, never-ending romantic love.

Human Need Driving the Goal (Inner Motivation): love and belonging

How the Character May Prepare for This Goal

  • Getting into physical shape
  • Ending entangling relationships that are keeping one from finding true love
  • Frequenting places where likely candidates could be found (bars, church, singles mingles, etc.)
  • Joining an online dating site
  • Beefing up one’s online dating profile
  • Grabbing onto any candidate who shows interest
  • Staying in a toxic relationship out of an incorrect belief that it’s true love
  • Conforming to others out of a desire to gain their love; losing one’s  sense of identity
  • Filling up one’s calendar with social activities with opportunities to meet that special someone
  • Analyzing successful relationships to see what factors are involved
  • Making a mental or actual list of the qualities one is looking for in a mate
  • Hiding one’s faults so as not to turn others off
  • Being on one’s “best behavior” when likely candidates are present
  • Adopting a more likable persona that isn’t a reflection of one’s true self
  • Curating a list of likely candidates and narrowing it down to the one that has the most potential
  • Asking family and friends to set one up with possible love interests

Possible Sacrifices or Costs Associated With This Goal

  • Friction with people who are jealous of one’s time (children, old flames, possessive parents, etc.)
  • The consequences of poor decisions made in the attempt to find true love
  • Hobbies, interests, and passions that must be set aside to make time for someone new
  • Achieving less in one’s career or talent due to making a love interest top priority
  • Having less time for oneself
  • Less time with friends and family due to spending more time with someone one is pursuing
  • The pain that results from rejection and making oneself vulnerable
  • Secrets coming to light when they’re shared with a love interest
  • Low esteem resulting from searching for love and never finding it
  • Loss of a measure of power and control

Roadblocks Which Could Prevent This Goal from Being Achieved

  • Selfish people in one’s life
  • Selfish people in the love interest’s life
  • Geographic isolation; living in a distant place where it’s difficult to meet and get to know others
  • A job that requires much travel, making it difficult for one to spend time with others
  • Wounds from the past that cause one to sabotage one’s efforts
  • Character flaws that get in the way (needy, possessive, dishonest, withdrawn, etc.)
  • A disfigurement or abnormality that makes it difficult for people to see past the physical
  • A demanding job that takes up much of one’s time
  • Mental or physical ailments that make it difficult to connect with others
  • Life circumstances that suck up all of one’s time and energy (being caregiver to a disabled person, working multiple jobs to support one’s family, etc.)
  • Other needs competing with this one for importance, such as esteem and recognition that drives one to be the best at a skill or talent, taking time that could be spent developing a relationship

Talents & Skills That Will Help the Character Achieve This Goal:

Possible Fallout For the Protagonist if This Goal Is Not Met:

  • Living life alone
  • Not having children
  • Falling back into toxic relationships that give one  a semblance of love
  • Isolation
  • Becoming selfish and set in one’s ways due to never having to share life with someone else
  • Becoming less inclined over time to make oneself vulnerable to others
  • Blaming oneself for being unable to find love; believing oneself to be unlovable
  • Becoming difficult to love
  • Resentment of others who have what one wants
  • Feeling unfulfilled

Clichés to Avoid: 

  • The character being torn between two love interest choices, one of which is obviously good and the other is obviously bad
  • The character falling in love with someone who solves all his/her problems
  • An inherently evil person standing in the way of the character’s true love (an ex, mother, etc.); plenty of people can get in the way, but these characters should be multi-faceted and realistic, not evil simply for evil’s sake
  • Love at first sight

Click here for a list of our current entries for this thesaurus, along with a master post containing information on the individual fields.


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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