Creating a fantasy world means coming up with your own set of cultural norms. When it comes to love, what does it look like? Does age matter? Does gender matter? Does social class matter? What’s expected? Do people always meet those expectations?
For my fantasy setting, I started with a western medieval culture, and then made changes to suit my characters and my personal style.
In medieval times, people married very young. The legal age for marriage was 12 for a girl and 14 for a boy. It just didn’t sit right with me to have my characters married off while they were still practically babies, so I bumped it up closer to twenty in my world. In medieval times, marriages were arranged for political reasons based on monetary worth. So people rarely married outside of their own social class, and never really married for love. In my world, arranged marriages based on social class is the norm, but the couple would likely know each other ahead of time and would probably have a say in whom they were to wed. I wanted romantic love to have a place in my world.
One of the things I did to break free from the medieval box was to have a culture on the “other side of the mountains” that was more advanced than most of the kingdoms in my world. So one could assume that even the less advanced kingdoms have been influenced by the advanced culture. This gave me just the right amount of wiggle room to work with. For instance, if someone chose a different path than monogamy or heterosexuality, they could do so without fear of getting put to death for it.
So in the end, love in my fantasy world is very relatable and recognizable to the modern reader. It’s just that in my world, people might have to conquer evil empires, slay a dragon, or save the world from doomsday prophecies before they can be together.