Bazarov, the main character of Fathers and Sons, does not believe in love. At the beginning, he makes fun of Arkady's uncle, Pavel Petrovich, for giving up after a failed love affair. Yet, as the novel goes on, Bazarov falls head over heels for a woman that does not love him back. It becomes clear that the happiness of the characters will be determined less by their ambition and more by their ability to succeed in love. As the narrator explicitly states at the end of novel, it is love that is the ultimate refutation of nihilism.
The proudest characters in the novel are those who are most overwhelmed by love for the specific reason that they try to control feelings that are uncontrollable.
Fenichka and Nikolai's relationship is characterized more by necessity than by love. Nikolai needs Fenichka to temper his loneliness, and Fenichka needs Nikolai for economic security.