Friendship, Sexual Tension, and Cheating the Reader out of that which is AWESOME!


A blogger name Aleeza wrote a post called “My Gripe with Paranormal Romances” and it totally inspired me.

I don’t have a gripe with paranormal romances because I just expect it to tell the romance a 13-yr-old girl dreams about rather than the one I dream about. Still, Aleeza’s post got me thinking about the mysterious interaction between sexual tension, friendship and overall chemistry.

My roommates and most other single girls act like I’m crazy because I don’t believe in chemistry as this nebulous thing that immediately exists between two people. I think chemistry is something we nurture in our minds.  It, like affection, is a flower that takes time to bloom (I may have adapted that metaphor from the amazing movie Becoming Jane). My friends would probably say that relationships start with sexual tension (also, some sort of nebulous thing that immediately exists – or so I’ve been told), then move to friendship – both of which working to overall chemistry.

I disagree.

Now, think for a moment about the wonderful final installment of Harry Potter (yes I did go to the midnight viewing and even stayed awake this time). The reason I’ve got you thinking about HP is Ron and Hermione’s kiss; it’s way better than any of the others in the WHOLE series. It’s this sudden, passionate thing (well, as passionate as you can expect from a movie based on a MG book series), and it’s awesome!

But you know why it’s awesome?

Because of the friendship!

The sexual tension between them was SO much greater than that  between Harry and Ginny or Harry and Cho because the friendship is deep. Because we love that moment when a person we’ve lived life with, built a trust with, cried with,grown with, hated on occasion, laughed at and with, and adored… mysteriously becomes attractive.

Neither Ron nor Hermione is that person you see and just want to make out with. But their kiss is the kind of kiss I want. The Bella/Edward relationship is the one that starts with sexual tension. They’re both smokin’ and everything else is secondary to that. And I guess their kisses are hot. If they weren’t, no one would’ve read the books. But there aren’t layers in their relationship. There’s sexual tension. Period.

So when I think about Aleeza’s gripe, I completely agree with her. She’s mad at Paranormal Romances because they only offer one layer when the best kinds of people want a whole boatload of layers to their romance. Heck – we want a wholeboat of layers to every bit of our literature. We want dreams within dreams like Inception. We want the shallow and the deep, the obvious and the you’ll-have-to-search-for-it, the serious and the silly. We want it all.

So when it comes to the interaction between sexual tension, friendship and chemistry… I feel like we’re cheating our readers out of the hottest kind of kiss we could write for them because getting to that kiss is more than a little torturous. It takes 7 really long books and perseverance to get through all of those pages. But it’s totally worth it.

Because that moment when a friend who we’ve wanted for 3, 4, 5 years turns and plants a long, wet one on us… that moment has more magic in it than a patronus charm, the department of mysteries, or the elder wand.

*Footnote: I loved HP 7 part 2 even though I tend to dislike the movies and hated the way they changed the ending action sequence.

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4 thoughts on “Friendship, Sexual Tension, and Cheating the Reader out of that which is AWESOME!

  1. I’m willing to offer my “dude perspective” on the topic, for whatever it’s worth.

    As one that considers himself a romantic in a more classical connotation of the word, I think our personal understanding of the relationship between friendship and sexual tension usually has a lot to do with maturity.

    I don’t want to knock on your female friends as being immature, but beginning a relationship with sexual tension was certainly more my philosophy as an 18-year-old boy than as a 32-year-old man. It doesn’t require much quality to “spark the chemistry” of one seeking sexual tension as a catalyst: any extreme first interaction will do (including despise or grand indifference, which are hardly the basis for a healthy relationship).

    If anything, we can point to this philosophy as a prime reason why so many marital relationships fail in this day and age — once the extreme draw has toned down, men and women claim to “lose the spark” and bail for the sake of greater chemistry with someone that can re-create that tension (again, through any extreme interaction). It’s fantastic for the movies, but it is a dangerous illusion in dealing with real people’s hearts.

    When I find myself gravitating towards a woman in maturity, it is always due to in increase in the intimacy of our friendship. Trust me ladies — and be careful with this in guarding one another’s hearts — nothing raises a relationship to the next level like a man seeing his female friend cry. We go into that “we must fix every problem and solve the source of her tears” guy mode, which leads to comfort, protection, and yes…quite a bit of sexual tension.

    And I agree, Katie, that this kind of interaction has a much heavier buildup, and leads to a great deal more substance. The “spark” is not easily lost, because the catalyst is so deep. People don’t maintain fifty-year marriages because they had a hot moment when they were 18. They have hot moments fifty years later, because of all the history and life shared between them.

    • Dude perspectives always appreciated 🙂

      1. I completely agree about the extreme interaction thing. It’s crazy how easy it is to find immediate sexual tension with a person we see no redeemable qualities in. We might even find that person more attractive than a good guy. It’s the Han Solo disorder. Does anyone really want to be with a guy who says, “I know,” when she says she loves him?

      2. I just realized why I don’t get asked out more often – I don’t cry enough in front of guys!

      🙂

  2. Great point, Katie! I really feel like you described the beginning of Steve and my relationship. We were friends for a long time, and that grew into something very meaningful with that tension. I think that is what has kept us best friends and so happy for this long. Tomorrow it will be 10 years since we started dating! And January is 9 years we’ve been married. Crazy!!! Keep looking for that friendship and don’t settle for nebulous “chemistry.”

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