Thursday, December 16, 2004


From TRUST to Intimacy
People talk about how hard it is to write Sex. Romance, is actually far more difficult. Sex is simply a squence of ACTIONS: "He did this, she reacted, and then did this in return...etc.” Romance, on the other hand, is a psychologically based sequence of actions for gaining Trust.
On TRUST and the Alpha Hero ~ in ROMANCE
By Angela Knight

In a romance, a great deal of the conflict revolves around trust issues.
  • Can I trust this person not to hurt me?
  • Can I trust him with the most delicate parts of myself; emotionally and sexually?
  • Can I trust him to love me?”
So for reasons of the greatest drama, in romance we want a guy who is manifestly NOT trustworthy; a womanizing alpha male, a vampire, a werewolf. Because when the heroine trusts this guy anyway, the risk is that much greater, and the stakes she’s playing for are that much higher.

That’s why you see so many arrogant alpha male heroes – because they come with built-in conflicts. And that’s why in the 80s, the heroes were so often outright rapists and abusers; they were not trustworthy, in any way, shape, or form. They had to learn to become trustworthy to make themselves worthy of the heroine.

Paradoxically, in today’s romances we want heroes who really are heroes from page one. The heroine may doubt whether this guy is trustworthy, and he may seem NOT to be (because he’s a vampire, a werewolf, or an alpha male asshole) — but the writer must reassure the reader right up front that the guy IS a hero, and he can be trusted.

Because otherwise, the heroine is an IDIOT for trusting him, and the reader is not going to want to get into the skin of an idiot.

Posted with Permission
Someone skilled in the Arts of Romance
is NOT necessarily demonstrating Love!

A manipulation technique designed to make someone receptive to Sex.
The motive behind Romance is LUST.
When someone's happiness means more than your own.
The motive behind Love is AFFECTION.

To many people, Romance means 'showing love'. That's not true. You show love by protecting the ones you care for with the intent to ensure their lasting happiness. That doesn't necessarily mean that you're nice to them.

Romance is about being nice to the point that they'll let you have sex with them.

Make sure you SHOW the difference!

The Ritual of: "May I...?"
So, how do we make it known that a hero is Trustworthy without STATING it? We use BODY LANGUAGE. We SHOW, through the use of the psychological cues of actual Romance.

Basically, we apply the same Dating rules that we follow in real life – how we know when a guy is actually worth trusting enough to kiss -- to our fiction.

Romance is a ritual dance of Query / Answer on the path toward Intimacy. An interested party makes a Query, they hold out their hand. If the other party grasps that hand voluntarily, then they have Answered in the positive and the next Query, the next step toward Intimacy may be presented. Each positive answer received implies that a request for more intimate contact may also be accepted.

Defining the Twelve Stages of Intimacy
(Derived from a presentation by Linda Howard)

1. Eye to body. "What have we here?"
He sees her, she sees him. If she turns toward him, in even a small amount, that is his cue that he may approach.

2. Eye to Eye. "I find you interesting."
He looks at her. She looks at him. If she smiles, this is his cue that he may speak to her and introduce himself. If he stares too long without speaking, he implies that she is an object being assessed for use. If she perceives this she may turn away to deny continuing contact.

3. Voice to Voice. "I'd like to know you."
He introduces himself. If she responds with a smile and friendly conversation, then he is well on his way to closer contact.

4. Hand to Hand. "I like you."
First contact. He holds out his hand. If she accepts his hand and smiles, she has given permission to take the next step.

5. Arm to Shoulder. "May I touch you?"
First Body to Body contact. He sits or stands next to her. If she stays close, he may proceed to put his arm around her shoulders. If she moves away, then he must go back to Stage 3 to establish trust.

6. Arm to Waist. "May I have you?"
Placing his arm around her waist is a potent and very important step. All contact beyond this point is Sexual in nature. Arm to waist contact is also a territorial signal to others that this person is Taken. It is at this point that she decides if she wants to be intimate with him – but she does NOT let him know this.

7. Mouth to Mouth. "This is how I intend to treat you."
The kiss. First sexual contact. How someone kisses implies how they intend to make love. It is not unusual for a Heroine to flee after a kiss that is too controlling or possessive. If this happens, he will need to retreat all the way back to Stage 3 to rebuild trust.

8. Hand to Head. "Will you trust me?"
He touches her hair, her face, her mouth with his fingers. If she allows this, she is giving her ultimate trust. Grasping the hair and/or the face gives the holder complete control. If he has a tight enough hold, she will not be able to escape without a fight and possibly harm. By allowing this contact, she gives permission to allow all other hand contact with her body.

9. Hand to Torso. "I want more..."
Heavy petting normally begins with the clothing still on. The intent is to excite her into voluntarily opening her clothes and exposing her skin for more intimate contact. If he starts at the top of her body, head, neck, shoulder, breast, stomach…etc. stroking her as one would a pet, then he shows an acceptable level of affection. If he immediately digs under her clothes to grab her, BEFORE full intimacy has been established, she will assume he sees her as an object he intends to use and throw away.

This is the point where most rapes begin, so females tend to be hyper-aware of their partner's actions during this stage. If she is not 100% comfortable with his actions, she will immediately withdraw. If he reacts with anger, she'll assume that she is in danger and seek to escape using any means possible, after which she will refuse all future contact, ending the relationship. She may also report to every female she knows that he is dangerous.

10. Mouth to Torso. "I hunger for you."
He kisses her throat, her shoulder, and any other exposed skin. Acceptance of mouth to skin contact implies extreme trust. The mouth is the most dangerous part of the body; it contains the teeth. This is where all remaining clothing is removed and full skin to skin contact begins.

She must be the first to open her clothing to him before any further contact can be made. If he takes the initiative and removes his clothes without her first having opened something to him, then he implies that he is not interested in her readiness, he is there for his pleasure, not hers. If she perceives this, she will immediately withdraw and possibly refuse all future contact, ending the relationship. She may also report to every female she knows that he an extremely selfish lover.

11. Hand to Genitals. "Are you ready for me?"
His hands explore her intimately. His explorations are to insure that she is ready for full sexual possession. (Are her nipples hard? Is she wet?) If she is not ready, he will use his hands and mouth to stir her passions, insuring that she is eager to welcome him and will enjoy what they are about to share.

Taking someone when they are not ready is not only painful, it destroys all trust. Should this happen, she will immediately seek to escape using any means possible, after which she will refuse all future contact, ending the relationship. She may also report to every female she knows that he an extremely poor lover.

12. Genitals to Genitals. "You are mine."
Full sexual contact implies ownership on a primal level. Once full sexual contact is gained, both partners assume that they may have it again at any time. Making Love implies a relationship. Having Sex implies a diversion, a form of entertainment on the level of a video game. With this one act, she knows for certain if he sees her as a potential life partner, or merely a form of entertainment to be tossed away when a new game comes along.

the Sexual Act is a metaphor for 
a Relationship’s Emotional Progress.
Good Sex Does NOT equal Trustworthy.

These stages are based on the actual rules of courtship, but these stages are meant for fiction. In the real world, someone that cares whether or not the female reaches climax is NO GUARANTEE that he cares beyond ensuring that she will allow sex a second time.

Real Life doesn’t make sense – Fiction Must.

A Note on Female Costume & Intimacy

The skin exposed, while fully dressed, advertises exactly how fast one is willing to proceed from Skin Contact to Sex.

A female in a low-cut but full-skirted gown states that she will allow some kissing contact (stage 8) but sex must still be negotiated.

A female in a floor length gown that exposes her entire back to the hips is stating that the man who gains permission to put his arm around her, (stage 6) will be allowed sex.

A female wearing very little, short skirt or skin-tight pants, a short top that exposes belly and/or back...etc., is advertising that she will allow sex to the man that gains hand contact, (stage 4).

A female in a skin-tight body suit is perceived as nude, even if the suit covers her from ankle to throat, as there is no impediment to immediate intimate contact. Sustained eye contact (stage 2) is considered a direct invitation to sex.

Color choice is also a factor in readiness for Sexual Contact. Light colors and pastels signal innocence. Bright colors and colorful prints signal playfulness. Dark jewel tones and satin, signal interest but caution. Animal prints, leather, dark velvets, and fur are a sign of sexual aggression.

The Ritual of Male & Female

The stages of Intimacy are fluid. Steps can be rushed, one right after the other, and some may even be skipped. However, skipped steps imply a lack of respect. Skipped steps can also imply a need to Control. These warning signs may not be understood consciously, but be rest assured, subconsciously the other party is well aware of what's going on.

She meets a suitable young man. They are introduced and he immediately goes to hug her without bothering to offer his hand or speak with her personally. She may not feel that she has a reason to turn him down and so may allow the full-frontal contact. After that, she will refuse to be alone with him; in fact she may avoid him altogether, likely for the rest of the night. She may not even realize she's avoiding him, but she will avoid him none the less.

Why? Because whether she is aware of it or not, his rush into close physical contact removed all trust.

If the young man is wise, he will find her, hold out his hand and begin again, all the way back to a full reintroduction, preferably with an apology inserted somewhere.

If he does not, she will continue to avoid him. She will continue to feel uncomfortable, unsafe and 'pressured' by him. She will continue to feel that because she allowed 'full frontal contact' he will expect the Next Step in the Dance of Intimacy: a Kiss.

Respect is a Two-Way street.

When a female decides to break the order and jump steps with a potential partner, this tells him that he does NOT have to respect her personal boundaries because she has violated His.

A female that spontaneously kisses a man on the mouth when she does not already know him intimately shows an extreme lack of respect toward him. She is in effect, treating him like an object to be used. This gives him permission to use her any way he cares to, even to the point of taking her right there because her lack of respect for him has removed the need for him to treat her with respect.

In Conclusion…

The steps in the Ritual of Intimacy allow potential lovers the chance to demonstrate respect for each others' personal boundaries and encourage Trust to build between them.

Without TRUST between both parties
 - Love cannot happen.
Without TRUST between both parties
 - Love SHOULD NOT happen.

Morgan Hawke


  1. Hi Megan,

    I know I'm commenting on like a really old post, but is there a difference on the stages of intimacy for M/M romances?


  2. Hi Yvette!
    -- It's MORgan sweety, not Megan.

    " there a difference on the stages of intimacy for M/M romances?"Oh HELL yes!
    -- A man that romances his male lover like a woman is begging for a fist in the face.

    Using the stages of Romance on a guy -- especially when it's another guy, says point blank that the one initiating sees the other as Not Worthy of Equal Respect -- the bottom (uke) in the relationship.

    There ARE gay couples that do play with romance, but that's AFTER the relationship has been established -- and the dominance issues settled.

    Sorry sweety, but I am not going to go into the specific stages for an M/M relationship for you. I had to do a lot of digging (and do more than a few interviews) to discover those. I'm going to be selfish for once and keep that little secret to myself.

    I will however, point you in a very informative direction!

    Happy hunting!