On Writing: Avoid Slap Slap Kiss

You can never tell what a reader’s personal Suspension of Disbelief can handle. Some things you can prepare for. For example, if you’re writing an Arthurian romance, look up horse-handling info for your knights; if you’re plotting a military aviation thriller, go hunt down actual pilots to talk to. But a reader’s gut-level emotional response to something that most people skim over as ordinary… that, you can only write your best stuff, and pray.

Personally, I cannot abide the all-too-common “romantic” trope of Slap Slap Kiss. As in, two people are arguing to the point of or actually engaging in physical combat – and then one of them instigates an embrace, etc. Usually with tongue. Ugh.

A lot of stories with romantic elements seem to see nothing wrong with this. Why, I have no idea. The Tropes page goes into “contained emotion might be translated into lust”. Ooookay, still ugh. I personally have been too close to ground zero of domestic “discussions”, and let me tell you, there was nothing romantic about how each one ended, whether or not such interludes led to people having sex.

So why do people keep using the setup? In what’s usually supposed to be a healthy, or at least nontoxic relationship?

I honestly don’t know. My best guess is that the writers are either seeing things through rose-colored glasses or do not have personal experience with an actual cringe-inducing, black-eye-leaving, run-for-your-life toxic relationship. So they think it’s “just a little argument,” spiced up and funny.

Seriously, it’s not funny.

My most recent unfortunate encounter with this was about a third of the way through Discount Armageddon, by Seannan McGuire. In this Dominic DeLuca, a Covenant (read, fanatical) monster hunter has just kidnapped and drugged Verity Price’s dance partner, taken his place in the professional dance competition she’s trying to win, danced so badly she had to fake an injury to get out of the competition rather than be failed, and is otherwise threatening her life and the lives of other cryptids in her community. But forget the death threats. He’s threatening her lifelong dream, to be a ballroom dancer than just a keeper of monster peace. That’s way more serious than any physical injury. And in the middle of a screaming fight about that she decides to kiss him?

I felt like I’d been hit with a bucket of icy swamp water. Cold, and revolted.

I tried picking up the book again after that, it had some interesting urban fantasy elements. But I couldn’t get back into it. When the POV character is willing to toss aside their dream just because they’re agitated from an argument and the other guy has nice cheekbones – ugh. No. The lack of self-integrity might be catching.

We need more healthy relationships in fiction. And much less Slap Slap Kiss.


43 thoughts on “On Writing: Avoid Slap Slap Kiss

  1. One of the problems with fictional relationships is that the author is trying to cram hours of interaction into a few minutes of reading, and also get the reader invested.

    So having two people, hanging out, happy together?
    Lots of writing, slow paced, and goes completely over the head of some readers.

    Love at first sight, followed by dramatically throwing away your entire life to be with someone?
    A few sentences, very dramatic, drives the plot forward, and you don’t even need to really talk about feelings!

    I’ve seen more than one storybook relationship where they obviously trust each other…. but they don’t seem to be happy with each other.
    What are they like when they aren’t actually forced to work together?
    What happens when they realize they don’t have anything they like to do together?

    The frustrating thing is that shorthand of “Love = Top Priority” has become ingrained to the point where it is assumed to be the case.
    If a character character has to choose between their dream career and the love interest they met 5 minutes ago, the default assumption is that they choose the love interest.
    After all, dream careers come along all the time, but there’s only one true love!

    In fact, if someone even suggests that they are considering it, they are regarded as an unfeeling monster who has destroyed all their emotions.
    Because “emotion” means “that thing that dominates your life and controls your every action.”

    Liked by 7 people

      1. I would really love to see a story where they go on the adventure, sacrifice everything… then break up.

        “We won! Now we can finally be together!”

        “Yeah, about that…”

        Liked by 4 people

      2. I have an image in my head of the Evil Sorceress who cooperated with the Chosen One because she didn’t want the world to end… then Noping out of the expected marriage-and-giving-up-Dark-Powers later, and having to run for it.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Orcs Must Die 2 (video game where you fight waves of enemies with increasingly elaborate traps and bombs, and some magic or weapons) has this heavily implied as the dynamics going on– except even the idiot Good Guy isn’t counting on her doing that, he just kind of goes “oh, cool! You’re trying not to die to the endless waves of your former subjects too, let’s work together!”

        Some flirting, a *lot* of her trying to diss him and him being too dumb to notice, and some zingers back that make you wonder if he’s actually that dumb or just has high armor vs snark.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. I actually see this ‘ slap kiss’ thing work well… when the couple in question has been knowing each other for years, with the kind of closeness of close friends, close co-workers, almost family, etc….
    And this is merely the climax of a long familiarity. While may have happened offscreen.

    Otherwise – its totally logical that the couple that met and got together in book 1, gets divorced in book 2- because they DO love each other, and will want passionately kiss and do OTHER THINGS with each other if in room for 10 minutes, but will also start arguing if they stay 20 afterwards… because his life is fieldwork that requires him to often be away, and she got a career in *insert something*

    makes me thing of “Jurasic world” 1 and 2 as prime example that shows it

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I see how an initially bad relationship can later translate into romance if both characters badly misunderstand the tension between them. But I don’t see it ever evolving into more in the middle of a fight, if only because fights are never the best moments to take a step back and have a life-changing realization such as “ooooh… So that’s why I keep wanting to bug her/him!”. Usually, you are way too busy screaming at each other for that… I know for a fact that when I fight with my boyfriend the LAST thing I want to do is kiss him. Anger, I found feeds off of the other. So long as you are in the presence of someone who is also angry, you keep winding yourself up. Pleasure and love is the last thing on your mind when you need time alone to decompress. You might accidentally kiss if you miss your headbutt though.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Accidental headbutt kisses are acceptable.

      There’s one in the first ep of “Bring it On, Ghost”. But in that case the pair didn’t have anything personally against each other. It was an angry ghost and a cranky exorcist who’d just run into each other, both of whom had already had a Bad Day, duking it out in an enclosed space.

      Once they both froze in shock, and retreated, then they realized there was another, actually malicious ghost to deal with….

      Liked by 1 person

    2. :supporting details because those are important points:

      I have gone from arguing with my husband to hugging him, usually crying, but neither of us are angry AT the other, we can both tell that the other is hurting (usually frustration with Problem, sometimes angry at someone else), and we both know the other can be absolutely trusted when the rubber hits the road.

      He has learned to recognize my yelling-to-not-cry and short-circuit it with a hug. (his family doesn’t yell unless they’re really upset, although they gesture like they’re conducting a bleepin’ orchestra; mine yells because 75% of us are deaf and uses much more restrained arm motions)

      Both of our families have some anger issues, which is probably why we are both able to recognize the difference between “angry at so and so” and “angry ABOUT thing,” even when thing was done by so and so.

      Most romance stories aren’t going to be about mature, well adjusted adults who have already worked out the major interaction issues. 😀

      All that said… NOT angry, and NOT kissing, although comfort-in-intimacy is a thing for guys, too. One of the few things early pop psychologists got right is that romantic type intimacy is a form of comfort, and one that guys will frequently deeply desire when they’re feeling insecure.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I have never been in a romantic relationship, so I can’t speak from my own experience, but I agree with another comment, I can’t see wanting to kiss someone while really arguing with them. I can remember one move where this situation happened that kind of made sense, and it was only because the couple involved weren’t really arguing, more a heated discussion that seemed to have double meanings to most of the statements. So I guess it doesn’t fit the trope exactly. I have a similar problem with the enemies to lovers idea, where they hate each other then realize they actually love each other… 🙄 I know I get too angry and involved in an argument or fight to ever want to kiss someone. And I definitely agree that the True Love = Top Priority thing is way overdone in current romances.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Let’s see if this makes sense… it’s basically a part of what I call, “cargo cult writing.”

    How do cargo cults form? Because of a belief that something is a transitive property when it isn’t. Which happens all the time. For example, it might be observed that a lot of hot girls are crazy. This then leads to many… “less attractive” women believing that if they then act just as crazy, they’ll be hot like those other girls. Which is obviously wrong. The hot girls are crazy because their attractiveness leads to a distortion of societal feedback (because if you’re hot enough, people will tolerate a lot more from you than if you were less good looking).

    Likewise the cargo cult believes putting up the form of the airport – the runway, the shape of the tower, etc – will cause planes to land there. But it doesn’t work, because they are missing the core, the essential function of the forms. Forms follow the function, you can’t get the function by just copying the forms.

    THEREFORE with all that said, the principle of “slap-slap-kiss” is based around the function of concern & emotional investment. A more clear example to think of first would probably be to think about parents and children. The parent is obviously concerned and invested in the child, and when the child does certain things, the parents ends up with conflicting emotions of wanting to spank sense into the kid and hugging that same kid tight. In a romance besides a similar conflict (“you idiot! i was scared!”) you can also have the conflict of concern for the subject of affection against a denial that there is anything more to said concern (“you idiot! not that I really care…”).

    That’s at least the core FUNCTION of the idea. A hack writer who hasn’t really grasped this motivation of their characters will attempt to emulate this by imitating the FORM of this conflict without the core. “People that love each other sometimes fight, therefore if I have these people fight, they must be in love!”

    At least that’s my working theory on the matter. Hope that was coherent.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Personally, I cannot abide the all-too-common “romantic” trope of Slap Slap Kiss. As in, two people are arguing to the point of or actually engaging in physical combat – and then one of them instigates an embrace, etc. Usually with tongue. Ugh.

    This one I know because it’s gotten the head-tilt from me a LOT– it’s a feral trope.
    It made sense where it was originally, got copied a lot, those copies got copied and so on, and so now it looks a little like the original but is missing important chunks that GAVE it that effect. (Sound like a lot of the recent movie remakes?)

    My pet theory is that part of the issue is writers not having experienced OR seen it in practice, and not doing the research to try to figure out how exactly it works. Like you said, if you’re writing about Arthurian Knights, check your horse knowledge.

    These guys didn’t. They’re doing it because it’s in stories, who are doing it because it’s in stories, who are doing it because it’s in a story where they TOTALLY missed the important bits. The film-school example is that knife throwing was a shorthand to show someone was insanely good– now it’s basically assumed as a standard because everybody used it and *all* the characters do it.
    I don’t know if you have the same mental category for them that I do, but you have seen them, because you keep fixing them in stories!

    For this one specifically:
    It is NOT “contained emotion might be translated into lust”, originally– and in real life– attraction is uncomfortable, and being aggressive/fighty is a way to deal with the awkward.
    If your social norm doesn’t involve roughhousing, much less freaking violent interaction, this trope makes no sense.
    If your social norm treats physical affection to not-planning-to-lifebond-with as acceptable, it’s more likely.
    If both assault and physical intimacy are frowned on, it is a lot more likely there will be confusion, and if there’s an excuse for physical assault they’ll likely take it because of bad signal interpretation. {glares at a jade faced such and such}

    Husband and I flirted with minor friendly rough-housing– rib pokes, specifically. I was a lot sneakier, he’s a lot faster and has longer reach. It worked because it was inside of social interaction norms for friends, if a bit on the physical side. :dryly: Needless to say, NOT violent, although part of the attraction is that he is a lot stronger than I am, it’s entirely in a never-cause-harm-to-me way. The covering for each other’s vulnerabilities is part of the attraction, because we can trust each-other to do that. (the “dangerous thus attractive” is another feral trope, don’t sleep with something that wants to kill you, freaking stupid tropes…)

    Now, back to the base stories– you’re familiar with the reality of women simply not being as strong as men, so requiring a higher baseline of violence. In the early examples, the women in this trope were forced to step into the defend-self category anyways– which means it took all their focus. They had to wall away normal female protect/nurture/attraction responses. Attraction is a weakness, and when they feel weak they HAVE TO respond violently.

    The man involved was likewise not Polite Company, but established as not a bad guy, but also not going to be pushed around by this gal via social expectations manipulation. Not infrequently, he’s been burnt by that kind of nonsense before, that’s WHY he’s gone outside of Polite Company.

    So neither are backing down, and neither have the sense God gave a goose to figure out that they’re not threatened by the other person, they’re feeling vulnerable because they’re ATTRACTED to the other person, and THE READER CAN SEE THIS and is ranting at how oblivious these two twits are.

    Physical fighting– the ones that I saw/read were usually sqwabbling over a physical item type fighting, not assaulting each other— were an excuse to get the two characters inside of the comfort zones. Usually, gal is faster, gets item, gets it where the guy can’t grab it– so he grabs her, because duh, bigger and stronger.

    Long pause, because she’s bluescreening because she’s caught and can’t use higher speed/better dodging to get loose, caught is bad, he’s bluescreening because he was going after the item, and even though he’s not polite company he’s not the kind of guy who uses his strength to do something to a woman, and now with his hands on her she is definitely a woman eeeek I was just trying to get [item].
    Both bluescreens clear slightly because they’re recognizing a rather important aspect of the other as man and woman, and then there was usually a kiss resolving the already established but denied physical attraction. (Being physically close to someone you’re attracted to when it’s mutual, even if you had no idea they also like you, does have a really weird effect–even for those of us who don’t get body language, I would guess because it’s going off of stuff that is not cultural, it’s physical. I thought I was being an idiot with insufficient respect for future-husband-I-wasn’t-even-dating-yet’s boundaries, he was trying to figure out if I was dense or just not into him. He really is that nice and helpful, though, I wasn’t being a complete idiot….)

    A kiss without tongue, and usually followed by yet another bluescreen on both parts because oh holy crud kissed them THAT is a big change of state.

    Much, much different than the “trying to kill the other person, then suddenly they are kissing and clothes go flying” version.

    As best I can tell, the French kissing right off the bat started out as a PG way to indicate, um, more intimate activities, and also went feral. Possibly was in one of the borderline non-con stories way back when?

    It takes a while to build up to where that’s pleasant, again has a lot to do with trust and intimacy, and thinking about the mechanics of it is still pretty gross. Possibly that’s partly because I know how filthy the human mouth is…

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Very well said. I can’t bring to mind the specific source, but I can picture a scene like that in my mind perfectly, and can very well see how it got corrupted over time through both gradual shifts of societal expectations, as well as use by less talented writers as a form of shorthand that they partly messed up, and then made the altered version more expected.

      Liked by 5 people

    2. oh yeah, this is excellently put. I wonder where the change occured, because I can def remember reading things in the lighter catagory a lot, and then all of a sudden it was mostly the more violent sort of thing… My kneejerk is to blame hollywood.

      Liked by 4 people

  7. Yes!

    I will say that I’m a big fan of the enemies to lovers trope when it’s done right, which means a slow progression from enemies -> enemy I respect -> neutral party/possible ally I respect -> friends -> lovers and sadly most writers skip over most of that middle progression.

    There may have been bad fights at the beginning, but by the time the kissing part happens, they should be long past that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I recently realized I’m working on what is technically an enemies to lovers story after declaring myself a hater of the trope, and I decided the difference boils down to the morals of the characters.

      The trope works when the characters are politically opposed (enemy countries, noble vs. peasant, pirate vs. merchant, etc.) but come to realize they have similar moral codes, which leads to teamwork and attraction and an ability to trust each other, often more than they can trust others nominally of their same political group who have shown themselves to be untrustworthy.

      The trope doesn’t work when their morals are diametrically opposed, because changing your moral code is a deep and difficult paradigm shift and takes a lot of time, painful experience, and soul-searching (Zuko is about as close as I can think of to seeing that actually happen in fiction, and even he I don’t think has a moral shift so much as getting his priorities in order). But most writers have no idea how to make that effectively happen, and don’t want to take the time to make it happen anyway, so it often just becomes “evil person saved by the power of luhv!” with the good character compromising their morals and the evil character getting re-skinned as a good guy without ever changing as a person.

      This latte also often seems to play into “girls like bad boys”, which I honestly find a deeply concerning and problematic trope.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. /agree
        I find myself saying that I don’t like a lot of story-types…when what I actually don’t like is them done poorly.

        It can HAPPEN in a story, and if it’s a good story, it’s good.

        It’s like… defeat means friendship, and then nobody ever looks at the stuff that made them have to be defeated. That happens a lot in Western cartoons, while Anime tends to do a good job any job at all of “oh, yeah, the cool guy we recruited? He, uh, has some baggage from when he was evil…should maybe try to fix it.”

        Liked by 3 people

      2. You might like the Korean movie “The Pirates”, then. Pirates versus bandits versus evil bureaucrats!

        And I agree, the current “all girls want bad boys” theme just makes me… very cranky.

        One of the awesome things about the Enchanting Phantom movie,

        Is that the scholar is a very nice guy.

        (Who gets Mistaken for Badass at some points, but is more an Action Survivor….)


      3. “A woman knows that a man who cannot stand up to her is going to have difficulty standing up for her.”

        I like Foxfier’s characterization of these romance gone wrong tropes as “feral”.

        “Chick dig jerks” is the unhinged feral version of the quote above.

        Liked by 3 people

  8. I feel like the most egregious instances of this trope usually involve the female partner hitting a male partner, because “she can’t actually hurt him” and therefore it’s “funny”. No, it is not funny. Violence is violence.
    I think the only version of this I would be okay putting into a story would be if the “slap-slap” part was play-fighting or sparring.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Honestly I hate all romance stories where they fight and don’t get along. Especially if the conflict is never really resolved but they just decide that the other person is attractive enough it doesn’t matter if they’re a jerk.
    Drives me absolutely nuts

    Liked by 5 people

  10. I find slap slap kiss kinda weird and icky, for lack of a better word, when they’re actually trying to kill each other, I do agree with an earlier comment to the effect of it working in sparring though. The one time I’ve seen it kind of work is the Bog and Marriane fight in Strange Magic, they’re equally matched fighters and after a prolonged fight they sit down and start talking, they don’t immediately start kissing so it doesn’t completely follow the trope but still. However it’s still a movie so they fall in love over the course of a day but it’s shown that they are compatible, also that the reason they were fighting was kind of a misunderstanding. The relationship in that movie I can’t stand is the one where the protagonist’s younger sister turns out to be in “true love” with the guy who used a love potion on her.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Personally, I’d start looking for an outside influence if that happened to me. I would love to see a book where the super hot dangerous bad boy ends up facing a gun at the end because the main character is asexual and knows that the instant physical attraction is definitely induced in them. Or the Ice Queen/King turns out to be in a super committed relationship and that’s why they’ve been ignoring the flirting. Bonus if it’s a cultural difference that Everyone Knows that, no, actually, no they don’t, most of the cast didn’t because Different Culture.

    I recently picked up an urban fantasy book that, well it was tagged as slow burn and to be fair, the main pair only reached a mostly amiable spot at the end of the book. I was still tempted to walk away, and in fact just skipped to the last chapter because I was frustrated by the character, just, breezing past certain signs. Plus, if they’d gone for a low fantasy vs masquerade fantasy it would have been more believable that the character was so accepting of a paradigm that included magic and werewolves. I got it because you don’t find many books, much less urban fantasy, about a forty year old woman fresh out of a divorce and the sample was decent. Unfortunately, even the fight scene wasn’t, um, desperate enough. She just got jumped by three werewolves, her surly protector was fighting for her life, and my adrenaline wasn’t surging. She had way too much time to think, for someone who wasn’t used to being in life threatening danger, which I just figured out was bothering me about it.

    Still! I’d give it a solid three out of five stars. Interesting premise, decently carried out, and actual character growth. Mostly believable characters, nothing that threw me terribly. And I’ll give the author this, we might have a genuine slow burn.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Not exactly what you’re talking about, but one thing I loved about ParaNorman was his older sister. She spent most of the movie flirting with Norman’s friend’s older brother (that looks weird, but I have no idea how to streamline the relationship without losing it) and he is just totally oblivious to everything. And it comes across as him being a bit dim and her flirting flying over his head … until the end. She made a comment about something or other (it’s been a while, I don’t remember), and he’s like “Oh, you like the thing! That’s so cool, you should talk to my boyfriend, he also likes that thing!” I laughed way too hard the first time I watched that movie.


  12. To be fair, that particular character has an opening setup where she is living a cruddy and somewhat demeaning lifestyle, in order to make money to support the monster hunting and academics, which she also apparently does not like all that much. And a lot of her friends come off as terrible. So self-destructive decisions might be a thing.

    Or it could be a love potion or other mind control. Or a dream.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. As an ace person, a lot of romance angles don’t work to me. I just can’t see why it has the effect the piece of media says it does. The whole fighting brings out PASSION thing actually does seem to be a thing in real life with some people tho. Heck if I know how it works. The line between I love you and I hate you seems to be bizarrely thin for a lot of people, and that translates into media (the song I love the way you lie for instance, has so much alien-to-me emotion in it… It’s like trying to smell the color orange).

    I don’t get it AT ALL. How can you love someone you don’t have a solid base of respect and actual affection? If someone tried kissing me in the middle of an argument or an actual fight I’d probably go for their eyes.

    The only way I can see the whole slap slap kiss thing being less cringy is when it’s not a serious fight, it’s a spar, or a longstanding couples playful bickering.

    (on the subject of Seanen McGuire’s book, you could ask the author why she made that particular plot choice? She’s pretty friendly and open about polite questions on her tumblr account!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For what it’s worth, it’s not just you.

      One of the things I ended up figuring out from having one of those giant, invisible Please Talk To Me signs over my head, is that a lot of people who very loudly follow the Everyone Knows/popular media romantic guides are miserable, and quite sure there’s something wrong with them for being that way– and admitting that the thing Everyone Knows is best makes them miserable will just make the outcasts on top of it all.
      (I’ve even figured out how to ask the right leading questions to sometimes make folks figure out part of why they’re unhappy– although heaven help me if I can figure out how to get folks to go to people in happy, stable relationships for advice, rather than the multiple-divorce, been-dating-for-decades types, then being surprised when applying their advice gets the same results as the advisor got.)

      You really, really don’t want to get me rolling on the idea that someone who is a perfect friend thus cannot be a romantic option. I can understand the fear of losing a good friend from trying to become more– but that is an admission that you (the “but I can’t” you, not you you) doesn’t trust that the friend understands you enough to accept that you could be romantically attracted to them. Every single happy couple I know are mature best friends.

      How can you love someone you don’t have a solid base of respect and actual affection?

      When you don’t actually know what “love” is, only that it will make you not feel so horrible. Doing this thing makes you not alone which makes you feel better, so it must be love.

      There are a LOT of flatly predatory behaviors that have gotten normalized, as well as very unhealthy coping behaviors.

      Also a crud-ton of horribly immature behaviors get idealized….

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Twilight didn’t help. I wanted to run screaming from the room, because nothing about Twilight is romantically healthy. And certain things about Imprinting read more to me about keeping someone ‘useful’ around the pack regardless of whether or not it’s best for them or what their own desires might be. There’s a series of YouTube videos called ‘Breaking Dom’ where the guy read the books (finally), summarized, and then analyzed them. His basic take away? Twilight made him doubt the existence of love, normalized abusive behaviors, badly handled some major sensitive issues, but had occasional moments of brilliant psychological horror that were then immediately overridden by the trite and frankly forced romantic plot.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. PRENOTE:
        I am extremely wordy, but haven’t the mental spoons to edit it down; please pardon the extended musing.
        END PRENOTE.

        Tempted to send the guy the money for a beer, just for doing something I wouldn’t put myself through….

        Sounds roughly accurate to me, although I’d lay cash that he and I would disagree on what was done poorly or what done well would look like! A romance novel isn’t supposed to be an accurate guide to life, literature tropes, etc– I understand them, even if there are a lot of types of books I avoid because the tropes in them kick me out of suspension of disbelief. (See also, anime, or even my son’s horrible habit of modeling off of Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes.)

        I’d summarize the biggest problem with Twilight (based off of listening to folks who enjoyed it) being that it was yet another book that put teen characters with upper-middle-class, were-in-college-in-the-70s, currently-not-happy-but-don’t-know-why brains into a story, and hadn’t done any figuring to identify WHY they weren’t happy, they were just going to do the formula in order to get the outcome that was desired for the story.
        What healthy people get out of such a book is a brief, comfortable break where Things Worked Out.

        A LOT of the really creepy books we had to read in school were less creepy when the 14 year old female protagonist was mentally re-written as at the very least a woman in her 7th year of college. (I know Bella was nearly adult in the story– actually do appreciate that, it makes it a less-horrible example of what I’ve seen happen after publishers realized how many adults were reading “young adult” novels and so started putting the exact stuff we were avoiding into the YA novels, redefining it by on-paper-age of characters.)

        To say it in a different way, such books are a lot like the fanfic where characters are identical to what the author thinks is normal, rather than what the setting establishes as normal– say, an ancient Roman where every single character you’re supposed to like has views identical to modern persons of whatever the author’s political stripe is, Because They Are Good.

        Figured this out when I was reading what felt line the thousandth book where a character talked about how she’d grown up and I realized that it had absolutely nothing to do with anything I’d ever seen– but was almost identical to the similar rants in books I’d read that were written in the late 60s to early 70s. Overwhelmingly, I discovered that the authors were the age of my parents. Makes Ms Meyer an exception, she’s only a decade older than me!

        Twilight was hugely successful with middle-aged women of the sort that might end up dumping their hearts out to me, for dang sure, though I know few folks my age or younger that read it when it came out. 😀

        Even the infamous numbers-polished-off Twilight fanfic, Fifty Shades (series) MAKES SENSE when you know that those abusive behaviors are socially acceptable versions of things Strong Women are supposed to have Developed Past so they can be Empowered.

        Liking guy being somewhat possessive* because he loves you and is terrified of losing you: Not Acceptable, dump him, MAYBE let him come crawling back when he’s atoned enough.
        Liking guy who forcibly kidnaps you: Toats OK, and HOT!
        *such as objecting to sleeping around, especially when he’s not supposed to do so

        Sense making is not approval, I must note.
        There is quite a bit of writing out there around the dynamics of folks who keep picking abusers, and even dump the guy or gal they date who *isn’t* abusive, because they managed to get a measure of “he values me” that includes the abuse. So I can sort of get my head to recognize it’s a dynamic. Just a horrible one.

        See also, the urban fantasy only-dating-monsters thing, or heck even Crossover’s post a bit back about how there’s aaaaalllll these stories pound on how there is nobody who can or will help you, you MUST do it all by yourself, and when you do there’s sure no need to help people help themselves, because anyone of REAL worth would have saved themselves already– take them serious, and oof that’s some nasty stuff.

        Liked by 3 people

  14. One thought, some of the romance space in fiction is clearly being used to mainstream some utterly terrible and useful for predators ideas.

    I also had a thought about jokingly claiming to think it sounded legit, because of all the Shonen Jump I’ve read. Rest of the plan was 1. Yeah, no, women are mostly not wired that way 2. Men, also aren’t really often wired to think a woman is hot who active-stupidly escalates to violence, and is indiscriminate in target choice. 3. Even the Wall to Wall Counseling field manual hints that this stuff isn’t really functional in romantic relationships.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. I’m almost purely asexual; I wonder if that’s why I always thought the slap slap part was down to a deep anger that the other person was Being Attractive on purpose. A hate that I feel love you sort of thing.
    In any case, it made about as much sense as most erotic/romantic tropes did to me. Now I just blink and move on from them, like I do science and physics etc if there is magic or Aliens etc. Things have to be pretty egregious to jerk me out of the story… at least on my first reading of a work.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I think some people think Slap, Slap, Kiss is the romantic version of Vitriolic Best Buds… without realizing that the way Vitriolic Best Buds works is that there’s usually a lot of set-up for it to convince the reader that “yes, these people really do care about each other, this is just the dynamic they have”. Usually with a follow-up later down the line of the Vitriolic Best Buds not being vitriolic and that being a *huge* warning sign that something *really bad* is going down in the relationship (and yes! usually this is some outside 3rd party putting pressure on one side of the relationship that one of the characters is reacting too!). Only… Slap, Slap, Kiss usually doesn’t do any set-up because most romantic tropes don’t get enough set-up…

    Context also depends *a ton*… and context is very often doubling as “set-up”. There is one romance webtoon I do like where physical sparing (and later being a Battle Couple) gets established as one of the things the romatic leads like doing together, often with them both realizing at the end that they think the other one is hot. And when they’re not doing that, they’re having a lot of fun arguing about mundane stuff, in part because they know they aren’t going to hurt each other while doing so. This culminates in the conversation they have where they establish their ‘ship. It’s a conversation to be sure… but it’s set in their sparing dojo and the “camera” angles of the argument/conversation are similar to the ones used for their spars. So it very much has the energy of “Slap, Slap, Kiss”… but because the author put in the work for them having a slightly argumentative relationship where they know they’re not going to hurt each other, the kiss at the end of the argument has the energy of “Finally!!!” rather than “where they heck did that come from?”

    Liked by 1 person

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