1. Luke Andrew
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    Luke Andrew Member

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    Chastity Couple

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Luke Andrew, Nov 21, 2013.

    In my current project the main romance is between two characters who are obviously in love, but don't have a lot of physical interaction besides the occasional hug or holding hands. They opt to have a proper marriage before they do anything remotely sexual, hence the term, chastity couple.

    What do you guys think of a relationship like this? Interesting? Boring? Refreshing? Dull?

    Personally I haven't read anything with a couple like this, if any of you have please let me know the title and author so I can check it out.
     
  2. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    There is no way to tell from an idea alone. It can be made interesting given the right scenarios, or it can be boring if nothing happens. Perhaps you can try to find and interview such couples in real life for a better idea.
     
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  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It worked fine in "Twilight" but Meyer had to explain it by making Edward from another era where it was the norm to wait, and Bella was new to the dating world so she was a virgin for that reason.

    I think if that's your story that's how you should write it. It's not as realistic in some circles but it solves the problem of having to deal with the moral issues some readers might find objectionable (like parents who control what their kids read).
     
  4. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally, I find the concept interesting. I feel like most stories with a romantic plotline develop it through physical attraction (i.e. guy sees beautiful girl, girl notices the guy's kinda hot, and things roll from there). It can get tiresome. Why is sexual tension the most common motivator? IMO, there's a shortage of romantic subplots where the characters connect purely on a deeper level, without ogling one another's perfect tits or immaculate abs every other scene. Perhaps your character needs a soulmate, not a bedwarmer. Sitting together, watching the sun go down, can be just as intimate as a romp in the sheets. I think it's pretty hot to see a man and woman who just know each other and share a soul, without a constant urge to swap bodily fluids.

    If that's the kind of relationship you see these two characters developing, go for it. I'd like to see the era of the obligatory sex scene slip away. There are other ways to show love and attraction.
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it depends a lot on why they have decided to do this. Is it for religious reasons? If so, you might find some stuff along these lines in Christian literature -- I know there do exist "romance" novels for certain groups of Christians that emphasize the whole abstinence thing.

    If it's not for religious reasons, what is the reason for the full ban on physical interaction? I've read some real life accounts of people who have done these sorts of things -- I read one recently on one fairly mainstream website (I think it might have been slate). But this couple only refrained from intercourse, not from other sorts of physical interaction.

    I think an account of a couple such as that you are describing could be interesting. A lot of it depends, though, on why they are like this, why you want them to be like this, and what you want to show or say through the story.
     
  6. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    I have written a lot of romance stories through the years and all of them have the type relationship where they don't have sex before marriage.
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, maybe I'm just too old ...but I find this sort of thing TOTALLY irritating.

    I mean, it's up to individuals what they want to do or don't do, but I'm not particularly interested in reading about a couple who make NOT having sex central to their relationship. Good grief.

    Sex is such an integral part of who we are as individuals and as a species. I'm not advocating the obligatory jump in the sack either, but to deliberately decide not to have sex (or anything remotely sexual) before marriage seems a bit ...um ... searching for the word here ...risky? What if they can't stand each other in bed? They're married. Too late.

    With all the ways there are these days to avoid pregnancy and STDs, surely this attitude seems a bit twee?
     
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  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I'm always a bit baffled by posts like this. By asking what we all think of it, is this some form of market research? If we all say we hate it, does that mean you wouldn't write it?

    Okay, that said, if I were writing it, I wouldn't give a reason for it. I'd work it into the personalities of the characters. But your use of the term "chastity couple" strikes me as if you are trying to make a statement of some kind, and that strikes me as being rather ham-handed.
     
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  9. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Have to disagree Jannert - everyone's lousy in bed at some point in their life that's all part of the growing
    process. I don't think this should ever factor- in as a reason to have sex before marriage. It's all about
    choice. As long as the person you're going marry is open to discussing anything before the marriage, things
    can work out. Even bad sex is fixable to an willing spouse.

    I agree with Ed. Don't focus on making a statement, focus on character. Just write what their doing as something that's
    coming natural to them, their choice. But remember their is a natural healthy lust involved whenever people
    fall in love - there's no denying, people, usually do want to go a bit further. Oh, and I wouldn't turn this into the theme of
    the story, have a larger issue at hand and make this the backdrop. In most romances the question is when are they
    going to do it? If the reader knows this won't be the driving force of the story what will keep them turning the page.
    Now if they're firefighters investigating a shady house fire with romance on the side then you're got the mystery or
    plot as central focus.

    I also agree with Ed, not to give a reason.
     
  10. Luke Andrew
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    The whole reason I asked the question was because almost all of the novels I have read have had full blown everything goes relationships and I feel kind of nervous about writing something when I haven't read anything similar. It has been fun writing it, but it's easy to love your own work and I would like other people to enjoy it too.

    The story is herioc/epic fantasy and both characters decide that because of the current circumstances it would be better to wait before doing anything sexual. Plus one of them is one of the king's sons and the other is a Lieutenant in the military and because one of them is of royal blood and the other common blood they decide the best way to deal with that is to try to get the king's blessing instead of having an "illegitimate" relationship which might bring the kings wrath down upon on them.

    I used the term "Chastity Couple" because, to be honest, I had no idea how else to describe it in a few words. I am in no way trying to make a statement about religion or anything else. This is in no way the "theme" of the story, just something new I am trying.
     
  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, I should have put a smiley after that remark, because it was meant in a joking manner. And of course you're right.

    However, the OP asked what we thought of a relationship like they are describing, and I guess I had to say what I think! I am not interested in reading about it. Seems awfully self-conscious and coy. What is the story going to be about? Them constantly resisting the urge, with the wedding night as the big prize for good behaviour? Urkkk. No.

    My generation is the one that finally broke away from the prudery that persisted since the Victorian era, and made sexual relationships between unmarried people socially acceptable. All right, maybe at times we went too far, but I really don't want to see a return to a "sex equals bad," "abstinence equals good" mindset.

    By all means, couples should wait till they are both ready, but to set an arbitrary date and make a song and dance about it? Seems a retrograde step to me.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
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  12. peachalulu
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    I'm glad Luke cleared up the mystery - Fantasy with romance!:) It doesn't sound bad at all. I was thinking romance, romance.
    And it gets pretty tedious in a bodice ripper when they just-about do it and then stop because he's such a cad. lol!
     
  13. EdFromNY
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    It does sometime seem like there is something of a requirement to include a steamy scene or two, but then that's what can make refraining from doing so that much more impactful. Once you've decided to write something a certain way, give it your very best shot and don't worry if it's "different". Some of the most beloved/respected works of fiction were very "different" when they were written.

    Then I think you're on very solid ground. They want to, but they dare not. Use that, weave into other aspects of story.
     
  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I've just read @Luke Andrew 's latest post. I'm sorry. I didn't realise from the original posting that this was a fantasy, and that there are compelling story reasons for this chastity development, and that it's not the be-all and end-all of the plot. Fair enough.

    I assumed (not always a good plan!) that you were talking about modern-day 'clean teen' couples.

    Yes, given this new development, the story idea sounds good, and yes I would certainly read it!
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    are they both male, or are there women in the military?

    regardless, you may want to google for info/books/articles dealing with the christian 'chastity ring' phenomenon... it seems to fit in perfectly with your premise...
     
  16. chicagoliz
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    After Luke's clarifying post, I don't think the Christian/abstinence-only/courtship rules scenario is really applicable to this story. It sounds like they're more refraining from starting a relationship altogether, for these other reasons, rather than being in a relationship but refraining from any physical touching. The two motivations and mindsets are totally different.

    I do feel, however, that at some point, there might be a kiss or some sort of embrace or touch that would happen between these two characters, if they really are in love and are drawn to each other. It makes sense in that scenario to have an "Oh my God - we can't do this" moment, and maybe even try to avoid each other for a while after something like that happens.

    There certainly is no reason, though, that they'd have to go "all the way."
     
  17. Burlbird
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    @jannert In a way, if they are keeping the distance between themselves (and the bed), this does open a lot of possibilities for a lot of sexual tension :p
     
  18. Burlbird
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    @Luke Andrew I say go for it. They don't have to copulate like rodents just because they have an urge to do it: in real life there are always steps to take and restrictions to fight in order to achieve something. Literary situations don't need to be less interesting than real life situations :)
     
  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes ...and it totally put me off, because it's such artificial 'sexual tension,' isn't it? It might work for the characters themselves, but not for me, the reader. It sounds like a soap opera subplot. I'd be bored and annoyed and would give up on the story pretty quick.

    However, that was before I realised there's more to this story than what I'd originally thought.
     
  20. Niewiem
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    As long as it's not the main part of the plotline it's fine. This actually gives you opportunity to build your characters' relationship on something more that lust, however some element of sexual tension should still be present, since people in love usually want to get physically closer as well. Keeping balance is important.
     
  21. Luke Andrew
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    I realize now that I should have been much more clear about everything, next time I ask a question I will be sure to so that I don't confuse anybody.

    The Lieutenant is a female. The kingdom they live in is small so there are no regulations against women serving in the military, it just isn't common.

    The characters show affection for each other often through hugs, holding hands, etc. Combined with the circumstances mentioned above it is the first relationship for both of them and is a little awkward at first so both characters decide to take it slow until things cool down. Things don't cool down though and it is the second book where the tension in their relationship begins to build.

    Thanks for all the input, advice, and encouragement! It means a lot. :)
     
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  22. ChickenFreak
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    I'm befuddled as to why this even requires so much thinking--at least on the characters' parts; I guess the author should think these things through. They're not having sex before marriage. And? Unless there's a reason to make this a big deal, I see no, well, reason to make it a big deal. If it's the custom in their culture, then it doesn't need explaining or emphasizing at all.

    One possible book could be Agatha Christie's The Secret Adversary. It's old enough that this is, indeed, the custom in the culture (whether it really was the custom at that time is, IMO, irrelevant; it clearly seems to be so in Christie-World.) The two characters, Tuppence and Tommy, are young and modern, certainly not depicted as being slaves to tradition, but the idea just never comes up. It's not chastity, it's just the way things are for them.

    The same is generally true of Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels' romantic couples, and I'm sure plenty of others that I'm just not thinking of.

    I suppose this could be seen as the author avoiding the sexual issue, but plenty of books *do* avoid the sexual issue, just skating right past it as if sex before marriage were never invented. IMO, it works just fine.
     
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  23. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    If the romance is the point of the story, presented like that you'll be writing something the Christian publishers will smile on. They specifically state that premarital sex is off limits. If not, there can't be a lot of sexual tension if someone is longing to hold her hand.
     
  24. SuperVenom
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    refreshing in a sense. Books TV and Film all have characters jumping in and out of bed. I'm not against it but lately its done just for the hell of it and not for story purpose.
     
  25. kitsune4
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    I read a book a few years ago where the main character and her love interest got together half way through the book. I read one more chapter and haven't touched it since. For me, the romantic plot was the only reason I read and something was very off about the way they got together. It felt forced and too sudden and it ruined the story for me.

    In another example, I read a romance novel where the two characters had sex immediately (followed by several more sex scenes throughout) but their love developed over the course of the novel and it had an interesting subplot-line about the love interest's past to keep me submerged. (As I describe this, I feel like I'm describing 50 Shades of Grey, which I've never read and is not the story I'm talking about).

    Ultimately, if you simply don't want to write a novel with sex in it then don't. Find something else to make these characters interesting outside of their sex lives or lack of. I'm writing a multi-POV fantasy novel where some characters might have implied sex scenes (won't know until I get there) but I have no intention of writing sex scenes straight up or even having my two main POV's have sex. They'll likely be too busy dealing with life or death situations to have time for sex
     

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