"I shouldn't be around him, I might do something I regret. I mean, I'd enjoy it, but… I'd regret it. I mean, I'd really enjoy it, but, oh, I really would—"Perhaps a character doesn't want to change her relationship. Maybe she's trying to force her partner into doing something. It might be illegal. Or possibly she's Genre Savvy enough to know the consequences. In any case, there's a reason why this character doesn't want to have sex with somebody. But she has trouble resisting her urges. Oddly, when the character isn't in a relationship, this trope is almost exclusively applied to females. Apparently, men wouldn't even think about refusing sex in the first place. When the character is in a relationship, it can apply to both genders—although if sex follows, expect a double standard. Compare Unresolved Sexual Tension, which is when the circumstances keep the two apart and Let's Wait a While. May be a result of Can't Have Sex, Ever and Virgin Power. Often ends in Above the Influence. Can overlap with Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?. Expect An Aesop about how Sex Is Evil or You Need to Get Laid, depending on the show's views on the matter.
— Kerry Hennessy, 8 Simple Rules, "Closure"
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- This trope is at the heart of the relationship drama in Maiden Rose, where Taki is supposed to remain physically and spiritually pure, but is in love with Klaus, who doesn't know about this. When he does give in, it's just before he's deported and is unlikely to see Klaus again. Of course, when Klaus announces that he intends to give up his own life to follow Taki the shit really hits the fan.
- Irina—Issei's childhood friend in High School D×D—would really like to bone him. However, she's a Brave Saint, so she can't even consciously think about those desires without being at risk of falling. Even Archangel Michael admits this is an archaic restriction (the rules can't be changed for complex plot reasons) and actually does find a way for Irina to enjoy a bit of lust without falling… almost.
- Dwight from Sin City is revisited by his ex-girlfriend Ava Lord, who wants his help. He refuses at first, but he eventually gives in when the temptation grows.
- After Magneto came to live on Utopia as the X-Men's ally, he started to express an interest in Rogue, trying to rekindle the romantic spark that had briefly flared up during their time together in the Savage Land. Rogue rebuffed all such real and imagined advances because of the many terrible things he had done to her and her friends while in world-conquering villain mode, and in X-Men Legacy #249 he himself had a change of heart and told her that becoming involved with him was a bad idea and that she should return to Gambit. It was after this that Rogue had a change of heart of her own and decided to go with her feelings for one night of passion with Magneto at any rate, noting
"Most people want the things they know are gonna turn out to be bad for them."
- Ridiculously common in Harry Potter fanfiction, as someone (usually Harry) tells himself why having sex with his enemy (usually Draco or Snape) would be a very bad idea.
- Brave New World: Pikachu, at first, has this sort of relationship with Dawn. He likes her and finds her facinating, but is convinced that, because she has declared herself his vassal, she feels she has no choice in the matter and would sleep with him purely out of duty. Dawn later assures him that she likes him too, and while she would sleep with him out of duty if he demanded it of her, if he asked, she would do it out of love.
- Nora in Weiss Reacts constantly drops hints that she wants Ren's babies. The latter is… somewhat flustered about it.
- Part of Frollo's motivation in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, best illustrated in his Villain Song "Hellfire". A Rare Male Example, justified by the fact that Frollo considers himself a very pious and righteous man (even though what he does to people throughout the movie is anything but pious or righteous).
- The original Wicker Man has another Rare Male Example. The main character, Howie, a pious virgin who firmly believes that sex should take only place after marriage, is at one point the subject of an attempted seduction by Willow, the gorgeous landlord's daughter who may possibly have pagan magical powers. He manages to resist it, but is trembling with desire the whole time. Considering what happens to him, maybe he should have.
- In Mr. Mom, Joan (Ann Jillian) comes over with the intention seducing Jack (Michael Keaton) while his wife is at work. He excuses himself to the bathroom and tries to talk himself out of giving in to her by rattling off reasons why he shouldn't do it. It takes him a good while to convince himself that it would be wrong, but he eventually does.
- In the original Ghostbusters, Venkman comes to visit Dana and finds she is possessed by Zuul, which makes her want to sleep with (whoever she thinks is) the Keymaster. He refuses, since she isn't in her right mind (and doubtless also because he has every reason to fear dire consequences if he does), but he's tempted.
Dana: I want you inside me.
Venkman: Go ahead—no, I can't. Sounds like you got at least at least two people in there already. Might be a little crowded.
- In The Hollows, Rachel finds herself in an elevator with Kisten. On one hand, she has a boyfriend, and Kisten hasn't exactly been nice to her so far. On the other hand, she has accepted that she's probably about to die and is highly vulnerable to vampire pheromones. She gives into him, but is pulled back into reality when the elevator doors open.
- Callista in the Darkover series previously had a job that required her to be a virgin, and her mentor pretty much brainwashed her to not only not be sexual, but to forcibly fight off anyone who tried. Now that she's quit her job and gotten married, well… things are awkward when it comes to deprogramming.
- This trope causes a lot of UST in Soul Thief, as Dora—who has some lovers-related trust issues—doesn't want to change her relationship with Miron from friendship to something more intimate. They end up together at the end of the book three, though, subverting this trope.
- A Rare Male Example is found in Cate Tiernan's Sweep series, where Hunter decides not to sleep with his girlfriend Morgan (who is naked and in his bed) because he's about to leave on a long trip and didn't want their first sexual encounter to resemble anything that might be construed as him "loving and leaving" her.
- Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
- Nearly half a chapter in Wizard's First Rule is about Kahlan deciding she should sleep with Richard despite the fact it would destroy his mind, with her inner monologue going through rationalizations such as maybe he'll be more devoted to his quest if it does happen. She actually tries, with him stopping her at the last moment—by this point he's worked out there's something dangerous about her, but he's not sure what. She still hates herself for trying.
- Inverted in The Last Dragonlord, where Linden, a man who can turn into a dragon, finds his soulmate. Unfortunately, if he gives into his urges and has sex with her, he might kill her.
- It's mentioned in Splinter of the Mind's Eye, which came out years before Return of the Jedi. There are many instances in this book and Marvel Star Wars where Luke and Leia very nearly have a Relationship Upgrade and then decline or are interrupted, then drop the idea for a while, not sure why they're reluctant. But it always comes back.
The Princess grew aware of how tightly she was clinging to him. Their proximity engendered a wash of confused emotion. It would be proper to disengage, to move away a little. Proper, but not nearly so satisfying.
- In Shadows of the Empire, Prince Xizor's creepy date-rape pheromones work by amplifying this trope.
It did not matter what a woman's stance was on fidelity, that she had been a faithful partner to another for years or decades. Falleen pheromones were more potent than the strongest spice. Leia might want to resist him with her mind, but her body would ache for him. There was no antidote save one.
Xizor smiled. He would enjoy administering the single antidote to Leia. He would enjoy it very much indeed…
- In Shadows of the Empire, Prince Xizor's creepy date-rape pheromones work by amplifying this trope.
- When Jerin meets the Princess Rennsaeler in A Brother's Price she promptly starts Eating the Eye Candy and seducing him. After fretting a bit he is happy to go along and put those woman-pleasing techniques he's gone over in erotic dreams to the test—it seems they work quite well—he finally says no so he can stay a Technical Virgin. He really wants to keep going, but it would ruin him.
- Basically, the whole point of Twilight. In the words of Roger Ebert, "We all know there is no such thing as a vampire. Come on now, what is Twilight really about? It's about a teenage boy trying to practice abstinence, and how, in the heat of the moment, it's really, really hard. And about a girl who wants to go all the way with him, and doesn't care what might happen."
- This is the main source of the drama in the Hadassah/Marcus romance arc of Francine Rivers’ A Voice in the Wind.
- Towards the end of Sloppy Firsts, Jess writes a list of reasons why she should and should not sleep with Marcus. The "should not" list has a lot of items on it. The "should" list has a single one:
I want to. Oh, God, do I want to.
- In The Dinosaur Lords, a few weeks on the road, Jaume starts to feel serious lust for his fellow Companion Florian. The Companions maintain a rule that it's okay to sleep with each other, but only if both parties are of equal rank, and Jaume is their Captain-General. He still fantasizes, though.
Live Action TV
- Trope Namer is Kerry of 8 Simple Rules, who is visited by the boy she had a fling with while in France.
- An episode of Just Shoot Me! does this with Nina, who takes Elliot's advice and abstains from sex for a while. Of course, she's then visited by a former lover. In the end, she manages to restrain herself—if just barely.
- That '70s Show does this to Jackie, in response to Kelso growing a beard. Donna has to remind her that he cheated on her, lest she "throw herself at him."
- Capt. Picard and Dr. Crusher in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Naked Now".
- Legend of the Seeker has this with Richard and Kahlan.
- A Rare Male Example in Dollhouse, with Echo trying to convince Paul they should have sex.
- Garrow's Law has a mutual version of this with Garrow and Lady Sarah.
- In the Friends episode "The One With the Memorial Service", after Phoebe broke up with Mike because he said he never wants to get married, she asked Monica to keep her away from him. In the end of the episode, it turns out that Mike also asked a friend to do the same.
- In The Good Wife, Alicia in regards to Will. Although, she's married, so she resists the urge to hit that. However, they finally hook up in the season 2 finale after Alicia separates with Peter.
- Another male example: In Downton Abbey, Lord Grantham in regards to Jane Moorsum in Series 2. He is sorely tempted, but in the end he cannot bring himself to do it. (He does, however, pull strings so Jane's son can go to Ripon Grammar School, and pays for his expenses).
- Male example in one episode of Taxi, Elaine is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and starts to come on to Alex as a way of compensating. Seeing as she's obviously very vulnerable, he turns her away. Later, after she has spoken to a therapist, Alex says he's glad they "stopped before we did something we both would have… fondly remembered for the rest of our lives." (Cue laughter from Elaine.)
- Castle falls on the "does" side of this trope in regards to his second ex-wife. He describes her as being like a deep-fried Twinkie; you know it's bad for you, so you only have it once or twice a year. Not that he seems to put up much of a fight whenever she comes around.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy can't have sex with Angel because he would lose his soul. In "Amends" the First Evil tries to bring this about by giving them shared Erotic Dreams. Angel later encounters Buffy in her bedroom looking particularly vulnerable and sensual. While Angel struggles with his urges, the First Evil is whispering in his ear that Buffy wants him to do it (which is certainly true, just not at the cost of Angel's soul).
- In the first series of Bleak Expectations, Mr. Benevolent tries to propose Pippa Bin, who initially refuses his advances. Then her brother states that his designs would leave her "tainted and sullied". Suddenly Pippa becomes much more receptive to the idea…
- The remake of Persona 3 gives us a Rare Male Example of Shinjiro Aragaki. Maxing out his Social Link with the female protagonist leads him to fall in love with her, but he stubbornly resists admitting it because he knows that, with three different death threats hanging over him, he doesn't have long to live and starting a romance would only cause her pain later. It's only in the face of repeated persistence from the protagonist that he finally gives in to his feelings. It still doesn't end well, although he does end up comatose rather than dead. And he does wake up on the last day… just in time to see her die. Yeah, it kind of sucks to be Shinjiro.
- Since Tali is romanceable in Mass Effect 2, she has concerns about sleeping with Shepard (because her species have, basically, no immune systems). But she really would—oh, you get it. In the end, she takes a bunch of herbal supplements, still gets a cold, and admits that it was totally worth it. By the third game, she's built up an immunity and this no longer applies.
- Not only do they have a shitty immune system, but their amino acids are subject to Mirror Chemistry. As Mordin puts it (though for a different pairing which has the same amino acid problem), "Don't ingest."
- Garrus has the same basic reaction to the prospect of being with Shepard. He has no idea how the sex part of a romantic relationship would work between their species, and expresses quite a bit of hesitance due to nervousness about the prospect, but is ultimately all for it. Assuming they can figure out how to work out the particulars. It worth noting that turians, Garrus' race, are the other species in the galaxy whose biological makeup is based on dextro-amino acids. This pairing is the recipient of the above-mentioned "don't ingest" advice.
- Amusingly, all of the inter-species angst plots are resolved by Mordin suggesting some meds and giving Shepard a manual of compatible positions.
- In a Questionable Content strip, Faye wakes up horny and considers calling Sven for… services. In the end, she decides against it. The idea lingers until Dora buys her a vibrator.
- Their conflicting desires and constant invoking of this trope nearly lead Candi and Donte in the Ciem Webcomic Series to schizophrenic levels of indecisiveness, before both of them decide to simply get it over with. They feel like dirt for it, but at least they know their limits.
- Also one reason Candi agrees to marry Denny in spite the war going on all around them. She gets bored with taking most of her clothes off, only for them to "stop at third."
- Out There: Miriam has this dilemma all the damn time. All the damn time.
- Used in Treading Ground at the start of the Jail Bait Wait.