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Can't Act Perverted Toward a Love Interest
One sign that a couple is developing affections for one other can be, paradoxically, that they are unwilling to perform actions with or regarding each other which would be considered perverted or crude humor when done with anyone else. A guy known for making lewd sexual gestures or kissing complete strangers will all of a sudden shape up if the circumstances call for such activities around his Love Interest. His moral decency won't allow for it. Of course, the irony may be that said interest actually finds said lewdness charming in the first place, in a variant of We Want Our Jerk Back.

This trope does not necessarily involve romantic relationships; sometimes it's just a matter of personal respect to someone who, earlier on in the series, was just considered too faceless to have to worry about their feelings. Note that if the two do have to get involved in such a gesture, it tends to mark an ending to Unresolved Sexual Tension.

This trope dates back to the Petrarchan tradition. The general cultural idea was that sexual competition forced men to "clean up their act" to show legitimate affection. It is also, conversely, where the concept of Playing Hard to Get comes from.

See also Ladykiller in Love, My Girl Is Not a Slut, Nature Adores a Virgin, and Chivalrous Pervert.

Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ranma ½: Ranma has, in separate occasions and sometimes repeatedly, manipulated Akane, Shampoo, Ukyou, and Kodachi's affections for some ulterior motive. He's usually interrupted by an outside factor, though, at which point he either flees, curses his luck, or feels remorseful (or a combination of the three.)
    • In a similar vein, Ranma is far more willing to show physical, romantic affection for someone he doesn't care about than to show it for someone he does, due to too much respect for the other's opinion of him in that regard. At one point, after Ranma flat-out refuses to kiss Akane (even though kissing her just once means he'll be able to go back to China), she asks him:
      Akane: Do you hate me that much?
      Ranma: I-Idiot! If I did, it'd be easier.
  • One of the signs in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya that Haruhi and Kyon are getting closer has to do with Haruhi's habit of nonchalantly stripping down for gym while male classmates are still in the room. Kyon supposes this behavior reflects how little respect Haruhi has for men, essentially treating them like inanimate objects. When she demands Kyon leave the club room when she changes, it's significant.
    • On the flip side, Kyon is so used to Haruhi's behavior by that point that he is quite indifferent to whether she strips in front of him or not. He knows her well enough to know that she could strip in the same room and he wouldn't even try to ogle her. Ironically, the two of them came to these separate understandings in the exact same scene.
  • InuYasha: Miroku flirts with every pretty girl, asking them "will you bear my children?" (although that question has a double meaning, since the curse in his hand will kill him one day and he wants to leave behind children before that happens), but he conspicuously refrains from posing that question to Sango when she joins the main character's team. (He does try to ask when she points out that he hasn't, but she irritably cuts him off.)
    • Eventually, Miroku does get around to asking Sango his notorious question, and when he does, he means it as a marriage proposal.
      Sango: This means that you'll stop the womanizing, right?
      Miroku: .... (looks really indecisive, earning a glare from Sango)
    • It should be noted that while he never asked that question of her specifically, it never stops him from groping her every chance he has. Miroku's restraint only goes so far.
  • Shakugan no Shana: Shana doesn't just strip in front of Yuji. This is significant because as a Torch, Yuji would be considered a mere "thing" and not a person.
  • Both Ryo and Kairi Okayasu pretty much state this in Peach Girl, this is pretty much played straight when we learn that Ryo has always been in love with Misao. However, we see that in the beginning, Kairi has no qualms about being his normal pervy self while around Momo.
  • In the Full Metal Panic! novels, Nami is perfectly willing to be harmlessly flirty towards men (like Lemon) to try to get her way, and is very open about teasing and making mock advances. However, there's one person she just can't do it with: Sōsuke. She turns extremely shy and nervous whenever she's around him, and has a very hard time acting open, flirty, and how she normally does whenever she interacts with him. So obviously, the one guy she has a hard time with is the guy she's head over heels in love with. Especially noticeable when she feels so shy about the idea of rooming with him and sleeping in the same bed with him, and tells him they can't do that. They end up with the arrangement of Sōsuke sleeping on the floor under the bed, and she sees no problems with sleeping in the same bed as Lemon. Evidently, she can only feel modesty whenever Sousuke is involved.
  • The Girls Love manga Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu has the "She Wolf" character, a roguish lesbian at a girls school, stop making sexual advances on one girl when she falls in love with her. Much to said characters frustration; as she wants to have sex now. In "Little Red Riding Hood Strikes Back" she makes this abundantly clear.
  • Somewhat similarly to the above example, in Strike Witches, Eila has comments in her himegoe tracks regarding the chest of every member in the 501st Joint Fighter Wing except for Sanya, who gets agitated Angrish instead. This is made even more humorous when one considers that Sanya knows Eila goes around feeling girls up and questions why she doesn't get the same treatment.
  • Averted in Naruto, where Naruto considers peeping on Sakura, to whom he is attracted (but she has not reciprocated his feelings, at least not openly) in the hot spring baths in Part II, but is too scared to do so after Yamato tells him a story about Tsunade nearly killing Jiraiya with her super strength for doing so, and suggesting Sakura would do the same if she caught him. Inverted in the manga when Sakura tells Naruto to go behind a tree to pee in the Forest of Death, but Inner Sakura reveals that she would be willing to watch Sasuke, the object of her affection, pee.
  • Similar to other Rumiko Takahashi examples above, Ataru to Lum from Urusei Yatsura towards the end of the manga may be the most extreme example of this, considering the planet-in-crisis circumstances.
    • Debatably happens earlier then that. Before the sixth anime episode, Ataru is telling Lum to Please Put Some Clothes On when she's lying, naked, in his futon and telling him she wants to sleep with him. Admittedly, Ataru is more of a "look, but don't touch" sort of pervert and mainly after dates, not to mention that, at this early stage, Lum was still the unofficial villain and Ataru was supposed to hook up with Shinobu.
  • In Onani Master Kurosawa the titular character, who masturbates while thinking about various girls from his school, starts to develop feelings for Takigawa. However, in a sort of different example of this trope, he only really realizes he is in love with her when he reacts to his own masturbating to her by vomiting. He refrains from ever using her in such a way again. Until later on, in a moment of extreme despair and desperation. He vomits again.
    • In the end, after he gets over his feelings for Takigawa (who is with somebody else) this is how he realises he's developing feelings for another girl.
  • In Happy World, the main character's best friend is a crude, violent, lecherous Jerkass... who falls in love with the local Ill Girl, and proceeds to have near-panic attacks at the idea of kissing her, because "It's like a lion attacking a rabbit, you know?!" The main character thinks that it's more akin to "a lion being afraid of a rabbit". Although, the guy is still far cruder and more perverted than most others in the show, he's simply less perverted around the girl.
  • In Rosario + Vampire, Ginei acts unusually polite around Sun Otonashi.
  • Inverted in Seitokai Yakuindomo. Amakusa Shino is obviously interested in Tsuda Takatoshi and has no problem saying extremely perverted things around him with a straight face. However, whenever Tsuda actually says something perverted (or when she thinks he's saying something perverted) directed at her, she gets flustered.
  • In Heaven's Lost Property, Tomoki Sakurai acts perverted towards every female he came across, be it human or Angeloid, except the heroine Ikaros. At one point, this is lampshaded when he was asked about it and he couldn't figure out why himself either.
    • It's implied that at least one of his reasons is because if he tried to do anything, Ikaros would let him. Not because she likes him (which she does) but because Tomoki is her Master. It just so happen that Tomoki hates this Master-Slave relationship, and one of the bigger parts of the series is to break the Angeloid race from their Slave mind set.
  • In NEEDLESS, Adam Blade was a shirt chaser but was never shown acting perverted towards Eve, who was meant to be Blade's soul mate.
  • Detective Conan, Kogoro Mouri will filrt with every cute girl and beauty except his wife, or anyone who looks like her, much to Sonoko's wonder. Mouri sometimes becomes cooler and more perceptive when he meets someone that reminds him of Eri.
  • Jin towards Misaki in Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. Even though its pretty evident Misaki is willing to do anything with him, he always acts Above the Influence towards her. A huge example occurs during episode 14, when Misaki asks the Sakura Hall residents to leave the building during Christmas Eve. Both alone, she appears before Jin naked, embraces him and confesses to him again. He finally tells her he loves her, but doesn't want to do anything towards her, which once again breaks her heart.
  • Inverted in To Love Ru Darkness. Momo is extremely flirtatious towards Rito and is very vocal about her Marry Them All plan. On the other hand, she gets very flustered when it seems like Rito is actually in the mood.
  • In Bokurano, Hatagai claims that the fact that he's never had sex with his girlfriend, Chizu's older sister is proof that he loves her. This, however, only serves to make him seem even more vile, by suggesting that only one woman is exempt from his deplorable treatment of all others, especially his gang-raping Chizu.
  • Gender Reversed in Aquarion Evol. Zessica initially is very flirty around Amata mostly because it amuses her that doing so sets off his fight power, and thinks nothing of his or anyone's reaction to her usual skimpy attire, but as she starts to develop genuine feelings for him, stops flirting and begins to become more and more self consious around him. Andy on the other hand is still perverted towards MIX and in fact never really acts perverted or interested in any other girl but MIX for that matter. He only stops and gets serious when she's captured and brainwashed late in the series and he realizes he blew his chance with her earlier.

    Fan Works 
  • In the backstory of Jordan179's My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic novella A Long Night At The Hippodrome, the lecherous but honorable stallion Piercing Gaze, owner and manager of the Baltimare Hippodrome, feels this way toward The Great and Powerful Trixie when she plays his house for about a month. He befriends her and begins to care for her greatly. Unfortunately, they get drunk together one night and he violates this precept, (from his point of view) seducing her. The formerly-virginal Trixie reacts afterward with horror and leaves Baltimare. Piercing totally blames himself for violating his normal code, and hopes that one day Trixie will forgive him. Probably because she returns his love, Trixie doesn't judge him as harshly for this as he does himself.

    Film 
  • In North To Alaska, John Wayne's character hires a prostitute to come back to Alaska with him as a replacement for his friend's fiancée, who had run off with another man while waiting. Near the end of the movie, it's confirmed that John Wayne really does love her, when it's discovered that he didn't try to take advantage of her on the trip.
  • In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jay's shoulder Angel tells him he can't be the same perv he usually is with Justice, and must instead be "Don Juan Delanooch".
  • In Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Zack constantly shows reluctance to have Miri on screen with anyone else but him, and when it comes time to shoot their love scene, he doesn't want her to show her breasts or be overly provocative.
    • He also clearly makes love to her instead of normal porn sex, and doesn't follow the script (which calls to ejaculate on her breasts), to the producer's chagrin. Everybody else thinks it's very romantic, though.
  • Summer Lovers. Cathy has read some books on sex and tries an experiment where she ties Michael to a bed and drips candle wax on him. He doesn't like it, and tells her not to read any more because he doesn't want to know what she might find next.

    Literature 
  • Gleefully averted in the Night Huntress books. Chivalrous Pervert Bones takes great delight in being as crude and as sexually explicit as he can, under the pretense of helping Cat overcome her blushing naivete.
  • Subverted in Atlas Shrugged: Rearden fantasizes of using Dagny to satisfy his "degrading need," but when he turns his fantasy into action, he finds to his shame that she's as "depraved" as he is, and is quite proud to have slept with him.
  • A variant in The Outsiders: Sodapop was known to brag about his various conquests, but Ponyboy is actually a bit surprised that his longtime girlfriend, Sandy, "went to live with her grandmother in Florida" since Sodapop had never talked about her that way. (It's later confirmed by third brother Darry that Soda couldn't possibly be the father of her baby, but proposed marriage to her anyway.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Office: Michael Scott refrains from making his usual "That's What She Said" jokes when he's with Holly, one of his only love interests that has real potential.
  • Jay of The Inbetweeners in the last episode of the second series ("I don't want you to feel rushed. But I want you to know that if you do want to touch me down there, I'd be totally fine with that"). When she dumps him for being too clingy, he returns to his old ways immediately, tearfully insisting that he dumped her ("She was frigid...and she wouldn't go for a threesome I organised with a top lezzer model...and my cock was too big for her!").
  • When Barney from How I Met Your Mother gets a crush on his friend Robin, he tries to win her over by being a gentleman. Leads directly into a We Want Our Jerk Back moment.
  • When Tony meets Ziva (his major love interest) on NCIS, he can't picture her naked. Since this is Tony's major talent, he is understandably annoyed. Of course, later he begins to get more okay with it, wanting to hear details about her sex life and so on...
  • Chuck with Blair on Gossip Girl. Up to Eleven - he has no problem forcing other girls, but when it comes to Blair he asks "Are you sure?" the first time, wants to wait later on, and even refuses to have sex until they can admit they love each other.
    • Although he quickly changes and treats her just as bad. A few episodes later he compares her to his old horses that were 'roden hard and put away wet'. Not to mention pimping her out in exchange for his hotel and assualting her when she gets engaged**
  • Averted by Morgan and Garcia of Criminal Minds. Between Garcia's photoshopped-picture collection, the rated-NC-17 phone banter, and the fact that their nicknames include "my vision", "tech kitten", "sexy mama", "sweetness", "baby girl", and "gorgeous", it's safe to say there's no lack of sexualization occurring. And they're not even a canonical romance — it's mostly left unsaid, with a few "I love you"'s exchanged during stressful times.
    • What makes it even more hilarious is that the rest of their team no longer notices or comments on the their banter anymore. Even when Garcia made up a fictional child between them to oust a skeevy adoption agency, no one even batted an eye.
  • Mulder of The X-Files, who concealed his porn habit from Scully out of respect and UST.
    Mulder: Whatever tape you found in that VCR, it isn't mine.
    Scully: Good, because I put it back in that drawer with all the other tapes that aren’t yours...
    • Actually, that could be more embarrassment that she had discovered his Porn Stash than anything else. Mulder is infamous for reading porn magazines and making lewd comments while Scully's around. From "Detour":
      Scully: (while pulling Mulder onto her lap after he gets shot) Mulder, you're in shock. You need to regenerate body heat.
      Mulder: I've heard the best way to generate body heat is to crawl naked into a sleeping bag with someone else who's already naked.
      Scully: Well, maybe if it rains sleeping bags, you'll get lucky.
    • From "Syzygy":
      (debating who will pick up a piece of evidence)
      Mulder: Go ahead.
      Scully: No, you go ahead.
      Mulder: No, no, no. Be my guest. I know how much you like snapping on the latex.
    • From "Arcadia"; Mulder and Scully are undercover as a married couple:
      Mulder: (as Scully is videotaping the house for evidence) You want to make that honeymoon video now?
      [...]
      Mulder: (slides over on bed, pats the spot beside him suggestively) C'mon Laura, we're married now.
      Scully: Scully, Mulder. Good night.
      Mulder: The thrill is gone.
  • One episode of That '70s Show has Kitty remember an incident before she and Red were married when he had cheated on her by making out with another woman at a movie. When she angrily demands to know why he did that with another woman but never assumed that she would have enjoyed something like that (which, keep in mind, would have been rather improper around the time they were dating), he more or less invokes this trope.
  • The Coupling episode "Inferno" is devoted to Steve's girlfriend Susan finding his collection of lesbian porn videos. And the excruciating consequences afterwards.
  • Lampshaded in House. Wilson points out that since House isn't objectifying his hallucination of Amber, he must have feelings for her.
  • When the otherwise lecherous Louie starts dating Zena, it turns out that he won't even hold her hand, and Alex eventually comes to the conclusion that Zena is Louie's "first nice girl."
  • Dean of Supernatural is known for being open about his fondness of porn, even with his brother. However, in Torn and Frayed (8x10) he becomes extremely embarassed when he opens his laptop in front of Cas and the website of Busty Asian Beauties pops up, so much that he covers the screen with his hand and demands that Cas look away. This scene adds to the trend of season 8 where many moments have shown Dean and Cas' relationship intensify and shift, though towards what exactly remains undefined.

    Video Games 
  • Yuri in Shadow Hearts is a megaperv toward Alice after they first meet, contemplating molesting her in her sleep, and telling monsters that literally want to eat them "If anyone's going to eat her, it's me!" He knocks it off when he starts to genuinely care for her.
  • Averted in Final Fantasy IX, where the Chivalrous Pervert Zidane makes open passes at Garnet throughout most of the game. In fact, as he gets closer to Garnet, his passes at other women become less frequent.
  • Averted with Thoma in Record of Agarest War. Doesn't matter if one of his three Love Interest gets closer to him. He'll still make a pass towards them as much as any other woman. Even towards a Hermaphrodite goddess.
  • Mao toward Raspberyl in Disgaea 3. He's conducting a scientific experiment on skirt lifting; so naturally he tells her to get lost.
    • That's actually pretty in-character with Mao. When he gets focused on something, he sometimes misses painfully obvious things that someone as smart as he is should notice. Like the fact Beryl wears a perfectly liftable skirt. Or like the fact that stealing a Hero's title forces him to act heroic.
  • Engineers Kenneth Donnelly and Gabriella Daniels in Mass Effect 2. Kenneth makes lewd but lighthearted comments on just about every woman aboard the ship aside from Gabby. If they survive and return to the Normandy in Mass Effect 3, the trend continues with Gabby beginning to drop hints. Near the end of the game Gabby fiercely confronts Kenneth, thinking he finds everyone attractive but her. If Shepard supports her, they consummate their relationship.
  • Zevran of Dragon Age: Origins will hop into bed with anyone, anything, and possibly Oghren, and is very happy to do so with the Warden (male or female), but complete his personal quest and he will turn down the Warden's offers of sex afterwards. Bed-hopping doesn't resume until his earring--which is remarkably similar to a marriage proposal--is accepted.
  • Ryoji from Persona 3 Portable is a known womanizer, but feels uncomfortable using his usual flirting methods on his actual love-interest, the female Protagonist, stating, it wouldn't "feel right" to talk about her that way.
  • Likewise, Teddie from Persona 4 finds himself starting to stutter when trying to flirt with Labrys towards the end of his story path in Persona 4 Arena, though he doesn't realize why that is. His friend Rise even comments on how unusual it is for a girl to actually make him embarrased.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Fate/stay night, when Saber develops feelings for Shiro, she starts to act embarrassed about him seeing her naked and care about lack of endowments.
    • An even better example is Rin, whose ability to be The Tease towards Shirou gets sorely tried during "Unlimited Blade Works".

    Web Comics 
  • In Bittersweet Candy Bowl, Paulo just can't bring himself to be his usual brash, obnoxious and perverted self whenever Daisy's around; instead he instantly shapes up and acts noble.
    • Later partially subverted, when we find Paulo doesn't think of her as a love interest anymore, but sees her as a little sister he needs to impress.
    • Averted with the way he acts towards Lucy. "At least I grabbed some ass" indeed!
  • Inverted in El Goonish Shive. At a certain point Tedd finds that he's no longer capable of acting perverted towards people other than his love interest, which prompts a brief identity crisis.
  • Rabbit from Skins is generally very sexual, hitting on Jordan and implied to enjoy threesomes with girls and guys. However, when he’s around Tyr, he’s very shy and awkward.This could be because he's in love with Tyr.

    Western Animation 
  • Justice League Unlimited: When we first met the Flash he was prone to flirting with just about every female cast member going. Two series and a bit of character development later, he develops a crush on Fire, and becomes completely flustered, while she's the one dropping all the hints.
    • There's also the fact that she's a bombastic self-assured and thoroughly confident Brazilian supermodel. Who can, if you couldn't tell by her code name, surround herself in flames and shoot them at will. He might be rash and reckless, but he's not completely stupid.
    • He's also very respectful toward Linda Park in Flash and Substance. At one point she tries to give him her phone number and he hands it back with an autograph. In the comics he's married to her.

     Real Life 
  • This is a common symptom of so-called "Nice Guy syndrome" (as described in the pop psychology book No More Mr. Nice Guy! and elsewhere) in which men feel ashamed of and suppress their own sexual desires, believing that no woman would want to be sexual with them. This becomes a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy when they either end up with women who really don't want to be sexual with them and choose them specifically because they don't display normal sexual feelings, or (best-case scenario) women who would love to be more sexual but believe it's the "Nice Guy" who doesn't want to.


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