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Playing With / Unresolved Sexual Tension

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Basic Trope: Two people are obviously attracted to each other, but some element of the story is keeping them apart.

  • Straight: Alice likes Bob, Bob likes Alice, but neither admits it to the other, ever.
  • Exaggerated:
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  • Downplayed: Alice and Bob have some mild interest towards each other, but both are obviously too distracted to really pursue it.
  • Justified:
  • Inverted: Both Alice and Bob think the other is interested, but neither of them actually are.
  • Subverted: Alice and Bob spend a lot of time together, always seem perkier while the other is around, and even get flushed around each other often, but neither has any romantic interest in the other.
  • Double Subverted: ...until a situation Gone Horribly Wrong leads them to think they're going to die, and they discover an interest in one another, only for them to be rescued just before it all comes out.
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  • Parodied: Alice and Bob get married and have seven kids. They often heatedly deny that they've ever seen each other in their life, much less had sex.
  • Zig Zagged: Bob wants to admit his feelings for Alice, but she's involved with David. At the same time Alice develops green eyes due to Bob developing a closer relationship with Claire. Eventually both Bob and Alice return to being single but are still unable to admit their feelings for each other.
  • Averted:
    • Alice and Bob meet, get to know each other, eventually fall in love and develop a relationship.
    • Alice and Bob meet, and are genuinely not attracted to each other.
  • Enforced: The author aims to avoid a Shipping Bed Death.
  • Lampshaded: "They're never going to get it on, are they?"
  • Invoked: Alice and Bob have a mutual friend, Charlie, who ships them in-universe and arranges a Meet Cute, but it doesn't go quite as planned.
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  • Exploited: ???
  • Defied: "I'm going to tell her how I feel, I don't want this uncertainty to drag on forever."
  • Discussed: "Bob and Alice obviously like each other. Why don't they just hook up?" "Just...because."
  • Conversed: "I've been watching this show for four seasons! When are Alice and Bob going to get together!?"
  • Implied: Alice and Bob are the subject of a Ship Tease.
  • Deconstructed:
    • Alice and Bob like each other but won't admit it. This leads to all sorts of friction, eventually ending their friendship on bad terms.
    • Alice and Bob's attraction ruins all their other romantic relationships, leaving them perpetually alone and unhappy.
  • Reconstructed: Alice and Bob like each other but won't admit it, because they're each afraid the other doesn't reciprocate. Eventually, they realize the other does feel the same way, and get together.

Back to Unresolved Sexual Tension.

Example of: