Anthropologist, Desmond Morris, is famous for many studies, but this one can be very helpful to writers. This study is his theory on intimate bonding between couples.
According to Morris, couples that followed the 12 steps of intimacy, leaving a significant time in between the steps, were more likely to stay together.
Being a romance writer, I found this list helpful in writing the progress of physical love. It helps to keep things real from the beginning of the relationship.
Even in love scenes there must be conflict. Following these steps makes it easier to layer conflict into a story. It also reminds me to use all the senses–sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.
While this list is helpful to a romance writer, I thought it might also help writers in other genres. Almost every story intertwines human love, even thrillers and horror stories will have a hint of romance.
1. Eye to Body. A glance reveals much about a person, sex, size, shape, age, personality, and status. The importance people place on these criteria determines whether they are attracted to each other.
2. Eye to Eye. Eye contact is very important. When a man and woman exchange glances, their most natural reaction is to look away. If their eyes meet again, they may smile, which signals they might like to become better acquainted.
3. Voice to Voice. Talking and getting to know each other, becoming familiar with each other and discussing common interest. During this stage two people learn each other’s opinions, pastimes, activities, habits, likes and dislikes. If they’re compatible, they become friends.
4. Hand to Hand. The first step to physical contact between a couple. It’s usually a non-romantic occasion but a great way to create romantic conflict. If either person shies away from the touch it could indicate rejection or a difficult road ahead. However, if the touch is welcomed, it could be the beginning of a promising romance.
5. Hand to Shoulder. The first real embrace. More intimate than hand to hand, and proof that what was only friendship is progressing in to something more.
6. Hand to Waist. It’s a thrill, and the first sign of ownership. This is clearly a romantic relationship. Notice also the hands are moving down the body and closer to a more intimate area.
7. Face to Face. This level of contact involves gazing into one each other’s eyes, possibly hugging and kissing. If none of the previous steps were skipped, the man and woman will have developed a special code from experience that enables them to engage in deep communication with very few words. At this point, sexual desire becomes an important factor in the relationship.
8. Hand to Head. This is an extension of the previous stage. Men and women tend to cradle or stroke each other’s head while kissing or talking. Rarely do individuals in our culture touch the head of another person unless they are either romantically involved or are family members. It is a designation of emotional closeness.
9. Hand to Body. The beginning of foreplay, caressing and exploring each other’s bodies. This usually starts outside the clothes. As this stage progresses the hands may move under clothes, but usually only above the waist. Once this step has been reached it becomes harder to stop at just touching. Thus, creating more conflict.
10. Mouth to Breast. Progressing in foreplay, becoming more comfortable and using your mouth to explore the other person’s body.
11. Touching Below the Waist. No sex yet and very hard to stop the progression to sex.
12. Intercourse. The final step and the utmost level of intimacy.