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couple sleeping 11455941_sS: Sleeping

I mean that word literally: sleeping. I’ve sometimes pondered how people who do one night stands manage to sleep in the same bed with a stranger (or, strangers). Sleeping puts you in such a vulnerable position. You really have to trust that person not to harm you while you’re unconscious. Occasionally, I’ve read fiction (rarely romantic fiction), where the hero and heroine are left with little choice but to bed down together, or nap together. If they’re hostile to each other, how does that work?

In fictional romance, sleeping together is a signal to the reader that one of two things is happening: 1, the hero and heroine characters are established and intended to, sometime or other, have sex together; or, 2, the hero and heroine have learned to trust one another. Whether subtle or unsubtle, the reader picks up on these clues and is emotionally steered where the author intends her to go.

In my work, I try to use sleeping together as a signal that something has changed, much as I outlined above. I’m not sure if other writers are as intentional as I am, but, as a person who really couldn’t sleep with someone I didn’t know well, I wouldn’t feel comfortable writing any other way.

Should a hero or heroine be easy and comfortable sleeping next to a stranger? Would that put you off in a book, or would you suspend your disbelief and just accept that it can happen for some people?

For your hopping convenience:

5 Comments

  1. When it’s fiction I suspend belief. I never had a guy sleep over until I met my husband and we didn’t sleep together right away. It was two weeks before we made love. I was forty two and due to PTSD I was very timid. (Sexual abuse by my father starting when I was 7 years old) we have been together for 28 years and we sleep in separate rooms. (He snores) I do think you have to trust the person before you sleep together but in a novel you have to move things faster or the book will be as long as War and Peace.

  2. Patricia, this makes me think of “Pretty Woman”- “I don’t kiss on the lips.” Without levels of hardship, I struggle to tolerate “sleeping together” IRL or fiction without obvious trust, relationship set up. Like I think of my history or the back story of my character Vala… I have one memory of when I was first involved with my Master and the happy poly-triad that was Him, my then-husband, and I started really falling apart. We were at a science fiction convention and the last thing I heard before I fell asleep was “Is she really going to sleep naked under the bathroom counter?” I was naked as it was an adult party and I’m practically a nudist. I was so tired because I never got adequate sleep because try as He did, my Master wasn’t at the time able to single-handedly make up for the ways in which then-husband was unsupportive. So strung out on mini-thins, up days in a row, I would fall asleep in random places.

  3. I have “slept” with a lot of people I wasn’t in a relationship with, but, that being said, I trusted them all completely.

  4. I see it as a shift too that there is now enough trust to totally relax.

  5. Should a hero or heroine be easy and comfortable sleeping next to a stranger? Would that put you off in a book, or would you suspend your disbelief and just accept that it can happen for some people?

    I’ve laughed about the term “sleeping together” when often no sleeping takes place. You really opened a can of worms with that concept, yes, you are extremely vulnerable during sleep. Often in books you read where the Hero and heroine are placed in unusal situations and must sleep “together” without there being sex invovled.

    Look at case in point in The Sons of Johnny Hastings with The Outlaw Bride, Sam slept in the same rum with Mabell to protect her from the three Curly Gang Members.

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