Proximity Tropes in Romance

Close vs Forced Proximity Tropes

Let’s talk about the Proximity Trope, more specifically Close vs Forced Proximity in contemporary romance. As Romance Readers I think often times, we interchange these two words when troping a book. I do think however they are very different tropes.  

plain text with the definition and pronunciation of the word Proximity

Close Proximity Trope-  

Close- a short distance away or apart in space or time.   

When thinking of close as in proximity we are looking for books where the characters are near each other in distance but do have the choice to remove themselves from the other. There is nothing physically preventing them from removing themselves from that time or space.  

Some great examples of Close Proximity Trope romances tropes are going to be things like Neighbor, roommate, co-workers. Depending on the set up you might also get close proximity in a vacation fling, Nanny romances, and bodyguard.  

I love a close proximity trope romance. I love the natural angst that comes with these stories. Living with or near someone while fight an attraction can be overwhelming and create a lot feeling. Sometimes these romances have an enemies to lovers vibe as they are fighting against their feelings. There can also be a sense of the forbidden, especially in the roommates, co-worker, and nanny romance.  

Forced Proximity Trope-  

Forced- obtained or imposed by coercion or physical power. An unnatural confinement.  

When thinking of forced proximity trope, we are looking for books where there is that unnatural confinement. There is not choice in the characters being together. At least one of the characters in unable to remove themselves from the situation. Fear and expectation can play heavily into this trope.  

Some of my favorite examples of this are kidnapping, arranged marriage, trapped due to weather, stranded. Tropes like bodyguard and captivity can also play into a forced proximity.  

Force Proximity Trope, forces characters to face the attraction and situation head on. it forced feelings to the surface in a very quick way, but it feels natural due to the constraints of not being able to get away from the person or the situation.  

Forced Proximity is often found in Dark Romances. It can also bring into play such things as consent, many times Forced Proximity romances are going to have dubious consent.   I enjoy a Dark Romance as it allows the reader to warp and redefine societal norms and escape into a gritty almost lawless world.  

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In an episode of Buzzing about Romance we do talk about Forced vs Close Proximity and share a variety of book recs.  You can also check out my Goodreads Shelves for books