Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Twelve Steps of Intimacy. Step One, The First Glance

A number of years ago I had the opportunity to hear Linda Howard talk on the twelve steps of intimacy, a talk she based on the works and studies of Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape. I found it fascinating. I began watching for intimate “tells” in the people around me. (Yeah, I’m an avid people watcher and eavesdropper, unless I’m thinking about a story I’m writing, then I’m pretty much oblivious. It’s a toss-up as to whether I’m dialed in and taking mental notes or I’m in my own stratosphere. I’m a risk.)

Today I want to talk about that first step of intimacy—the first glance. How many of us can recall the first instance we saw our spouse? I can, although it was more than 31 years ago. He sat on a nubby green, ugly sofa, friends on either side of him. He wore blue corduroy pants that matched his eyes. I didn’t know I had reached at a life changing moment, but I had. I also didn’t know that after he left, he told his friends that he had first dibs on asking me out. I don’t remember what we said to each other—knowing me, not much. But voice to voice is step three on the intimacy ladder, and we’re talking about step one— the first glance.

Dr. James Dobson, author of  Love for a Lifetime: Building a Marriage that Will Go the Distance, also recounts the 12 steps of intimacy. He wrote:

 A glance reveals much about a person — sex, size, shape, age, personality, and status. The importance people place on these criteria determines whether or not they will be attracted to each other.
When the man and woman who are strangers to each other exchange glances, their most natural reaction is to look away, usually with embarrassment. If their eyes meet again, they may smile, which signals that they might like to become better acquainted.

Here are the first glance moments in a few of my novels.
Andie looked up from her camera’s display screen and saw Grayson Dodd leaning against the back wall, wearing a pair of khaki shorts, a Camp Pendleton Mud Run T-shirt and a pair of leather flip flops. Where were the pinpoint Oxford shirt and wingtip shoes? She nodded at him and pushed the elevator button.
“Hey,” he said as the doors closed.
“Hi.” She smiled and hoped it looked sincere and not as forced as it felt. “I just shot your condo.”
“That seems harsh.” He grinned. “Did it bleed?”
“Huh, no. Do you want to see? I got some pretty good shots of Catalina.”
“So—you’re not only a condo killer, but an island assassin.”
A mean wind blew the clouds shrouding the moon and a beam of light landed on a lone figure near the bow.  She fought the wind for her hat and her hair, a tangle of dark honey, swirled around her head. The hat, pinched between her fingers, caught another gust, set sail and skittered across the deck.
The woman managed to capture her hair into twist, and she looked over the deck in his direction. Her eyes widened when she saw him and she backed up against the rail.
The intruder flipped on the switch in the kitchen—her kitchen—and flooded the dark with yellow light. Penny pressed herself up against a tree, hiding and watching. Tall, thin, blond, dressed in faded jeans and a button down white shirt that offset his tan skin and startling blue eyes—he didn’t look like a Lurk. His gaze peered into the dark, looking past her and focusing on Wolfgang. “Shoo!” he called. “Go home!”
Blinded by fear mingled with rain, Blair ran into a large, warm expanse of flannel. For a small moment a slicker engulfed her, and then she tangled with an umbrella. She slipped on the wet pavement and fell hard on her hands and knees. The creel landed beside her and the cat cried in protest. Rain and embarrassment washed over her. She pulled the creel onto her lap and checked its strap.
  “Are you all right?” A tall man with wavy, honey colored hair gazed at her with kind green eyes.
Stooping to pull her upright, his large hand swallowed hers. “You’re shaking.”
Please feel free to share your own, either real life moments, or story moments…they’re all good.


  1. Great excerpts. I'll have to look into the 12steps of intimacy. My husband said when he saw me, it was like everything around me dimmed/muted. I just remember him staring while my co-worker yelled at him that the mail was late :)

    Here's mine from Son of Dragons ,Book 2 Legends of Oblivion:
    He thought he smelled the hint of roses and heat on the breeze. Movement from the street below caught his eye. He leaned out, squinting into the night.
    Torches lined the cobbled street corners. A cloaked figure waited. Then the innkeeper rushed outside. His hands flew in gestures as the figure nodded.
    Then he pointed to the window where Landon watched. At the same instant, the cloaked figure followed his finger’s path to Landon. Green eyes that seemed to glow met his.
    Landon jumped up and cursed when his head hit the bottom of the window. When he looked back, both figures were gone.

    He couldn’t stop thinking about those piercing emerald eyes. They’d belonged to a woman; he could tell. There was intelligence and cunning in them. Her stare felt as though she saw through the façade he often wore as prince and to please others, and into his kajh.
    A woman who was not afraid, but used to being feared. It unnerved him, yet excited him. His pulse quickened and his loins tightened at the thought of those eyes filled with passion for him.
    Better get some sleep before the night was gone. Tomorrow, he’d tell Gillespie about what he saw. He doubted he could explain those captivating green eyes that continued to haunt him even now.

  2. What a fascinating topic, Kristy! I LOVE those first glance moments! Too many people don't believe in them, but I'm a big believer in the love at first sight from across a crowded room!

    Here's an excerpt of that moment from The Throwbacks:

    “I don’t know where to start. All these men look the same to me.”
    Then her gaze caught on a tall man in a dark suit out in the entry hall. He’d just walked in on a breeze with dried maple leaves floating to the floor around him. He strode into the room and straight into the clutches of several blue-haired ladies and shiny-headed men. They immediately embraced him with cheek-kissing and backslapping affection. Grace watched as the mystery man withstood the onslaught with aplomb.
    “At least you can see them—I should have asked Theresa for a description of his shoes,” Sophia said.
    “No whining. I wonder if that man could be the chief?”
    “What man?” Sophia asked, standing on tiptoes.
    “The distinguished-looking man. Over there.” Grace pointed as subtly as possible with her brilliant orange fingernails.
    “Nice nails,” Sophia said. “Could be the Chief. Or he could be the big-shot from Scotland Yard.”
    “What?” Grace said. She only half listened to Sophia. The mystery man had moved, but it was easy to keep track of him by the sound of laughter. He was like a fun island in the middle of an ocean of blue bloods. “We need to start somewhere. Let’s start by asking him.” She took her friend’s arm and steered her in his direction.
    Grace got them within two feet of the man and then stopped. She watched the man more carefully as she considered him. “I never met anyone in the crime-fighting field before,” she whispered, trying not to show her simmering excitement.
    Sophia rolled her eyes. “Grace, he’s not Batman.”
    “But he could be heroic.” She thought the words out loud. She shoved aside the possibility that she might be disappointed, and with a tingle of anticipation, she walked right up to Mr. Distinguished. She figured a man like him, a possible crime-fighting hero, would appreciate a bold approach.
    “Hello. I’m Grace Rogers. And I’m hoping you’re Boston’s Chief of Police.” She gave the man her best bold smile.

  3. Thanks for inviting me!

    My husband remembers me first--in a group of newbies to a college club. He was a fan of my, uh, assets. Nooooot very romantic, but hey, LOL. 12 years of marriage now!

    From one of my books:

    Harper recognized the purr of a motorcycle just as the second nut loosened. As she bent to fit the wrench over the third, she realized the bike was stopping. She peered down the length of the car just as a man in motorcycle dark brown leathers stepped around it.

    He was tall, with ropes of muscles over his spare frame and a three-day scruff of a beard. His face was heartstoppingly handsome—young but tanned and already slightly weathered, just the way she liked them. His grin when he saw her was distinctly predatory, and he pulled off his sunglasses to reveal delicious amber eyes and shoved them into the pocket of his jacket. Big, rawboned, and as hot as sin on a three-day bender.


    “Nice view,” he said, his gaze resting on her rear, which was still pointed skyward as she bent to push the lug wrench into place.

    No kidding.

    It's free on Kindle:

  4. Great topic, Kristy. Love the song, too. Of all the guys I've dated, I've only had one across-the-room experience. But we didn't last either. Maybe I need to study the other 11 steps? Post fast!

    From SINKING SHIPS: An Abishag's First Mystery. It can be found at

    This first glance is, of course, not with one of her comatose husbands.

    “Mrs. Timmons,” I sang as I pushed open the kitchen door and stalled on the threshold. She wasn’t alone.

    Sitting in the chair I’d tagged mine, a guy about my age stared at me, a half-eaten muffin in hand, his eyes and mouth wide open. Not nearly as handsome as Donovan Reid, he had dark hair, a broad, tanned face, and crinkly gray eyes of the type that some females find appealing. A pair of muddy work boots sat on the mat at the back door. He wore holey gray socks. Dressed in jeans and a sweat-stained t-shirt, his dirty hands tightened on the muffin.

  5. HaHa, Michelle, I think you know me well enough that we'll have to close the bedroom door around step nine. (Isn't it surprising that's there's 9 steps until the bedroom?) Thanks for sharing. I love your Abishag mysteries.

  6. This is such a great topic! Because that all important first glance can be the beginning of fire works.

    Here's an excerpt from my first book Cold Warriors is about a forbidden love and what that first glance can do to a person...

    He glanced at his left hand. He used to wear his gold wedding band as a tribute to the love he and his wife shared. Then it became a constant reminder that she was gone. ow he wondered if he was ready to have a ring on that finger again. Fear entered his heart.

    “I’m not sure I am,” he replied, softly.

    “I really am.” The sincerity in her voice was evident. “It was the first time I felt alive since I’ve been here, and I don’t regret it one bit.”

    He didn’t know what to say. His first clash with her had distracted him to the point of madness. It had been some time since he’d had such a powerful encounter with a woman. The last one to push his buttons that hard, he wound up marrying.
    Caitlin was stubborn, mouthy, somewhat insubordinate, and filled with an innate force he had not seen in sometime. She had no problem in standing up for who or what she believed in. He didn’t like the feelings she stirred in him. He dare not consider them. Especially with her. She was a subordinate and a cryo. It was against regulations for him to even think of starting anything with her.

    He shifted his stance. His heart pounded in his ears and breaths quickened. “Ms. Driskoll. I don’t know what you expect from me.”

    “Nothing more than I expect from myself.”

    Before he knew it, he crossed the distance between them and swept her into a searing kiss.