Lately it just happens I’ve been reading books in which the female protagonist puts the male lead through hell before she’s willing to admit he’s a keeper. Evolutionary psychology might say it’s because women want to test their man’s loyalty to the max to be sure he can be trusted after she succumbs to his charms. If so, the story of the boyfriend who never says, “enough already!”, might be the female version of porn, albeit it in the psychological domain rather than the physical.
To pick on a popular TV example, I wonder how many Bones viewers felt, like me, that Booth was working so hard at respecting Brennan’s eccentricities he was letting his self-respect suffer.
When working to create a male lead who ever-so-thoroughly deserves the heroine, what’s the dividing line between laudably devoted and a sucker for punishment?