I'm thinking tension is good to play with. I see what looks to be a Kylo-Ren / Rey graphic and that is a perfect example. It's not so much that the reader gets what they want all the time (in my opinion) or even quickly, but I think half the fun is if you can drag their interest around with the what-if's of a relationship or romance even if it is never truly realized. It doesn't have to be graphic. Often I think if things go there, to keep interest it has to eventually level up, and it doesn't sound like that is where you want to go. Personally, I don't think artists have to go there, and things are more interesting when there's more thought and intuition involved than graphic elements.
Hope that makes sense. Sometimes takes a few tries for me to clearly get thoughts out. LOL!