The Brief: This Twitter meme format uses a broad meaning of "sexual tension" to point out the sexual tension between two or more people and/or things.

Bluesquiggle
DEEP DIVE

“The sexual tension between” memes highlight tension between two or more things, dubbing it as “sexual tension” for a dramatic and comedic effect. Variations of these Twitter memes illustrate both tensions that might normally be called “sexual” and ones that typically wouldn’t be characterized as such.

According to Know Your Meme, the first known iteration of this joke on Twitter appeared in a 2011 tweet by @_Scottness that read “the sexual tension between you and your yogurt when you forget the spoon.” Over the years, this format evolved to include situations that are tense or emotionally fraught, but not necessarily sexual.

https://twitter.com/CrypticNoOne/status/1296235946225086473

These memes peaked in popularity in August 2020 where multiple iterations received tens and hundreds of thousands of likes on Twitter.

In some cases, these memes highlight everyday situations with unexpected underlying sexual tension.

Some people used the meme format to make political statements…

https://twitter.com/matthewdeza/status/1296145437485744129

https://twitter.com/kaiteasley/status/1296199972833169409

Or to note the wonders of nature…

https://twitter.com/SokkaSupreme/status/1295516648129126403

Staring at the blank page before you, open up the dirty window…

https://twitter.com/vorejutsu/status/1296194061444034566

Is she…you know?

https://twitter.com/ladyonfires/status/1295335834703417347

This you, @Kyle?

https://twitter.com/_donnydrama/status/1296187625129365505

More generally, this sexual tension meme format can be used to pair any two things that go well together or find themselves intertwined (aka in an entanglement).

https://twitter.com/bugdoII/status/1296132961033572352