Valentine’s Day approaches and I’ve embarked on a story that needs a love interest for my protagonist so I thought I’d look into the stud muffin question. I’m not a romance writer and I tend to prefer character actors over stereotypical leading men so I could create someone that not all women drool over. That could be a marketing problem but if a person can’t be authentic in their sex life where can they be authentic?
I was going to say that my idea of the ideal man has changed over time but maybe it’s only my idea of ideal external characteristics that has changed. Today, movies for teenagers suggest the dream teenage male is a tortured soul and a vampire or a werewolf. I expect most teenage girls still have their own idea of the perfect mate. Since most of my family has light coloring, as a teenager I preferred Mediterranean looks. An Arab would have provided the perfect coloring contrast, and I never considered the chasm between our backgrounds.
Like many adolescents, I did prefer rebels, especially if they had a cause. Romeo and Juliet and Westside Story suggest young women often look with favor on males their families don’t like. Could they be searching for someone different and therefore more interesting?
I have always believed that a person’s choice of mate is very individual, tied to memories, character, and wishes beyond what another person can grasp. Persons who attempt to interfere with freedom of choice in love I see as kin to the Taliban. Secondly, why would anyone want to take on the responsibility of condemning another to a miserable sex life?
Men and women help to create each other. Even the strongest man is influenced by what the woman he desires thinks. Even the most independent woman listens to the man she desires. Most couples I know have changed each other over time. I have one female relative who won every battle and lost the war in changing her mate. Another relative successfully molded her partners to her needs. Would you give up your favorite hobby for your mate? Would you sit through movies you hate to keep your mate company?
Just as adolescents tend to like rebels, I think many women have an interest in men with a dark side. Heathcliff and Rhett Butler come to mind. They’re not perfect. Danger and excitement seem to surround them. They’re not society’s darlings. Imagine having a mother who keeps setting you up with doctors and dentists. I know there are those who think women are put on earth to be wonderful mothers of perfect kids but I guess I’m not the only woman in the world who spends time thinking about subjects that don’t anchor her to home and security.
Main characters in police and medical series appeal because they are using their brains and taking action. They’re also often easy on the eye. In fiction, I don’t care if a man has crooked teeth or is less than six feet tall as long as he does his best in the situation in which he finds himself. The two men in Stephanie Plum’s life are, according to Stephanie, handsome but they are also brave and take active, helpful roles in the story. I imagine there are women who like brooding, silent men—modern day Marcel Prousts sitting alone in their rooms, especially if these men create art, music, or literature. I’d worry about being sacrificed to the man’s gift.
And I still haven’t discovered the perfect interest for my protagonist so I’ll just have to wait to see who presents himself. Do you think fantasy and reality meet in our choices of mate? Do we stop seeing the person we live with as someone separate from ourselves? Are you still searching for a soul mate?