Well, I thought I’d finish the week as we started it; with a post about ideal men.
I think about men quite a lot these days, obviously when I’m writing, but also because I’ve found myself single again after twenty-two years with someone I thought was Mr Right. After months of sorting practical matters, soul-searching and re-discovering the girl I used to be, I’m coming through the other side. Being an eternal optimist and true romantic I realise not all men are swines or lack scruples and integrity. So here I am; a peri-menopausal, middle-aged old bird, with two sons, a cat and Labrador puppy, about to start contemplating whether I’ll find my ideal man again.
According to friends, I’ll discover him in the most unlikely of places and when I least expect it. If all else fails, Sainsbury’s on Friday night (‘singles night’) is a sure bet. It seems a little drastic to go browsing for more than just food and hit on some poor unsuspecting guy who happens to pass me along the frozen food aisles. What am I meant to do – somehow bump trolleys, check him out while giving the inside of his basket the once over, to see if it’s full of microwave meals for one and thus make him a prospective beau? Really, I’m not that desperate.
I admit; I rather like being single, being able to do as I please. So it’s going to take a rather special man to get me to give up my independence, persuade me to hand over the remote control and switch off the electric blanket that stays on all night if I choose! And just say I did go to the supermarket to pick my ideal man off a shelf. What would he be like? I suppose there are some basic pre-requisites;
– Somewhere between Shrek and Pierce Brosnan would be good.
– No grease monkeys – and he must have clean hands and short nails
– Clean shoes. (Yes, you may laugh but my Nan always told me you can tell a lot from a man by his shoes, and I don’t just mean the size of his feet!)
– A man with the same values as me
– A man of integrity
– Patience and understanding are imperative; especially as it’s probable at our stage in life we’ll both have baggage and children.
– The ability to make me laugh. Give me laughter over looks any day. Well, dashing good looks, charm and the appeal of an Alpha Male are all well and good if it’s simply going to be a fling or dalliance, but if I want a man to spend the next twenty-two years with, I’ll want one with a bit more substance.
Perhaps it’s my own experiences that have made me more realistic, but I’m not expecting, nor do I particularly want, whisking away by a knight in shining armour on his white horse for a lifetime of happy ever after. I think like many women these days, and certainly the Romantic Novelist, the idea of the predominant Alpha Male has evolved somewhat over the years. We writers focus more on the psychological and spiritual aspect of our heroes in order to make them true to life and want our readers to be intrigued and have sympathy. We’ve developed the structure of a story so the main character has more of a clear character arc and changes throughout the course of the novel, until the climax shows him to be a true hero at last.
Like the hero character of Romance novels, my ideal man will have emotional depth and flaws. Give me a tortured soul over a brave heart any day. Flaws and the complexity of the character are what will hook me and really get hold of my heart. Imagine a man who has the propensity to bruise my heart or make it bleed and truly hurt you…
I know put like that it sounds a frightening prospect and you may think having been hurt already it seems a rather macabre way to look at a potential suitor, but perhaps it illustrates the point better if I tell you the first hero character I fell in love with in a novel was Mr Rochester from Jane Eyre, closely followed by the fathomless, brooding and unforgiving Heathcliffe in Wuthering Heights.
Neither of them might be instantly loveable, yet they both have the ability to grab me by the heart and pull me to them in a heart-stopping, emotion-wrenching, all-consuming kind of way with their complex characters. Mr Rochester might be horribly flawed but I see his vulnerability and forgive him, knowing he is trapped by his predicament in a wretched life.
It’s ironic that by the end Mr Rochester shows he’s the archetypal Alpha male and redeems himself when he saves his mad wife from the attic, in the process losing his house and to the peril of his own well-being. Do you see what I mean? How could I not love him?
Is it simply something that captures my romantic, creative mind about the anti-hero? Or is it the same for you? Don’t we all just love the underdog? And isn’t it the case anyway that lots of men might look perfect from a distance, but beneath it all they are probably an anti-hero, or at any rate a struggling knight-in-the-making. It’s when you get close enough to touch them that their flaws become more obvious, just like the rest of us.
Well, I’d better get back to my quest to find my own terrific hero and happy ending. Perhaps instead of looking for Mr Right, I’ll try for Mr ‘Right Enough.’ Or maybe I’ll do what was suggested to me by a friend. She said if I kiss enough frogs, one day I’ll find a Prince!
Bye for now
PS – We’d love to know what your ideal man is like, both in life and the kind you like to read about.
Is it the anti-hero with the troubled persona or the charismatic hero who always gets it right?