There’s a running joke among me and my friends that they don’t know what I want in a guy. Somehow, the only way I’ve ever been able to describe what I want is through using fictional guys as examples. It never works though. My friends always end up telling me that they still have no idea and I’m left not knowing how else to explain it.
This is both for me and for them (and anyone else who has ever wondered why I’m single. This is why).
Before you go and tell me that fictional guys aren’t real and therefore are made to be perfect and flawless, that’s not true. More and more, fictional characters are written to be flawed so that we as reader have something real to relate to. While they’re not real (to my great sadness), they do exhibit real qualities that apply to real men.
As much as I joke that fictional men have made me reject anyone who isn’t the son of Poseidon, can’t scale five stories in less than eight seconds, or is so brilliant that he break into an impenetrable ice prison, I know that those aren’t real things I can ask for.
My criteria for choosing these guys is that I need to have said “Ugh, I want this for myself” in reference to the character. More often than not, I’ll also have talked about them to friends or on social media at least ten times. Here are the fictional men I’ve learned from and who make my standards as high as they are.
Kaz Brekker (Six of Crows)
For all his major flaws - selfishness, greed, a penchant for violence, having the emotional expression of a rock, lack of empathy - Kaz is brilliantly ambitious and driven. His intelligence isn’t limited to being book smart, he’s also incredibly street smart and business savvy, as evidenced by his ability to survive in the streets and alleyways of Ketterdam.
What attracted me to him first as a character was how smart he is. There’s no questioning that he’s too intelligent for his own good, as it can make him arrogant to know that few are on his level. His problem solving skills are beyond anything I could imagine myself having, and there’s always a plan forming in his mind for how to get out of any situation. He’s they type of guy I could sit and watch plan something for hours and not get bored. Though he’s also physically very attractive, it’s his mind that I fell in love with first.
Kaz is the type of character I love who is morally grey with all the redeeming qualities that make him boyfriend-worthy.
Stiles Stilinski (Teen Wolf)
Of all the guys on this list, Stiles best embodies what I want in a real guy. He’s funny, smart, loyal, kind, caring, and confident. The downfalls are his inability to stay out of trouble, occasional lack of common sense, recklessness, and paranoia.
He wasn’t the kind of guy I saw on screen and immediately found myself attracted to. It took a few seasons of the show to see more than his incredible awkwardness and fall in love with the sweet guy behind it all. I love how he cares for his father and friends, the lengths to which he goes to in order to keep everyone safe. His sarcasm and comfort with himself never fails to make me laugh. There’s a fierceness to the way he’s loyal to his loved ones and a softness in how he expresses it to them. To top it off, he’s also too smart for his own good.
Plus, you have to love that smile of his.
Stiles is the guy I dream of being best friends and falling in love with. He’s the boy next door I’ve always wanted to have in my life because I know I can count on him no matter what.
Percy Jackson (Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief)
I like to think of Percy and Stiles as proof that I like funny guys. Specifically, I like really sarcastic guys, which I discovered when I first read The Lightning Thief. I don’t really consider his ADHD or dyslexia to be an issue regardless of him being a demigod. It makes the impulsiveness a little worrying at times, but he makes up for it with his humor and loyalty.
Percy stood out to me as someone responsible beyond his age. He grumbles about the quests he has to go on, but he’s always ready to shoulder the weight of its responsibility. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m drawn to his leadership qualities as he grows older too, but I find it rare to see “responsibility” be a marker of Middle Grade and YA heroes. At his core, Percy is a good kid who wants to protect the people he loves, use sarcasm whenever he can, and not take it super seriously all the time.
It would be sweet to find the Seaweed Brain to my Wise Girl. Guys like him balance me out and remind me that it’s okay to laugh at times, to not get stuck in doing things the right way all the time.
*CLARIFICATION* I was kind of upset that there’s no good fan art of Four because I don’t like Theo James as him. This isn’t anything like what I picture Four to look like, but there was nothing else I could use to represent him except a literal number. So as much as it pains me to use Theo James’ picture, I have to.
Unlike the others on this list, I don’t think Four presents himself much as a typical ideal fictional boyfriend. He’s colder, more serious, and rarely funny. But he’s grounded, confident, and calm. There’s a dependability to him that comes with his past and his personality.
I remember the first time I told someone I loved Four, it was so hard to explain. Why choose the guy who had issues expressing himself and rarely smiled? Because he was solid and there was never a reason to doubt him. At a time when YA fiction had so many guys who were simply swoon-worthy, Four was the type of guy I knew I could count on even in the toughest times. He exuded a maturity that made him feel older than 18 (his age when the books came out) and was often characterized as someone sure of his decisions.
For all that could be said of him being boring, I love that he was just a solid guy, physically and otherwise. To this day, I crave finding someone who has that maturity to him.
Spencer Reid (Criminal Minds)
My favorite boy genius! How could anyone not like Reid? He’s sweet, a literal genius, a fantastic friend, lover of books, and has some of the most amazing hair I’ve ever seen on a man (Season 7 and 9 are my personal favorites in terms of his hair).
He’s one of those characters who grew on me as I got older and went through more rewatches of Criminal Minds. I came to admire how his mind works and how he uses that brilliance to help other people. All the fun facts he throws out are things I still remember now, sometimes even quote to other people. Watching him grow as a person and an agent over the course of 15 seasons has been a blessing each time. The confidence he gains finally matches the genius that he is. Of all the characters to go through traumatic arcs, Reid is arguably one of the strongest people to survive everything that’s happened to him. The man deserves happiness with someone who loves him and I will happily be that person.
Reid is the kind of guy who makes intelligence truly sexy. He’s the reason I have a thing for the hot, nerdy type. Give me a guy with Reid's genuine, down-to-earth sweetness and brilliance and I’ll be happy. Plus, he can read to me in other languages and that sounds amazing.
Mmm, the first Asian guy I read about in YA that was a main character AND a love interest. Though he’s technically bi-racial, I tend to picture him with more Asian features. Day showed me that Asian characters can take center stage and be considered attractive.
Kind going along with the hot nerd thing, Day is another guy with a brilliant mind (are you seeing a trend?) that’s equally matched with immense athleticism. He was the first fictional boyfriend I had who had his own goals, separate from what his love interest wanted. That kind of determination and drive really attracted to me, as well as seeing how confident he was that he’d be able to succeed. Yes, he can be really cocky, but’s it’s well deserved.
He's also the only guy on this list who I can say is naturally smooth around women. His quick wit with flirtation makes it fun to converse with him and adds to a lot of the charm he already has. All the other guys on this list kind of fumble around, but Day is hot and he knows it. Again, cocky but he gets away with it.
A quality I see few people talk about regarding Day is his commitment to family. He has a fierce devotion to his brothers and mother, to the point where he’s willing to risk everything for them. I love that about him because my family is important to me too.
Victor Vale (Vicious)
The biggest bad guy on the list, but at the same time, is he really the bad guy? Victor is the guy I shouldn’t want to date because he’s a bad influence and in literal trouble with the law, but I’ll fall for anyways.
Bad qualities: has committed murder, technically on the run from a jail break, has a thing about causing pain, revenge driven.
Good qualities: very attractive, smart, would burn the world to keep me safe.
Okay, maybe I made that last one up. A girl can dream. Victor isn’t really a good guy, but he’s not a fully bad guy either. The revenge he’s driven by is valid, an attempt to stop a greater monster than himself. And despite all the harm he causes other people, there’s a softness when he takes care of Sydney and brings her into his family of strays. There’s a heart behind the carefully carved exterior, a relentlessness to him when he protects his version of family.
Victor reminds me of the TikTok audio that went around about loving antiheroes and villains. My love for him is born of a desire to have someone love me so deeply that he’d bring the world to its knees for me. Someone who would burn the world to keep me safe. A man who chooses me first and always have it be that way. It fulfills my desire to be wanted and be the first choice.
Levi Ackerman (Attack on Titan)
There is always room in my heart for Levi Ackerman. The skill, the brooding, the athleticism, the ambitious drive. How can I not love it all?
The worst thing about Levi is that he would have absolutely no interest in dating me or anyone. He’s too focused on saving the world for that. He’s also bad at expressing feelings beyond anger. There’s little that interests him beyond cleaning and killing Titans. Also everyone he loves dies so maybe it’s better if he doesn’t love me? Wow, there are a lot of reasons he’d make a terrible boyfriend.
But look at his leadership, confidence, and athleticism and tell me that isn’t attractive. Go ahead, tell me. You can’t (maybe you can, but this is my blog so you’re wrong).
I love his strength, his capabilities, his responsibility. Levi isn’t the man to bring home to my parents (although my dad has heard me swoon over Levi enough during our watch of AoT), but he could win them over with how unlikely he is to ever do something irresponsible and bad. Plus, I love a man that’s so confident in his other skills that his height doesn’t bother him.
Levi is my mix of a bad boy and a good guy. The one who could destroy the world to keep me safe and still do everything right at the end of the day.
If you’re keeping track, the things I’m most attracted to are intelligence, ambition, leadership, drive, confidence, responsibility, loyalty, and sarcastic humor. All of it still boils down to Stiles being the best example of what I want.
While it may sound obvious to want these things, I’ve found that my attraction to these qualities have remained true over the course of many years. Things that I find myself drawn to in real life as well because it matches who I am and they type of people I need in my life. If anything, finding fictional boyfriends has helped me understand what I look for in real guys, saving me the trouble of dating my way through the process of figuring out what I want in a relationship and partner.
Fictional guys with these qualities are predictably the ones I’m drawn to (especially if they have dark hair), and the rare times I’m attracted to real guys, they have to bear some of these qualities. Though I’ve truly noticed that the ones who lack even a single thing from this list end up being terrible matches for me.
In conclusion, fictional boyfriends have been great for me and I hope to find someone who embodies these traits in the future (minus the murders and illegal actions part).