Monday, 3 March 2008

Holding Out For a Hero

Listening to tales from some of my divorced/single friends about their continuing search for the perfect man, I can't help wondering if we women are so obsessed with finding the 'man of our dreams' that we overlook the less obvious charms of the more modest men of our acquaintance with the sweeping generalisation of 'he's not my type'.

My ideal man has always been the archetypal romantic fiction hero - 6', dark or blonde but definitely brooding, slim and muscular; cold and mysterious with a warm, soft centre that only I can unlock. I married one of them. But, statistically, there have been more men who were dark haired, 5'8" stocky types who, I believe, were selected by my body rather than my brain. I wasn't mentally 'in love' with them the way I was with the heroes but my physical attraction to them was just as strong and yet my mind kept telling me that I was going against my natural instincts of what I wanted in a man.

Do we have a tendency to listen to the insistent voice in our head that specifies its preference for the more fashionably acceptable version of manhood - the personification of masculinity incarnate that we can show off to our girlfriends - rather than accept the instinctive choice of our body? Are our minds swayed by facial beauty, height and physique so that we ignore the softer call of a genuine instinctive connection between two bodies?

A blogger told me recently that she had a huge crush on Ruf, the enigmatic male counterpoint of my tales.

It got me to thinking about the whole 'hero' thing for Ruf definitely doesn't fall into the category of 'my type'. He has described himself as 'short and fat', neither of which is true. At 5'8", he is dark and stockily solid, with eyes that sparkle with mischief and a smile that makes me melt.

As Bonnie Tyler sang:

Somewhere after midnight
In my wildest fantasy
Somewhere just beyond my reach
There’s someone reaching back for me

Racing on the thunder and rising with the heat
It’s gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet

And I have wondered occasionally whether I am as much in love with the idea of him - the almost flawless character I have virtually created - as I am with the real man. In this blog, I write about all the best of him but, like all men, he is not completely perfect and I tend not to dwell on those aspects, preferring to focus on his finer attributes.

So, last week, I wrote:

As we lay there, snuggling for a moment of refraction, I just drank him in. I love being in this position, tucked under his arm with my head on his shoulder and my hand stroking his chin and his chest - my Sanctuary. It has the most calming effect on me.

It makes me realise how lucky I am to have found him. Tess did a post about gspots recently and said that she would far rather have a man who could find her soul. But what I have found with Ruf is a someone who can do both. A man who makes me feel so beautiful and special that I walk around like the Ready Brek kid with a glowing external aura.

He stirs in me such amazingly positive emotions and our future together is so uncertain that I use my blog to celebrate the here and now. The perfection of the fantasy that we have built around us. I don't want to focus on how my friends or family will perceive him. Whether he will meet their criteria for the man who is suitable for me. I definitely don't want to think about what it will be like living with him 24/7, when what seem like funny foibles might become gross irritations.

When I hear this Elvis song, I get that familiar prickle at the back of my throat and the tears start to well up.

When no-one else can understand me
When everything I do is wrong
You give me hope and consolation
You give me strength to carry on

And you're always there to lend a hand
In everything I do
Thats the wonder
The wonder of you

And when you smile the world is brighter
You touch my hand and I'm a king
Your kiss to me is worth a fortune
Your love for me is everything

I guess I'll never know the reason why
You love me like you do
Thats the wonder
The wonder of you

It expresses sentiments that everyone wishes for in their relationship - and I have found these with Ruf. So, doesn't that make him my hero even if he doesn't fulfil the physical criteria that my romantic younger self had set for such an accolade? Add to that the continuing amazing connection between our bodies and surely he must be the right man?

Sometimes I want so much to suspend belief and be totally and truly certain that we could maintain this wonderful partnership in the real world. That we do have a permanent future together at some point. The uncertainty often makes both of us wonder if we should give it all up now for fear that we are investing so much precious time and emotion in something that can never be.

We're all holding out for a hero but when routine and mundane matters overtake the romantic fantasy, will they all turn out to have feet of clay?


Anonymous said...

So, is it that women are attracted to a familiar type (often one that reminds them of their father or other strong Male role model (very Freudian)) but that they are intellectually drawn to a physical and romantic ideal as propogated by popular culture? Or are they just fickle?!

Magnus said...

I think our tendency to want the perfect physical type is an evolutionary holdover. Instinct (for lack of a better word) insists that this is the type of man who would be a good hunter/provider/protector - this from an era when emotional considerations took a back seat to physical needs like food, shelter and continuance of the species.

From a male standpoint, the same instinct prevails, to pick the "perfect" woman to mate with - "strong like horse, dumb like ox, hitch to plow when mule dies, make lots babies" - but our picture of physical perfection has changed drastically since those bad old days when survival was all there was. Now we look for candyfloss hair, an anorexic "enhanced" figures and a certain empty look in the eyes.

In short, women are smarter than men.

BIG surprise!

Louche said...

So a woman really wants some sort of combat-baker who can fight and also provide food?

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Oooh, you've really got me thinking now! BG x

Anonymous Boxer said...

Or is it merely, “familiarity breeds contempt"? As women, are we too quick to label and define all romantic relationships into one that society expects, only to beat the true passion out of it by doing so?

I sometimes think the best relationships are ones that don't fit a "norm."

The older I get the less I consider the future and try very hard to live in the moment. Why? I'm not sure.

Nice post.

Gypsy said...

The only thing that is certain Cake is the here and now. The future is an unknown so I say make the most of every moment of the special relationship the two of you have.

It could all end tomorrow or you could grow old together. I would probably wonder too about how it will all end up but you could drive yourself crazy thinking that way. Enjoy it hon. It may not be right for everybody but it's right for you and that's all that matters.

His said...

You know - my mother has consistently told me that life is too short...and I should grab what makes me happy with both hands. I often wonder if she is right. We talk all the time about being together in the future but will we?

Lady in red said...

I am just embarking on a relationship with a man who I would never ever have considered as 'my type' All I know is that he makes me happy and he feels the same way. whether this will last weeks, months or perhaps even years we don't know but we are sure as hell going to enjoy the ride whilst we can.

Vi said...

I've given up on my hero. I've finally learnt I'm actually happy on my own. But saying that, if I meet a hunk in american uniform this weekend, I'll happily flirt with him.

Ro said...

I think you're right: we all want a complex mixture of characteristics in a partner which fills our physical, mental and emotional needs. When we feel as if we've found that, why not rejoice?

Yet putting someone up onto a pedastal is a sure way to set them up to fall crashing to the ground.

But, yes, it's hard to keep all of this in perspective when a relationship exists, as it were, outside of our "normal", everyday life. We can never know whether the person that seems so right for us now would retain that status in a more conventional relationship until we take the risk of trying.

So the question, always, is whether it's worth trying. Each and every one of us has to make that decision for ourselves.

nitebyrd said...

The true beauty of a person may not always be on the outside.

I would say, "Yes. Ruf is your hero from his spiritual, mental, sexual persona, not physical." Maybe that's a better thing to have than a beautiful empty vessel.

Old Knudsen said...

I don't physically fit the media romantic hero stereotype but that's not real or important when evil is a foot, no time for posing and suffering from depression I do enough self wallowing brooding. I am Mr Darcy , Spike from Buffy and Dr Hoose according to those who know me. A cunt who hides his heart of gold and saving the day while the square chinned hero chats up the gurl. Everyone is effected by looks and ideas they have which is why those who like bad boys constantly wonder why they get treated like shit as they chat up ex-cons. In the real world I'm not easy and so often get passed by but I'm not worried as there are more wrongs out there than rights so why waste time on shallow creatures looking for flowing capes?

George said...

There is nothing simple about meeting the one.If we are attracted by good looks, often the personalities clash. If we are attracted by a trait all too often the rest of the personality doesn't match the part that we like.

It's a bit like performing open heart surgery without ever having attended medical school

Midnight said...

I posted a mega long comment (for me) and blogger ate it! Bastard.

Anyway in a nutshell I said that I don't subscribe to this inner beauty being the thing that matters. It does of course but without attractive packaging, you are not likely to delve deep enouh to find out.

My ideal is still Jennifer Anniston, I realise I'm barking if I think I have a chance there, but I still factor my ideals into selecting potential women to date and if they don't tick enough boxes, I aint going down on their's.

Isabella Snow said...

Mmm. The heroes in my books are, admittedly, similar to the type you mention. Though taller and beefier, a bit... oh, and you forgot rich, lol. ;) But.... you say you married one, and make it sound like there's something wrong with that!

That said, while I have a type, the most important aspect is always dominance. If they can't dominate me, and most can't, it's not sexy. I don't think I'd pass up a shorter (within reason) man if he could.

having my cake said...

Anonymous - LMAO. Probably a mixture of all three.

Magnus - So perceptive :)

Louche - Hello. A man who can cook and fight... Well, that describes Ruf :)

BG - Glad to be of service

AB - Yup, that describes it very well. Familiarity breeds contempt.

Gypsy - Sage advice x

His - What Gypsy said :)

LiR - Enjoy x

Vi - Perhaps being secure in yourself is the most important factor before you can select a life partner.

Ro - We Brits are infamous for holding people up as perfect and then kicking the stool out from under their feet. We also want to know what will happen tomorrow yesterday. Overanalysing all the time!

Nitebyrd - Internal and external beauty - that's certainly true.

Bitter Balls - The depth and breadth of your very strange mind must surely be a magnet for every woman!

George - I like that analogy :)

Middy - Thank you for reducing things to a nutshell so succinctly lmao

Isa - I guess my view of romantic heroes is a little jaded in my current circumstances. But Im definitely with you on the dominance aspect.