Like most girls, I’ve always dreamed about my own Prince Charming. I’ve been a hopeless romantic since I was young, and I always envisioned myself with my dream man. There was no romantic scenario that I hadn’t imagined. Taking a walk in the park, having a picnic near the lake, or a candlelit dinner, you name it, I dreamed about doing it with my dream man.
Looking back, I realized that all these dream men in my head were based on fictional characters from movies I’ve seen and stories I’ve read. These dream men have evolved over the years, but they’ve always been based on my latest crush from the stories I love, on the screen or the page.
It started when I watched Titanic. The moment I saw Jack Dawson on the screen, I instantly fell in love. His blue eyes were mesmerizing, his smile was captivating and his blonde hair… I completely swooned! He was a definition of a perfect man for me.
And that was the first set of standards I had for my dream man – blond haired, blue-eyed, and handsome.
But of course, I was only an immature ten-year-old back then. There was no way I would be with a boy at that age, and even if I was older, where would I find a blonde-haired and blue-eyed boy in Southeast Asia?
When I was 14 I read the Twilight books and became obsessed with Edward Cullen and his personality – mysterious, quiet, and protective. I was still naive and believed that his stalker-ish behavior was romantic! “If he’s doing it to the girl he loves, it’s not creepy.” Judge me all you want, I was young back then.
With my Edward Cullen obsession, my standards in men changed again. Now I wanted a quiet, introverted, and mysterious guy who protected me at all costs. He still needed to be handsome, though, but now I liked the dark and brooding look instead of blond and blue-eyed.
My infatuation for a man with vampiric characteristics lasted only until Twilight series ended a few years later, which happened to be when I started to develop a crush on someone for the first time – a guy from another school.
His personality was far from quiet and mysterious. He was extroverted, outgoing and had no mysterious vibe at all. I’d always wanted a guy with a pretty face, but he was a chubby Asian guy, decent looking, but not handsome. He was no Jack Dawson and certainly no Edward Cullen. He didn’t fit my fictional standards at all, but I was captivated by him anyway.
I also picked up a penchant for bad boys from the stories that I loved to read and watch. For some reason, cockiness and arrogance of some of my favorite fictional men seemed enticing to me. I confused rebellious, rule-breaker and troublemaker traits as confidence, which was attractive to me. The more I read those typical bad boy novels, the more I wished for one, for myself.
But guess who I had a crush on next?
A super pious, religious guy! Far from being a bad boy, he was a top student who led the student union with an untarnished reputation – a golden boy. He was also super good-looking. With these qualities, who wouldn’t be attracted to him? Luckily it was just a crush and not love, so I wasn’t that heartbroken knowing that most girls in school were trying to win his heart as well.
Just like that, I dismissed the idea of ‘bad boy’ romance.
I began to realize that none of the guys I was actually falling for fit the standards I was setting based on my favorite fictional men, but being an immature and naive girl, it never occurred to me that all the standards I set for men were ridiculous. I convinced myself that I hadn’t found the ‘perfect guy’ yet. So, I decided to change my standards again. I decided that the only thing that mattered was looks; that was good enough for me.
But I was wrong again.
I fell in love with an Arab guy in my second year of college. He was a total opposite of what I wished for – tall but fat, with slightly crooked teeth. He definitely wasn’t a hot guy, but to me he was already… perfect. He was perfect, just the way he was.
And so were the guys I had crushes on before. They were all perfect to me, even though they didn’t fit my ‘standards’ at all. No matter how many preferences and qualities I wanted my dream guy to have, I’d always been attracted to the ones without any of them.
It took me a while to realize that I can’t choose who I fall in love with. The expectations I’ve set for men had a little to do with love but more with infatuation.
So, I’ve stopped letting fictional characters influence my preferences and shape my ‘dream man.’
But instead of having no standards at all, I made a new one. Now, all I want is a kind and caring man who will always be there for me at my best and worst times.
And in return, I will do the same for him.