With the beginning of a new year upon us, at the top of many of my single friends' lists is: finding the one.
Unfortunately, my single female friends that are searching for the right guy are being consistently disappointed with the guys they've dated. It's become more difficult than ever to find the one. While our dating scene is ever-changing, this doesn't mean women must change the deep desires of our hearts.
Our society is attempting to lower our expectations of romantic partners, and finding real-life culminations of the good men depicted in stories and movies is uncommon. It's hard to know which aspects we ought to admire and want in men, and sadly, many young women settle for "you up?" texts, or guys that only want late-night-seedy-bar meet-ups.
As a lover of said stories with good men, here's a list featuring the men I've seen in shows, movies, and books, that deserve a round of applause.
Luke, the devoted softy, from Gilmore Girls
With intelligent pop-culture-referencing dialogue, Gilmore Girls focuses on Lorelai Gilmore, whose teenage pregnancy led her to Stars Hollow, Connecticut, and her teenage daughter, Rory. Their coffee addictions make them regulars at Luke's Diner, owned by the surly and unenthusiastic Luke Danes.
Plainly obvious from the start how deeply he cares for Lorelai and Rory, he spends years waiting for Lorelai to acknowledge her feelings for him. He filled the often-empty fatherly role in Rory's life, never expecting anything from Lorelai but friendship—a stark difference from what many young women have experienced in our modern dating scene. While he doesn't possess conventional charm or sensitivity, he's a good man because of his surprisingly soft, faithful heart.
Aragorn, the valiant warrior, from The Lord of the Rings
This fantastical world created by J. R. R. Tolkein captured our hearts and imaginations. Growing up, I found Arwen, the story's resident brunette elf played by Liv Tyler, the most beautiful person I'd ever seen, a picture of female poise and strength. It's not surprising that her love interest, Aragorn, is one heck of a guy.
Aragorn protects the unprotected, is one of the daring few to stand up against evil, and understands the power of making sacrifices.
Aragorn knows his destiny and lets the knowledge of who he was born to be—King—dictate his decisions. Instead of letting that go to his head, he chooses to act with nobility. Aragorn protects the unprotected, is one of the daring few to stand up against evil, and understands the power of making sacrifices. He emboldens Arwen, his love, to exercise her agency, loving her endlessly. A man who's not threatened by a woman with agency is one to hold onto.
Mr. Darcy, the collected nobleman, from Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen's romantic classic withstood the test of time—with good reason. In 1812 rural England, the time of tight ringlet curls, impeccable manners, and adorably proper dance parties, our sights are set on the Bennet family—specifically, Elizabeth Bennet. Elizabeth meets Mr. Darcy, a wealthy, aloof man at a party. After overhearing his unkind words about her, she writes him off and keeps her distance.
Mr. Darcy slowly realizes he fancies Elizabeth after witnessing her quick wit and passionate heart and finds himself desiring to help give Elizabeth the happiness she deserves—whether or not he's included in that picture. Mr. Darcy, rude as he initially was, has a heart of gold, an ability to humble himself, and admit his shortcomings—not to gain Elizabeth's affection, but to do what's right.
Gilbert Blythe, the charming jokester, from Anne of Green Gables
For generations, the words of L. M. Montgomery have been adored by women around the world, following the adventures of an orphan named Anne (with an "e"), set in the late 19th century in the town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island.
Her schoolmate, Gilbert Blythe, the handsome, intelligent, and mischievous male lead who always has a witty comment or teasing glance, starts out being the boy we and Anne roll our eyes about and slowly becomes the man we want to settle down with. This happens as Gilbert, through his flirtatious charm, shows genuine and authentic care for Anne, her feelings, and the things she loves—becoming a man that many women today are still a little bit in love with.
Atticus Finch, the principled defender, from To Kill A Mockingbird
Harper Lee's 1960 classic is a staple of today's assigned reading in schools across America. At the center of this story's wrestle with the rampant racism of Alabama in the mid-1930s is Atticus Finch—a man who doesn't follow the crowd, no matter how many social circles he gets kicked out of. Despite being dealt a great deal of hate from his fellow townspeople for challenging their racism, Atticus never stoops so low as to sling hatred back.
Despite being dealt a great deal of hate from his fellow townspeople for challenging their racism, Atticus never stoops so low as to sling hatred back.
He's motivated by what he believes to be right and just. His empathetic heart makes his moral compass trustworthy, and his perfect mixture of logic and compassion helps him come to his conclusions of what is right and wrong, as opposed to giving in to the all-too-common reactionary societal standards that spread more intolerance.
Bryan Bedford, the loyal ally, from Miracle on 34th Street
In this Christmas classic that declares the importance of having faith (in Santa Claus), Bryan Bedford is a New York City lawyer in a relationship with Dorey, a workaholic special event director. Bryan cherishes Dorey, treats her daughter, Susan, as his own, and admires Dorey for raising Susan alone—but thinks she shouldn't have to do it alone anymore, so he proposes to Dorey. When she turns him down, he doesn't become angry or threatening but respects her decision to end their relationship.
Still, Bryan comes to her rescue when she asks him to represent Santa Claus (yes, the real one) in a legal battle, without so much as a condition. Even after he's helped her, he doesn't expect something in return. His consistent acts of selflessness and maturity make him a good man.
Iron Man/Tony Stark, the dedicated hero, from the Marvel Cinematic Universe
The current ideation of Tony Stark we were introduced to in 2008, played by Robert Downey Jr., might seem like a funny choice to appear on this list. Tony starts out a typical run-of-the-mill playboy, but in the course of a long character arc spanning numerous films, we see Tony's arrogant and immature demeanor slowly give way to a man who, over and over again, chooses to do the right thing—be that committing to one woman whom he loves, mentoring a young man in need of a father figure, or ultimately giving his life to save the world.
All too often, the men of today seek to delay the act of growing up, but Tony, all while never losing his lovable, quick-witted retorts, displays a man who's willing to grow and mature by deciding to do what's right.
Waiting for your Mr. Darcy can feel like you’re waiting a lifetime, and our society is encouraging us to give more while expecting less. Keeping men like these in mind, understanding the qualities to seek out, and that you deserve a man who possesses them is essential. You, too, will find your Mr. Darcy.