If I’m totally honest, some of my earliest understandings of love and relationships came from men who were not real. I fell harder than most other little girls — you could say my inner life was…rich — for the boys and men I got to know through books, movies, and TV. Unlike any guys I would ever meet in real life, these characters would routinely sweep my protagonists off their feet, or sometimes, just quietly pine for them, winning them over by sheer force of being pathetic (the first time I was able to qualify this: the moment when I rejoiced because Duckie didn't get the girl at the end of Pretty in Pink).
Rereading and rewatching these stories formed most of my ideas of how men and women should get along, and what I ought to be looking for in a perfect guy (because even the most flawed men somehow seemed perfect, by the end of a lot of these works of fiction).
Many of those lessons were flat-out wrong, but some of them were spot-on. If you ask me, thinking about the Jordan Catalanos and Dylan McKays of the world — not represented here, but honorable mentions for sure — helped me understand some of the most screwed-up things about what I thought I wanted, when it came to falling in love, and all of the steps leading up to it.
In college, my friends, who knew about my unhealthy attachments to fictional men, used to find endless entertainment in asking me to play f*ck, marry, kill with my four favorites (you have to kill two, in this scenario; so cruel): Theodore Lawrence, Pacey Witter, Rhett Butler, and Steff (from Pretty in Pink, but as far as I can tell, he had no last name). I loved them all so much back then, I could never choose, and the question basically threw me into a tailspin every time. Since then, I’ve figured a few things out though....