Girls Don’t Want Safe Guys

Photo courtesy of Ruth Jansen
Photo courtesy of Ruth Jansen

The game Apples to Apples might as well be Tarot cards on my dorm floor. We don’t mess around. We play for soul mates. We play for the ultimate future husband prediction.

Let the best man win.

What amazes me is how quick my friends are to shuffle out certain cards. “Ordinary” and “normal” somehow always find their way into the discard pile before the game even starts. Because heaven forbid our future husband be described as flat as the card itself.

Like… Really? What gives?

If we’re going to rig the results, I vote we toss abusive, dirty, and expensive.

But that’s not how the game is played—not even in the Christian romance market. Trust me. I’ve read shelves of novels.

Many times two men will be pursuing the woman. This results in what I call alpha male syndrome. Man #1 tries to outdo #2, so #2 then tries to one up #1. Of course, the female can never choose. Woman’s prerogative and all.

Thus is the case in This Means War. CIA partners are on a mission to win the heart of the same woman. Tom Hardy wants Reese Witherspoon. Chris Pine wants Reese Witherspoon. And Reese Witherspoon wants… well, she’s still making out her pros and cons lists for the boys.

This clip shows Lauren (Witherspoon) docking Tuck (Hardy) points for being “safe” and then Tuck attempting to show her his dangerous side.

Safe. Steady. Sturdy. If it’s an “s” word that can be used to describe a well-made end table, don’t get too attached.

Two men enter. And the safe man leaves.

In other news, there is an equally telling adjective for the winner. For the record, dear person reading, you can pretty much count on seeing the hero be described as infuriating regardless if the romance novel has one hero or two.

That’s why there are so many lines about how a girl would rather argue with some heartthrob than talk to anyone else. Cough. Taylor Swift’s That’s the Way I Loved You.

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, dear person reading. It’s not about fighting. A large majority of girls cannot stand confrontation, but they think they want passion.

In You’ve Got Mail, Kathleen Kelly is battling it out with Joe Fox. He’s the big bad bookstore moving in, and she’s The Shop Around the Corner who’s digging in her heels.

They’re going to the mattresses, but it’s not about fighting. It’s about the fight Joe Fox brings out in her.

Girls want guys who will bring out the zingers in them. Good and bad. Infuriating is just a fancy way of saying passionate. They don’t want to date end tables. End tables aren’t passionate pieces of furniture, dear person reading. Even so, there is an overstock of end tables in this world.

Safe, steady, sturdy — those are all good selling points.

A young woman might find herself settling.

abillionreasonswhyBut I’ve found that girls tend to be so afraid of making the wrong decision that they opt for the safe decision. Of course, Kristin Billerbeck said it better in her novel A Billion Reasons Why.

Late in the book, Luc DeForges bribes–and when that doesn’t work, pleads with–his ex-girlfriend not to marry her steady boyfriend. That while he [Luc] may not be safe, he is sorry. Sorry for hurting her all those years ago. And if Katie would just give him a chance… he’d prove wrong all the billions of reasons why they shouldn’t be together.

In the book he says:

“Will you ever risk your heart again? Or will you settle for a reliable life, free from danger and all this—” He spread his hand out toward the stage. “Did you ever think that might be the most dangerous route of all?”

Dear person reading, I know you of all people would never settle. But as life goes on will you do me the teensiest favor?

that one time when James Marsden did not play the safe guy and actually got the girl

Stay away from end tables.

End tables never step one leg out of their comfort zone. End tables never get rejected because they never risk. End tables don’t dance with you in the kitchen because they’re embarrassed the neighbors might see.

I’m not advocating for the bad boy…

I’m just asking you to consider the boy who looks a little out of his element because he’s trying something new. The boy who is willing to try, try again. He won’t be easy. Probably you’re going to get hurt. At the very least, you’ll probably have sore toes. Because he will dance with you in the kitchen even if he has two left feet.

How many safe guy characters can you name? James Marsden accounts for about four alone.


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My name is Nichole—Nichole Parks. Not to be confused with Nicholas Sparks. Nicky boy handles the drama. And me? I take on the trauma. Dark humor is my specialty.

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