There is no better evidence that men don’t suck — that is, that all men don’t suck — than all the female bloggers’ online valentines to the amazing men in their lives. As Rita Arens’ sweet BlogHer post about many such public declarations of love attests, not only are there plenty of wonderful examples of the male species out there, but love is actually much simpler — if, perhaps, more challenging — than all the hearts and flowers and endless gag-inducing diamond commercials would have you think. Love, to the modern woman, means loving us just as we are. Remember when Bridget Jones was so flummoxed by Mark Darcy’s “just as you are” admission of like? There’s a reason: Apparently none of us, in all of our overanalyzed, overachieved neurosis, can believe anyone could keep liking us, even during the moments we stop being our self-helped, women’s-magazine-perfect images and start being our actual selves. As Arens says, “Sometimes I think anyone who could spend ten years with me should get some sort of major award, but especially this man, who seems to have a level of patience at times inhuman. I am raw and difficult and flawed.”
I’ve felt — I feel — exactly the same way. I’ve had the surprising fortune to fall for such a man over the past year. Things were so perfect between us for the first ten months or so that we often tried to start fake fights just to ground things a little. (I know, sorry, we’re gross.) But reality eventually hits every couple, even the most grossly well-matched, and our reality came in the form of a late-night visit to the emergency room in October. I was having massive stomach pains and other symptoms best left out of this description; it was 2 a.m. on a Saturday. Jesse offered to come with me; I almost said no, but I knew I wanted him there. We were stuck in that ER for nearly six hours, much of which I spent in random crying bouts. It wasn’t so much the pain as the fact that I felt like I’d dragged my boyfriend through a sleepless night for just my silly little health problem. When I was diagnosed with a likely ulcer — not silly, but not serious enough to assuage my guilt over letting him come with me — and sent on my way, we stopped at a diner for a tired, and, honestly, awkward breakfast. I could tell he was unhappy; I was sure he’d be figuring out some reason to break up with me in a few weeks. This was it, the end I’d always been anticipating.
When I got home and he left for his own place, I fell asleep for hours, but then woke up crying again — this time, overwhelmed with the mere thought: He had been there. Someone had been there for me, for no reason other than caring. As I sobbed, I experienced waves of wildly fluctuating emotion. Sometimes the sobs were for how grateful I felt that I’d finally found someone who wanted to be with me in the ER as much as in bed; other times they were for my fear that I’d ruined the magical glow of our perfect love. Later on the phone, he admitted he wasn’t in the best mood about spending the night at the hospital with me, and my heart stopped. This was it, I thought. I’d pushed him too far. Too far with what, I didn’t stop to think. But I know what I was thinking: I had pushed him too far with my imperfection.
But then the conversation turned, just like that, to more mundane matters. Namely, he wondered, what would I like to eat that night? Was sushi okay for my ulcer? Or would I rather stay in?
That was when I knew I’d somehow, magically, done it. I’d found a man who, as Arens says, deserves a major award. We’re not big Valentine’s Day types, so we’re skipping the slobbery mess of pink and red and diamonds today. But I don’t need a thing when I know I have an emergency-room date whenever I need one.
Sexy Feminists, do you have your own stories of men who don’t suck? Tell us here! We love them. They make us feel warm and fuzzy and hopeful.