Happy Valentine's Day, Men Who Don't Suck!

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.


Author: Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong grew up deep in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, then escaped to New York to live in a succession of very small apartments and write about pop culture. In the process, she became a feminist, a Buddhist, and the singer/guitarist in an amateur rock band. She also spent a decade on staff at Entertainment Weekly, cofounded SexyFeminist.com, and now writes for several publications, including Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Writer’s Digest, Fast Company, and New York‘s Vulture. Her history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2013; her collaboration with Heather Wood Rudulph, Sexy Feminism, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2013. She is the author of the Why? Because We Still Like You, a history of the original Mickey Mouse Club published by Grand Central in 2010. She has provided pop culture commentary for CNN, VH1, A&E, and ABC, and teaches article writing and creative writing. Follow her on Twitter: @jmkarmstrong


  1. akarmin says:

    The unexpected can hold important lessons, part of our learning process, some walk to reach a destination others set off on a journey of discover, the destination is not as meaningful as the process of simply enjoying the experience along the way

  2. Roane says:

    I, Jennifer, am one of the lucky ones. I was kicked to the curb by someone I thought loved me, but whom had treated me quite horribly for quite a long time. I was scooped up – many thought all too soon – by another man, and this man is my haven, my protector, my everything and my all.

    He is the most amazing man ever – truly one in 8 billion. We are so much alike, but we share just the right differences. He indulges me in my silly little hobbies, puts up with my parents and their overprotective ways even though they have a different set of rules for me and my sister, puts up with all my silly pets and loves them just as much as I do, he’s soft and gentle, but strong and powerful when I need him to be, he encourages me to be as creative as I want… he does so much for me.

    He is my pillar; I have such love for him that I doubt it can be described as love.

    Ok, I’m done. Paper bags anyone?

  3. Francesca Tolore says:

    Um, you shouldn’t have to applaud someone for going to the ER with you. It’s an incredibly fundamental human thing to do.

    • You’re right, Francesca, but I hope it’s clear that he was in no way asking for my applause — in fact, he was quite resistant to it. This was more about me letting my guard down and realizing I don’t have to be a perfect superwoman for someone to love me … in fact, just the opposite. We got much closer in that moment, despite my feeling weak, vulnerable, and extremely un-pretty, to say the least. But you are fundamentally correct: A man who *wouldn’t* go to the ER with his girlfriend, would, in fact, suck!

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    Seems you didn’t think much of the guy to begin with. He might resent going to the ER with you? What kind of a putz did you think he was?
    Years ago, I took a friend’s neighbor’s kid and the babysitting grandmother to ER. Happened because we were visiting the friend. Due to kids in the friend’s house and other factors, I was the only one free. So off we went about midnight. Kid had gotten some of grandma’s meds, so they gave the poor little critter a mix of charcoal, grape juice and some emetic. So grandma and I were chasing the purple and black puke in buckets so it could be analyzed. Turned out okay.
    To this day, nobody thinks anything of it, and I don’t. It’s just what you do when it’s your turn. This guy had better be a saint, because most men would resent the implication.

    • I regret that I wasn’t terribly clear about everything — I was probably still a little too emotional to write about it. I have the most amazing boyfriend in the world who wouldn’t resent going to the ER with me for a second. The feeling I was having was being so happy to finally have found someone like that, a partner to legitimately and unequivocally care about me. It’s something I hadn’t experienced in a very long time, or possibly ever, at least at this level. It was about me figuring out how wonderful that feeling is, and about me figuring out that it was okay for me to ask him for help and support. That’s also something that took me a long time to get to, and I’m glad I did. It was a breakthrough because it took our relationship to a whole new level, in the least romantic, least glamorous way. I couldn’t be more grateful, and he couldn’t be more perfect.

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