While the 90s fictional boyfriend spectrum included everyone from the "rebellious" Dylan McKay to the "aloof and tortured" Jordan Catalano, the 00s presented a different type of romantic lead, and often enough, he was a complete and total idiot.
While the McKays and Catalanos of the previous decade were really no prizes, either, this decade seemed to push the type of "sensitive" soul perhaps best encapsulated in the song that lent its title to this very post: the emo dude with issues who just wants you to see that he's really the one for you, whether you realize it or not. This "unlikely love of your life" manifested himself in to several different archetypes over the decade. Ahead, a breakdown of all of the "nice guys" who seemingly ruled romance over the past 10 years.
The Reformed Nice Guy: "I know I dumped you in front of the entire town, accusing you of having feelings for the rebel dude in the leather jacket, but I wasn't wrong, was I? And now that he's broken your heart, I'm back to help you put it together again. So what if I'm married? I don't love her. I love you. I've always loved you. I was your first love, remember? Remember that time we stayed up reading books together in 9th grade? And when I built you a car that time? I care about you so much. That's why I'm willing to cheat on my new wife in order to be the guy you lose your virginity to. Because we have something special. I was willing to wait for you (well, I mean, I got married at 18, but I was willing to emotionally wait for you) while you were dating that douchebag because I knew he'd screw it up. You're too good for him. You belong with me. Well, at least you belong with me until I catch you partying with your rich friends. How could you do this to me? I have no money! I'm not a part of your fancy pants world! Why must you always push me to break up with you in front of your friends? Never talk to me again...or at least not for another couple of years. You had your chance, and you blew it. You're a terrible human being. I'm going to call my ex-wife now. At least she understands me. Or she will, once I convince her to."
The Protector: It's one thing when your boyfriend wants to ensure your safety by asking you to ride along with him in his impeccably-rated Volvo. It's quite another when your boyfriend sneaks into your room at night to watch you sleep, tries to keep you away from your friends, and leaves you in a forest filled with god-knows-what in order to teach you a lesson. Don't date him, girl!
The Emosogynist: He's just so tortured, y'all. He can't even bring himself to cry, which is weird, because he's so deep that you'd think the emotional well could never run dry. Something hurt him, man, and now he's just dead inside. He'd explain it to you, but you probably wouldn't understand, unless you're super cute, kind of quirky, and you remind him of the girl he fell in love with 5 years ago, before his heart turned to dust and blew away. Of course, if you were around then, you might have saved him from this cold, heartless life he leads, but alas, no, some woman destroyed him forevermore, and he just can't be put back together again, unless, of course, he's put back together to an indie soundtrack by (an often much younger) woman he can easily manipulate and later dismiss after his confidence rises. He has to find himself, you know? And the only way he can do that is through some girlfriend who isn't aware of the fact that he's a bitter 16-year-old trapped in a 28-year-old man's body.
The Martyr: "Look, you're engaged to a guy who clearly doesn't give two shits about you, but I'm not going to cross that line. Instead, I'll just make puppy dog eyes at you all day, flirt with you incessantly, and book a trip overseas on the date of your wedding, even though we're supposedly BFFs and I should, in theory, be there to see you on what is supposed to be the happiest day of your life. And let's say I do cross that line, and you don't automatically jump into my arms and declare your love for me. At that point, I'll move away, only to return with a girlfriend who is not you, even though I'm still completely in love with you and you've called off your wedding which is pretty much a sign that you're in love with me, too. After essentially using my new girlfriend for a few months, you'll finally declare your love for me, and I'll rush in to sweep you off your feet. After your art school dreams die, we'll get married and have a baby and I'll buy my parents house without asking you, because I know you'll love it. We've got it all, baby! And all the two of us had to do was suppress our feelings for years and continue in adult relationships with people we didn't actually care for until we were finally ready to grow the fuck up and say something."
The Manchild: Uh-oh! You're pregnant! And this dude can't handle it, because your baby shit is really fucking with his concentration, which he needs in order to compete in next week's 30-and-Up Dodgeball Tournament. You're being such a bitch, what with your "ultrasounds" and "contractions" and shit. And you won't even let him name the kid Karate Kid Zack Morris Jones, which is a total buzzkill. And you're crazy if you think he's going to watch some baby's head come out of your
vagina you know, lady biz, because he'd like to have sex again sometime this century, thank you very much. No, no wait. He's sorry. Somehow he's learned his lesson, and he's going to grow up. But not like, all the way, man. I mean, you know. You can still call the kid Karate Kid Jones, just as like, a nickname or some shit. And we're definitely buying him The Neverending Story on DVD because that movie is fucking dope, man.
The Bro: A combination of the Reformed Nice Guy and the Manchild, the Bro prides himself on getting away with being a sexist idiot—that is, until the woman who changes everything comes along. Suddenly he's using his creepy "game" for good, you see, as all of the lying, cheating, and general idiocy he attempts to pull off is just a means to win someone's heart. If he happens to get in their pants before he wins said heart, it's just a bonus, but not the actual goal. Deep down, he's really just looking for love, you know? And love is totally out there man, at some frat party or skeevy bar. He's not just the oldest bro in the club, you guys, he's the wisest. Right? Eh? Nothing says "wisdom" like being 37-years-old and reeking of Axe body spray.
The Chuck Bass: Ok, so not every heartthrob of the decade was particularly "nice." There was also Chuck Bass. I mean, he's...Chuck Bass. Need I say more? I think not.