We asked, you answered! Herewith, your tales of our the sensitive, real-life guys who rock your worlds and, if it ever starts to falter, restore your faith in the opposite sex.
First of all: they were all great. Like, made me cry repeatedly great. I wish we could have featured all the partners and dads and stepdads and brothers and friends whom you told us about. Think of what follows as representative of all of them — and rest assured that even if we couldn't feature them here, your words were read and appreciated!
I want to nominate my hot, feminist, grammar nerd, law student boyfriend Nick as a Real Sensitive Guy.
On Valentine's Day, he wrote and recorded and song for me and posted it on YouTube. One night I drunkenly rambled about my random obsession with Koko the gorilla. On my next birthday, he gave me a signed and autographed copy of a book about the Koko project written in the 70s by Koko's trainer, Penny Patterson. For another birthday, he got us His and Hers copies of Bryan Garner's A Dictionary of Modern American Usage.
When my application to law school was denied, he wrote a long, sweet email about me to the dean of admissions, begging her to reconsider my application, She did, and the school decided to accept me. He actually paid my application fee because I was broke.
He watches stupid cartoons and cooking shows with me and is generally a total nerd like I am, but he's also a very serious well-read political liberal who is extremely conscious of sexism, racism, classism, homophobia and transphobia.
He is just incredibly sweet and awesome, funny and wordy and weird, he always cooks for me, he knows everything about health care, and he loves videos of baby otters. Because I am not as great at thinking of thoughtful things to do for him as he is for me, I would love it if you could post this so I could show him how much I appreciate him.
I just wanted to let you know about my youngest brother, Paul. He is going to be 29 this month and he is super awesome. Aside from the strong resemblance to David Boreanaz, he is totally funny, interesting, brilliant, and a feminist. He always calls people out on their misogyny, racism, classism, ageism, sizism, and any other -ism someone tries to throw his way. AND when someone calls him out, he takes responsibility. He is aware of the power of language and almost completely aware of his privilege as a huge, gorgeous, white, athletic man. And the best part is that he knows he has SO MUCH TO LEARN.
He is a terrific uncle; my nephew can't get enough of him. He is an excellent father figure to his ex-girlfriend's son. He teaches high school Special Education and his class consists only of highly at-risk African American boys. He coaches wrestling and football at the high school level. His students and athletes adore him. He changes people's lives. Basically, I wish he wasn't my brother so that I could marry him.
Yes, my 16-year-old son Ben happens to be tall, dark and handsome, but he also has the soul of a poet and the sweetness of whipped cream. He is all heart and not afraid to show it. A self-taught guitarist who composes songs of longing and lost love, he recently gave his heart to a girl who was not as gentle with it as she should have been. Has that turned him into the kind of SOB we have all known and hated? Thankfully, no. But he did learn some lessons about what he needs and deserves from a relationship, and how to stand up to that most perplexing and powerful of creatures: the 16-year-old high school girl. He is that rare teenage boy who is actually aware of, and in touch with, his feelings, and is not consumed with hooking up.
He's a gifted student, a keeper on the school's soccer team, tutors disadvantaged kids after school, and writes me the most special letters (actual letters, not emails) on Mother's Day. He gives great, deep hugs and always holds the door open for others. He genuinely wants to know how you are and asks me every day how MY day was. He thinks he wants to study music cognition (applying the methods of cognitive science-experimental, computational, and neurological-to musical issues and problems) in college.
Best of all, he has all the best qualities of his Dad, who happens to have served as my very own sensitive guy for the past 25+ years.
I know he's probably younger than the other fellows you might be considering (my son, not my husband), but I thought I'd give it a shot.
Step by Step
BigStepDaddy married my mother when I was 7. A former college football player and sensitive Shakespeare-loving English major, he's made it his life's work to raise strong, happy daughters. His daughter and I met when I was in 1st grade and she was in 2nd grade and became playdate buddies. At some point during the playdates, our single parents looked at each other and said "How you doin?" At the time, he was a single dad of a daughter with some fairly significant disabilities. This was in the late '70s, when men NEVER got full custody in a divorce, but his tremendous nurturing skills were obviously recognized by a family court judge.
BigStepDaddy's parents divorced when he was 12 and he was raised by his mother, a Southern belle who despite a quality education, was a trophy wife in the Betty Draper mold. BigStepDaddy always said that she "put her brain in a bucket and let her husband carry it around" and he was determined that his daughters not grow up to drop our brains in a bucket when the first likely man came along. I don't know that he would have described himself as a feminist, but he married a hardcore career woman—-my mother—-and never once behaved as though his job or his opinion was more important than hers. Mom was always a full and equal partner in his eyes, and he absolutely adores her. It's great to grow up in a house where your mom's husband is constantly telling her—and you—what a beautiful, extraordinary woman she is.
My whole life, BigStepDaddy has loved and cared for me as if I was his own daughter. While he was protective—you did not want to whistle at me on the street when Dad was around or you would be in for a world of pain—-he always encouraged me to speak up and stand up for myself. When I got into fights or pushed back against harassment, he always had my back. I don't know many Baby Boomer dads like him. He is truly the ultimate Real Sensitive Feminist Man.
Teacher of the Year
My husband Dominic shows nothing but sensitivity and compassion for all the people in his life. He's a high school English teacher in a struggling district; in addition to the hours he spends teaching, planning lessons, and grading papers, he also coaches the school's poetry slam team and spends 10 hours a week holding "office hours" at a coffee shop to help kids with their papers and college applications. For a lot of these kids, the support system just isn't there, but Dominic keeps giving of himself, trying to help these kids express themselves through writing - and use that as a launch pad toward a better life.
He's also the best partner a girl could ask for. We participate equally around the house; I clean, and he cooks some incredible Indian and Italian foods. He took my last name when we got married, because I wanted to keep my own name, and he wanted to have the same last name as our kids.
We've been married for 7 years, and after the first two, we were ready to have a baby. After countless rounds of unsuccessful IUIs and IVF, we are on the waiting list to adopt a child from India. Dominic held my hand through every disappointment, cried with me, injected me with the hormones that made me crazy sometimes. He always cheered me on during our times of hope, and let me grieve after each failed round, even when he needed to grieve, too.
He's a man who embraces wearing pink, who loves to bounce around like Tigger, who counts Tori Amos and Yoko Ono as two of his idols. How could you not love a man like that?
And I forgot to mention how he teaches his students about how cool feminism is…he even wears his This Is What a Feminist Looks Like shirt to after-school events sometimes….
Definitely my dad. He is my best friend and my soul mate. He has picked me up off the ground too many times to count—saved me from my incredibly abusive mother, took calls from me at all hours of the night when I was battling insane depression and bipolar disorder—and never judged me for it, even though he couldn't really understand my totally erratic pain. He took me to doctors, therapists, whoever until I finally got the help I needed and came back from the darkness. He pretty much saved my life.
He let me move in with him and mooch off of him after college when I had no idea in what direction I should go. He has supported me day in and day out, no matter what.
He is so incredibly giving. He has served as dad to several of my friends who've lost theirs. He loans money, time, and energy to whoever needs it. He bought by best friend a car and let him stay with us when he had no where else to go. He even used to supply my poor best girlfriends and me with Yuengling in college.
An example of just how tolerant of me he is: when my mom was in rehab when I was little, he used to take me to his friend's wife's house on the way to preschool so she could braid my hair, because I would cry when he would do it. Apparently it looked so awful when he did it that I would freak the fuck out and he had to go out of his way so someone else could do it! He seriously has given me everything, never complaining, always giving giving giving.
He has had a tough life, having to leave my mother—whom he loved from the bottom of his heart—because she was just too toxic for us. And yet he still has a never-ending supply of smiles and hugs. He even lets me slowly turn him from being a Republican—and he smiles and laughs along when I relentlessly tease him for being such, by calling him The Man, The Evil Emperor, and so on. He has even started making "I won't be held down by The Man" jokes.
He could have easily checked out, but he never abandoned me. I used to think I never wanted children, because I was so afraid I would be terrible and turn out like my mother. But now I realize that it would be a shame not to pass on the love he gave to me to a child who needs it—I owe him everything, and I want to give the way he has. He's like the man I want to be! Ha, you know, if I were one.
I love him with all my heart and am so beyond lucky to be his kid.