Everybody has a type, whether or not they’re willing to admit it, and that “type” eventually reveals itself over the course of your romantic life. Oftentimes, this type isn’t necessarily physical, but something closer to an essence. Unfortunately, Pete Davidson, the former Mr. Ariana Grande and tall lanky man who’s managed to ensnare a wide assemblage of women into his trap, is mine. This particular sickness is one that I’ve suffered from in private for some time, but the persistence of my attraction led me to investigate further. What is it about Pete Davidson that I find so attractive, and are there other people out there that share this ailment?
To be clear, I have been very vocal about this particular predilection, writing for this very website about his appeal. Harken back to the summer of 2018, when Davidson and Grande debuted their unlikely relationship; as brief and as tempestuous as it was, their love dominated headlines as the gossip media documented their every move. (Anecdotally, this couple’s appeal seemed to really strike a chord, if the multitude of Pete and Ariana couples’ costumes I witnessed on social media and in real life counts for anything at all.) The appeal then was crystal clear: Here was a tall, gangly stoner with the dumbstruck look of a man who lucked into a relationship with a tiny pop princess who absolutely couldn’t get enough. Even after they ended their engagement, the couple managed to stay in the headline by taking shots at each other publicly, though by very different methods. Grande’s “thank u, next,” an instant classic and a perfect break-up anthem, put all of her exes, including Davidson, on blast, but without dragging him through the mud. Davidson’s handling of the breakup was less elegant. But despite his missteps in the public eye, my ardor did not dim.
For me, Davidson represents the kind of attainable, affable, dirtbag with a sensitive heart surrounded by years of unprocessed emotional trauma that have calcified into an unscalable wall. Some might call this affectation emotional immaturity or, rudely, a waste of time. For me, I see not quite a challenge, but someone who seems as prickly as I am about vulnerability—a kindred spirit. It’s not quite about Pete Davidson the person, but maybe, the idea of Pete Davidson: A man with baggage that isn’t so cumbersome that it can’t be unpacked, who will make me laugh but has also seen his share of darkness. But what of his appeal for everyone else, the unwashed masses drawn to his presumably unwashed stoner aura?
“I think Pete on a physical level is very attractive,” Maddie Hailey, the proprietor of the Davidson Twitter account @davidsonupdates, told Jezebel. “But I also love Pete so much for being able to pull me out of any bad or sour mood while still struggling himself. He’s so strong as a person and he has all of my respect.” Hailey created the account not at the height of Davidson mania, some three years ago, but much more recently—a testament to this man’s longevity for some.
“I started this account in April of this year,” she wrote in a DM. “Ironically, the exact date was 4/20.”
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Davidson was recently spotted at Wimbledon with his current paramour, Bridgerton’s Phoebe Dynevor, laughing and smiling like a man in love. I’m thrilled to see Davidson enjoying himself, but I’m somehow more thrilled to hear that he’s the kind of man who puts all of his cards on the table up front. In an interview with The Breakfast Club, Davidson said that he’s “very honest” about all of his baggage, choosing to reveal his hand at the beginning rather than say, during an argument three months in. “So, I just, off the top, I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m nuts. Here’s all my issues. Here’s what I do. Here’s the therapists. This is what happens,’” he said. “And that can either be a lot for someone or they could be like, ‘Cool, that was really refreshingly honest.’ Or, sometimes it can be a little intense and weird and people can’t handle that stuff.”
“Pete Davidson probably smells better than he looks like he does,” Mieka Strawhorn of the gossip blog Dlisted told me. “He’s probably a lot of fun to hang out with, has cool and interesting friends and offers novel, modern bohemian experiences. He probably always has a steady stream of random iconic industry guests stopping by to party. If he looks a bit like a fleshy Muppet, so be it.”
It would be easy to say that my attraction to Davidson is because of his rumored big dick energy, but I refuse to pin the locus of my desire to the alleged size of his dong. Kyrell Grant, the woman who coined the phrase “big dick energy” in a tweet that referred not to Davidson, but to Anthony Bourdain, wrote for the Guardian about how her phrase was co-opted by almost everyone in 2018, at the height of Davidson and Ariana Grande’s relationship. When I asked her for her thoughts on Davidson’s member, and why this phrase might have resonated so strongly, she said, “Weird looking skinny dudes just historically have huge dicks. I simply cannot explain the science behind it.”
However, the BDE theory holds some water when you consider the women he encountered after Ariana Grande, which include Kate Beckinsale, Kaia Gerber, and Margaret Qualley. Bobby Finger, former Jezebel Man and co-host of Who? Weekly, weighed in. “He’s clearly making them happy,” he told Jezebel. “He seems genuinely funny and comparatively normal in a way that is probably refreshing to young women who are on the come-up (or already there) in entertainment and surrounded by a very specific type of Hollywood Straight Guy. There are famous Colin Josts everywhere. Famous Pete Davidsons seem rarer.”
Davidson’s appeal is not purely physical, but rooted rather in his personality—a man who is down for whatever, where “whatever” could be bong rips and HGTV or driving aimlessly from strip mall to strip mall looking for the one with the good Chipotle. Fame is something he’s seemed to accept as part and parcel of the life he leads, but he has yet to be affected in full by the virus that turns normal people into monsters once they get a taste of the limelight. Arguably, his relationship with Grande, which played out in the media, on Instagram, and pretty much wherever they were in public, is the vehicle that propelled him towards fame on the level that he might not have necessarily wanted.
The straightforward Twitter account @mgkandpetegifs, started their enterprise in 2019, looking to fill a void for Pete Davidson obsessives in need of GIFs of their beloved, as well as “news about movie releases he’s involved in, interviews, when he returns to social media, etc.” True to its title, the account is like many of the other fan accounts, posting updates, photos and GIFs of both Davidson and MGK, two men who are spiritually and visually similar. What sets @mgkandpetegifs apart from the rest of the stan accounts I sorted through on Twitter is the positivity that radiates from its feed.
Though Davidson is no longer on social media, the creator of the @mgkandpetegifs account said that their intention was to create a beacon of positivity for the object of their affection. “I planned to create it as a positive place for Pete Davidson for if and whenever he were to see this page. :)” they told Jezebel in a DM. A noble undertaking.
Plenty of people were able to speculate on why they think these women are attracted to Pete, and what it is about him that made him attractive, but finding anyone who would go on the record to speak about their own attraction was difficult, leading me to believe that being attracted to him and saying so, publicly, is a source of shame. Ruth Graham, now a writer at the New York Times, wrote for Slate about her own moment of reckoning with Davidson’s attractiveness, conceding that she, too, was finally able to understand his appeal. But when I emailed Graham looking for comment, to see if she still suffered from this disease, she demurred. “I’m sorry, I’m so far off the Davidson beat these days that I don’t think I have much more to add!” she wrote. Fair and I am happy for Graham’s healing.
Another source, the proprietor of petedavidsonrares, a Pete Davidson fan account on Instagram, responded to my enthusiastic request for comment, but never followed up. I understand that it takes bravery to speak publicly on an attraction that feels taboo, and so I turned to the bravest woman I know, former Jezebel Senior Editor Katie McDonough, who has always been a safe harbor for my confessions about Davidson and otherwise.
“I can’t describe the appeal,” she told me. “But the outer-borough-lives-with-his-mom guy is a type. He looks like you could do drugs together but also that maybe you could stop doing drugs together.” McDonough articulated what I have been trying to say for so long about Davidson, absent any judgment. Though it’s rude to Davidson to feel like being attracted to him is bad, I think there’s a bit more to unpack vis a vis the outer-borough mother’s boy who still hangs out at home a lot and does stuff like take out the garbage even though he’s dated famous people. As celebrities go, he seems relatable and therefore attainable.
Pete Davidson does not put on airs. He cares about his family, he misses his father, and also happens to be the perfect vessel to project the idea of what a good man can be.