We have all swooned over Ryan Gosling in The Notebook, or dreamed about meeting a person as thoughtful and romantic as John Cusack in Say Anything. These are archetypes, and they work for a reason: They don’t exist. Like a bikini-clad, perpetually horny Bond girl or an endlessly forgiving wife in an action film, the “perfect boyfriend” is a fictional trope that is based in fantasy—a fantasy that (to quote a guy included in this piece) doesn’t quite “deliver.” In thinking about the way that films have depicted what we should want in a partner, there aren’t many characters out there that feel fully realized and not just like some weird stereotype—so we dug a bit deeper, and counted our 13 most realistic boyfriends in film.
Please note: As we were surveying and researching, we noticed that there weren’t a lot of honest, realistic depictions of queer people or people of color in film that bucked stereotypes (the sexy lesbian seductress or the “bad boy from across the tracks”) and focused on relationships. Please let us know if we overlooked someone in the comments and we are happy to add in, pronto.