I’ve sometimes been criticized for my opinions of romantic heroes. Women, I’ve been told, don’t want nice heroes; they want bad boys.
Oh, but it’s fiction! It’s make-believe. It’s escape. It’s fantasy. That’s what I’m told, but I still hold fast to my belief that real heroes are nice guys. That’s how I want it in life, and that’s how I want it in love stories.
Even as a reader, I could never fall in love with a cold-blooded assassin, a savage pirate who insists on calling every woman a wench, or a smart-assed, selfish bastard who thinks being a billionaire gives him the right to demean others. Sorry, nothing romantic about those sort of men, at least, as the saying goes, “Not in my book.”
Does that mean my heroes are perfect? Not by a long shot. They have flaws, they make mistakes, they do things they probably shouldn’t. But they learn from their mistakes. They strive to become better men.
My heroes care about others, even if they sometimes approach situations in the wrong way or misunderstand another’s intentions. They do their best.
I don’t think a man has to swim with sharks, fight an army of knife-wielding zombies, or walk through flames to prove he’s a hero. If a man has to perform death-defying acts to be called heroic, then something is wrong with our way of thinking.
Are we failing to recognize the true qualities a hero should possess? It’s not just having courage in the face of disaster. It’s not simply a matter of doing something out-of-the-ordinary when challenged. For me, a man becomes a hero by living a good life, by being steadfast and responsible, by keeping promises and being there for the woman he loves.
Most of all, a hero is a man who’s capable of love — great love. A hero is a man who is neither ashamed nor afraid to show his feelings. The strongest man, I believe, is the one who can show tenderness, the one who treats others with respect, the one who believes in honesty and hard work.
When I find these qualities in a man, I know he really is “my hero”, and I’d be willing to bet that if I ever found myself in shark-infested waters, he would jump in to save me. But he doesn’t need to do great feats to prove himself to me because the little acts of love are all the proof I need.
For this Valentine’s Day, I want to say “I love you” to my hero, my husband, the love of my life, and to all the everyday, unsung heroes among us, the faithful husbands and lovers, fathers and friends who stand by us day after day, helping us in so many ways, and bringing joy into our lives.