Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Don't Shoot the Messenger: A Little Armchair Psychology From A Romance Writer

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the sooner we accept this, Ladies, the better off all we'll all be. Are ya'll ready? Brace yourself, because here it comes and it ain't pretty.

There are no perfect men. I can hear the wailing now. But give me a minute and I may be able to make you feel a tad better.

First, I don't mean perfect in the physical sense, because let's face it, I know of a few men who I don't think I could find a flaw with if I went over them with a magnifying glass. (But darn it, if I wouldn't like to be given the chance to go over David Boreanaz, AKA Booth on Bones, very carefully, and maybe twice.) But no, I don't mean physically.

I mean perfect in character. The kind of man who doesn't make mistakes, one who never says something he doesn't mean in a moment of anger, a man who never leaves the toilet lid up or his underwear down, or one who doesn't snore or hates taking out the trash, and oh, how about one who never, ever passes gas.

Whenever I tell someone this, they always sigh and say, "Yeah, that's why we love romance novels." And this is where I have to deliver the bad news again. Because if there is one characteristic I work the hardest to give my heroes, it's the trait of being human. And darn it, humans just aren't perfect.

Take my husband for example. And the point is that very few of you would keep him. You know those flaws I mentioned above, well, stamp him guilty and put him away to do ten to life, for all the offenses. On top of that, if you've read my blogs at Killer Fiction, you'd know that this man actually drove through the Burger King drive-though and special ordered a hamburger when I was in full labor. Oh, he also spot-cleaned my carpet using an Exacto knife. He is so NOT perfect. But you know what, he's perfect for me. His flaws would drive some women straight to divorce court or even worse, straight to murder. And not that I haven't considered the latter a time or two, but for the most part, his flaws are to me . . . tolerable. And I still love that man.

And this is what I strive for when writing my heroes. Not to write a man who is perfect, but to write one who is perfect for my heroine.

In Gotcha! my hero Jake is so darn lovable, but he's so crass that he causes some serious eye rolls for my heroine Macy. Nevertheless, Macy is a bit smart-mouthed herself, and finds my hero's borderline-inappropriateness to be funny-most of the time. But then he makes one big mistake. I wanted to kick his butt when he did it, too. So did my heroine. He had some serious groveling to do, but he did it so right. In my books, and in real life, a man who knows how to grovel can be a hero.

I once heard a psychologist/relationship counselor talk about finding a lifetime mate. Something he said really resonated with me. "When shopping for a spouse, never, ever shop for good qualities. Shop for a mate, by looking at their flaws. After you find flaws you can live with, then see if his good traits are something you could love."

He said, that no amount of good qualities will keep a marriage together, but a flaw is always what will break a marriage apart. Hence, when I shop for heroes, I shop by looking at flaws that will create conflict as well as a great resolution. So there you have it, a little armchair psychology to use in life and in your books.

And here's what I'd like to know from you. What flaws do you find tolerable or intolerable in your man and in your romance novels? Can he leave his underwear on the floor as long he looks good in them and even better without them? If he passes gas, do you pass on him? What guy would you like to take a magnifying glass to inspect? Today I'll give away a signed copy of GOTCHA! to one lucky poster. So, good luck and start commenting!

By the way, today I'll also be giving away copies of Gotcha and other prizes at my blog, Killer Fiction, and over at the Writing Playground. Plus pop over to Dorchester where I have a contest posted on the Special Features section that a winner will walk away with a basket of books and goodies. So make sure you pop over.


LadyVampire2u said...

Another awesome post. Love it. Yes, everyone has flaws. Most of the time the hero in a novel won't have that many if any flaws. But thats not reality. In reality no one is perfect. So would I tolerate the flaws you mentioned? Yes, I would. As long as the guy isn't totally indifferent about it. Meaning that he might burp, but lets hear an "excuse me" once in a while. Some sign that he knows he did something thats not catching him at his best, and he acknowledges it. He doesn't have to catch every flaw he makes but it would be nice to see he's at least trying.
As for a guy I would like to inspect... How about Joaquin Phoenix or Adrian Grenier?

Christie Craig said...

Hi LadyVampire@u,

For sure, those aknowledgments go a long way, don't they?

Thanks so much for stopping over.


Blodeuedd said...

He can leave his underwear where ever he wants to. I can forgive a burp..since I may accidentally make one too (though the bf has still not burped in front of me, I on the other hand..guilty)
Gas, we are only human if it happens to happen. At least he should run to another room. When he does it next to me, romance is dead, and missed.

I'd lie to go over John Cusack :D just love him

Christie Craig said...


Don't tell them they can leave the undies down. If you marry them, you will regret it. LOL.

I live with my son and hubby, so I'm surrounded by too much guy talk and behavior.

Ahh, but you gotta love 'em.

Thank so much for stopping in.


Just Another SAHM said...

Flaws...oh my, didn't y'all know I did find the only perfect man & married him?


Seriously, I love him to pieces but, heck yeah, he makes me crazy sometimes.

Can you say SLOB?
He is fanatical about mowing the grass but would happily live out of the laundry basket (not work clothes, of course because he is suit & tie) if I let him.

I think after 13 years I have finally gotten to him about the toilet seat (hooray for me!) but that is about it. ;)

Personally, I don't want perfect men - in life or in books.
Perfection is boring - the flaws make things interesting.

Anonymous said...

My Husband is guilty of many of the "flaws" you mentioned, I only get annoyed by one thou, He was raised by a English Teacher. When I say something wrong he will correct me, It annoys the heck out of me!!! :) He tries to not correct me but being raised by someone who corrected him ALL the time, he can't help himself. I’ve learned to ignore him.
I would love to go over Jeffery Donavon (Burn Notice) He's drool worthy.

Christie Craig said...

Just Another SAHM,

I agree 100%. Perfection can be boring. And congrats on the toilet seat training. My hubby is pretty good about that, too.

His biggest flaw is clutter. Ahh, but I still love him.

Thanks for stopping in.


Christie Craig said...


Okay, the grammar police flaw would drive me crazy, too. Especially when I make so many oops! Can't help it, I was raised southern and speak with too many ain'ts an fixins'.

But every man has his flaw, as we do.

I figure if Hubby can put up with me, I can put up with him.

Thanks so much for stopping in.


Angie Fox said...

You crack me up every time, Christie. Thanks for being here with us today - you rock!

Christie Craig said...

Ah, Angie,

Thanks so much for having me.


CrystalGB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CrystalGB said...

Hi Christie. Great post. Men are so not perfect but none of us are. I can live with the flaws as long as he loves and respects me. :)

The guy I would like to inspect is Matthew McConaughey. :)

donnas said...

It really depends on the guy and his attitude and how he treats me or if a book the other characters as to what I will or will not put up with.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

ClothDragon said...

My hubby is also perfectly imperfect. He's happy to step back and let me have my way most of the time, but he is strong enough to take away my credit cards when I can't stop buying stuff. He gets to spend all his work-days being boss so accepts with reasonable aplomb when I tell him what to do. He leaves his clothes on the floor and sometimes his shoes are left where they'll trip me in the middle of the night, but he also understands that home-mommy is not the easier job in our family.

There's no man in the world that could draw me away from my hubby, but after 15 years, I'm not sure I'd need a microscope any more either.

Jane said...

I think it's fine if he's a little messy and his refrigerator is empty. As long as he self sufficient, I don't care about the little things. Although I do mind if he leaves the toilet seat up. That's a deal breaker.

catslady said...

So many to pick from - not having a sense of humor or talking with a "tone" - it's not what you say sometimes but how you say it!

Refhater said...

Since I'm still single and searching, I'll tolerate almost any flaws. I know I'm no where near perfect myself.

RK said...

A romance hero passing gas...only if it ties into one of your unique and zany plots :)

Christie Craig said...


I think you're right the respect is a biggy for me too.

Mathew is great one to inspect.


Christie Craig said...


How they treat people is a key to character. I love heroes in books and in my life that love animals. My hubby is big cat lover. And most guys aren't big on cats, but he's like a feline magnet. They love him.

Thanks for stopping in.


Christie Craig said...


You made me laugh. Thanks!

And your hubby sounds perfect. When a man understands how much it takes to be an at-home mommy, he's a good man.

Hang on to him and take care of each other.


Christie Craig said...


Love it that the toilet seat is a deal breaker. I mean seriously, who likes going to bathroom and dropping your butt into the water.

Thanks for the chuckle.


Christie Craig said...


I love the sense of humor, my hubby has gotten out of hot water so many times because he can make me laugh.

Christie Craig said...


Don't be too tolerate. Pick your guy's flaws carefully. LOL.

Thanks for visiting.


Christie Craig said...


Please don't challenge me!!! You know I could do it.

Actually, in DD&D#3 there's a discussion of digestional problems. I'm not saying it happens, but it is discussed.



Venus Vaughn said...

I can't live without respect or trust. Respect my words, thoughts and feelings. Act in a way (not just towards me) that I can trust what you say and that you're going to do what you say you'll do.

Even if I'm pushing for it, don't tell me you're gong to do something if you're not. Because then you're not just untrustworthy, but weak too.

I can work my way through and around a lot of flaws - hey, I'm not perfect either. But without respect or trust I'm not even going to bother trying.

Christie Craig said...

Venus Vaughn,

That's some very good advice. I funny about telling me one thing and then not coming through. My hubby knows that once he says we're doing something, he'd better not back down without a good excuse.

Thanks for dropping in.