SparkNotes Blog

Auntie SparkNotes: The Imaginary Perfect Boyfriend

Sometimes your Sparkitors need Auntie’s advice just as much as the letter-writer. This is one of those times! —SparkNotes editors

Dear Auntie Sparknotes,
I currently have a boyfriend. And he isn’t exactly the ideal boyfriend.. His attractiveness is lacking and he is incredibly shy around me. I get the whole nervous thing because, heck! I’m nervous too! But will it ever end? You know? Ever since I was younger, I had this picture in my mind of the perfect boy (probably from all of those lovey dovey books I bought..). He was always tall and handsome, and willing to take control. My current boyfriend is maybe 2 inches taller than me. He also isn’t the greatest looking guy. And he wants me to be in control! I consider myself a pretty accepting person, so looks don’t necessarily matter, but the whole its-up-to-you thing kind of angers me. Maybe its because I’m indecisive (which is true), and him pressuring me to make all the choices in this relationship pushes me away…?

So basically, how do I get my boyfriend to become more assertive and confident? He wants me to always be happy, but it seems to put him a continuous nervous state. I’m a pretty laid back person, so I’m honestly fine with whatever he decides, but he never does! Is there any way to fix this?

Hey you guyyyyyyys! Y’know how we’ve talked about the difference between the small adjustments you might reasonably ask a significant other to make for the sake of your relationship’s success, and a hideously unreasonable attempt to actually change said significant other into a completely different person?

Guess which one this is!

Unfortunately, Sparkler, you’ve fallen into a common trap. Just about everyone has an Imaginary Perfect Boyfriend (or Girlfriend) lurking somewhere in the dark recesses of her or his mind—an individual whose looks, personality, strengths, and preference in pizza toppings are perfectly matched to your own desires. (Auntie’s IPB looked exactly like Adrian Brody. MEOW.) But the problem with the Imaginary Perfect Boyfriend, as you might guess, is that he’s imaginary. And while it’s jarring to discover that a real relationship doesn’t match up to your daydreamed ideal, it’s supremely unfair to expect a real person to compete with an invented dude who lives exclusively inside your head.

And man oh man, do I ever feel bad for your boyfriend. Because the problem here isn’t that you don’t want him to be so shy; it’s that you don’t want him. Period. Never mind how forehead-slappingly awful it is that you’re patting yourself on the back for “accepting” the guy’s not-quite-Hollywood-grade looks—have you noticed that you think everything is wrong with him? If you were to strip away all the things about him that you find defective, all that would be left is, like, a toenail and some hair.

So it’s time to stop lusting after the IPB… and it’s time to break up with your actual, in-real-life boyfriend. Go back and take another look at your letter; now, imagine that you’re your guy. Would you want to be in a relationship with someone who felt about you the way you feel about him? Would you be thrilled to know that you were being settled for by someone who was congratulating herself for seeing past your defects? Or would you want to be free to find someone who is attracted to and appreciates you for who you are? No doubt, there’s a girl out there who wouldn’t consider this guy’s looks “lacking,” who doesn’t care how tall he is, and who likes the idea of being given the reins in the relationship.

Now, for the love, cut him loose so he can date her… and so that you can find someone who doesn’t disappoint you with every fiber of his being. That perfect boy you’ve been hoping for doesn’t exist, but a tall guy who likes to make decisions? He’s out there somewhere. And if you break up with your imaginary boyfriend, you might even find him.

Who’s your Imaginary Perfect Boyfriend? Tell us in the comments! (And hands off Adrian Brody—he’s mine.) Need to get in touch with Auntie? Email a question to her at or friend her on Facebook here.