Thoughts #46: I Don’t Get ‘Book Boyfriends’


Unpopular opinion time: a lot of book bloggers talk about ‘book boyfriends’, e.g. characters in books that they would date if they could. I don’t get it.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a ‘book boyfriend’. I have never, ever encountered a book character who makes me feel that strongly about them. I have characters of both genders that I’d love to meet, be friends with, hang out with, but never one I could consider a ‘book boyfriend’.

Interestingly, I do get ‘video game boyfriends’. My holy trinity of Alistair Theirin, Anders and Varric Tethras from the Dragon Age series are all perfect (damn you Bioware for making Varric unromanceable!). I get really attached to characters in video games when the story is very detailed, and you are given a chance to really get to know them.


In fact, I think I feel more strongly about video game characters than book characters in general. And for some reason, this feels like a betrayal! Perhaps because the characters are more ‘visible’: no matter how detailed an author’s description of a certain book character is, obviously in a video game you immediately see the character AND (most of the time) gain a sense of their personality much more quickly.

Both the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series have made me cry multiple times: they both contain characters I love and hard decisions I have to make regarding those characters. I think ultimately, that’s why I often feel closer: because MY decisions impact those characters. I can’t control what happens to a character in a book, it is set in stone and has already happened. With many of the video games I play, however, I can be responsible for whether someone lives or dies, and it is that tie that draws me to them.

Do you have ‘book boyfriends/girlfriends’, or are you like me, a little bit mystified by it all? What about ‘video game boyfriends/girlfriends’?


28 thoughts on “Thoughts #46: I Don’t Get ‘Book Boyfriends’”

  1. This post delights me, because I feel very similarly! I don’t get ‘book boyfriends’ either. For me, seeing a person/character is vital to forming a crush on them – I need a minimal of physical attraction, in addition to all the other things that might make someone interesting in that way (e.g. intelligent conversation, kindness, mannerisms, speech patterns, timbre of voice, etc.) …vivid description doesn’t really cut it.

    I do get vicariously happy for characters when they finally unite with their appealing love interests, but I don’t usually wish to *be* them, if that makes any sense.

    (I have had the occasional small crush on a video game character. I’ll never admit to which one(s), though – too embarrassed! haha)

    1. Nice to see someone who understands! I think I need to see them too, or see them more ‘in the flesh’. And yes, mannerisms and voice are important too!

      Completely agree with your 2nd paragraph. I totally cheer couples on.

  2. I think it really depends on the book. Some I don’t get when other people like them, but some are amazing 🙂 I guess I have a vivid imagination so I can imagine them from the author’s description, but equally physical attraction is almost more a subconscious thing. I think I’m attracted to personalities, so the way a character acts in a book sells them (or not)!

    Having said that, it was always Link from Legend of Zelda – though he was a bit of the brooding silent type 😛

    1. Definitely personalities, because they shine across a lot more in books than looks (well, if the character is well-rounded/crafted…)

      Haha! Aww, Link…

  3. You’re not alone, Rinn! I can get very, very attached to characters in books, but I don’t think I’d ever consider them my book boyfriend/girlfriend – like you I get more attached to them in the sense that I’d love to hang out with them or just give them a much-needed cuddle. 🙂

  4. I’ve experienced a little bit of this in both books and video games, as well as other forms of media. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say I’d marry a character, but I would happily spend more time with them. Bioware has done a fantastic job of creating realistic characters that invoke emotional responses from the player. I’ve enjoyed the romance options they’ve added to the games, as well as the backstory and motivation that the other characters reveal during conversations. Our ability to interact with and possibly change the destiny of these characters allows us to become emotionally invested in them. Other game companies have bought into this as well, in Fallout 4 your various companions all have a story arc and our decisions determine where they end up. I haven’t started Witcher 3 yet, but I’ve heard similar things about it.

    When it comes to books, movies and television, it’s a little bit different. We can’t interact with the characters, but just watch them as they make their own decisions. It adds a layer of distance to our relationship with the characters, but I often will still get emotionally invested with them. Sometimes they can even make me cry, which is really saying something for a guy raised in a family with the mantra “boys don’t cry.” I didn’t cry at all for a long time in my younger days, but it happens more and more often now. Most recently in “Inside Out” they folks at Pixar pushed all the right buttons and I ended up with tears rolling down my cheeks. I guess it all comes down to the writing, if the writing is good enough, I’ll buy in emotionally. Even if I never had a Bing Bong, the Pixar writers make me wish I had. If you haven’t seen “Inside Out” that reference won’t mean a thing to you, but if you have seen it, you’ll know.

    I feel like I’ve rambled on far too long, but I will just add this. The more immersive the game/book/movie/tv show is, the better as far as I’m concerned. I want them to make me feel things, feel for the characters, care about who they are and where they’re going and worry about them when they find themselves in trouble. Just give me the feels.

    1. Bioware are MASTERS at it. I feel so passionately about characters from Dragon Age and Mass Effect because they are such wonderfully crafted characters. They could be real people. I love being able to find out more about their history 🙂 I haven’t played Fallout 4 yet, but I didn’t realise they gave the companions more detailed stories this time (at least I don’t recall that in 3?).

      I think that’s the major reason as to why I’m much more attached to VG characters, or rather specifically characters from video games with that element of choice and influence. I really need to watch Inside Out – I love Amy Poehler and it’s gotten such wonderful reviews!

      Thanks for commenting, Ty 🙂 I definitely agree with your last statement!

  5. I’ve never gotten the book boyfriend or video game boyfriend thing. I like the characters, but when it comes to romance I like them as a couple.

  6. OMG! I am so happy that I am not the only one in the world that is disappointed that Varric is unromanceable in the Dragon Age Games. I can tell that my current character pines for him, so I will be finishing yet ANOTHER Dragon Age game with zero romance because my character cannot have Varric. (In my headcanon though, it’s because Varric and my version of Hawke in Dragon Age II were OTP even though they couldn’t admit it to each other [because Varric was unromanceable. It’s a vicious circle].)

    I never had book boyfriends either (although I’m actually currently smitten with Dorian in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, but only because I keep thinking of him as Dorian in Dragon Age Inquisition. Ugh, I can’t believe I’m admitting this). I think the visual element is important. Like…I liked Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter books, but then I really, really liked Ron in the (later) Harry Potter movies.

    1. IT SUCKS SO MUCH, RIGHT?? I romanced Anders in DA2 because he is also adorable, but I really love the idea of Varric and my Inquisitor together, because she is a dwarf and they have a really good friendship THAT CAN’T BE TAKEN ANY FURTHER. GRRR.

      Haha! I love Dorian. He’s always my party mage because the chat between him, Blackwall and Varric is fantastic. Good old Sparkles 😉

  7. I don’t do book boyfriends either. I always like the relationship between the main characters, the heat, the tension, the adorableness. So I have book couples?

  8. I’m definitely a bit “mystified about it all” – I guess I sort of have mild character crushes, but it’s really the dynamics of the couple that sell me both characters. One without the other isn’t the same…

  9. Bioware games are my JAM.

    I do have favorite love interests in books and such, like I’ll ship some characters together but it’s definitely not the same as video game characters and I think it’s because of the point you brought up-they are so much more visual and you can interact and directly get to know and change them. They feel like YOUR friends. I get a little teary eyed at the end of each Dragon Age game knowing I have to let these characters go. Alistair Theirin and his awkwardness ❤ His dialogue was gold, I really wish he had bigger parts in the other installments but then again I love all the new characters as well so it's a struggle haha. Inquisition's ending RUINED me because I made the terrible decision to romance Solas (and loved it, damn you Bioware.) Did you make Alistair king? I'm not sure I could have faced that decision you had to make in Inquisition if I made him a warden D: I romanced both Fenris and Anders in DA2 because they were both so intriguing but I think I'm a Fenris girl 😛 Love them both though. Just started Mass Effect recently but I've heard so much about how many feels are supposed to be in store D:

    1. Yessssss 😀

      I love shipping characters together too, but I’ve never wanted to ship myself with a book character. Exactly, exactly. So much more attached to VG characters. I wish Alistair was properly in 2 & 3, although then I guess it would never give me a chance to explore other romance options. I need to finish Inquisition! I’m taking it slowly, I’ve put 60 hours in and I think I’ve got 2 or 3 main missions left. I’m doing ALL the side quests though.

      Yup, I made Alistair king and married him. But I didn’t use the DA Keep thing when I started my Inquisition game, meaning my imports didn’t affect the game and it used all the defaults. So Alistair was king with Inora as his queen, Hawke was male, etc 😦


      1. Oh my gosh I hope I didn’t spoil anything then D: I took it really slow too, haha. I think I finished the game and all the sidequests around 92 hours and then started a new game so my total is 120. Obviously I don’t do much else xD

        Aww man! You should do another playthrough with the Keep, it’s pretty easy to use.

        GREAT haha.

      2. Nah, you didn’t 🙂 When I first started it, I played it obsessively, but as I’ve progressed I’m playing it much less, with other games in between. Sometimes doing the same sorts of side quests again and again can get tiring.

        I will do, but that time around I think I will ignore most side quests and just focus on story 🙂

  10. Though I’m not sure this was the term for it then, I think I had more “book boyfriends” as, say, a middle schooler. Without any real romantic experiences, it was kind of tempting to crush on book guys and imagine the ideal boyfriend. Now, I guess I’m more excited about the attraction between the characters in the book, not an imaginary attraction between me and one of the characters.

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