With the news that Aimee Terese has gotten an IRL bf, that concludes my role as her online Manic Pixie Dream Guy (a term that sounds dumb in the masculine, but just for consistency). I'll use this occasion to reflect on the role, personally and in the broader culture, as well as advise other guys who fit the profile to play the role themselves.
Much like the MPDGs from the movies, I haphazardly ran into someone who was full of promise but was a bit down in the dumps. Through the power of my quirked-up free-spirited charm, over a series of adventures together, I picked up her mood and helped her find the resolve to achieve as much as she could in her ordinary business, but also to find the confidence to put herself out there romantically, once she truly sees how lovable she is.
And how else can you convince someone else of that, without taking part in a quasi-relationship with them first? Not just random compliments that can be batted away, but a persistent infatuation that lets them know they're irresistible long-term material who you can't help but want to bond with socially and emotionally.
I serenaded her a lot during the lonely lockdown period, but I think the turning point was portraying her as the "Girl All the Banned Guys Want". She really melted over that one. After awhile, there comes a moment when she realizes, "Jeez, this guy's really serious -- I truly must be that lovable, or else he wouldn't have hung around for so long and invested in me". It's giving her the whirlwind tour of convincing her that she's waifu material, without actually wifing her up.
Which is not to say the MPDG's role is a disinterested social worker, as though they saw someone starving and gave them food because everyone deserves to be fed. That is not even a quasi-relationship. The MPDG really is infatuated with the protag, and attaches to them rather than any number of other potential recipients.
And yet both of you can sense that this isn't a long-term prospect, that it's just a little too comically off-the-wall to last. But that's fine -- it's more of a preparation, for when they face the real test. Kind of like sparring with a partner before a scheduled match-up, or going to physical rehab after an injury but before navigating real-world environments again.
Just like in the movies, the MPDG and the reinvigorated protagonist usually do not end up together, but that's the point. The MPDG is fundamentally an earthly guardian angel for the protag, meant to be with them long enough to nurse them back to health, not destined to be their eternal soulmate, who they just might find after the proper social-emotional recuperation.
Their parting may be bittersweet, but it's not marred by regrets, jealousy, or hard feelings. They shared a special, quirky quasi-relationship that most people will never have the fun of taking part in.
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Partly this post is to reiterate what the MPDG role is within the larger narrative and character development of those movies (it's not just individual personality traits, but a relational role). But it should also encourage other guys out there to give this role a try, when you find yourself in the right opportunity. I don't think many pay it much mind, or shy away from it if they do. It's deeply rewarding and fulfilling, and creates some of the most fondly remembered relationships of your entire life.
As it so happens, the last time I played this role -- IRL, before the lockdown / everyone's-online era -- was during a restless warm-up phase of the 15-year excitement cycle (naturally, that's when the MPDG role emerges). Instead of the early 2020s, it was the late 2000s -- but she reminds me a lot of Aimee in key ways.
Half-Levantine and half-European, short, skinny, boob girl rather than butt girl, ADHD, given to mischievous grinning, born in the late '80s (a vulnerable phase, when sad girls are born), good-looking yet also insecure, an outward intensity disguising an inner tender-heartedness... an uncanny resemblance, even if they're not quite twins.
I still remember when she'd found her first real boyfriend -- who she ended up marrying and having a kid with later on -- she was eager to get my blessing, or stamp of approval. Now that her training / quasi-relationship had completed, on to the real test -- well, coach, how did I do?!
Just like how the female MPDG has a maternal, nursing quality, the male MPDG has a fatherly, coach-like quality. I think that's what allows for the training / sparring / mock / quasi relationship to flourish -- if it were a straight-up dating-and-mating context, then the MPDG would only love the protag conditionally, as long as they were together. But if the MPDG has a maternal or father-figure aspect to them, the protag can expect more of an unconditional love and support. That gives their quasi-relationship a safer feel while they're recuperating and preparing, before the protag engages in an actually risky real-deal relationship later.
And they won't expect to end up together for real, for the long-term -- that would feel incestuous. The MPDG will, at some point, give the protag away to their new-found true love, just as a parent gives away their daughter during a wedding.
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Is this role for everyone? Well, probably not, just like with the female MPDG. I think that, like the female MPDGs, you have to have been born during a manic phase of the excitement cycle, to have a sense of resilience or even invincibility, to be the leader or guide for someone who is a bit wary about coming out of their shell. That means if you're born in the first half of the '50s, second half of the '60s, first half of the '80s, or second half of the '90s.
The girl will not be born during the same phase -- those girls are already probably resilient and confident, being born in the same manic phase you were. Looking back on the late 2000s, I think it was mainly the late '80s-born girls (the sad girls) who were drawn to me as an MPDG, whereas the early '90s-born girls were the wild-child type and just felt like me being older than them added transgressive value to the random hot guy value.
So in the current restless warm-up phase, that means the girls most in need of an MPDG will be born during the first half of the 2000s, a vulnerable phase that created the generation of sad girls looking for an encouraging daddy figure on TikTok. Those born in the second half of the 2000s are going to be another wild-child cohort, who would be interested in you more for taboo-pressing value.
While the early 2020s could feature the occasional older-people version like me and Aimee, the scenario will most likely be a guy born from '95-'99 and a girl born from '00-'04, and only during this '20-'24 window (a restless phase of the cycle, when people come out of their vulnerable-phase refractory states, but some are more wary of doing so and need coaxing).
Also like the female MPDGs, I think you need the typical shape of your gender -- hourglass waist-hip ratio for females, but inverted triangle torso for males. And attractive to seriously hot. But part of the MPDG quirk is being atypical of their gender in just a few ways, with the female ones having a bit of a tomboy streak, and therefore the male ones being more empathetic than the average guy. I think both male and female MPDGs are corporeal rather than cerebral, and therefore butt people rather than boob people. You're an *earthly* guardian angel.
The degree of physical intimacy is not set in stone, it could involve only flirtatious touchy-feely behavior, or go all the way. You're not a purely Platonic friend looking to boost their self-esteem, and you really will be infatuated with them. But just know that it's not meant to last, and it will be more of an intense unique adventure, not a stable and thankfully-boring marriage.
This isn't because it's a fling or summer romance, but because you're partly a father-figure or coach to them, and that restoring or building their confidence is a temporary role. Once they've found it, they've found it. There's not a whole lot more for you to do in that role. They're capable of flying on their own now, thanks in part to you, and they're meant to find someone else, somewhere else, for the long-term.
You won't feel so much "single" (angry, depressed, etc.), as much as an empty-nester (bittersweet).
Still, just as the bittersweet feeling of being an empty-nesting parent should not prevent you from getting married and raising children in the first place, neither should it keep you from playing an MPDG role for a sad girl who catches your attention, who's full of potential, lovable, and deserving, but needs to be won over and convinced of it.