Falling in love with characters on television is natural. They visit our homes once a week (or set up camp for one very intense week of binge watching) and worm their way into our hearts. We’re hopeless to stop them. Narrative cues and sweeping music tells us they’re the ones. They’re the good guys. They’re examples by which to measure men in our actual lives. Unfortunately, not every TV boyfriend is as good as The Office‘s Jim Halpert, and some are actually a little toxic.
Trust me, it’s time you parted ways with these particular TV boyfriends. They’re just going to break your heart.
President Fitzgerald “I’m Leaving My Wife, I Swear” Grant on Scandal
Shonda Rhimes’ intoxicating series drew us in with the promise of a forbidden romance between our heroine, the seemingly infallible Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), and the President, whom she has the privilege of calling “Fitz” (Tony Goldwyn). Like any affair, at first it was sexy and Fitz’s wife was easily villainized and dismissed as a cold woman who drove her husband away.
But just like in real life, Fitz’s wife isn’t some witch and Fitz isn’t a knight in shining armor. He’s still a man cheating on his wife with a woman he continually promises a future he cannot deliver. He may believe that he could leave his wife and move his mistress into the White House someday, but his relentless idealism is almost as bad as a lie.
Bottom Line: Even if a cheater’s excuse is “it’s complicated because I’m the President of the United States,” it’s not good enough.
Jesse “Destroyed Soul” Pinkman on Breaking Bad
This is a tough one, because Jesse is so infinitely loveable. However, there’s a difference between caring for a character and falling in love with one, and too many of us have fallen in love with Aaron Paul’s former meth cook and frequent drug addict. Yes, Jesse is a good person and it’s natural to want him to find happiness, just not with you.
We’re naturally inclined to want to help someone like Jesse – take care of him and fix him, if you will – but that is a one-way ticket to misery, folks. Jesse cannot be fixed, no matter how handsome that face of his is.
Bottom Line: It’s not your job to fix someone; it’s an invitation to infinite heart break.
John “Naïve Rule-Breaker” Bennett on Orange is the New Black
This is the classic unattainable guy. Inmate Daya (Dascha Polanco) falls in love with prison C.O. Bennett (Matt McGorry) and mountains of trouble ensue. Bennett sure is dreamy, but it’s a lust that will get you in trouble.
First, he’s too naïve to realize just how much danger he’s creating for the woman he loves. Second, when she tries to fix their problems (problems he hasn’t done anything to remedy, himself), he turns on her immediately and speaks to her like an insolent child. Bennett’s always going to be grasping for control where he has none, which is likely why he found the prospect of seeing a prison inmate so appealing. This is all wildly unhealthy.
Bottom Line: Forbidden love is sexy, but not if both parties aren’t up to the task.
Don “The Guy You Should Have Dumped Two Years Ago” Draper on Mad Men
Chalk it up to particularly revealing pictures of Jon Hamm that have made their way around the Internet, or the fact that he still looks incredible in a suit, but Don Draper is a hard habit to shake. Sure he’s handsome, brooding, and successful. Yes, his recent bout of pain and introspection makes him feel more human. But seriously, dump Don Draper. Now.
He’s a frequently-angry alcoholic, who is constantly unhappy no matter how picture perfect his life is. And that’s not even mentioning all the appointments with S&M hookers! He’s a mess, and he doesn’t need to be yours.
Bottom Line: The Don Drapers of the world need to be alone so they can have a long, hard look at themselves. Your affection is not going to save them. Let them go.
Nick “The Loveable Man-Boy” Miller on New Girl
Nick is mostly great. He’s hilarious, goofy, and cranky in a sort of adorable way… when he’s on your television. Mr. Miller is a law-school dropout and bartender with no ambitions to change either of those. He has no passions or dreams and when he does, he dream of writing a Y.A. zombie novel evaporates after two weeks. He’s the sort of person who believes everything he reads on the Internet. And when it comes to expressing his emotions, it’s like pulling splinters out of Walter Mathau’s paw. Nick is a grump who’s made his inability to succeed his “quirky, cute” identity.
It works on a sitcom; he’s sweet to his true love Jess. That’s enough for a sitcom, whose only purpose is to make us laugh. But folks, don’t go looking for your own Nick Miller. He’s that sort of lovable oaf that will never get his act together who will drive you absolutely bonkers.
Bottom Line: Don’t set your sights on a man-child. They’re cute and they’re funny, but eventually they’re more work than they’re worth.
Every Man Ever on The Bachelor
Don’t even start with “But Juan Pablo is different! He has a kid!” No. Stop that. Any and every man on The Bachelor is a TV boyfriend you need to dump right now. Think about it this way: the very basis of the show is that this man gets to try out multiple women at a time over a six-week period (which is how long filming lasts) so he can decide to marry one of them. Imagine having a boyfriend who has three or four other girlfriends and a couple of hangers-on for the entire span of your pre-engagement relationship? Yeah, didn’t think so.
This is essentially a man who can’t make a decision until he’s forced into one; a man who’s trained that he’s God’s gift to women; and a man who’s been taught that his fleeting opinion is worth everything. Any man who reminds you of a Bachelor needs to go. Immediately.
Bottom Line: Sure, he’s handsome. Sure, he’s got a great job. Sure, his smile could blind a room full of strangers. But men like this are indecisive, narcissistic, and insecure – and you deserve better than that.