Everyone wants to feel loved. Period. Though American culture dictates that men shouldn't let on how much they, too, need affirmation and affection, they are basic and universal human needs. For some people, showing affection comes easily. But not for Ethan, and for many other introverted, tormented souls just like him, people who have a difficult time feeling worthy of love and therefore find it challenging to demonstrate their love for others.
As much as Ethan would absolutely hate to admit this, he fits the mold of one of the classic romance hero archetypes - the bad boy with a heart of gold. You know the guy, ladies. Many, many of us have been there - some of us (ahem) several times. I'm not into astrology, but you'll often hear me talk about my recurring thing for Scorpios. Ever read about them? Yeah. Scorpio male is the classic bad boy with the soft underbelly - hard to crack open, impossible to get over. You can read one of my all-time favorite articles on the topic of Scorpios as the archetypal romance novel hero here.
So here's the thing about that bad boy. Yes, it's hard to break through that hardened shell he wears - so hard that it's not for everyone, or maybe it's only for you for a little while. But once you do break through, you get to the addictive and meaty center - underneath it all, he's a sucker for romance and will shock you (and ruin you) with his romantic gestures. This is something I really, really wanted to explore in Ethan, and since we actually get to hear the story from both Ethan and Kate's perspectives, it provided me with a unique opportunity to examine how it feels from both sides. And guess what - writing Ethan was a blast for that reason. I absolutely loved crafting his romantic side and juxtaposing it with his prickly exterior.
When I was younger, I dated an Ethan (okay, a couple of them), and he was so rough on the outside I almost couldn't handle it. I remember times when I thought I'd had it, I couldn't put up with another standoffish interaction or moody comment. But there were these things he would do, little things, that offered glimpses of the soft, gentle heart underneath all those spikes. He would call me before the sun came up and be the first voice I heard every day. He wrote me the most beautiful letters, several a week, black ink pressed so hard into the crumpled, stained sheets of paper that it felt like Braille if you ran your fingers over it. Mixed tapes full of his favorite loud, angry punk rock music, but with a few things he knew I would like sprinkled in to keep me listening.
Maybe it doesn't sound like much, and over the years I've had so many male friends and boyfriends roll their eyes at the way women repeatedly find themselves attracted to emotionally unavailable men. And I'll admit, they're difficult to live with or marry. But man...they're romantic as hell when they wanna be.