Graphic by Rachel Yoon / North by Northwestern

The hashtag #menwrittenbywomen, posted 44.7M times on TikTok as of April 2024, features men like Timothée Chalamet, Tom Holland and Matthew Gray Gubler — also known as “internet boyfriends.” But what makes them – or any man – written by a woman? According to Medill second-year Will Kramer, it’s “a man who reflects the qualities that a woman wishes all men could have.”

Still stumped? Here’s how you can try to embody the qualities of these heartthrobs:

Take notes from the greats

Chris Evans, actor, feminist dreamboat and People magazine’s 2022 “Sexiest Man Alive,” gets noticed for his personality.

“Chris Evans gets a lot of positive stuff for being vulnerable or talking about mental health,” said Communication first-year Aditi Adve.

Other examples include fictional men. Weinberg second-year Jessica Dean finds that Laurie, played by Timothée Chalamet, in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women fits the description.

“It’s the yearning. All he wants is to be with Jo,” Dean said. “It’s hotter for a woman to see a man who’s down bad than it is to see a man with an eight-pack.”

Don’t be afraid to show thoughtfulness

Thoughtfulness never goes unnoticed by a woman. Dean felt this when her first boyfriend gave her a Dungeons and Dungeons dice tower that he hand-crafted with his grandfather. While no longer together, they still remain on amicable terms.

“That was the cutest thing ever, because he knew my interests,” Dean said. “He put a lot of effort into making stuff for me.”

Adve has even found this trait endearing in her platonic relationships with men, primarily in the form of active listening and genuine interest.

“[A friend] was asking follow-up questions about my life and I was like, 'That’s so sweet,'” Adve said. “Sometimes a guy is just talking to talk. They ask you a question so that you’ll ask them back or so that they can talk about themselves.”

Kramer said he tries to practice being attentive and engaged. As a younger brother and one of two male Spirit Squad members, he’s spent plenty of time building platonic relationships with women and listening to them.

“Guys that say you can't be friends with girls platonically — it confuses me,” he said. “It makes you wonder if they can really empathize with what it means to be a girl if their only understanding of women is in a sexual context. Cheerleading helps me have more empathy for their life experience.”

Ditch the toxic masculinity

Some famous internet boyfriends make “traditionally feminine” style decisions (think Timothee Chalamet in Entertainment Weekly’s “Little Women” cover shoot). Being comfortable in your masculinity not only shows confidence, but can also show feminist thinking.

Image courtesy Entertainment Weekly

“Anytime anyone becomes more feminine, it's seen as a transgression. It's a downward move,” said Northwestern Women’s Center director Sarah Brown. But a man dressing more feminine signals that they don’t see femininity as inferior, or as a downgrade.

“People are really stuck to this idea of a man, obviously,” Kramer said. “There's a lot of people that are really opposed to any change in that idea, but if you're a man then you're a man and you can do whatever you want.”

Some men have ideas “rooted in misogyny,” Silva said. While they don’t have to be “constantly talking about feminism,” they should remain open to listening and educating themselves on women’s issues. Brown said that, in addition to taking Gender Studies courses, men can achieve this through reading. She suggested the books at the Women’s Center library.

“There's a scaffolding that a person should do — starting with something like Sarah Ahmed’s Living a Feminist Life that orients you in a contemporary feminist moment,” Brown said. “Start with something accessible. Then, you can get into people who are having debates about the current state of feminism — a sort of next-level approach.”

Dress the part

Now for the finishing touches: Aesthetics are only one aspect of being a man written by women. However, certain style choices may be more likely to pull a lady. Dean again referenced Laurie from Little Women and the “floofy” white long-sleeve he wears in multiple scenes.

Image courtesy PopSugar

“The modern equivalent of a poofy shirt is a white button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows,” Dean said.

On the other hand, hypermasculine clothing items, such as gym shorts and tight button-downs, tend to be “out.”

“Guys who wear baseball caps, I vibe with that — but not backward,” Weinberg second-year Hailey Silva said. “It gives me a horrible ick.”

In the end, being a man written by women is about more than just fashion choices or grand romantic gestures. It's about embracing your authentic self, treating others with respect and empathy, and being open to learning and growing. By embodying these qualities, you'll not only become more attractive to potential partners, but you'll also be a better friend, brother, and overall human being. So, take a page from the book of these internet boyfriends and start writing your own story – one that any woman would be proud to read.