This is going to sound like a fairly odd jumping off point, but I was watching a beauty vlogger's "boyfriend tag" a while ago and something about the way they answered the question, "One thing I love about you" bothered me.
This isn't meant to be attack on the two of them. I'm sure they're lovely individually and together. It's a larger statement about the ways in which I've noticed that straight couples will talk about each other.
The question starts at 10:28.
The girl (Estee) says that she likes that he "waits" on her by getting her blankets if she's cold, etc. But also that he's funny and level-headed (in contrast to herself).
The boy (Aslan) says that he likes that she can tell when he's lying.
These are not the best examples, because her very first comment is that she loves that he will go do things for her, but she follows it up by mentioning objective traits that she likes. He, in turns, says he likes that he can't lie to her anymore because she figured him out? What?
Again, not the best example, but I've watched a few videos like these because the "boyfriend tag" tends to be one of the most requested videos for a beauty YouTuber (feel free to read into that), but it's something that stays fairly consistent and ties back into the MPDG issue.
I feel as though when women are often presented as prizes or help meets or puzzle pieces for men, their best attributes are the ways in which they react to or complete their significant others.
Whereas women by and large will say that they love objective traits about their SO — humor, intelligence, kindness, etc. Not, "I love the way you laugh at my jokes."
I know that if I'm asked to describe what I love about the Cardinal, the first thing that pops into my head isn't, "I love how he always carries the heavier bag of groceries." Although that is pretty nice. But I love him because he *is* smart and funny and generally easy-going.
Given that he's a smart, progressive dude, I would hope that he wouldn't say, "I love the way she laughs at my jokes and can tell when I'm lying and me me me." But I do think that it's the kind of language that gets used a lot — that, very generally speaking, women like who their men are, men like the way their women make them feel.
Maybe I'm off-base here, but it is something that concerns me. And it is why the MPDG is such a pervasive trope.