THE 10 METHODS OF LOVE: MALE EDITION
After watching a rom-com with a rich man falling in love with a poor woman, or a younger man falling in love with an older woman, have you ever asked yourself, “How did they get the girl?” On the surface, it might seem like it’s their handsome looks and charm, but it’s more than that. There is a method to their madness of love, and they use strategies to get the girl. And now you’re in luck because I’ll be giving you a detailed list on some of the most popular methods male leads use to not only win the heart of the female lead but the heart of the viewers as well. And of course, it would be no fun if I didn’t tell you how they lose their hearts too.
WARNING: With most dramas, it’s kind of obvious who the male lead and the second male lead is, but there are a few rare gems where you can’t tell. This will be spoiler-ish, so I advise treading carefully.
Dramas Mentioned: Hana Yori Dango; Flower Boy Next Door; It Started with a Kiss; Let’s Eat; Devil Beside You; Summer’s Desire; Delightful Girl, Choon Hyang; Something in the Rain; In a Good Way; Love o2o; Just Between Lovers, Temperature of Love; Last Cinderella; Highschool King of Savvy; That Fool; Queen of Reversals; Heroine Disqualified; Long Vacation; You’re Beautiful; Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo; Hit the Top; Coffee Prince; Pride; Que Sera, Sera; Discovery of Romance; She Was Pretty; Todome no Kiss; Queen In Hyun’s Man; Kill Me, Heal Me; I’m Not a Robot; Meteor Garden; Ms. Perfect; Healer; You Who Came from the Stars; Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge.
#1. The Wiggle Your Way into Her Heart Method // The Annoy Your Way out of Her Heart Method
|Examples: Hana Yori Dango, Flower Boy Next Door|
This method works by the male lead being so annoying, that though he’s not the female lead’s type, he eventually wears her down with persistence and wiggles his way into her heart.
Domyoji Tsukasa, a popular manga character from Hana Yori Dango, is the poster child for this method. He’s terrible at wooing Makino because the only person he’s ever been in love with is himself. His way of telling Makino he likes her is by kidnapping her and then offering her the luxury of being his girlfriend with money. And when Makino declines, Domyoji is very confused, but so hopelessly enamored with her, that he pesters her until she’s able to see past his narcissism and rich a**hole tendencies. He constantly follows her around like a lost puppy, tries to suggest that she's the one who likes him first, and picks on her like a boy pulling on a girl's pigtails (well, he does a little more than that). But what girl wouldn’t fall in love?Flower Boy Ramen Shop, Ruk Sutrit
Did I mention before that there’s always a downside to the methods of love if not used correctly? The Wiggle Your Way into Her Heart Method can easily turn into The Annoy Your Way Out of Her Heart Method. Sometimes, when you’re annoying, you’re just that– annoying. And persistence only makes you more annoying.
Sadly, the best example of this method would be with Ah Jin from It Started with a Kiss. He declares his love for Xiang Qin constantly and how much he wants to be with her. Though he's not the brightest, he's very earnest and kind. And extremely persistent. Nonetheless, all of his attempts at love are annoying to Xiang Qin, which is ridiculous, considering she uses the wiggle your way method on the guy she likes.
Personally, I thought he was better than the male lead, but for Xiang Qin, she liked the cold brooding I’ll-belittle-you-to-tears type.
|Examples: Let's Eat, It Started with a Kiss|
#2. The Bulldoze Your Way into Her Heart Method // The Call the Police Method
|Examples: Devil Beside You, Summer's Desire|
This method is very similar to the first method, except it’s way more aggressive than wiggling. Instead, the male lead chooses to bulldoze their way into the heart of the person they’re in love with. They’re not just persistent, but outright declaring their love and demanding they be loved back. Wiggling is asking, bulldozing is demanding.
The best example of this method would be Devil Beside You. Ah Mon is very aggressive in the pursuit of his future stepsibling, Qi Yue, proclaiming they would be dangerous siblings before she even got the chance to think about liking him. He ignores the fact that she likes another guy and bulldozes his way into their relationship.
On the other hand, being too aggressive will make anyone want to call the police. This is when the male lead is so forceful in his want for the girl he likes, that the girl becomes scared of him. They ignore the fact that the female lead doesn’t want them and continue to pursue by doing crazy things, which is super creepy and terrifying in dramaland just as it is in real life.
In Something in the Rain, Jin Ah’s ex-boyfriend, Kyu Min, demands that she takes him back and pretty much terrorizes her for not doing so. He’s an entitled jerk who can't take no for an answer. If ever in this situation, don't hesitate. Call the police!
Note: If you’re confused on the difference between method 1 and 2, think of it like this: a fly buzzing around you, versus a bee stinging you. Totally different, right?
|Examples: Something in the Rain, Delightful Girl Choon Hyang|
#3. The All Around Perfect Guy Method // The You're Too Good for Her Method
|Examples: In a Good Way, Love o2o|
This is the method where the male lead is perfect. Like literally, there’s nothing wrong with him and even if there is, it’s so minor it’s not even noticeable. He’s handsome, intelligent, kind, and caring. And often rich. The female lead really has no choice but to fall for him because if they did not, we the viewers would all be throwing items at our televisions, screaming in frustration at how much of an idiot she is.
This method can be seen in Taiwanese drama, In a Good Way. When Jia En follows her best friend, Ren Wei, to college and can’t get in contact with him, she has no one and no place to stay. She stands outside at night in the rain alone when a popular boy on campus, Lui Chan, is kind enough to give her a place to stay. Swoon. If you haven't watched it, you should just to see how perfect Lui Chan is.
Examples: Queen In Hyun’s Man, Samee Tee Tra, Smile You
I know this sounds crazy but there is a possibility that the male lead is too perfect. In other words, he is too good for our female lead and she realizes this and opts to go for the other guy.
In Just Between Lovers, Joo Won is a seemingly nice guy that has all the characteristics I listed before: handsome, intelligent, kind, caring. In comparison to bad boy Kang Doo, Joo Won is perfect. Fortunately for Kang Doo, the female lead Moon Soo isn’t searching for perfect since she carries a lot of guilt from a past tragedy they both share. This allows them to find solace in each other. Moon Soo doesn't fall for Joo Won because she's not perfect and doesn't need perfect.
And might I add, there is no such thing as perfect so even the guys I listed before have some flaws. Well, with the exception of Xiao Nai from Love o2o. He’s freakishly perfect.
|Examples: Just Between Lovers, Temperature of Love|
#4. The Lie to Make Her Fall in Love Method // The Habitual Liar Method
|Examples: High School King of Savvy, Last Cinderella|
This is the method where the male lead tells a lie and the female lead falls in love with that lie, believing him to be something he is not. Eventually, the female lead has already fallen in love so deeply that she can’t back out of the relationship even if she wanted to.
In High School King of Savvy, high school student, Lee Min Seok, pretends to be his older brother by working at his job and falls in love with Soo Young, an older temp worker. Soo Young falls in love with him back believing he’s an adult like her to only find out that he attends the same school as her younger sister. Ouch. Let’s just say there won’t be any wedding bells for this couple any time soon…Examples: The Great Seducer, Roy Leh Sanae Rai
We can forgive a liar if it’s Seo In Guk or Miura Haruma, but if it’s anyone else… well, they’re just a liar. But seriously, most of the time, this method doesn’t work if the male lead is already in a relationship with the female lead prior to the first episode. This means they’ve probably been lying before and it’s not a situation of accidental circumstance like Min Seok.
For example, in That Fool, Kim Kang Mo played by Joo Sang Wook (good looks can’t always win) is Han Ji Soo’s long-time boyfriend who has a horrible habit of lying (I mean, seriously, if you tell him to breathe, he lies instead). Eventually, she falls for Goo Dong Baek, who’s not a liar and is smart enough to use method #7 to win her heart.
Examples: That Fool, Queen of Reversals
#5. The Do-Nothing Method // The Do Everything, Say Nothing Method
|Examples: Heroine Disqualified, Long Vacation|
So, when I say do nothing, I don’t literally mean nothing. More so that in comparison to the second male lead, or other male leads in dramaland period, they don’t do much. We’re used to the grand gestures male leads do to prove their love like buying out parks, disowning their family, risking their careers. With the Do-Nothing Method, the male leads simply do not have to go that far to get the girl. In other words, the title of this method is just for dramatic purposes only.
An example of this method in use is Terasaka Rita from Heroine Disqualified AKA Mr. HOW THE F**K DID HE GET THE GIRL? No seriously. How did he get the girl? I’m still asking myself this question to this day. Rita practically does nothing but breathe to get Hatori to fall for him, while Kosuke does EVERYTHING. The longtime friendship between Hatori and Rita is not a good enough reason for the serious case of SLS (Second Lead Syndrome) I suffered from.
And if you’ve seen Long Vacation you’re probably wondering why innocent Sena is listed under this method. Sena is a nice guy, but if you think about it he doesn’t really do anything to get Minami to fall for him. Majority of the time, he’s wallowing in self-pity of a career crisis and an unrequited love because he lacks confidence and is too shy to confess to the girl he likes. He barely pursues Minami. But that’s the beauty of Long Vacation. It depicts real love, by showing everything doesn’t need to start with a bang to get the female lead to fall in love.
Examples: This method is very rare. (And I honestly didn’t feel like going down my long list of dramas to find other examples. Sorry!)
The opposite of this method is where the male lead does everything but says nothing, which makes the female lead think he did nothing, when in actuality he has done everything, and now has to go sit in a corner and wonder how he became the second male lead in his love story.
The most famous example of this method is with Shin Woo from You’re Beautiful. He’s the first to be aware that Go Mi Nam is a girl and does everything to help her keep her secret. The problem is that he never tells her. Considering the fact that Go Mi Nam is pretty dense, he should have given her some clue instead of walking around the shopping district in disguise like he’s Clark Kent! Next time eat the ice cream with her instead of behind her like a stalker!
Lesson learned here: never be a Shin Woo. A Shin Woo never gets the girl.
|Examples: You're Beautiful, Flower Boy Next Door|
#6. The Be Her Best Friend/Person She Can Depend on Method // The Friend Zone Method
|Examples: You're Beautiful, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo|
This method is where the male lead is either her best friend, or the person she depends on, and because this person is her confidant, the female lead falls for him.
Earlier, I talked about how Shin Woo does everything but doesn’t get the girl. He happily does things for Go Mi Nam with a smile, while Tae Kyung begrudgingly helps her with a frown. But though he’s frowning, at least Go Mi Nam is aware he’s doing it. Go Mi Nam falls for Tae Kyung because he knows her secret and she has to rely on him. This reliance leads them to spend a lot of time together, which therefore makes her fall for him.
The male lead doesn't necessarily have to be her best friend, but he is the person that she can be most honest with and because of this, love blossoms between them.Examples: I Need Romance 3, My Dear Boy, Kimi wa Petto
This method seems foolproof but it’s actually very delicate and must be handled with care because the male lead can be the person she depends on and still only be her friend. And the friend zone is no place for a love-stricken second male lead, so they have to tread carefully.
For example, in Hit the Top, Lee Ji Hoon thinks the power of friendship can beat that of his twenty-something-year-old time-traveling father who seems incapable of caring about anyone but himself. But unlike Ji Hoon, his father, Hyun Jae, uses the method correctly, never dipping his toes too deep in the friend zone. Hell, Hyun Jae even tries to kick his son out of the friend zone, but the laws of drama fate won’t allow it. Woo Seung cherishes her friendship with Ji Hoon so much that she doesn’t want to risk losing it by dating him, and in the end, his father steals his girl.
Tip for Method #6: Don’t be that good of a friend.
|Examples: Hit the Top, Coffee Prince|
#7. The Make Her Move on From Her Ex/Boyfriend Method // The Make Her Run Back to Her Ex-Boyfriend Method
|Examples: Something in the Rain, Pride|
This is a method where the male lead swoops in and makes the girl realize how horrible her ex/boyfriend has been. The male lead shows her what real love is by caring for her and doing all the things her ex/boyfriend doesn’t do.
In Something in the Rain, Yoon Jin Ah’s boyfriend Kyu Min is a piece of dog crap that’s cheating on her and leaves her to be with someone else. Later, Jin Ah starts hanging out with her best friend’s younger brother, Seo Joon Hee, because though he does not have the money Kyu Min has and is younger than her, he’s better in every other way and shows her what true love is. Now, if you’re curious as to why Joon Hee wants to be with Jin Ah, I would have a tough time explaining that.
This is another method that needs to be handled delicately because the male lead can either make her realize why her boyfriend sucked or make her realize that though he did suck, he was lightyears better than him.
In Que Sera, Sera, Shin Joon Hyuk seems better than a**hole Kang Tae Joo in every possible way. And to be honest he is…to a certain extent. The problem is that he’s too jealous and obsesses over a revenge plan that ends up turning him from nice to not so nice. Now you’re probably wondering why the female lead Eun Soo accepts Tae Joo being an a**hole, but not Joon Hyuk. Well, first, Tae Joo is played by the super handsome Eric whose kisses are beyond this world. If only to kiss him again, I would forgive him too. Second, he’s her first love and she still loved him. When you’re that deeply in love, you accept that the male lead is an a**hole, which leads us to method #8.
|Examples: Que Sera, Sera; Discovery of Romance|
#8. The Be an A**hole Method // The You're Just an A** Method
|Examples: She Was Pretty, Todome no Kiss|
This method is where the female lead just happens to like guys who are a**holes. I mean literally the guy is such an a** at times, that you as a viewer, sometimes wonder what the female lead sees in him, but she falls for him anyway
In She Was Pretty, Seong Jun is an a** in the first half of the show. Childhood friendship or not, you wonder why Hye Jin would even like him as he constantly yells at her and belittles her. The amount of cringing I did watch them made my face hurt. At least her best friend, Ha Ri, has an excuse for liking him because he’s like Jekyll and Hyde, and turns into the sweetest person when he speaks to her.
Technically, Eight from Todome no Kiss shouldn't be on this list because there is never a definite confession between him and Saiko. And the somewhat sweet ending that occurs between them only happens in the parallel version. But I do think Saiko liked Eight, otherwise, she wouldn't have put up with how much of an a**hole he was. And he's HORRIBLE at times. Besides, Eight is too handsome to be left off this list.
Did I mention before that you can use multiple methods to get the girl? The problem is when you use those methods incorrectly like the repeat offender Kim Hak Moon from Let’s Eat. Not only does he use the Wiggle Your Way into Her Heart Method incorrectly, he also uses the Be An A**hole Method incorrectly. Those two combined makes him a gigantic colossal a**hole, that even when he tries to implement the All Around Perfect Guy Method, it’s too late.
Tip: if you’re going to use multiple methods then use at least one of them correctly.
Note: While the Be an A**hole Method can work, the male lead has to realize that most girls don’t like a**holes, especially when he holds no other qualities than just being an a**. She simply won’t like him, especially if the other male lead is using the All Around Perfect Guy Method as a counterattack.
Seong Jun gets lucky because his childhood friendship (where he was Jekyll at the time) allows Hye Jin to hold onto her warm feelings for him. Because if not, the second male lead, Shin Hyuk would have rightfully gotten his Jackson, and the viewers wouldn’t have had a horrible case of SLS.
|Examples: Let's Eat, Queen In-Hyun's Man|
#9. The Dude in Distress Method // The Man-Child Method
|Examples: Kill Me, Heal Me; I'm Not a Robot|
Instead of Damsel in Distress, we have the Dude in Distress. This time around the girl must do the rescuing and in protecting the male lead, she falls for him.
In Kill Me Heal Me, Cha Do Hyeon needs saving from himself because he has a multiple personality disorder (one of those personalities didn’t exactly think he was fit to lead). Because he needs to keep this a secret, he asks Oh Ri Jin for help. And because she has to help Do Hyeon get out of some pretty bad situations like getting beat up by gang members or stopping him from confessing his undying love for idols, this time spent taking care of him (and his other personalities) leads her to fall for him. And of course, it helps that the actor who plays him, Ji Sung, always looks at her with these really cute puppy dog eyes whenever he needs her help. Who wouldn’t fall for him?
Though it’s nice for the female lead to be the person that the male lead depends on, it can be extremely annoying constantly taking care of someone. The Dude in Distress Method can easily turn in The Man-Child Method if the male lead goes overboard in being a dude-sel. In other words, he shouldn’t do too many stupid things, otherwise, she’ll just think that she’s taking care of a child and not a man. And if that's the case, she has to throw the whole man-child away.
In Ms. Perfect, Shim Jae Bok’s husband, Goo Jung Hee, is not just a problem because he’s a habitual cheater. He’s also a problem because he’s an idiot and makes poor decisions with every thought that passes through his brain, and Jae Bok has to constantly save him for their children’s sake. There’s a reason why only Mario saves Peach. No one else is stupid enough to keep saving someone who constantly gets kidnapped by a homicidal turtle with a spiked shell.
|Examples: Ms. Perfect, Meteor Garden|
#10. The Hypnotize Your Way into Her Heart Method // The Creep Your Way out of Her Heart Method
|Examples: Healer, You Who Came from the Stars|
This method is where the guy is mysterious, or extremely unique. They hypnotize the girl by being secretive, and in turn, the girl’s curiosity gets the better of them and eventually they fall in love. And if he is extremely unique compared to other guys the girl has met before, like not being a male at all (Edward Cullen, Edward Scissorhands, an alien named Edward) then the girl falls for him. Sometimes, the boy can just be weird, and their oddness is intriguing.
In Healer, Chae Yeong Shin is an extremely curious person who comes across the mysterious man named Healer and in her wanting to know who he is, and him saving her from time to time, she falls in love with him. Slinking around the neighborhood masked like Spider-Man always does the trick to get the girl to like you.Examples: Are You Human Too, Zettai Kareshi
On the opposite end, being mysterious or different can just be downright creepy for some.
In Kill Me Heal Me, Shin Se Gi isn’t able to get the girl, not only because he’s a personality (discrimination is real) but because the majority of the time Ri Jin is creeped out by how different Shin Se Gi is. His odd way of courting her puts her off to him most of the time.
Sadly, I had a serious case of second lead syndrome when it came down to him. A big part of me wanted him to get the girl, but sadly his strangeness proved too much for Oh Ri Jin…and the fact that he wanted to kill off the male lead.
And if you’ve seen Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge, you know why this guy is on this list. At first, he seems weird enough to be with our equally weird female lead, Sunako, but because he does not reveal the kinky things he likes to do at night, Kyohei could not allow Sunako to be locked in a dungeon room with someone whose name wasn’t Christian Grey. There’s nothing wrong with being kinky, but at least let someone make the decision first whether they want to be kinky with you or not.
Examples: Kill Me, Heal Me; Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge
Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk! No seriously, all jokes aside, I hope you enjoyed reading my article just as much as I enjoyed writing it. Tell me if you have any other methods you’ve seen in dramas, or if you’ve seen any of the methods I listed before in other dramas. What’s your favorite method you like to see the male lead use? Which methods do you dislike?