Guys With Guitars

My best friend Angela once told me that you should never date a guy who plays the guitar.  “They’ve never had to work for a girl in their life,” she explained. “If a guy knows how to play the guitar, girls just throw themselves at them. Ugh. No. Don’t ever date them. No.” And of course, I usually throw myself at guys who play the guitar.

It’s not that I see a guy playing the guitar and immediately think, “Ah! Yes! He can strum a stringed instrument! That is my only requirement in a mate! I shall seduce him by tackling him with my body…NOW!” I actually don’t usually know a guy I like even plays the guitar until it’s too late. There’s just some aura that guys with guitars have that my body responds to. I meet them and I’m done.

The scary thing is I know it’s not just me. It’s like there’s something in all girls that just responds emotionally to a guy with a stringed instrument. That emotional response is usually ill-fated love. Why is that?

Most attraction has its roots in the unconscious desire to pick a good mate. Nerds are hot because they wear argyle well we subconsciously know we want our kids to be smart. Athletes are hot because their bodies are pretty we subconsciously know we want our kids to be strong.  Therefore, it makes complete evolutionary sense for women to be drawn to men who play guitar because we subconsciously know we want our kids to be moody.

Wait. What?


Look at Orpheus wail on that sweet, sexy lyre. He was blessed by the gods, but still no one understood his pain.

There isn’t a real biological reason that women love guys with guitars. However, there is a long-standing cultural tradition that dates all the way back to the Ancient Greek myth of Orpheus.

Orpheus played the ancient version of the guitar, which is called a lyre. He was so good at playing his lyre that the birds and the bunnies and the flowers and even the rocks would follow him around. I’m not quite sure why rocks would follow Orpheus around, seeing as rocks don’t have ears. Maybe the Oracle at Delphi let them know that one day guys like Orpheus would be plugged up to amps and would sell out huge arenas and the rocks were like, “We should get on this and try to get that style of music named after us.” Just a thought. I realize the idea that rocks followed him was probably just the original storyteller employing hyperbole.

Anyway, Orpheus was the original guy with a guitar.

Orpheus married a woman named Eurydice. Unfortunately, she died on their wedding day (There are different accounts to how this happened. Most of them would show up on an episode of Law & Order: SVU if this story happened today, so I won’t mention them.). Orpheus became overcome with grief, which was really depressing for everyone who had to listen to him invent emo music. Even the rocks who followed him were bummed out. Eventually, Orpheus decided to fully embrace goth and he traveled to the Underworld to try to convince Hades, the Lord of the Dead, to give him Eurydice back.

At first, Hades said no. Then Orpheus played a song. Persephone, Hades’s wife, started to cry. Maybe it was because she also had a weakness for guys with guitars, or maybe it was because Orpheus sang about the time Hades kidnapped Persephone and forced her to be his bride. Either way, Persephone was overcome and Hades felt awkward, so he told Orpheus that he could have Eurydice back – but with a catch. Orpheus could lead Eurydice back to Earth if he never turned around and looked to make sure she was following. He had to trust that she was there. However, Orpheus had trust issues and turned around and yeah, it didn’t work out because of his trust issues. Other Ancient Greek writers paint an even harsher view of the situation. It’s suggested that if Orpheus really loved Eurydice that he would have chosen to die. He was a non-committal coward who wanted to cheat death and get his love back the easy way.

So, the tradition of the “guy with a guitar” being irresistibly charming and yet unable to commit begins in Ancient Greece.  As ladies we are screwed.


Look out for this ladykiller with a lute. He knows what he's after: YOUR PETTICOATS

Here’s the thing: Most guys learn how to play the guitar because they want someone to listen to them play the guitar. That’s the whole point of music, after all. Which means that as that person who is listening to them, you have the power. They need you far more than you need them. So remember that power. Even as they are easing into sweet chord progressions and singing about how your eyes are like moonbeams on a lake that a unicorn gallops across, remember that without you they wouldn’t be heard. Or better yet, become a girl who plays the guitar. Do something to make your own voice heard.

I’m not saying all guys who play guitar are bad boyfriends. That’s clearly not true. I’m just saying that the guitar has a strange pull on my heart–and on the hearts of many other women–and that pull isn’t always deserved. If you find a guy with a guitar who learns that you play the guitar or that you have your own basement laboratory or that you like to write feminist humor pieces on a lady blog and instead of getting weird about it, he immediately gets excited and wants to jam with you, then congratulations. You found a good guy with a guitar. You found a guy who wants to be heard, but who is also eager to listen to you.  That is the kind of guy with a guitar whom I have no shame swooning over. He’s not just another guy with a guitar; He’s a man who happens to enjoy playing music.


I saw John Darnielle from The Mountain Goats at a Planned Parenthood Rally and when he wasn't playing guitar he was nerding out over Kathleen Hanna. Way to go, bro. DISCLAIMER: He is married.


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