Why Toby of “This is Us” Became the #Goals Guy

Look at this guy. This is who the women are swooning after. At least many of the single women who are watching This is Us. I’ve had this same conversation with so many single women from my many circles of life. Women dig this guy.

This is not your stereotypical swoony guy, right? But Toby of This is Us is doing some things that every woman wants in a love for a lifetime. Toby is not perfect (remember him in Season 1 sabotaging Kate and her weight loss goals or pressuring her too much for sex?) but he has pursued Kate well and adores her. This is why we are drawn to him. In the end it turns out that looks don’t matter to women as much as being truly seen and still loved does.

Note: If you don’t watch This is Us or you are behind on watching This is Us because it is on your binge list and you haven’t gotten to it yet, there will be small spoiler alerts ahead. If you never want to watch This is Us I believe you will still learn a lot from this post and not be in the dark about these truths. So as a primer for you, Toby is the new husband to Kate who has a food addiction problem to numb her pain. Kate is a twin to her brother and has a third “triplet” brother who was adopted the same day the twins were born. Kate has a complicated and codependent relationship with her entire family. She’s a broken woman that many of us see ourselves in as we watch this show.

These are the qualities of Toby that make us swoon. Take notes, men.

Toby lives his life with passion. He’s not a boring guy. We women see passion as appealing. A guy who would wear this lives his life with passion.

Toby has mentioned his problem with depression and the hurt he lived through from his first wife and how that led him to food addiction. He’s a broken mess too who has also chosen to live his life. That is attractive.

Women, we too often mix up “being a nice guy” with being a boring guy. Toby is a nice guy and he is far from boring. We really don’t want the nice guy who lives without passion. That is really a boring guy. We want the nice guy who lives with passion. Men, take the hint.

Toby oozes confidence. And that is attractive. There is a difference between being creepy and being confident. Confidence comes from something deep inside you, like knowing worthiness is your birthright so if you reject me or accept me I’m still the great guy that walking into the room. That is Toby. That is confidence and why it is so magnetizing to everyone.

Toby truly loves Kate for what her appearance is now. This has been apparent from the beginning. They met in a weight loss group. He knew her food addiction issues. He still asked her out. He so far hasn’t said anything like how much more beautiful she would be if she lost weight. Or she has a pretty face. He has always seen all of her—and her food addiction—and still pursued her. Even after their engagement and Toby found out she was secretly binge eating and hiding it from him, he thought deeply about how to approach her about this knowing he could come across as “that guy” who has issues with her weight.

Women, is there any one of us who doesn’t have body issues? Who doesn’t have voices in our head that tell us “If only I was 10 pounds less…” Or “If only I had a flatter stomach…” Or “If only ________________…” Women, we habitually beat ourselves up over things that are controlled by our DNA (which we have no control over) or idealizing an unreal body type that very few can ever attain (and mostly never do it in a healthy way) or beat ourselves up as we sabotage our own health. Women, we have issues! This is why Toby is a #goals guy. He gives our own self-sabotage a break and loves us despite of it.

Toby is vulnerable to Kate. Kate has/had a lot of walls up. She has reasons for those walls but still. If vulnerability is required to fall in love Kate was never going to find love. Til Toby led by vulnerability. And it is beautiful and in turn is making Kate more beautiful. Making Kate braver too. In that vulnerability, Toby never becomes the weak passive guy, never becomes the creepy hovering guy. His life is too full of passion and direction and confidence to become that. Remember that vulnerability is really a sign of strength. And women are attracted to strength.

Toby has vulnerably pushed Kate to do things she thought she could never do, like pursue her dream of singing or to have a wedding. By Kate’s own sabotaging choices, Kate had forced herself to live inside her own small world. She chose to get lost in her brother Kevin’s far more exciting life than to have a life of her own story. Toby recognized that and through his vulnerable encouragement Kate has started to believe him and is beginning to live out some of her dreams. Kate is slowly beginning to embrace the story of her life and I believe she is liking that. Who wouldn’t love to have a good man say this to you:

“Our courtship has been unconventional. So if you want to get married at City Hall in front of a bunch of strangers, then that’s what we’ll do. But if there’s any part of you that wants the big wedding–even though it can be scary and emotional and cliché –I think you deserve that, kid. OK? You deserve to walk down the aisle between your two stupidly handsome brothers and feel them love the crap out of you. You deserve to spend an obscene amount of money on the perfect white dress… So if any of that sounds good to you, then I think that’s what we should do.”

Swoon. This is why Toby is the #goals guy. Women, we want to live out some of our dreams too and this guy believes in Kate so much that Kate is beginning to believe that about herself—finally. We so deeply want this, don’t we?

Toby inspires Kate to take risks with love. Part of Kate living into her story again was a brave act of love Kate did for Toby. Toby wanted a dog. Kate used to have a dog but that dog was part of the reason for her father’s death which was the day her story stopped. Toby bravely asked Kate to face her pain of losing her dad by getting another dog together. Toby didn’t push or demand, he asked knowing that Kate would bristle at the request. Kate took the risk—and is grateful for it. It was also a bit healing for Kate.

I don’t know if Toby (yes, I know this is fiction) realized fully how healing having another dog would be for Kate. But his love did inspire her to take that risk. She took that risk because she loved Toby more.

Women, we want to be inspired. We want our lives to matter to others. Women, just the thought that we could have a love for a lifetime that would support us so we can take risks and have an inspiring life is a love to dream for. To prayerfully attain. We want this. But too often we have settled to just be conditionally loved. We have settled that the attention of that conditional love is enough. We have settled and then contorted ourselves so we can maintain that love. But there is more to have for your life—if you will just stop settling.

Boundaries –Toby has them and Toby encourages Kate often to create her own boundaries. The writers have yet to say this phrase in a show but that is what Toby is encouraging Kate to do. Early on in their relationship Toby pushed Kate to choose her plans over brother Kevin’s erratic needs. Kate keeping her boundaries with her mom is also a constant issue and Toby is continuing cheering/advising her to create better and healthier boundaries.

At the same time Toby has respected Kate’s boundaries when it comes to talking about her father’s death. He hasn’t harassed her to say something like “if you really loved me you’d let me in on this part of your life.” No, he has confidently and quietly waited for Kate to tell him when she’s been ready to. He discerned early on that this was the painful issue in her life. Because of his boundaries he knew that just because Kate didn’t reveal all of her heart on this painful life issue to him that it didn’t mean that Kate loved him less. He wasn’t the insecure guy.

People with boundaries have an identity. They know who they are and where the other person begins. They know how to set limits and say no. They know how to love you better because the fruit of boundaries is respect. And women, we all want to be respected. Respect and love do go together. And women–especially those of us with parent issues—we want a guy to help us live better with those parent issues. Even when it is us who has to do the hard work to set those better boundaries with our parents.

Toby respects Kate’s father. Yes, Kate’s father is dead and there is an urn of his ashes in their apartment. But when he needed to make the hard decision to give Kate a wedding or marry her at the courthouse, he had a full conversation with the urn to help him make the decision. That would easily mean he would treat Kate’s father with the same respect of seeking advice for Jack’s beloved daughter if he were alive.

Women, don’t you want a guy who is like your father? Who will talk to your father? Who will respect your father? Who will ask your father some hard questions?

Toby loves romantic gestures.


How can we forget the creative and over-the-top way Toby proposed to Kate wearing all those zipped up hoodies? Then do you remember all the trouble Toby went through to get the special Swedish baby bath to not be delivered so Kate wouldn’t be further pained at the loss of their baby? I’m not sure if Toby has a job (a job is attractive and he seems to have endless money but never be at work) but his love language has got to be quality time. Some would say gifts but look at his romantic gestures. They are all about time together.

Note: Kate’s father also loved romantic gestures. Kate has been loved well by her father with quality time and now Kate has that in a fiance’.

Personally I didn’t marry a romantic-gesture kind of guy. But he daily shows me his love by many many little things. Either way they come, women, we love these gestures.

Toby chose Team Kate. Toby to Kate’s mom:  “Between you and me, I think that she is super-sensitive around you, and obviously, I don’t know the whole history, but as much as I want you to like me, you need to know that I am Team Kate for life. Like, that’s the deal here. So I can’t have you putting me in a position where I bring you to a show she doesn’t want you at and you can’t ask me to side with you, OK? Because Team Kate foreva. That’s how this works.”

This was the moment that really did it. This is the moment I hear repeated the most as in “Team Kate foreva” when it comes to talking about what women want in a guy. Again, this is all about boundaries. Toby has chosen to not get mixed up in the dysfunction of Kate’s family but has verbally decided to always be on Kate’s side no matter how it turns out. Even if Kate is wrong. He is on Kate’s side. That is what marriage is about.

So men, here are some real ways you can become attractive to good women. Do you see how little it has to do with your lack of income, your lack of 6-pack abs, your lack of hair, your lack of you can fill-in-the-blank because you know the message you’ve been telling yourself? It has more to do with your passion, your confidence, you living in your vulnerability, you having done the hard work of setting boundaries for your own life. These are all brave decisions you make to create your life. Do this work. Then make the brave decision to ask that good woman who has been intriguing you. Just just never know, she may be a “Team Kate Foreva” gal too.

p.s.  This is the guy I swoon for. The one on the right is John circa 1995, just about the same age as Jack at his death on the show. If you think he looks like Jack, you should have heard the great talks he has given to our boys. Like Jack gave to his children. The first time John saw one of those talks on the show, he said, “Yeah…I wish my dad had ever said something like that to me.” I looked at him and said, “You have given our boys such talks time and time again. You are that.” It was a swooning moment.

(Photo credits:  http://ew.com/tv/2017/10/25/this-is-us-chris-sullivan-toby-fat-suit/, http://www.tvguide.com/news/this-is-us-season-2-episode-16-vegas-baby-recap-toby-big-three/


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