Updated: May 8, 2021
In my haste to educate against the notorious fuckboy phenomena of 2019, I took a cynical stance towards any male who was incapable of replying to a text within 12 hours, called me babe or asked the same basic questions on repeat (no greater sign of someone not giving a fuck fyi). All of this commitment to not getting fucked by the fuckboy translated to completely blanking on the flaccid arrival of the soft boy. The Softboy is more adept at disguising his intentions which makes him arguably more toxic than the classic Fuck Boy, who leans instead on his blatantly aloof, sleazy and arrogant charm. Don’t be mistaken with the metrosexual archetype because the soft boy label isn’t (strictly) about appearance, nor is he (necessarily) a puppy dog faced art critic with a dad bod and sheepish gaze. Here’s how to spot the softy before he cleverly casts his spell of shallow romanticism over you in a haze of burnt sage leaves and Lord Byron quotes:
The Softboy does not demonstrate the same unashamed displays of penis pro masculinity as the Fuckboy, making him harder to spot. Instead he leans on his cunning navigation of emotional vulnerability to convince women of his authenticity. Think friendly coffees, playing accidental footsies and a casual coercion into anal sex. “Like nah just kidding, but really. You’re into that?”
With a keen knowledge of culture, art, style and design the Softboy can make sophisticated choices of restaurants, brands, bars, launches, galleries and gigs. Softboy has already hacked the dating game. He knows that effort = a positive impression. Softboy venues attract more soft boy aficionados and allies, commonly seen staring into their deconstructed gin cocktails and discussing the Oedipus complex over a plate of pickled veg.
The Softboy is not afraid of haphazardly flinging a Robert Pirsig quote into casual conversation to prove his ability to think laterally, deeply, or even at all. Stick around long enough though and you’ll realise that he picked them up from Kings of Leon lyrics or old reruns of the Simpsons. He’s only wrote learnt the quotes though and doesn’t understand the philosophy or context of neither book nor author. His copy of The Female Eunuch is used mostly as a coaster, or to hide his weed stash.
Softboy communication is a web of fuckery for its inconsistency and frequent tokenistic sensitivity, which is easily mistaken for genuine care or cute but human fuck ups. “Omg sorry, fell asleep” (for 3 days), or, “I miss you and really want to see you soon” (sent every 3 weeks with no suggestion of it IRL. Softboys are also soft on dates and anything time binding. The most telling: is the “I really care about you and want you in my life” words vs. action debate swiftly followed by crickets chirping.
Under the guise of intimacy the Softboy will also infiltrate your friendship circle. They’ll probably never cross a boundary but will entertain flirtatious or suggestive behaviour without seeing a need to shut it down. It was an ‘unsolicited nude’ is bulletproof. Good one softy.
Softboys create expectation by being (or acting) upset when you don’t contact them, allude to dating other people or limit your availability. If they do it and you have the same reaction it’s considered an over reaction. Softboy, please read up on gaslighting and emotional manipulation. TNX.
One of the Softboys greatest hobbies is exuding an air of condescension when it comes to music, art or literature. His carefully cultivated persona pivots on a suave nonchalance that portrays him as pensive, deep and thoughtful whilst still maintaining enough mystery to make him sexy. Think of it as the equivalent of a push up bra on a woman; false advertising.
The soft boy won’t ‘lie’ to you, but he also invents ridiculous loopholes and contextual or situational responses, excuses or validation fitting any type of issue you confront him with. “Nah like my leg hurt when we made that bet so it didn’t happen.”
Notably he’s okay with saying sorry, but remember, the apology stops at words and doesn’t transfer into altered behaviour.
The secret weapon of the soft boy, and one of the biggest differentiators between him and the Fuckboy is his ability to show vulnerability. For the most part the vulnerability is real and the Softboy will exhibit at least a basic level of self awareness when he opens the door to his tender side. The biggest indicator of vulnerability being used as a tool for manipulation is to consider when and how it is delivered, and, most importantly what comes after it. When you love someone you accept their vulnerability as a gift. In silent compliance we stop and drop everything when the raw beauty of vulnerability, and insight into a lover’s mind is revealed. And we should, it’s incredibly sacred. However the gift is compromised when it is only given and not received. To his credit a soft boy will be able to communicate with you, and intelligently. It’s just that the transparency is drip fed on his terms. When a tap drips it doesn’t change direction, it just stops. It is human nature to respond to vulnerability with empathy, or compassion. The soft boy will turn off the tap, then freeze, meaning that your vulnerabilities are never heard. The impact of which is incredibly isolating. Not only do you remain unheard, but you wear a whole new spectrum of emotion without the cathartic result of your own being understood.
Soft off, softy. Just like craft beer.. You’re a calorie dense, watermelon infused dreg.* Yes, watermelon infused craft beer exists.