What Is Going Boy Sober And Why Is Celibacy On The Rise Among Gen Z?

boy sober

Hook-up culture is out, celibacy is in — or at least that’s what the latest TikTok trend of going “boy sober” (or “girl sober”) seems to suggest.

If you think the dating pool right now is the absolute pits, you’re not alone. It really is hell out there and Australia has been called out for being particularly bad for it. So after months of my TikTok feed being filled with people complaining about our apathetic at best and downright toxic at worst dating culture, it is hardly surprising that I — a long-time single woman — have found myself on the “boy sober” side of TikTok.

But what exactly is boy/girl sobriety, what does it hope to achieve and, most importantly, does it work?

The Rise Of Celibacy

For the last few years we’ve seen a huge spike in sex-positive feminism and the destigmatization of women engaging in, and enjoying, casual sex. But in 2024, there has been a huge spike in voluntary celibacy — with celebrities like Julia Fox, Khloe Kardashian and Lenny Kravitz all preaching about their decision not to fuck.

“I have to be up at 4:30, so from 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. is my time,” Kardashian said recently. “I’m not sharing it with a man. I’m not sharing my TV, I’m not sharing my bed.”

While the active choice to be single is far from a new concept — we all remember Whoopi Goldberg’s “I don’t want somebody living in my house” comment — it is gaining popularity. So much so, that dating app Bumble recently tried — and failed — to poke fun at the trend.

“2.5 years of celibacy and never been better tbh,” Julia Fox commented on a post about Bumble’s billboard.

What Is Boy Sober/Girl Sober?

“Boy sober” is a term coined by 26-year-old TikToker Hope Woodard to describe her celibacy pledge that was sparked after realising a man she was obsessed with quite literally did not care if she lived or died (mood, lol).

“I was just on standby all the time and checking my phone like a crazy person,” she told Cosmopolitan UK. “And I was just so aware of the fact that he couldn’t have cared less if I lived or died.”

She soft-launched her boy sobriety in a TikTok in November, before quitting men cold-turkey for all of 2024. Honestly, the thought of how many waking hours of peace I have lost at the hands of a man this year makes me wish I had joined her.

According to Woodard, the rules of being boy sober (or girl sober) are as follows:

  • No dating apps
  • No dates
  • No exes
  • No situationships
  • No hugs and kisses, etc

She stresses that “you’re not single if someone is taking up your brain space”, so all of those years we’ve spent out of a committed relationship but still yearning over some loser in finance who wouldn’t text us back don’t count, apparently.

Woodward does, however, stress that flirting is not only okay, it is actually recommended.

“It is not a separatist movement,” Woodward said.

Is Going Boy Sober/Girl Sober Going To Help Me?

Celibacy, either permanently or temporarily, isn’t for everyone, but the anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that it could help you feel better.

“I did this for about 6 months and it was literally LIFE CHANGING,” one TikTok user commented on one of Woodard’s videos.

Another user claims that she found her husband after a year of celibacy in 2020.

“I did this in 2020 (accidentally picked the best year ever to do that lol) and the first date I went on in 2021, I met my husband!”

While there’s no promise that you’ll magically find “the one” at the end of your sobriety — or is that the point — participants also praise other benefits.

“I didn’t want to invest any of my time or energy into romantic and or sexual relationships anymore. So instead I invested all that time into friends, family, travelling, study hobbies and just bettering myself,” one woman told Triple J.

“And by the time it had been around four years, I just knew I was ready and that it was time for me to re-enter the dating world again.”

Men have also engaged in “girl sobriety” and yielded similar results.

But not everyone is convinced, with one TikTok user commenting that a year would have them chewing at the walls.

“For a YEAR?! I would be gnawing at the bars of my enclosure,” they wrote.

While there is a chance that you may end up so sex deprived that you’re chewing at the walls, I would still argue that the drywall tastes better than when you’re (I’m) chewing at the walls from absolute insanity over whether or not the worst man you’ve ever met is going to text you back.