You’ve probably seen the term ‘softboy’, or more colloquially ‘softboi’, floating around the web for a while now. You know the type – those men who initially adopt the guise of being a caring and sensitive lad despite ultimately showcasing traits reminiscent of a fuckboy, including lack of commitment, disrespect and complete douchebaggery.
The term was apparently coined by Alan Hanson back in 2015 with his article “Have You Encountered the Softboy?” “He wants you to know that he has feelings and he is completely okay with that,” Hanson wrote. “He has some art to show you.”
Urban Dictionary explains further:
“The Softboy will butter a girl up by appealing to her emotions, and showing a “sensitive” side long enough for her to sleep with him, whether or not he actually cares about her or not. Then, like the fuckboy, he can’t/won’t commit.”
In 2020, we are fortunate enough to witness both the softboi and the fuccboi thrive in full, symbiotic force. This subsequently begs the questions: which type is worse?
Who is more emotionally scarring – the vague softboi or the blatant fuccboi?
A big difference between softbois and fuccbois are their contrasting performances of masculinity. While the fuccboi demonstrates unashamed, in-your-face, douchey hegemonic masculinity, the softboi seeks to shy away from stereotypical masculinity, appealing to his femininity and emotional vulnerability in a bid to seduce his counterpart.
Interestingly, a Telegraph article discusses the softboi’s tendency to replicate a gayboi’s sense of approachability. “He’s seen the success of gay men with straight women and he’s assimilated what he’s learnt,” Same Rowe writes, “splicing their non-threatening affability with an air of nonchalance.”
According to Rowe, the softboi implicity assumes the role of the gay best friend, going out for coffee and other friendly adventures before eventually wanting to cuddle, fuck, and then low-key let you down in a ‘heroic’ and ‘decent’ manner.
I asked some friends of mine what they thought about softbois.
According to Courtney: “His favourite book is Bad Feminist but, in the entire time you’re sleeping together, the page that’s earmarked never changes.”
“The softboi experience is so much worse. Texts include, ‘All good if not xx’ and ‘Sorry phone died hope you had a good night hah’,” said another.
“He loves chatting Nietzsche after lines of Ketamine and three craft beers.”
Or, this actual Melbourne date, courtesy of Jordan: “Tinder date at Monty’s North Fitzroy, rocks up kinda stoned from ‘beers’ at Edi Gardens with his mates. Leaves after the third elderflower spritz to go to a gig at the Gaso with his mates. ‘You can come if you want’ – he doesn’t want me to come.”
Verdict, after intense scientific exploration complete with empirical evidence:
The softboi is the more insidious type – he carefully covers his fuccboi-ness with displays of supposed-grandeur, emotional vulnerability and liberal wokeness.
The softboi has a greater social awareness than the fuccboi. However, the softboi thinks he knows all, and is extremely condescending when it comes to social politics and music.
The softboi is complete with a better understanding about how to navigate around, and best portray himself within, the dating scene. Despite this, he chooses to exude fuccboi symptoms – the softboi knows how to lull you into a false sense of security, before shattering the illusion he once worked so hard to curate.
And hey, at least fuccbois are open about their fuccboi-ness.
In the words of Courtney, a dear friend of mine, “softbois know better… but they aren’t better.”
Alas, the softboi is more dangerous.
Image: James Devaney, WireImage / @beam_me_up_softboi, Instagram