According to Urban Dictionary a Soft Boy is a “less masculine boy who is described as ‘cute’ based on their soft or gentle characteristics” and “a F*ck Boy with a cocky attitude.” They are recognizable by their almost feminine aesthetic that often pushes back against traditional masculinity. However, they mask their aversion to commitment with an understanding of feminist issues and a soft appearance making them harder to spot the traditional F*ck Boy.
What is a Soft Boy?
The term “Soft Boy” typically referrers to an adult, cisgender, male who challenges gender stereotypes through his physical appearance, attitude, interests. Their aesthetic is as you might expect, soft. They often wear pastel colors, nail polish, cardigans, and long, natural hair.
It is believed that the Soft Boys aesthetic gained a large deal of influence from K-Pop culture; however, they were also born out of the “nice guys deserve a chance” movement. They often have a “nice guy with a sensitive side attitude.”
Many go against the mainstream and may identify as an outsider. They often pride themselves on being well educated, feminist, in touch with their emotions, and ethical. Soft Boys often enjoy indie music and educational documentaries. Their Instagram account often reflects their dedication to gender equality, political nonconformity, and aversion to toxic masculinity. They may go to therapy and/or value mental health and promote self-care.
From first look, they appear to be the opposite of someone who stereotypically acts like a moody teenager, uses others for their own gains and for sex while dogging conversations surrounding commitment.
The Underlying Psychology
Despite appearing to be the opposite, Soft Boys have been compared to the F*ck Boy in several ways including their commitment avoidance. Unlike F*ck Boys, they may express what is in their heart and emotions to a potential partner. They will often show a softer side and discuss their feelings. This behavior makes a potential partner feel safe. However, a Soft Boy will not commit when the conversation surrounding exclusivity or partnering arises.
Soft Boys give a potential partner the false impression that they are safe and can be trusted so they get what they want out of the relationship. Soft Boys are harder to spot because we associate someone with a softer appearance who claims to be in touch with their emotions with someone who is safe and secure. Therefore, it is often much more hurtful and surprising when he switches his tune.
The Connection Between Soft Boys and Toxic Masculinity
According to the New York Times, toxic masculinity includes a set of behaviors or beliefs that include suppressing one’s emotions, upholding an appearance of hardness, and violence is an indicator of power and strength. Though Soft Boys may verbally reject toxic masculinity, their behaviors are often in line with traditional toxic masculinity.
They appear emotionally intelligent, but when the time comes to discuss monogamy, relationships, or coupling there is often a firm shift toward emotional stifling and gaslighting as a means to avoid. The relationship may feel supportive and egalitarian up until then and a sudden shift in power can be felt when he feels cornered by deeper conversations surrounding emotions.
Soft Boys, like F*ck Boys, try desperately to hold onto independence and power. They view entering a relationship or discussing commitment as giving up their independence and power.
Not everyone who fits the “Soft Boy” profile is a F*ck Boy in disguise. It is important to get to know potential partners on an individual level. If you find that your partner is exhibiting behaviors such as commitment avoidance and/or gaslighting when you bring up deeper topics, it may be time to move on.