what is a softboi

How To Spot A Softboi In The Wild

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Navigating your love life at the best of times can be tricky. By the time we hit our twenties, we’re all pretty well-versed in what a fuckboy (or girl!) is and the warning signs to look out for. And we all know by now to never fully trust a self-professed “nice guy”.

Modern dating and dating apps have brought on new red flags to dodge and sometimes keeping up with these can be HARD.

Take the softboi for instance – Urban Dictionary defines a softboi as, “Similar to a fuckboy but without the cocky attitude. 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.”

However, the softboi shouldn’t be mistaken for a man who is simply in touch with his emotions (because there is nothing wrong with that!). Instead, the softboi is usually someone who is acting a part based on egotistical intentions, even if he doesn’t seem overtly cocky. His interests may be niche, but he’s also expecting by telling people about himself, they’ll be easily impressed with how intelligent, different, or unique he is. He listened to Tame Impala before they were BIG, you know? He doesn’t bother anymore though, because like, they’re just a bit too mainstream now. Oh yeah, and he’s absolutely a feminist but also, like, there are women’s jobs and men’s jobs still and that’s just on biology.

Introducing the Softboi

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Chances are we’ve all met, if not dated, a softboi. It’s not like the softboi just randomly popped up in 2018 out of nowhere. It’s just that society hadn’t really coined a term for them until the more recent years. If you haven’t dated a softboi yourself, one of your friends probably has. It may have been years ago in high school, with the seemingly sensitive guy who said things like “I only listen to The Smiths”, rocked a scarf like no other, and promised you the world – while also promising about five other girls behind your back the same thing.

Or maybe it was the dude who seemed like a promising Tinder match, preaching about being a feminist ally, making his way to protests, and claiming to be “woke”, only to casually say something over dinner that didn’t align with any of these values, before getting defensive and blaming his date for calling him out. Later, he’d probably go back and tell his friends she was crazy. After all, he didn’t do anything wrong, right?

The softboi vs. “nice guy syndrome”


The softboi shares many traits with what we used to classify as “nice guy syndrome”. He’ll come across sensitive, caring, and empathetic until something doesn’t go his way. In dating, nice guy syndrome rears its ugly head when a man is rejected by a woman he may have feelings for, and he then slams the woman, blaming her for going for “bad guys” and never being into the nice guys. Chances are he misread signals of a woman being nice to him for her being romantically interested in him, and therefore he blames her choices and actions for being shallow or ill-intentioned, rather than just realising that she wasn’t THAT into him.

When it comes to dating softbois, they don’t usually hold the same kind of pathetic shtick that guys suffering from nice guy syndrome possess. The softboi is a little more evolved and emotionally mature than that. The softboi tends to be a bit alternative and comes across as intelligent. They take pride in the fact they’re “different” from other guys around them. It gives them an inflated sense of ego and superiority, and while they may seem to have emotional intelligence on the surface, they can use this in a manipulative way.

How to spot a Softboi in the wild

There is a range of softbois out there in the wild and they’re not all built the same. There could be the softboi who dates one person, gets to know them on a deeper emotional level to get them to sleep with him, before then disappearing after he’s gotten what he’s wanted.

Or there could be the softboi who upon not getting a reply on a dating app, turns sinister instantly, no matter what his bio says about being open-minded and accepting.

As the creator of the Instagram account @beam_me_up_softboi once told The Guardian: “There’s a softboi spectrum. At one end, it’s just anyone who has any unique or alternative interests that make them feel superior to other people. At the other end is quite hardcore emotionally manipulative men who use these interests to really mess about with women or men. But there are so many people in between on the spectrum so there’s no one real definition.”

Common Softboi red flags

  • Using a lot of words to convey zero meaning. For example: “You seem like a really intuitive person, who lives on a different plane to the other societal beings around us, do you also incorporate that into your day-to-day efforts of this catalyst we call life?”
  • Judging your music, film, or book taste by showing off how superior his taste is. For example: “Oh you actually liked Requiem For A Dream? Personally, I found it a little too pretentious and the storyline just didn’t delve deep enough into the real human psyche, you know? Try watching The Lobster. Let me know your thoughts :)”
  • Subtly gaslighting you before then pulling back and acting like you reacted out of nowhere. For example: “I’m sorry you felt that way.”
  • Negging you. For example: “Oh, your job sounds so cruisy. It’s a shame you’re not challenged more.”
  • Using emotionally-charged excuses to counteract any negative behaviour. For example: “I’ve been going through a lot, I didn’t mean to leave you alone at the pub waiting for me for 2.5 hours.”
  • Guilt-tripping you. For example, if you said you couldn’t go hang out with them for whatever reason, they’d reply with something like, “it’s just that I’ve been feeling really low and you’re the only one who makes me feel better.”
  • Idolising the manic pixie dream girl as the ultimate partner.
Red Flag GIFs | Tenor

Stay safe out there people, and remember no romantic interest should ever make you feel like an idiot for not knowing Sufjan Stevens’ full discography.