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What is a soft boy? Here’s everything you need to know

By Alma Fabiani

Nov 21, 2020

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You’ve probably heard or read the term soft boy somewhere online. Also spelled softboy or softboi, the term is used to describe a specific type of man. Here’s exactly what it means and a few examples of typical soft boys.

What is a soft boy?

Urban Dictionary has more than one definition for the word soft boy but all of them seem to agree on a few points. Although the term is used to describe boys, soft boys have features and behaviours that most would qualify as almost feminine. They also have a sensitive side that differentiates them from the previously used term fuckboy.

Negative definition

“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. Then, like the fuckboy, he can’t and won’t commit. Differs from the fuckboy because he goes for the heart and emotions rather than just the body,” says one of Urban Dictionary’s definitions.

@beam_me_up_softboi is the Instagram account that shares with its followers screenshots of conversations with typical soft boys trying to impress girls with their indie music knowledge and their fake philosophy of life.

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As much as this can be true for some, not all soft boys are manipulative liars. Soft boys can also be recognised by their soft and gentle attitude.

Positive definition

Many believe that soft boys come as a package, meaning that yes, they are nice and easily likeable, but they also have a very precise aesthetic that makes them recognisable from afar. From wearing pastel tracksuits and having soft, natural hair, soft boys are, well, soft inside and out.

K-pop as an influence

Many agree that soft boys are a watered-down version of K-pop and its boyfriend aesthetic which then influenced western culture. In K-pop, the boyfriend look describes an outfit made of pastel tones, muted colours and having a classic hairstyle.

This style is named the boyfriend aesthetic as it is an outfit that a man could wear to meet his partner’s parents in.

Soft boy examples

As mentioned in The Guardian’s What is a softboi? You might be dating one – and you don’t even know it, Timothée Chalamet is probably the perfect and most used celebrity example of a soft boy. His explicit embrace of femininity and rejection of traditional masculinity has struck a nerve with audiences of all ages who have marvelled at him (for good reasons).

Very similar to Chalamet is Harry Styles, who recently also showed a different approach to masculinity by wearing nail varnish, pearl necklaces and more feminine apparel.

Less famous but also coming under the soft boy umbrella are actors Cole Sprouse from the series Riverdale and Noah Centineo who starred in rom-coms such as The Perfect Date and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

A rejection of traditional masculinity

Whether you decide to use the term or not, soft boys have inundated social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok and are here to stay. And, to be honest, with toxic masculinity finally being challenged, it’s the perfect time for us to accept soft boys as a gentler, kinder sort of man.