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FuckBoi Rehab

By F+

Illustration by Ishita Dharap

Almost every friend I know has, at one point in their adult life, encountered a “fuckboi.” Fuckbois are seemingly everywhere: on Tinder, at the bar, they’re even your friend’s friend from college. Always on the search for new romantic exploits, leaving a trail of confused ex-partners and messages left on read in their wake. And, apparently, you are guaranteed to meet one. A quick Google search offers up an onslaught of listicles on the subject: How To Spot A Fuckboy, How To Tell He’s A Fuckboy, 27 Reasons You Will Still End Up Dating A Fuckboy. Everyone has met this person, has been hurt by them, and potentially be hurt again.

The internet offers an endless barrage of definitions for this kind of person: a “womanizer,” a “manipulating dick,” a “weak, contemptible man,” and so on. Fuckbois aren’t always men, though most online content written about them focuses on male, heterosexual “fuckboys.” But this kind of behavior isn’t restricted to heterosexual men, or to heterosexual relationships. I really can’t stress it enough: fuckbois are everywhere.

The notion of a “fuckboi” — sometimes spelled “fuckboy” or “fuckboye” — isn’t anything new. Before this, it was a “player,” a “cad,” or just a manipulative jerk in the ways of romance. As long as people have been attracted to each other, this kind of person has existed. They are incapable of communication, apathetic to your feelings and needs, and evade responsibility for their actions to an Olympic degree. They may promise all the trappings of a relationship — emotional intimacy, affection, support — but, as a rule, they never deliver. The fuckboi play-acts romantic connection until it no longer suits them. And when the relationship (or whatever they choose to call it) inevitably comes crashing down, none of it is their responsibility.

One of the core issues of the fuckboi’s mentality is their flawed idea of what a romantic relationship is and how it functions. A fuckboi enters relationships from an inherently selfish place, and that dictates their behavior toward the other(s) involved. Their intention could be any number of things — companionship, sexual satisfaction, boredom — but always from a perspective that is intrinsically self-centered. For a fuckboi, a romantic partner is only as relevant to them as their ability to fulfill a need. Sometimes that can mean sexual satisfaction, but often it’s more complicated than that. Many fuckbois may find themselves curious about a real, committed relationship — replete with emotional intimacy, trust, vulnerability, the works. But despite intention, the core is self interest. The fuckboi is “trying on” the notion of a relationship without the follow-through.

These scenarios put the fuckboi’s partner in a position where they are meant to perform a disproportionately more demanding role, while the fuckboi’s role demands much, much less. Their partner is the one meant to perform the difficult, vulnerable parts of a romantic relationship in order for the fantasy of romance to feel real. For example, the partner is often the one making plans and later accepting the fuckboi’s unreliability in sticking to those plans. A fuckboi’s partner is meant to be available, vulnerable, and communicative on behalf of both parties. Because, in this relationship, the fuckboi is not responsible for these things.

A relationship with a fuckboi isn’t really a relationship, though they may call it that. It is a transaction in which the fuckboi is receiving something and their partner is giving that thing to them. So you can imagine how surprised the fuckboi may feel when their partner gets mad because of their lack of communication, empathy, or responsibility, because to the fuckboi, the relationship never required any of those behaviors.

This is why the fuckboi disappears with no explanation. This is why the fuckboi doesn’t communicate to you what they see as the guidelines of your romantic endeavor. This is why the fuckboi offers excuses like “I just don’t think I’m emotionally capable of being in a relationship.” That’s also why they’re often found getting cozy with someone else shortly after ending things with you. They may offer a flimsy attempt at empathy — something along the lines of “I didn’t want to hurt you” or “I never meant to make you upset” — but the damage has already been done. The sentiment doesn’t really matter.

This kind of person is, of course, terrible. They’re manipulative and dishonest, with little respect for the needs of their sexual or romantic partners. But the conversation around this subject is almost always one of inevitability. “There is surely no guy or girl who dates men that hasn’t encountered a fuckboy in the last couple of years,” a Pedestrian article muses. In conversations with my friends, time wasted on “another fuckboi” is met with anger, sadness, and frustration. But it’s also met with a generous helping of bitter resignation, that this is somehow just part of the contemporary dating landscape.

Until responsibility is transferred from those enduring the fuckboi treatment to the ones perpetuating it, this cycle will continue forever. I am not cynical enough to believe that every individual who performs fuckboi behavior is doing so maliciously or with no interest in bettering themselves. Some, sure. There are some people who use the term as a kind of accomplishment. And most of us see descriptions of fuckboi behavior and easily conclude that we could never do this. We could never be this manipulative, this apathetic, this cruel. But often we are.

It is normal to ignore the game you’re unconsciously playing. Where the rules are fast and loose, trading in new players and shifting the weight of responsibility to avoid taking a real look at yourself. This behavior is learned and it can be unlearned. It’s horrible to be on the receiving end of a fuckboi’s manipulative bullshit. But I’m sick of reading article after article that says nothing other than “oh well.”

We can be better. It’s time we demand it.

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