In the big bad world of modern social archetypes, the fuckboy is a well-known figure. More recently, up-and-coming softboys are making their bid for fame (you can read all about it here). Many of us are aware of these terms and the underlying social context they carry, but if these concepts are new to you, there’s one very important thing to keep in mind. A fuckboy is not a jock or a frat boy or a flat-out asshole. They come from all creeds and walks of life. Similarly, a softboy is not necessarily a poet or a hipster.
These archetypes do not depend on a person’s occupation, appearance, age or any other traditionally stereotype-worthy characteristic. They depend on a person’s mode of manipulation. How they behave in order to get what they want, especially (though not exclusively) when it comes to getting laid. These archetypes have a favorite tool and a routine that runs like clockwork. And they can be anybody.
Naturally, not all boys fall perfectly into “fuckboy” or “softboy” – it would be ridiculous to reduce such a large demographic to two measly categories. That totally ignores all the other wonderful -boy types. Sadboys, nerdboys, nice guys, “just guys”… We don’t want to leave them out. They need to have their say. So let’s break it down: the pros, the cons and the cons – because at the heart of it, all these -boys are B-grade conmen.
We all know him. He’s not too worried. He’ll coast by on his looks, or his connections, or some other form of arbitrary privilege. Social norms are this guy’s best friend – they justify his actions for him. It’s not his fault: Boys are just boys. The fuckboy’s tool of choice is blame. Passing off responsibility to anybody and everybody else involved in a bad situation. What is it with you anyway? Why are you acting so crazy? You’re overreacting, and you need to calm down.
As linked above, quite a bit of thought has already gone into the softboy. He’s the sensitive one. He’d never be That Guy. He’s socially aware. He is, of course, highly qualified to comment on the deep political undercurrents, the social conflict and personal turbulence that underlie the work of any author. He’s more into “something special” than a bona fide relationship, and he hates that some people have to put a label on everything. And you knew that going in – he thinks it’s very important to be honest and open about these things. So when it all goes to hell? Hey, you knew what you signed up for, so who’s really guilty here? But you shouldn’t feel bad; you don’t need to apologize. Sometimes shit just happens, you know?
The nerdboy can be difficult to identify at first – there’s a lot of variation in the external expression of nerdboy-ness. But, without a doubt, he has been disenfranchised by society. His potential and his brilliance have been ignored all his life in favor of Other Guys. He grew up with the absolute certainty that high school isn’t the end for him, and that someday the target of his malice will see him rich and successful, and oh, how the tables will have turned then. He needs no external source of validation – his conviction and the inevitable payoff of his suffering are all the vindication he needs. He speaks condescension as a second language. When girls don’t like him, it’s because he’s a nerd. People are just too shallow to see past his physical exterior. Everybody except the object of his affections, of course, whom he will idolize and exalt beyond any reasonable or healthy standard.
When it comes to girls, he’s not shy about using those societal stereotypes that caused him so much grief. That idolization will transcend into blatant fabrication of artificial competition. You’re the smartest girl he’s ever met, and it’s so nice that he can talk to you as an equal – surprising as that fact is. He loves that you can not just hold your own in a conversation (almost like a fully functional human adult), but can lead one. He’s never met a girl that could win an argument against him before. You must really be special to outmaneuver him. Other girls care about stupid things like hair and makeup, but you are the exception. You’re better than other girls – you are deserving of his praise and affections.
A lot of crossover with the softboy here. The sadboy is also sensitive and in touch with his feelings, but he uses those feelings differently. The sadboy knows it’s not fair to you, but that won’t stop him from sharing. He has a lot of “dark shit” that he’ll feel really bad about unloading onto some unsuspecting friend or acquaintance, but not bad enough to engage the problem directly and take healthy measures to correct it.
Instead, he will look for salvation, which will come exclusively from somebody else understanding his pain and loving him anyway. The sadboy doesn’t know if he can go on. He doesn’t know how to live without you. You’re the one thing, the only thing, the most important thing in his life, all that he cares about, and he needs you. He’ll send you music (obscure indie, EDM or light metal only) at 2 a.m. and wait for you to ask why he’s up at 2 a.m. The answer is that he couldn’t sleep, so he decided, “Fuck it, I’ll watch the sunrise.”
The Nice Guy:
The nice guy is probably the broadest and most well-known archetype. He’s your average person, a good guy, doing what anybody would do. He pretends to be a team player, the reasonable one – but the more inconvenience he runs into, the more it’s really all about him. He’ll say problematic things, and if anybody calls him out, then jeez, nobody can take a joke these days.
Nice guys finish last, obviously, but he doesn’t mind because he knows that when he finds the Right Person, they’ll see that he’s been the One all along. He wants somebody who’s not afraid to be real. It’s so sad how girls these days act like sluts to get attention. What happened to the good old 50s romance? You look better without makeup anyway.
The Idea Man:
This guy is waiting for the revolution. Things are gonna change, man, and he’ll be ready when it comes, just you wait. He’s the guys that’s been skimping on rent for three years – if he’s not just sleeping on your couch – talking about how everything’s gonna be different, he’s just gotta get that one stroke of luck and off he’ll be. His career is stagnating at the moment (how long has it been now?) – influences outside of his control are out to get him. What can you do when everything in the world is going wrong? Surely you see that he’s doing everything he can? But just stick it out for a little bit longer. He’s had a bad run of luck, but that luck will turn. He would never do work that is beneath him. If you don’t see what he sees, if you don’t believe as he does in that brighter future just around the corner, then it’s because you don’t get it. He is always right. He will not be persuaded or cajoled.
These archetypes are standard deviations, which stem from a single, unifying value: themselves. They bestow their affections like gifts. It’s not just anyone that can catch their eyes. They view people as those parts they need or want at the moment, and merely employ different means of exploiting those parts.
Contact Maximiliana Bogan at ebogan ‘at’ stanford.edu.