With Mx. Rona still around fucking up your love month plans, we’re willing to bet some of y’all have resorted to online means to fill that V-Day void. Hey, hey, no judgment. We get it, it’s not a bad thing.
The internet can help you find a new boo. As easy as it is to match with someone, it’s also easy to ghost and leave certain convos hanging. And if you’ve navigated the online dating world for a while now, you may have come across a walking subtle red flag: ‘the softboi,’ sometimes just under the guise of ‘the simp.’
As much as we love clowning these tropes, neither of them are anything new. Softbois have been plaguing pop culture, history and even the government before recently sliding into DMs, while simps have been all over classic literature before being elevated to internet lingo status.
But sometimes the lines between them are blurring. How do you tell them apart? NGL, the softboi and the simp have a lot in common. They’re practically cut from the same cloth and bound by a single common thread: They bestow their affection on muses like a heaven-sent gift, and seem to lord it over their objects of affection to the point that it becomes borderline unhealthy.
Keep in mind that some softbois can be harmless, or some people can be mistaken as softbois when they’re just legitimately decent people unafraid to be in tune with their feelings. And hey, anyone can be a simp.
The softboi checklist
We don’t even need to go into detail on the anatomy of a softboi; y’all can spot them from a mile away.
The softboi has a way with words. They’re sensitive, socially aware and are looking for “something special” in a relationship (yet may or may not display an allergy to commitment).
But you may ask: Why are you lumping all these perfectly okay traits into a potentially harmful stereotype? You can point to toxic masculinity for that.
The rise of the softboi can be viewed as a response to that same toxic masculinity. The softboi has embraced feelings, things often coded as female interests, rejecting what’s conventionally masculine. Great, people who are actually not letting their gender define who they are.
But wait, here’s the thing: It becomes a red flag when you start to notice that misogyny isn’t always obvious. Their highfalutin speech attempts to mask the fact that you’re being objectified, too. They’re patronizing you for not relating enough to their interests. Yeah, that ain’t cute.
What’s their first message to you?
Let me guess: They remind you of Ramona Flowers. Or, wait, your orbs are so mesmerizing to them. Or the way you say hello is “cathartic.”
Have they told you about their very niche and very alt interests yet?
Or, more specifically, do you somehow feel bad that you can’t relate to their nicheness? The softboi typically parades around that they’re into things that are so indie, and complain that not a lot of people appreciate the artistry.
While it’s perfectly fine to have niche interests, making other people feel bad about not knowing them makes it less likely to relate to them and enjoy their company.
It becomes a red flag when you start to notice that misogyny isn’t always obvious.
Have they vented to you only to say you can “help them feel better?”
Yeah, uh, proceed with caution because there may be a follow-up to that. Like, say, asking you to send a tasteful, intimate photo of a particular body part.
Have they stopped replying for a while only to send a vague 3 AM message about needing time to find themselves?
Nothing wrong with a bit of soul searching, but if it’s behavior that’s borderline destructive, it’s time to pack up and walk away while you can.
Do they do a complete 180-degree turn when you don’t respond?
This is interesting to note too when you’ve been talking for just a short while. If the above signs boil down to this, it’s bound to be exhausting and is probably not worth it.
The simp checklist
Meanwhile, the simp’s origins date back to the 20th century, thanks to the word simpleton, meaning someone foolish. Makes sense with the meaning of its chopped up version: We do tend to act foolish when we’re infatuated.
The negative side of the word simp, however, is used to refer to people (particularly men) who “become submissive” to get the attention of women they like. Again, like the softboi, rooted in toxic masculinity.
Here’s the thing: Anyone can be a simp. Zoomers have taken this term to equate it to a crush (case in point, our entire Thirst Trap series). You can simp for someone you know, a celebrity or even a tangible object (yes, we are simps for choco butternut). It’s when the simping takes over so much of your time that nothing else seems to be going on in your life that makes it concerning.
Do they do a little too much to get you to like them?
Some people may see it as “Aw, cute, they care so much about me,” but if they seem to be bending over backwards just to agree with what you like, it could mean something else. We all have a spine, we ought to use it, too.
Are they going through your feed liking every past post?
I don’t know about you, but bombarding someone’s notifs like that isn’t all that cute.
It’s when the simping takes over so much of your time that nothing else seems to be going on in your life that makes it concerning.
Do they say “you look better without makeup?”
What they don’t know is that makeup is not just makeup, it’s not cosmetics. It’s not maquillage. It’s actually a sword, weaponizing years of dealing with self-confidence and countless hours of practice, and it’s sort of comical how they assume they’ll gain some brownie points for that, but you didn’t need that. Because you put on makeup for yourself, not for anyone else.
Do they keep track of how long it has been since your last reply?
If it seems like they’re spending most of their day counting down the minutes till you reply, save yourself from the build-up of a potentially toxic bond.
Do they bring up how “nice” they are (or, alternatively, say “Nice guys finish last”)?
Run. Seriously, it’s not worth it.
Still from “Lady Bird”