sex and emotional manipulation:
the fuckboy, the softboy

CW: explicit language and sexual content

The Fuckboy.

“So is Michelle* the new cum bucket of Men’s Basketball?”

To be honest, this was the moment I should have kicked him out and never, ever looked back. It was the moment where it should have finally been too much for me. It was the moment where I should have no longer ignored his problematic rhetoric. What is even worse is that I slept with him 30 minutes after he made this comment about my best friend. I cannot even lie and say these comments were infrequent and I don’t know, for the life of me, how I managed to completely ignore them.

Unfortunately, fuckboys are not a rarity. They are in abundance within the modern dating world. There are a plethora available to mistakenly sleep with because “hey, he’s not that bad, he made me a cup of coffee the next morning before kicking me out because he 'had stuff to do'." Now, I know I am not the only girl who has had an experience with a fuckboy. What is a fuckboy you ask? Urban Dictionary defines it as an “asshole boy who is into strictly sexual relationships; he will lead a girl on and let her down, then apologize only to ask for "pics" once the girl has welcomed him back into her trust. Boys like this will pretend to genuinely care about the girl but always fail to prove the supposed affection… He will always come crawling back because he is a horny prick and can not withstand the dispossession of one of his baes, because he has more than one that's for sure.”

From the time I hit puberty and started to lust the opposite sex, I have encountered and dealt with countless fuckboys. However, one rises above as the ultimate.

“I just think it is slutty sleeping with two people in one day.”

These comments were always made while we were in bed naked together. Not to mention, they came from the guy who slept with two people in two days (one of whom was me). I am not quite sure how that is different, but okay.

“Right… well I’ve slept with two people in one day before and I’ve just slept with you so…”

Aha! I got him with retorts like these! As long as I backhanded each comment and challenged him, it was okay that I was still sleeping with him. It was okay that I let this go on for six months because I was only in it for the sex.

“I’m not a fuckboy, when have I ever lied to you?”

This is a very typical response from fuckboys. It is as if telling the truth about manipulating women makes it okay to, you know, manipulate women. They convince themselves that the way they operate is okay because, hey, at least they are being honest about it. Now all these comments and general behavior is gross and completely toxic but the worst aspect to me about this situation was the emotional labour I endured. Having relationships that are purely sexual are completely fine, they can even be healthy! When you have a relationship where one person says it is just sexual yet they emotionally rely on you and manipulate you, now that is a different story. I remember a particularly bad night out, he came up to me, drunk, and started to tell me about the hardships he was enduring with graduating, finding a job, etc. I entertained his emotional needs and then we proceeded to go home together and I remember halfway home he said something like,

“I can’t believe I’m taking home a girl on her period, seems a bit of a joke”

Yes. He is one of those boys who are grossed out by nature. That was only one of the many red flags in this “relationship.” I, in my drunken haze, cannot remember if I replied to him or ignored it, like I often did. In reality, what I should have said was,

“I am not just a ‘girl’ you are taking home, we’ve been sleeping together for six months but luckily for you this will be the last time.”


“Alright, well fuck you and goodbye.”

I definitely didn’t do either of those things though because I did end up going to his, and we didn’t have sex, we laid in his bed and stared at the ceiling while we listened to the rest of his housemates fucking other girls. I knew that was the last night I was going to spend with him and so did he. I think I stayed in that situation for so long because there was always a glimmer of hope it would change. His friends would tell me he liked me, that he didn’t act that way about other girls, and sometimes he would even mumble things alluding to that fact when he was drunk. He was affectionate, and we often fell asleep with our noses touching. And of course, there is that horrible fact that you really cannot help who you fall for. So six months later, and six months too long, the longest fuckboy fling I have ever endured had finally come to an end. I wish I could say I never looked back but the truth is, he comes up in conversation all the time, he will pop up at certain social events and people always seem to bring it up. I did learn a lot from being treated so horribly though; I think I have a lot more respect for myself and a much lower tolerance for bullshit. I am now happily in a relationship with a very non-fuckboy boy and at the beginning of the relationship I said,

“I don’t do fuckboys or douche-bags so if that’s what you are, I’m not interested.”

It is time for us to stop entertaining these men, and stop making excuses like “oh I’m just in it for the sex as well,” there are nice men that will have casual sex with you, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t also treat you with dignity and respect.

The Softboy.

I started sleeping with someone whose Instagram captions were all about feminism and strong women. At the time I thought this was a huge turn on; I was like, “Fuck yeah, I finally found a guy who isn’t afraid of being a feminist.” I told my friend who was studying in the U.S. at the time and her response was,

“Oh great, another guy who probably took an Introduction to Gender Studies class.”

I shrugged off her comment because honestly, finding a man who avidly talked about being a feminist, let alone posted about being one online, was extremely rare. However, hindsight really is 20/20 because I now realize what I was dealing with was a softboy.

What is a softboy you may ask? A softboy is someone who instead of outwardly using you for sex (see above: The Fuckboy), appeals to the emotional and sensitive side of your personality. It can also be defined as someone who considers themself “woke” and uses that to their advantage when emotionally manipulating people, typically women. These men are a particularly dangerous breed because they know exactly how to make it seem like you are unreasonable; they are ‘feminists,’ they are sensitive beings, and they know what intersectionality is, after all! How could they be bad?

Urban Dictionary defines a softboy 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. Then, like the fuckboy, he can't/won't commit. Differs from the fuckboy because he goes for the heart and emotions rather than just the body.”

Okay so – this guy was a softboy. It is hard to explain, partially from the fact that it is much harder to prove that boys are softboys rather than fuckboys. I do not know what it was about him but I constantly felt that there was something… off. He always said and did all the right things. He would constantly remind me how much he loved spending time with me, and he even told me he loved me – but never wanted to label the relationship.

He was also one of the first men I slept with that put my pleasure above his own. I remember one day in bed I asked him what he wanted me to do to make it more pleasurable for him, to which he replied,

“The guy is always going to cum, you need to make sure that you get off too, plus it gives me pleasure to pleasure you.”

At the time I really thought he was looking out for me! I thought to myself, “Fuck yeah, he is right!” I felt like he was giving me some grandiose male advice from his countless sexual experiences.

Looking back, I find this extremely condescending and if a guy said that to me now, I would walk straight out of that room and never look back. I know what I like in bed and I am not afraid to ask for it. Men, please, get off your pedestal if you think you know what women want more than they do, or that by telling them they should ask for it you are being altruistic. If one more man tells me something along the lines of, “It is really great that you feel comfortable asking for what you want in bed,” I am going to lose it. The only reason this occurs is due to centuries worth of patriarchal standards placed on women to repress their sexual desires; they are expected to be passive players when it comes to sex. Women are not expected to have “needs” or “wants,” they are expected to please men. The only reason any man would address this is because they know society has taught women to be embarrassed by being sexually satisfied, and they think they’ll come off looking like some sort of modern hero by allowing women a space to address this. However, by continuing to make it seem unorthodox for women to speak up in bed, you are just continuing to perpetuate the concept that it’s a rarity. You are making it about that fact you are providing a safe space for someone, instead of creating a genuine space for someone to feel comfortable speaking up unprompted. By doing this, you are still making it about you and your hedonism. This is especially prominent when men say they derive pleasure from pleasuring someone else. By doing this, they are still making the sex about them and their pleasure. They are making sex a show about men for men, even when its seemingly about the woman. And that is exactly how I felt sleeping with this guy and his condescension.

While I realise now that those were red flags, at the time I didn’t understand that they were indicators of false wokeness. I was naive in that I thought it meant he cared about me and women as a whole. Unfortunately, it took a few more years and a few other men later to recognise this was a problem.

The next example was with a man I was seeing a few years ago. We had an off and on relationship for the better of three years. When we had sex, I would rarely cum. I told him how to get me there but he really just seemed to struggle with it. He started to get upset when I didn’t finish, because he felt “bad.” At first I thought it was nice that he cared about my pleasure, until I started to feel pressure to cum every time we slept together, which frankly, anyone with a vagina will agree, can be an unrealistic goal. I started to even feel bad if I didn’t cum. I was stressed out that the sex was upsetting him and making him feel bad. What was initially supposed to be about fixing my pleasure ended up being a problem about him. How did sex, an intimate and shared experience become all about the man even when it was about me! Now, I’m hugely against “faking it,” because honestly, who is that helping? But there were plenty of times where I strongly thought about it just to avoid the sulking afterward when he would realize that I hadn’t finished. The worst part was that when I tried to explain to him that it upset me, he thought I was ridiculing him for “caring about my pleasure.” “Am I in the wrong?” I thought to myself. “Am I being insensitive?” I constantly questioned myself and felt like I expected too much.

A lot of people reading this might feel bad for the men in his article, or think I am being too harsh on them. Yes, I’m sure they did care for me; actually, I know they did – but that’s not the point. The point is it is important to stand your ground. I know what I want and how I feel. Don’t let people gaslight you into questioning your true and real emotions.

The truth is, you should expect a lot because you should hold people to high standards. Do not let people emotionally manipulate you. Do not let people pressure you into questioning your own reality. Find a way to be straightforward with people, especially within the context of a relationship.