I asked a psychologist why fuckboys act the way they do


No, how you doin’ fuckboy?

Call it the collateral damage of dating, but the fuckboy can turn a strong, empowered individual into a clingy, confused mess. A biting addition to the millennial lexicon, you would be hard-pressed to exist on the internet without engaging with one, or multiple, in your lifetime.

An emotional vampire at best, their dating style is a case study in entitlement and the avoidance of anything considered to be remotely laborious. These expert manipulators come armed with an arsenal of skills that, if you were none the wiser, you would consider to be actual signs of affection and interest. Imagine that.

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Not to be mistaken for the bad boy, the fuckboy has weaponised the medium of the text and ‘snap’. They show you just enough signs that they are interested (cue the “I’ve been thinking about you” text) without having to put in any real effort into pursuing you thoughtfully.

The fuckboy is arguably the modern version of the ‘player’. Double this with a healthy dose of ‘basic’ characteristics, and a light-to-heavy sprinkling of misogyny, and you have yourself a walking problem.

It’s no wonder the term has garnered immense popularity. There’s something about the pointed expletive attached to a word comically small that just sits right. Not a ‘man’ but a ‘boy’, left to his own devices without any real intelligent thought.

However, as Katy Perry once said in her 2008 smash-hit ‘Hot N’ Cold, it really can be difficult to “get off this ride”. I mean, who can blame you? This behaviour can be incredibly addictive. The part-time chase for a full-time romance can give rise to a sense of accomplishment when you do finally get that much-anticipated affection; even if it is at 2am on a Sunday evening.

Now, getting emotionally sidelined by a man isn’t exactly high up on my list of ‘things I enjoy to do’, so it got me thinking, ‘How can I avoid these people in the future?’ and more importantly ‘Why are they… like that?’

Are fuckboys a product of nature? Or does nurture play a role? Frustrated by the lack of answers Google was providing me with, I decided to consult a psychologist to help me decipher what seems to have been plaguing hopeful romantics for millennia.

”Typically, we can broadly think of the fuckboy population as likely falling into certain attachment style categories,” says specialist psychologist and self-identifying lesbian fuckboy lover, Lauren Heywood.

“Often, we see a history of fuckboy behaviours being modelled by fuckboy mums or fuckboy dads, to little baby fuckboys while they’re growing up. The hot and cold behaviour can represent a desire to be close with someone but an inability to know how to effectively let emotional barriers down or a particular discomfort with being vulnerable,” she explains.

Heywood says there are four attachment styles: secure, anxious, avoidant and disorganised. These attachment styles are a result of “our experiences being loved and cared for as kids,” ultimately informing the way we engage and interact with possible relationship options in our adult years.

“I think for some of the fuckboy population, they typically fall into the anxious-avoidant attachment category. This is because the anxious-avoidant fuckboys are like lava cakes – they’re standoffish at first but if you can push through the outer hard layer of emotional barriers, you find the gooey centre,” she says.

Unsurprisingly, Lauren wants to make it clear that not all fuckboys are closeted ‘softies’. “There is a distinction here between the aforementioned lava cake fuckboys, and the inconsistent yet infamous Fantales fuckboy.

“Sometimes you get the gooey centre of emotional connection with the Fantales fuckboy, even for a brief moment, but more often than not you only get the hard crunch that just about breaks your teeth. But, the joy for us is that there is no immediate way of knowing whether you’re looking at a lava cake or Fantales fuckboy,” she says.

Lauren has some thoughts on why we’re drawn to fuckboys like moths to a flame. “I suspect the fuckboy appeal stretches much further back than we could imagine. I think that this is because the fuckboy image works for a couple of reasons.

“One, we are evolutionarily attracted to confidence and natural leaders (to then procreate, etc), and two, because of something called the ‘halo effect’. This means that when a person is deemed as ‘attractive’, we have a tendency to assume that this person is also kind, smart, funny, etc. All desirable qualities to pursue,” she says.

So, with everything mentioned above, is it worth the risk? Lauren says it’s complicated. “If I put on my clinical psychologist hat, no. The percentage of fuckboys that turn out to be the invalidating and damaging Fantales subtype make it profoundly not worth the risk. But, if I put on my personal hat, then yes. The woman who is the love of my life is also a strong-browed, charming, side-eyeing, seductively-smiling, and confidence-exuding fuckboy.”

Lauren does have some parting advice though. “From human to human, know who you are and what you will and won’t accept. Be crystal clear on that and make no exceptions. If you want to, you can wait to see if the Fantales are actually a lava cake. But the moment you start to suspect there’s no deeper centre, value yourself enough to leave.”

There will always be fuckboys it seems, but at least now there is an explanation for their existence. Is it a reason to switch up your type? I mean, we can’t all be perfect now, can we?

To learn more about attachment styles and how they impact your relationships, head here.

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