Illustration: Olivia Fields
The term “fuckboy” (or “fuccboi,” depending on how Very Online you are) has a multitude of meanings — none of which have a positive connotation. It’s an equal-opportunity insult. A condemnation. If a romantic partner has ever referred to you as such, it’s time to do some reflecting, get your affairs in order, and make the appropriate changes. And like the word “hipster,” if you swear you’re not a fuckboy when someone calls you out, you probably are one. Don’t fight it; just do better.
So, what is a fuckboy? For the purposes of this article, it’s a person who doesn’t have enough respect for women to earn their time, attention, or energy. But he never stops trying. And he never stops making excuses for his ineptitude. He’s got no self-awareness or accountability, so he sees zero need for even the slightest bit of growth. And as such, his relationships tend to either fizzle out or crash and burn.
A fuckboy gets dismissed with an eye roll, a sucking of the teeth, or maybe even a middle finger. He never gets to meet the parents or even close friends both because he’s not worthy and because he likely has no interest. He’s only interested in what you can provide in a single moment.
You’ve heard the term, and now you’ve read the explanation, but do you know how to identify one in the wild? Is it your boy — or, more importantly, is it you? Peep the four archetypes below; if you see yourself, it might be time for some self-improvement. Seriously.
The fake-deep fuckboy
He smells like Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap and Nag Champa incense and has ever since he discovered them in college. His patron saint is B.o.B. He’s a thinker and occasionally a reader — usually of conspiracy theories about the moon landing being staged or the Earth being flat. He’s likely not registered to vote. (His third eye told him there’s no point.) If he does register, he plans to write-in Kanye West’s name on his ballot. He doesn’t eat pork, but he definitely smokes blunts. He calls women “sis” or “queen” to condescend, not endear, and his patriarchal attitudes and behaviors reflect that same energy.
Can he change? Unlikely.
What to do if he is you: Get some therapy. Ask your past partners for an honest summary of your personality. Interrogate your beliefs and biases. And take a damn science class.
The joke fuckboy
This man has literally nothing going on for himself — but it’s everyone else’s fault. Not his. At the very least, the fake-deep fuckboy mentioned above can find a fake-deep partner to connect with. The joke fuckboy is just that. A joke. A time-waster (his own and others’). Nothing to see here.
Can he change? Yes. Whether it’s via a motivating relationship or some kind of self-improvement retreat, the joke fuckboy can become a completely different person — if he wants to.
What to do if he is you: Have someone administer personality and career aptitude tests. What’s your deal? What do you enjoy? What are you passionate about? It’s not too late to make a change.
The broke fuckboy
Some people form relationships with this guy expecting him to change. But when it’s been a full year and he’s not leveled up (either himself or his partner), it becomes clear that this is just who he is. Sometimes he’s easy to spot. He may make a stink about paying on dates or anything that involves pulling out his wallet. In other cases, he might be tricky to identify, with his semi-luxury car and presentable apartment of his own. But it won’t be long before you realize his credit is shot and that for all of his shiny possessions, he’s got no emergency fund.
Do not get it confused: There are men who are not making bank — or properly managing the money they do make — but they’re trying. They have a plan. They clip coupons and stay on Groupon for inexpensive date nights. But the broke fuckboy has no intention or plan, which will likely take a toll on his relationships.
Can he change? Absolutely! All it takes is some education and small money management habits that can have big payoffs in the long run. Try trading in the daily Starbucks run for home brewing. Or downsizing on an apartment in order to save for homeownership. A little bit of motivation goes a long way.
What to do if he is you: There are tons of sites, apps, and books dedicated to financial solvency. But to begin, start super small: Create a budget you can live by and stick with it. Eventually, you’ll work your way up to a financial whiz.
If someone wants more than just sex, he’ll pretend he does, too. His whole schtick is that he wants to settle down, but he just hasn’t found the right person yet.
The boomerang fuckboy
Remember Marcus from Boomerang? He tossed women around like they were appetizers to a main dish he never planned to order. This character (played by Eddie Murphy) became an archetype for the modern fuckboy who is always looking for casual sex (or any entanglement that ends with remaining single). All that is fine — we’re all grown. But the boomerang fuckboy takes it a step further. If someone wants more than just sex, he’ll pretend he does, too. His whole schtick is that he wants to settle down, but he just hasn’t found the right person yet. If he is in a relationship, don’t count on him being faithful. He’s the real-life embodiment of those memes featuring Future as a toxic ex.
Can he change? Probably not.
What to do if he is you: Take a long look in the mirror. Take stock of where you are in life and where you want to be. Can you honestly say your life is working out exactly as you’ve planned? If you see women you’ve hurt in your rearview mirror and a life that’s a bit more empty than you’d like it to be, it might be time to reassess your lifestyle and priorities. And grow the hell up.
Read more: If You’re Treating Oral Sex Like a Chore, Don’t Bother