'Boysober': why young women are dumping men for mental health

Made famous by comedian Hope Woodard, the trend comes with a set of rules to help women drop dating to put their mental health first

15 March 2024 - 21:35
By Thango Ntwasa
A need to prioritise mental health is propelling some women to try the latest dating trend.
Image: Supplied A need to prioritise mental health is propelling some women to try the latest dating trend.

When TikTok first came to fame it was revered for giving its teen users a space to express frustrations on topics such as race, gender and mental health. In 2019 a number of young girls took to the platform to dance to toxic voice notes from their exes as a way to empower themselves.

The relationship drama between the sexes has spilt over to a new dating trend called “boysober”.

Proving to have no problems with partying sober, the trend is popular with Gen Z users who are choosing not to date as a response to putting their mental health first. It emerged after Hope Woodard started using the term with the millions of followers she has on TikTok.

Loved for her “I Love Female Orgasms” buttons, Woodard says she coined the term after reviewing her dating history and put together a set of rules to best achieve the trendy style of monogamy:

  • no dating apps;
  • no dates;
  • no exes;
  • no situationships (casual sexual relations); and
  • no xoxo (hugs and kisses).

Matchmaker Lara Besbrode responded to the trend saying women participate “for self-sufficiency and personal empowerment”.

“Women are making a conscious decision to prioritise their wellbeing and achievements, finding joy and fulfilment in their independence and reshaping societal expectations about happiness and relationship status,” she said.

Regarding online dating playing a role in the trend, counsellor Georgina Stummer said in a recent interview she found the swiping and matching on dating apps can become addictive to those using the apps attempting to make dating easier.

“The dopamine hit of selecting a date and messaging someone means it’s possible for romance to turn into something akin to a game or a networking event. This can make it feel overwhelming and exhausting,” she said.

Though the new term is new to many on the web, the concept is the same as celibacy. So why not call it that? Woodard responded with, “I hate the word celibacy”, explaining to Grazia boysober is there to help people figure out what they want in relationships.

“The point is to break old patterns and find myself in a place where I can choose a romantic partner and not need one.”