Relationship experts weigh in on 'difficult' new 'Boysober' dating trend

Relationship experts weigh in on 'difficult' new 'Boysober' dating trend

Relationship experts weigh in on women choosing to be single in 'Boysober' trend


Last year, TikTok was full of relationship-based trends such as the "boyfriend effect" and the "Barbenheimer effect" but now in 2024, women are opting to take a break from dating and romance altogether to go "boysober" instead.

Going "boysober" is exactly what it sounds like, as women are choosing the ditch toxic relationships, situationships, and dating apps to focus this energy on themselves instead and live fulfilled single lives.

The term was coined by comedian Hope Woodard, 27, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, as she took to TikTok in the final days of 2023 to declare her "official boysober rules" for the new year to her 408,000 followers.

Woodard (@justhopinalong) shared how she came up with these rules while out with her friend and had "a bit of a focus group" as she asked for feedback on her rules from other women at the bar.

The "boysober" rules are as follows:

  • No dating apps
  • No dates
  • No exes
  • No situationships
  • No xoxo ("hugs and kisses etc")
"My whole life I've been saying 'I'm single, I'm single, I'm single,' no I've never been single, I've always had a situationship - you're not single if someone is taking up your brain space," the comedian said.


The official boysober rules lmk if you had questions or feedback

Since sharing the video, it has received 592,000 views and people have been commenting their thoughts on Woodard's "boysober" rules.

One person asked: "Can I have a crush? Like a little crush that I won’t act on but makes work and life more fun?"

"I’m taking notes but not making promises," another person said.

Someone else wrote: "I did this for about 6 months and it was literally LIFE CHANGING."

"Literally going to use these rules. 2024 will be boy free fr. Need my clarity back & focus on me," a fourth person commented.

With "boysober" taking off, indy100 has gained insight from four relationship experts into how this has become a trend.

Founder and a relationship expert at The Matchmaker UK, Lara Besbrode believes women choosing the "boysober" lifestyle is a decision "rooted in a desire for self-sufficiency and personal empowerment."

"This choice is largely about women wanting to focus on their own growth, ambitions, and mental health, rather than navigating the complexities of romantic relationships. It's not about avoiding companionship but rather about seeing value in solitude for self-discovery and strengthening personal resolve.

"Women are making a conscious decision to prioritise their well-being and achievements, finding joy and fulfilment in their independence and reshaping societal expectations about happiness and relationship status," she added.

The search for a romantic partner can also take its toll, with swiping on dating apps leading to burnout as a counsellor and member of the BACP, Georgina Sturmer noted this aspect can mentally be "overwhelming."

A Savanta survey from 2022 found over 90 per cent of Gen Z claim at least one frustration with using dating apps, while in the same year, another study by the Singles Reports data team also found nearly four out of five (78.37 per cent) adults aged 18-54 experienced "some degree of emotional fatigue or burnout from online dating."

"The dating scene can be fun and exciting. But it can also feel overwhelming. Choosing to become ‘boysober’ feels like an active choice for women to focus on their own identity and needs. Rather than being pulled into pleasing someone else or looking after someone else, or moulding themselves into somebody else," Sturmer said.

While the apps make dating "much more accessible for everyone," Sturmer added how the endless amount of choice and activity can make it "easy to get sucked into a frenzy of swiping and dating."

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

One of the "boysober" rules is "no situationships" which refers to a romantic relationship where commitment hasn't been established.

Keeley Taverner, an expert on toxic relationships believes casual relationships like this and "friends with benefits," have contributed to women choosing to remain single.

"The bare bones of it is due to a tiredness of 'friends with benefits,'" she said and described the trend as a "declaration of not giving into lust and is a powerful way to regain personal power, exercise self-discipline and take back control.

"It means time and energy can be channeled into personal development without the drain of fret and worry that can be all-consuming when dating in modern times (two blue ticks, 'he didn't reply'. He's online, 'why hasn't he got back to me?' He's on insta. 'Why is he ignoring me?') Everything is energy."

But we also have to look at the online content we consume, where many viral videos are all about personal first-hand experiences with toxic relationships, a prime example being Reesa Teesa's recent viral 50-part series "Who TF Did I Marry" about her ex-husband, as well as highlighting red flags in reality dating shows like Netflix'sLove Is Blind.

"It’s good news that women are turning boysober. For too long badly behaved men have held the power in dating and relationships," life coach at Banish London Louise Tullin told indy100.

"In a world where ghosting on dating apps is common and many women are treated poorly, time out allows women to have space to think, focus on friendships and enjoy hobbies they love."

However, going "boysober" is easier said than done - so how do women begin to prioritise themselves over male validation?

"This journey begins with introspection—understanding personal values and finding joy in one's own accomplishments and happiness outside of external validation," Besbrode said on this subject matter.

"Engaging in activities that boost self-esteem and offer personal satisfaction is key. Whether it's pursuing hobbies, focusing on career goals, or indulging in self-care, the aim is to appreciate one's own company and achievements, realising that true validation comes from within, not from the approval of others."

While Sturmer noted: "Spending time with good friends can uplift us, and remind us that we are valued by other people. And tuning into any negative voices or internal criticism can help us to understand whether we are judging ourselves, based on the validation that we feel, or perceive, from those around us."

"It’s a cliche but it’s true - you need to love yourself to be in the best position to find a partner who truly deserves you," Tullin similarly echoed. "Taking a break can help you focus on what you really want from a relationship and the ideal traits you are looking for."

Taverner concluded: "Validation of self is the revolution and comes with backlash. That can strengthen you. But can be crippling.

"Giving oneself space and time to build self-esteem is fundamental to healthy relationships."

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