Boysober: This Year’s Hottest Mental Health Trend

Posted on February 26th, 2024
Two young ladies laughing in the sunset with ice coffee and one blowing a bubble

You’d be forgiven for wondering what the heck this latest “boysober” trend is. You’ve probably seen snippets of it on the news, on social media platforms, or heard people talking about it in passing, but unless you’re a woman in her early 20s, then chances are you’ve not been too exposed to it.

American comedian Hope Woodard coined the term, and she now describes the experience once a month in a comedy and storytelling show at a venue in Brooklyn, New York. So, what exactly is this new trend all about? What is the history behind it, and why are so many people jumping on the bandwagon?

Let’s take a look.

What is “Boysober”

As mentioned, Hope Woodward brought up the term “boysober” in a comedy show late in 2023, and she probably didn’t expect to get the reaction following that she did. Simply put, Ms. Woodward said she was taking a step back from the dating world for 365 days. She would not be engaging in any sexual relationships, friends with benefits, or ‘situationships’ (casual sexual relations) for the next year.

With half a million followers across TikTok and Instagram, her message went viral, with many of her followers swearing to join on her on the journey.

Why Are Women So Keen to Go Boysober?

Woodward admittedly spent most of her life in some form of dependent relationship, and she considered many of the ‘relationships’ she had in her 20s as relatively toxic. She realized that one-night stands weren’t what they were cracked up to be, and the ‘men’ she was seeing thought of spending time with her as nothing more than frivolous trysts.

She wanted to break the mold of yoyoing between unhealthy relationship patterns that had been passed through generations of women. Like many traditional families, she was raised to please others, and saying no doesn’t come easily.

This story is achingly familiar across the world in the 20-something demographic. Young women are tired of letting their feelings and needs be dictated by immature partners. So, they have taken the step to stay away from bad relationships for a year.

Isn’t It the Same as Being Celibate?

There are subtle but very important differences that make being boysober more of a rebrand than an exact replica of celibacy.

First, Woodward hates the word celibacy. She believes that the religious and societal weight that the word connotes is simply not what she is going for. Celibacy has a feeling of suppression and oppression, whereas being boysober is a form of self-empowerment. She explained, “There’s a purity aspect to it that still centers men, like you’re celibate until you find someone, whereas “boysober” means to really detach from men and male validation.”

She has put together a set of rules to guide her on her year away from the dating scene that other people can also apply to themselves:

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

Founder of The Matchmaker UK, Lara Besbrode, responded to the trend, stating that women want to go boysober “for self-sufficiency and personal empowerment.”

“Women are making a conscious decision to prioritize their well-being and achievements, find joy and fulfillment in their independence, and reshape societal expectations about happiness and relationship status,” she said.

Is It a Good Trend?

While there are undoubtedly a couple of noses put out of joint with regard to this new trend that’s becoming more predominant in young women, there are aspects to it that are overwhelmingly positive.

It’s wonderful that they are taking the time to get in touch with themselves and what they want, as well as spending time nurturing platonic relationships with close friends. What I love the most about this trend is that it’s about unlearning unhealthy relationship patterns and self-empowerment.

That being said, not all young men are immature and unavailable, and this could push them to join in on any unnecessary backlash that the trend provokes.

Rather, I think it’s a good time for everyone to take stock of what it is that they want out of a relationship, what they’d like to offer to the other person in a relationship, and what work they need to do on themselves to put their best foot forward when they do decide to get back into the dating ring.

This trend has emerged at a time when Gen Z twentysomethings are breaking the mold we associate with their age groups. They are drinking less, clubbing less, and having less sex than the generation before them did at their age.

I hope that the boysober trend benefits everyone’s mental health and well-being. Young women can learn to value and respect themselves without male validation, while young men can step up to become role models and emotionally mature partners.
Whether it’s under the boysober term or not, there’s nothing wrong with people of any gender taking time out of the dating scene to work on themselves.

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