frat boys vs men: the real difference between them and how to steer clear of toxic relationships

When I first read this question posed to me by a reader, I laughed aloud because the truth is…I was the f-boy’s biggest fan until fairly recently in my life. The question posed to me was this — how do we distinguish between boys and men? Between the frat bros who won’t even order you an Uber home and the gentlemen who will take you to breakfast in the morning, who will treat you with genuine respect and courtesy? In her words, she wanted to know how to tell between good guys and “the ones who make you cry all the time.”

While my history of dating choices has not been particularly successful or fruitful thus far, I will say that my exposure to the full breadth of the male character has left me with a pretty good grip on when to put your best flirt forward versus when to grab your heels and run as fast as you f&^king can.

Interestingly, when I was younger, I resented the term “f**kboy.” Having grown up with big brothers whom I adored and then finding guy friends who are some of the most honorable and respectful men I know, I thought it was unfair to label a boy with such an ugly word just because he might have hurt girls’ feelings once or twice. This, my friends, was before I learned…before I became acquainted with the true f-boy in all his heart-stomping, backwards-hat-wearing, steroid-riddled glory.

To put it as simply as possible, the difference between a real man and an f-boy is confidence. A man who will treat you with respect and dignity, who will open the car door for you and ask you about your day with genuine interest, is a truly confident human being. He has nothing to prove by belittling you or trying to look like a badass in front of his friends because he is sure of himself without all that. The way he measures his worth isn’t tied to anything or anybody but himself and and his own actions.

An f-boy, however, is the opposite. To make sure I’m using the term clearly and fairly, I want to provide some examples to really pinpoint the type of guy I’m talking about. I’m talking about that guy who texted you every day and invited you to date party just to fall off the face of the earth and ignore your existence the moment y’all actually…you know. The one that has hooked up with three girls who have been lifelong best friends within a month of each other when he could have chosen from a pool of literally eleven thousand other girls. The one who texts you he misses you once every month or so just to keep you on the line and playing his mind games. I could go on, but is there really a college-aged American in 2020 who is unfamiliar with the fuckboy?

You see, f-boys began as your average, confused youth grappling with his identity and trying to find where he belongs in the world just like the rest of us. As a male human, however, he was given a specific template (*ahem* cultural construct) to fulfill, a very basic and rudimentary idea of what makes a man. Men rule the material world. The history of humankind is the history of men’s power over things — places, people, traditions. If an alien who had never seen Earth got the Sparknotes on human history, it would know the human man as the head of the house, the provider, the one in control of the material conditions and family around him. F-boys are young guys who are influenced by this construct, who learn to emulate this dynamic of “power over” other people and things, and then they find that that lifestyle suits their needs.

If a boy is insecure, if he is uncertain of the way to prove his masculinity, then he is much more easily threatened than a man with self-assurance is. F-boys fall into such disrespectful and, frankly, disgusting behavior toward women because they base their identities on this very primal idea of “manhood = power over others.” They are so desperate to cling to that power and the confidence it gives them that they will go to extreme lengths to preserve that power, whether it be by belittling a girl or getting in a bar fight for no reason whatsoever. It’s all a power play meant to assuage their underlying insecurity.

As women and potential romantic partners, we represent the soft, vulnerable, and emotional parts of being human. In the f-boy’s shaky grip on his identity, he cannot afford to allow any threat to his power grow. His instinct is to stomp out anything that may threaten his fragile armor. Pushing women down becomes his soul’s sustenance; it’s from humiliating and subjugating others that he gleans his sense of self-worth. That’s why his guard is always up. That’s why he balks the second emotions creep into the picture. He doesn’t feel confident in himself for being kind to others, for doing well in school or work, for being a true man. He feels confident only insofar as he can prove that he still has the power to manipulate and control the greatest threat to his ego, women.

It’s the f-boy’s insecurity that perpetuates this toxic saga of frat bro and broken-hearted girl. What makes an f-boy an f-boy isn’t that he is totally emotionless or that you weren’t good enough to change him…it’s that he is emotional, and he is fragile, but he has to continuously build and reinforce this iron facade, this strong armor to protect himself from confronting any sensitivity or “weakness” within himself, from confronting those parts of himself that are really human.

A real man, in contrast, can be open, honest, loving, respectful, and vulnerable with you because he isn’t scared that sharing those parts of himself will jeopardize his manhood. The fuckboy, however, has built his self-image on being the opposite with a big, “tough” bully exterior to protect and hide his underlying sensitivity and emotionality. His true self. So let’s pray for the fuckboys ladies!

I don’t mean to just roast the absolute H-E-double hockey sticks out of them, but I mean I feel like they have done enough damage to the millennial female population to deserve some well-researched backlash. I want to round out this puppy with some red flags to be on the look out for if you’re suspicious you may have in fact landed yourself with the dreaded frat monster (even if they’re like 27, they can still act like frat boys…it’s so yuck).

  1. If he takes a reaaaaally long time to respond, like a half a day, then just stop talking to him. He either just isn’t that interested or the type to play mind games, and you don’t need either of those.
  2. If he has hooked up with more than seven girls in your pledge class, steer clear sister.
  3. If you’ve ever seen or heard of him trying to go home with somebody else’s date besides his own, sayonara!
  4. If he is over the age of 22 and still uses the word “pledge” ever, in any context, RUN.
  5. If he has a confederate flag in his room…come on.
  6. If he brags to you about bar fights, he probably has parked in several handicapped spots in his life. GTFO.
  7. If he takes you to Logan’s Steakhouse on a first date…say thank you and leave the state immediately.
  8. Oh this is a big one — IF HE SAYS HIS EX IS CRAZY WITHIN THE FIRST THREE HANG OUTS, HE IS GOING TO SAY IT ABOUT YOU GIRL. He’s also just openly telling you that he has made girls so mad in the past that they’ve had the audacity (*eye roll*) to call him out on his B.S. Hasta la vista!
  9. If he brings up high school sports without asking him about it, I would consider this a yellow flag. Be on high alert.
  10. If he texts you after 10 pm…I mean you can do it if you want, but I’m warning you.
  11. If he was really hot in high school, this is another reason to be on high alert. Many times they never had to form a personality if they were naturally born hot, and they may have inborn cockiness. There are definitely exceptions to this, but just wanting to be as informative as possible!

Hope this helps girly pops! I loved coming to this realization that the boys who get off on being mean to girls are just admitting that they’re insecure and threatened 🙂 keep fighting the good fight, lady friends.


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