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‘Boysober’: Women give up ‘hot summer’ for celibacy.

‘Boysober’: Women give up ‘hot summer’ for celibacy.

Lifestyle influencer and college student Niy Johnson, 23, decided to go “boysub” at the end of the school year.

She is not alone.

2019 was the beginning of the “hot girl summer,” a term coined by Megan Thee Stallion in her hit song of the same name. Five years later, we’ve entered the era of “boy summer.”

Single women have jumped on the bandwagon of abstaining from any romantic or sexual relationships with men, including dating and casual hookups. Therapists say the emergence of the boysober movement points to a larger trend of young women withdrawing from sex and relationships, and a new perspective on voluntary celibacy.

More and more women are withdrawing from dating. Here’s why.

Trauma and relationship therapist Jordan Pickell says most of her single clients have “completely stopped dating” in the past year, with even more doing so in the past few months.

With the rise of online dating, more and more women are experiencing burnout.

“Dating apps take up a lot of time, money and energy, and in return people get unsatisfying and sometimes even harmful experiences,” he says.

Many of her clients admit that they put a lot of effort into creating their dating profiles, but in return, they receive little effort from the men they want to date.

Shadeen Francis, a marriage and family therapist and certified sexologist, believes that “boyssober” is the opposite of “boyscratch,” a narrative that often portrays women as desperate or obsessed with the need for approval from men.

Francis says that for young women in their 20s and 25s, what’s cool about dating has little to do with who their potential partner is. In the case of online dating, in particular, people can idealize a person without knowing anything about them.

“(Young women) love to fantasize and dream about what could be and what is possible, and they often find that talking to that person ruins everything,” she says. “They love to go back and talk to their friends about their experiences, but the actual interactions they have in those romantic or sexual situations are often disappointing, confusing, or overwhelming, and sometimes in dangerous contexts.”

What’s it like to be sober?

Johnson and her best friend joked that they had never been single at the same time. Once her friend started getting more serious about her partner, Johnson realized she was in a place where she wanted to be “the exact opposite of that.”

“I’m such a loving girl. It’s not that I’m always looking for relationships, but I don’t mind dating and meeting people,” she says. “I wouldn’t say my friends criticized me, and if they did, it was because they didn’t think I could handle it.”

However, after three months, it turned out to be easier than she expected – she even called it “fun.”

Before she got sober, Johnson ended a two-year relationship and another serious relationship that followed. When dating, she was “always that friend who was with her boyfriend” and felt her female friendships were suffering.

“I was so wrapped up in my boyfriend,” she says, adding that he would accompany her to meet friends. “It can be a little annoying to have friends like that, and I didn’t want to be that friend. I wanted to be a good friend, not just a friend who focused on her relationship.”

She also had a history of being stuck in unsatisfying relationships.

Since becoming sober, she has learned to set boundaries and decentralize the men and dating in her life.

“I feel very comfortable not talking to guys, being in a relationship, looking for a relationship and not looking for male approval,” she says.

How does this differ from voluntary celibacy?

For Johnson, becoming sober was a “fun version of celibacy” because it involved all the same things as celibacy, but “in an exciting way.”

Francis says the language we use actually has a deeper meaning and reflects the communal aspect that makes boys’ sobriety so appealing to young women.

While celibacy is based on abstinence, sobriety is about having a “clear head.”

“The language is very much about reclaiming that energy for yourself,” she says. “You can still be a sexual or sensual being, even if you’re no longer seeking or trying to get attention from your partners.”

“Boysober” also moves away from the historical context of celibacy, which Francis said was often linked to “chastity, external powers, and proving or earning something.”

What is voluntary celibacy? The Sexual Power of Saying “No”

Changing How Single Feels

Pickell says women are redefining what it means to be single.

“(Being single) is not something to be ashamed of. It doesn’t mean there’s any lack, but it’s a choice based on power,” she says. “By going boyober, women are actively pushing men out of their lives and instead of trying to please them, they’re taking a step back.”

Through this intentional break, some of Pickell’s clients realized they were homosexual and were able to begin to explore their sexuality.

“We can get so caught up in the game of compulsory heterosexuality that we don’t necessarily realize or consider the idea of ​​dating people other than men,” she says.

Does the “boyssober” trend have a future?

Pickell and Francis say that like most trends, sobriety among boys will come and go because most people ultimately still want romantic relationships.

Johnson has set a goal to stay sober through the summer, and while she plans to continue that plan, she says she’ll be open to dating after that if she meets the right person.

“I really care about building a strong and meaningful bond and friendship with the person I choose to be close to in the future,” she says.

By becoming sober, she became more aware of what she expected from a future partner and feels more confident about entering into more satisfying relationships in the future.

Even if it’s just temporary, Johnson recommends anyone struggling with their need for acceptance stop being a boyfriend and “put that energy back into yourself.”

Pickell and Francis are also on board.

“When (young women) almost inevitably go back out into the world and look for dating and relationships,” Francis says, “they can have clearer boundaries and stand up for what they want out of a partnership, and feel less overwhelmed or caught up in the drama of it all.”