Life

Hey Man: I Know I’m a Fuckboy – How Can I Change?

Plus: dear men, this is how to take a good nude.
November 12, 2020, 9:00am
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Photo: VICE
‘Hey Man’ is a personal advice column about guys, by guys. Need help? Email HeyMan@vice.com.

Hey man, I'm dating a few people at the moment. I keep getting with them because I'm afraid of letting them down. I know what I'm doing is bad in the long term, but in the short term I can't seem to reasonably be able to stop. What's the right way of going about this? Basically, how do I stop being a fuckboy? 

Hey man, thanks for writing in and recognising the need to grow in this area. Most men hide away from learning to have potentially painful conversations. We allow things to fizzle out while dating until we eventually find the right person and do our best to keep things going. The fizzling out part sucks. It’s especially unfair on the other person and it means you’re spending your days carrying a heavy ball of guilt. So you’re right, we do need to stop being fuckboys. But how?

The A to Z of Fuckboys

The main associations of the fuckboy are ghosting just about everyone you realise you don’t like, or sleeping with people you have no intention of dating – he is a fuckboy, a boy who fucks. There’s a nuance we need to explore with the latter, which is that it’s fine to fuck around if the other person also has no intention of dating. So, really, being a fuckboy isn’t about what you do (i.e. fuck) – it’s about not making your intentions clear.

If you’re looking for casual hook-ups, then just be sure the other person is 1) explicitly aware of that, 2) okay with that and are not holding out for the possibility of something else, especially if you’re adamant that you won’t be changing your mind. If you’re not sure on what you want yourself, take things slower. Find out what it is you want before you act. If you both just want to fuck, then you’re not reasonably going to be called a fuckboy for it.

Going back to your fear of letting someone down: what are you letting them down from? If you’re dating a few people, it’s fair to assume they are too. While your compassionate instincts are good, they’re misguided. Dating coach Kate Mansfield suggests reframing the scenario where you know you don’t like them as: “You're stopping them from meeting someone who might actually be interested in them. Cutting things off is setting the other person free to go and find actual love.”

Applying this mantra should help when it comes to the people you know you don’t like. This doesn’t mean your work is over. The sourness people can feel after a breakup are almost always over “how” it happens, not the actual breaking up. So if you’re at the stage where you know you don’t like them, and where you’ve been getting with them despite knowing this, you can’t be a dick about it. You cannot shy away from telling them the truth. Nicely.

How you tell them is simple. The “reason” for ending something is usually made way too complicated. The fact is: you’re no longer into them. You do not need to tell them what it is about them you don’t like – never do that. What you dislike is your problem, not theirs. So assess why you don’t think it’s working out. Perhaps the other dates you’re going on are more fun and you want to focus on them, or you don’t see your lifestyle aligning with this person (a nicer way of saying you’re starting to find the chat a bit dull).

When you’ve made it clear to yourself why you want to move on, just tell them. Mansfield says that in the earlier stages of dating a text or a phone call – if you’ve actually had a phone call – is more than fine. “We need to learn to stop taking things so personally. I mean, if someone you've never met rejects you, it's not a personal rejection. We've got to grow a little bit of resilience.” 

Take comfort in the fact that as long as you are honest, polite and clear, then you’re doing the right thing. Similarly, if you’re on the receiving end of being dumped, accept it. Thank them for their transparency. Though let’s be honest, it’s straight cis men who generally don’t know how to do this. 

They're the ones who tend to be less upfront about intentions, and then resort to silence. Whether it’s a fear of conflict or some machismo necessity to not let the other person down, it can feel incredibly difficult to break things off. But it’s time to get to the point and allow everyone to free up their brain for something that will actually work out. Surely you owe them that much?

You’ll feel better for it, I’m sure. Good luck, man.

Hey man, how do I take a good nude? 

Hey man! This an overdue question, men are not the best at selfies. A quick comparison of what you send versus what you receive will tell you how bad you are at nudes, too. How many of you know which angles and poses make you look best? Very few of you, and that’s just making your face look good, let alone your entire body.  

To answer this question, I figured I’m best off asking a few people who enjoy receiving nudes from men what they like and dislike. Of course, every person is into different things, so it’s best to get an idea of what the recipient of your nudes likes to achieve the best results. 

As a primer though, Beth, a straight woman, is keen to stress a non-sexual aspect – she likes nudes because they offer a glimpse into your room or bathroom. “A messy background or an unwashed sink just ruins the vibe,” she says. “Tatty old boxers are an instant turn off. And I’d prefer it to be slightly shaved. I basically don’t want it to look like it’s just been whipped out for this photo. I’d rather have a good recycled nude than that.” 

Bex, a bi woman, is also quick to say that effort is essential. “Nudes are an art form. Don’t just pull your trackies or boxers down and take a photo like I'm an afterthought.” On the technical side, Bex says, “the lighting is also important. Don’t send grainy pictures, but also never use flash. Ambience, please”. 

Professional nude photographer Rosie Foster says “natural lighting is my personal preference. A softer vibe is generally more attractive. In terms of positioning, standing or mirror selfies work well. If you’re sitting or lying and just pointing down at your genitals it doesn’t look great. You also don’t want to be too close up on the genitals”.    

Tom, a gay man, has similar views: “The worst thing to get sent is a fucking disembodied cock that's just floating in mid-air. It's usually in really bad lighting, you can't really see anything beyond it being angry and red,” he says, “Seeing someone's full naked body is better. One guy sent a full body shot with an emoji over his dick, which I liked.”  

In conclusion the key to taking a good nude is to just be diligent about it. People want natural lighting, nice underwear and a clean space. For those with penises, avoid snapping a picture of a red-raw dick, or worse still, a flaccid one – three of the four people I spoke to have received flaccid dick pictures and none were into it. Faces should be avoided, partly for your own safety if anything ever leaks, but also because your facial expression generally makes for horrific viewing if you’re concentrating on taking the nude.

Also, consider having good nudes to hand. Rosie says she uses “film because it’s more flattering on the skin. You could get someone to help you do that? Do men photograph men naked? Maybe they should”. Maybe they should! Some people did say they were less into receiving a recycled nude, but it’s probably going to be better than a floating dick. 

Finally, if you haven’t received any indication from them that they want a dick pic, do not send them a dick pic. There is nothing worse than sending an unsolicited dick pic.

Best wishes, man.

@rhysthomas