From simps to softboys: defining Gen-Z dating slang. Picture:
From simps to softboys: defining Gen-Z dating slang. Picture:

From simps to softboys: defining Gen Z dating slang

By Sacha van Niekerk Time of article published Jan 22, 2021

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From softboys to simps, here’s what you need to know about Gen Z dating culture.

Just like the generations that came before them with phrases like “as if”, “duh”, “tea”, and “on fleek”, Gen Z also have their own unique way of speaking.

Seen mainly on apps dominated by this next generation to populate social media – sites like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok are hotbeds for the creation and evolution of slang serving as the perfect source to learn all about the latest lingo.

One category in particular seems to have attracted the most unusual slang phrases.

With dating forming a significant aspect of most people’s lives, it seems as a society that we can’t help but make up our own words to describe relationships and the kinds of people one might encounter while on the search of an SO.

From “baes” to “bad boys”, we’ve all had our fair share of dating wins and woes, but as a greater number of Gen Zers are entering the dating pool, it might be time to brush up on your lingo if you want to stay in the loop.

Gen-Z dating slang you need to know:


Gatekeepers of “underground” music, lovers of literature (especially the likes of “Catcher In The Rye”) and common users of the phrase “you’re not like other girls''.

In short, this category of men lauds their knowledge of various alternative interests to appear superior to others.

You’ll spot softboys on dating apps quizzing girls on anything they claim to like or enjoy whether it’s gaming, a TV show or even academic topics.

They’ll woo their suitors by exposing their soft and sensitive side.

Writing poetry, sharing their favourite playlist on Spotify and most importantly, buttering their new SO up by showering them with compliments and attention.

But, under all of it, they’re still the modern definition of a f***boy.

If you’ve been fortunate enough not to come across one of these men, a few cinematic examples are Warner, Matthew Davis’s character in “Legally Blonde” or Ben, Bradley Cooper’s character in “He’s Just Not That Into You”.


The Oxford Dictionary defines a ‘simp’ is shortened from ‘simpleton’ which describes a person as being silly or foolish.

In today’s slang, it’s a little different but not too far off.

You may have seen this term used by Gen Zers in both an affectionate manner but also to call out anyone who pines over someone who refuses to return their affections.

They may act desperate, at times going out of their way for their unrequited lover.

While that might sound romantic to some, it’s basically the Gen Z version of the infamous ‘nice guy’ who often gets walked all over.

However, in some ways, a simp can be a good thing.

For couples in a committed relationship, they’ve come to own the term ‘simp’ saying that they feel honoured to go out of their way for their SO.

Urban Dictionary definitions with the most up votes can be used to outline the characteristics of a simp:

  • A guy that is overly desperate for women, especially if she is a bad person.
  • Someone who does way too much for a person they like.
  • A person who puts romantic partners before their friends on a regular basis.
  • Expressing great appreciation for someone to the point of putting them on a pedestal, can be used in both the platonic and/or romantic sense.
  • A person who prides themselves in behaving in a chivalrous manner but only in hopes of getting sexual gratification.

A textbook example of a simp portrayed in a popular movie is Tom, the character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, from “500 Days Of Summer”.

He pines after a rather uninterested Summer (Zooey Deschanel) who makes it abundantly clear from the beginning that she is not interested in a relationship.

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