I recently came across a TikToker who said she simply wants to date a guy with a low Snapchat score, and honestly, I don’t blame her. In an era where social media rules everything and you can Instagram stalk just about anyone, Gen Z is embracing an even more attractive idea when it comes to dating: the offline boyfriend. According to many TikTokers, it’s more refreshing than ever to date someone who isn’t online 24/7. And honestly, I’m here for it.
Allow me to introduce you to this hot, intriguing offline guy, alternatively referred to as the “normcore” boyfriend. Not only does he have a low Snapchat score, but he’s notoriously not online, ever, and tends to rarely post on social media. In fact, he may not have social media at all. If the dude has any hint of online presence, you won’t find many pictures of him, and if you do, they’re likely of the back of his head, or of something completely unrelated to the information you’re trying to stalk him for.
TikTokers like Madison Herrera are all about the idea — one of her videos, posted last month, says, “When [you’re] the only girl he follows on Instagram” followed by celebratory dancing. Same with creator @layarenae_, whose caption reads, “When he has less than 1k on Insta and never posts.” I don’t know about you, but I’m sensing a trend. We’re even seeing the rise of the offline boyfriend in the context of celebrity couples (think: Ariana Grande’s husband, Dalton Gomez, or Meryl Streep’s non-famous husband who I desperately want to know more about).
Regardless of celeb status, offline boyfriends are notoriously not in the spotlight. They aren’t posting weekly thirst traps or shooting videos of their daily routines. I would imagine that instead, they are out in the world living their damn lives, perhaps blissfully unaware that the rest of the world is obsessed with the fact that they aren’t online right now. TikToker @soundslikepetra shares a fabulous example of this by documenting the moment her (very) offline boyfriend says that “good 4 u” is sung by Ashlee Simpson. Bless.
For some women, trying to date someone and noticing they are “offline” is a red flag. “I literally will not trust that I’m not being catfished,” says Laryn. But for others like Maggie, the offline boyfriend is totally attractive. “Every guy I’ve hooked up with (minus one) has been ‘offline,’ now that I think about it,” she tells Her Campus. “I think [being online] could be attractive if you’re running a business on social media — okay, fine, it’s part of the job — but I could never date an influencer or someone who is obsessed with social.”
Despite my ongoing love for celebrity couples in the wild (Zoë and Channing, I’m rooting for you!) I definitely think there’s an appeal to dating someone who’s not online and visible 24/7. Maybe it’s the fact that the person seems cool and enigmatic (one of my goals in life, except I’m a writer and constantly liking memes online, so not likely), or that I assume a person might be more low-maintenance if they aren’t obsessing over their feed all day. Of course, all of this can be argued, and certainly doesn’t just apply to “boyfriends,” men, and heteronormative relationships. However, every time I hear about the whole “normcore, offline” boyfriend thing, something about it feels strangely comforting.
For women like Emily, having a partner who rarely uses social media is exactly that: comforting. She tells Her Campus, “When I met my current boyfriend, I loved the fact that he rarely uses social media. He’s a ‘normcore’ boyfriend through and through, and in return, it’s made me kind of a ‘normcore girlfriend!’”
Since adapting to the normcore lifestyle, Emily has felt a huge shift from her past relationship experiences where social media was a toxic influence. “My last boyfriend was super big with social media,” she tells Her Campus. “I eventually found out that he was using it to cheat on me — I became really untrusting, and even started using my own social media more frequently so I could continue to post to ‘show off that he was mine.’ It was obviously super unhealthy for me to do that, and I created a really poisonous relationship with social media.”
For Emily, being a “normcore girlfriend” means that social media is far more enjoyable now. She says, “Now, when I do [post], it’s not because I’m trying to prove something — it’s because I genuinely want to share it! All in all, I’m 100% here for having a normcore boyfriend, and 110% here for being a normcore girlfriend.” You love to see it.
When it comes to dating, perhaps the reason I love the “offline boyfriend” idea the most is that — at least in my opinion — there’s a reduced chance of feeling insecure, obsessing over a person’s online activity, wasting time on endless Instagram stalking, or constantly wondering who’s in his DMs. Maybe it feels refreshing when a guy isn’t online all day, and is focused on real life (or so it appears), or maybe it feels like one less thing to stress about in a new relationship. Then again, doesn’t this all speak to the sad truth that social media will always have some significant impact on our dating lives? Sigh.
The love for offline boyfriends continues, and I’m interested to see how long it’ll last. Bella Hadid recently debuted her new boyfriend, Marc Kalman, on Instagram after supposedly dating in secret for a year. Then, there was Issa Rae, who posted pics from her wedding in the South of France to Louis Diame — truly a top-tier offline boyfriend, considering he only has LinkedIn (it’s private) and their long-term relationship has been kept under wraps for years. One of my favorite singers, BANKS, recently introduced her new boo on the ‘gram, to which musician Kito responded: “We love a boyfriend reveal!” This whole thing has me thinking that the “offline boyfriend” phenomenon is here to stay. After all, we love a good mystery.