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Perhaps that’s why “softboy” seems to be very specific to Western men and boys, but the K-pop influence is also very apparent.“I think there’s so many ways that K-pop is going to influence the West, and already is, visually and in how people treat their perception of what music is,” she said.“You see [how] all these Instagram hypebeasts dressing like K-idols have been dressing for months.” No matter where it’s coming from, each incarnation represents an eschewing of traditional masculinity.

The results may be mixed, but the intentions line up.“There’s a rejection of the traditional toxic masculinity by the younger generation, which I think is worldwide, but that has to do with why this aesthetic is so appealing,” said Belinky.

Finally, he gets you back to his apartment, which consists of a twin mattress on the floor next to a dirty bong and a pile of old skin mags he refers to as “vintage.” After a night of mediocre sex he fails to text you back for two weeks before finally sending you an overwrought yet vague message about his creative process at 2 a.m. This fuckboy "softboy" is almost always cisgender and straight and universally loathed by the twentysomething single women who date them.

Of all the softboys, they’ve gotten the most press.

In South Korea, said Belinky, “It’s more accessible for people to see boys enjoying fashion and looks and changing their hair without it being a gimmick or something like that.” But in the US, for example, it’s hard to get away with that without having a label forced on you.For trans boys and men, he’s an identity to be claimed with pride by those who don’t fit a particular mold.Even the most recent softboy wouldn’t exist without the growing influence of K-pop.On your first date he orders a fruity cocktail (“So-called girly drinks just taste better, you know?”) and tells you he thinks the Fifty Shades series represents unethical BDSM. The only difference is that he had a soft exterior and just enough of a hint of depth that you got tricked.

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