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The ‘Broke Boyfriend Hug’: How Men Expect to Be Babied

Spoiler Alert – It actually has nothing to do with him being broke.

Weaponized incompetence is trending on tiktok
The Broke Boyfriend Hug. Credit: @maiabemtbc / TikTok @97honestav / TikTok @momcomnyc / TikTok

Let me introduce you to the ‘Broke Boyfriend Hug.’ It will happen whenever you, the girlfriend, are paying for something that he should be paying for.

We’re not talking about dates here. No, we’re talking about buying him his own groceries. Can you spell ‘Weaponized Incompetence’?

We’re not mocking poverty

Before we get into it, let me make it very clear that this trend is not about the man not being able to afford things. This trend should not be used to mock people for not being able to afford things. We’re in a cost-of-living crisis, so let’s have a little compassion.

What is the ‘Broke Boyfriend Hug’?

Now that’s clear, what is the ‘Broke Boyfriend Hug’? This ‘Hug’ has been trending on TikTok. It refers to a specific hug performed by (mostly) men. This hug occurs while you are paying for something that he should be buying.

While you’re trying to get your card out, your boyfriend will lean ALL his body weight on your back, wrapping his arms around you from behind. Nice and suffocating. When they are expecting their (often female) partners to buy something.

@97honestav #fyp #taxszn ♬ original sound – Av

Leave your gender roles at the door

I can hear you already. ‘Men shouldn’t have to pay for everything!’ ‘Wow, women expect never to pay!’. To this, I say read on.

Of course, in an equal relationship, things should be split evenly. Let’s not forget, however, that in the U.S., women are paid an average of 83.7 percent as much as men. The gender pay gap is still alive and well. But either way, most people split things equally.

Of course, in an equal relationship, things should be split evenly.

This trend is not about the woman paying for the date fairly. No, this trend is about the man asking the woman to buy something he should be buying. We’re talking about his weekly shop: his cereal, his milk.

This trend is not mocking relationships where the woman is the higher earner. Instead, the trend highlights the many pressures placed upon women and the invisible labor that they do.

Women are forced to juggle mutliple roles because of men's weaponized incompetence
Women are forced to juggle multiple roles
Image Credit: Anastasiia Pavlyuk/ Shutterstock

What is Invisible Labor?

Invisible labor refers to any work that goes unnoticed, including in the workplace. The term was first coined by sociologist Arlene Kaplan in 1987.

@corporategirltori Replying to @neo_etherion ♬ original sound – Corporate Girl Tori

However, it is most often used to talk about domestic chores and the role expectations placed upon women.

Invisible labor describes the household chores that often go unrecognized because they are so common. This can include laundry, child care, grocery shopping, and cooking dinner.

Often these chores fall upon women to do because men have been taught that this is not their role.

@world.shaker Let’s realign those expectations buddy #momsoftiktok #dadsoftiktok #men #women #fairplay #relationship #parents ♬ original sound – World Shaker

What does TikTok have to say on the ‘Broke Boyfriend Hug’?

TikTok has been criticizing the Broke Boyfriend Hug because it can be symptomatic of abusive behavior. In particular, weaponized incompetence.

Like the term ‘invisible labor,’ weaponized incompetence has become something of a buzzword on TikTok.

TikTok is using things like the Broke Boyfriend Hig trend to raise awareness for different, subtle forms of abuse.

Weaponized incompetence is a normalized form of abuse.
Weaponized incompetence is a normalized form of abuse
Image Credit: Garder Elena/Shutterstock

What is ‘Weaponized Incompetence’?

Weaponized incompetence has been a buzzword on TikTok. But what actually is it?

Weaponized incompetence is when someone does something poorly on purpose or claims they don’t know how to do something. This is done so that they can place the burden on someone else.

This often happens in cis-hetero relationships where the man pretends he is incapable of washing up a dish or putting his dirty socks in the laundry basket.

Weaponized incompetence can be seen as a form of gaslighting. Gaslighting is when the abuser manipulates the victim into questioning their own sanity.

Because of this, it can be difficult for a victim of weaponized incompetence to realize that they are being manipulated.

So how is the ‘Broke Boyfriend Hug’ a form of Weaponized Incompetence?

The hug is symptomatic of men relying on their female partners to baby them. By pretending they cannot buy things, they are forcing women to do it for them.

These purchases are often related to household chores, like grocery shopping. The boyfriend hug highlights how men rely on women to look after them thoroughly.

There’s no wonder so many women don’t want to have children. They already have a baby to take care of. Their own boyfriend

This sort of behavior is causing many women to leave these relationships as they should!

TikTok is helping women stand up to abuse

@allyrooker #stitch with @8bitbetty yet another this is why they wanna ban tiktok video #invisiblelabor #feminism #tiktokban #rant ♬ original sound – Ally Rooker

Without TikTok, many people would not know that there is a name for gaslighting, weaponized incompetence, and invisible labor.

While these terms can become ‘buzzwords’ and get overused or misapplied, they name to subtle abuse that people are experiencing.

This can help people to realize that they are being abused and help them get the support they need. Without knowing these terms, it can be tough to articulate what is going on.

Trends like the ‘Broke Boyfriend Hug’ helps victims of abuse to realize that they are not alone and access help.

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Written By

Hi, I'm Laura. I'm the managing editor for Trill Mag, where I love developing pitches, editing articles and writing my own. I'm studying English Literature at the University of York, where I am the deputy editor for the university newspaper, York Vision.

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