Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

Emotionally distant boyfriends had their time to shine, but that’s come and gone. These days, everyone seems to want a “golden retriever boyfriend,” and we have Taylor Swift to thank for that.

Talk of golden retriever boyfriends ― preternaturally pleasant, laid-back guys who remind you of the beloved dog breed ― has been bubbling up online for a few years. And there’s no shortage of golden retriever boyfriends, or GRBs, in pop culture. Joey Tribbiani from “Friends”? Big GRB energy. Puddy from “Seinfeld”? Oh, yeah, babe, he’s a GRB. Channing Tatum, just as a person? GRB!

Still, no man, fictive or real, has ever radiated such golden golden retriever energy as Travis Kelce, the Kansas City Chiefs tight end and Swift’s much memed-about boyfriend.

In typo-filled tweets from years ago, he waxes poetic about squirrels, Chipotle and his desire to “vibe to the scenary.” (Some old fat-phobic tweets surfaced too ― which, admittedly, is not great, but it sounds like he’s grown since then.)

On a podcast that he hosts with his brother, fellow NFL star Jason Kelce, they come across as two bros you wouldn’t mind having an IPA with ― even if they’re discussing their pregame bathroom rituals between rounds.

When Travis Kelce talks about Swift, he seems to have a sweet, almost dogged devotion to the pop star. They may gotten together fairly recently, but already the football player seems to be her greatest cheerleader.

“Being around her, seeing how smart Taylor is, has been f—ing mind-blowing. I’m learning every day,“ Kelce told The Wall Street Journal, conceding that he’s “never been a man of words.”

After years of dating more cerebral, pretentious types, Kelce seems like a refreshing departure for the singer. (By comparison, John Mayer and Jake Gyllenhaal may as well be high-strung Jack Russell terrier boyfriends. Matty Healy, a Chihuahua.)

As a couple, they also make a certain amount of sense. As people on TikTok have noted, golden retriever boyfriends tend to gravitate toward “black cat girlfriends”: women with Fiona Apple-esque angst and mean vocabularies. Women you probably wouldn’t want to face in “Jeopardy!”

Now, fans of Swift ― and nonfans alike ― are coming around to golden retriever boyfriends too.

Hayley Quinn, a London-based dating coach, gets it.

“It’s not difficult to see the appeal of a golden retriever boyfriend,” she told HuffPost, describing the type as “caring, reliable and emotionally available.”

“The truth is that whilst certain traits we’d associate with ‘bad boys’ such as confidence and assertiveness can be viewed as attractive, long-run good partnership qualities of being caring and considerate win out,” Quinn said.

“There’s often a gap between what makes us attracted to someone enough to go on a first date with them, to what makes us choose them as a long-term partner,” she added.

The growing appeal of uncomplicated guys like Kelce speaks to how exhausted women are from drawn-out situationships and mixed signals. Golden retriever boyfriends won’t have you looking for problems where there aren’t any to find. As the Isley Brothers sang, they’re a positive, motivating force within your life. (OK, they may not have exactly been talking about GRBs.)

The case for having a boyfriend who’s not unlike a sweet dog was arguably best made by comedian-actor Jenny Slate while describing her ex-boyfriend Chris Evans ― a GRB if there ever was one.

“He’s really vulnerable, and he’s really straightforward,” she told Vulture in a 2017 interview, after their breakup. “He’s like primary colors. He has beautiful, big, strong emotions, and he’s really sure of them. It’s just wonderful to be around. His heart is probably golden-colored, if you could paint it.”

Emma McIntyre via Getty Images

Jenny Slate (left) with Chris Evans — a man who radiates golden retriever energy. In an interview, she said he was like “primary colors. He has beautiful, big, strong emotions, and he’s really sure of them. It’s just wonderful to be around.” (And that was after their breakup.)

Of course, a GRB isn’t for everyone. On X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, some women posted about how they like the sweet himbo partner “in theory” but said they might get sick of not having an intellectual equal. (The male equivalent of a “bimbo,” a “himbo” is “an attractive but vacuous man,” according to Merriam-Webster. The romanticization of unproblematic himbos ― and bimbos, thanks to the “Barbie” movie ― has happened in tandem with the GRB conversation.)

“I’ve had himbo friends who were a lot of fun in groups yet difficult to interact with 1-on-1 for sustained periods of time,” one X user wrote. “I’d imagine a lot of himbo boyfriends carry that same challenge.”

Still, women with golden retriever boyfriends told us they are glad to have what Swift’s having. (And, obviously, there are different kinds of intelligence.)

“Dating a GRB is 10/10. He’s the kind of boyfriend where people ask you, ‘Can I get that on Amazon?!’” said content creator Giulia Guerrieri. “The ’I’ll text you when I’m free’ kind of guy is not my type. Been there, done that, can’t believe how low my standards used to be.”

The man Guerrieri is currently dating is sweet, intelligent and, best of all, there when she needs him.

“He has a calm, laid-back energy but he maintains strong, healthy, masculine traits,” she told HuffPost. “He’s confident, assertive and secure.”

Taylor Swift (left) and Travis Kelce — the pinup boy for the GRB — on a dinner date on Oct. 15 in New York City.
Taylor Swift (left) and Travis Kelce — the pinup boy for the GRB — on a dinner date on Oct. 15 in New York City.

Janay Lee, a swim instructor from Los Angeles, also loves the “safe energy” that her golden retriever boyfriend, Justin, provides. When she’s around him, she feels like her inner child can come out and play.

“Personally, as someone who tends to speak a lot of negative energy towards myself, having a boyfriend who is always just so happy to just be there is such a gentle and sweet reminder to be happy for the little things in life,” she said.

“Everyone’s preference is different, but personally, I couldn’t think of dating any other kind of boy,” she added.

“Everyone’s preference is different, but personally, I couldn’t think of dating any other kind of boy,” said Janay Lee of the GRB.
“Everyone’s preference is different, but personally, I couldn’t think of dating any other kind of boy,” said Janay Lee of the GRB.

After her divorce, Danielle Riley, a brand photographer from Georgia, said that dating a guy who embodies the spirit of a golden retriever was a breath of fresh air.

“Especially as a woman in her 30s, the relationship at first really helped me reflect on just how much I would tolerate in past relationships,” she said.

Before, Riley was drawn to finicky mama’s boys who were used to being waited on hand and foot. The type is a dime a dozen in the South, she said.

“A GRB is the exact opposite of that,” she told HuffPost. “In fact, that’s the main trait of a GRB in a relationship: They dote on the other partner, like to do things for them and show them off.”

Today, her GRB is now her golden retriever husband, and Riley said she couldn’t be happier.

“Knowing that Walt sees me and my presence in his life as valuable helps me continue to show up as an amazing partner for him,” she said.

Danielle Riley (left) and her golden retriever husband, Walt. "The relationship at first really helped me reflect on just how much I would tolerate in past relationships,” she said.
Danielle Riley (left) and her golden retriever husband, Walt. “The relationship at first really helped me reflect on just how much I would tolerate in past relationships,” she said.

Golden Retriever Boyfriends (And Husbands) Speak

Is comparing a man to a dog kind of patronizing? Quinn, the dating coach, acknowledged that if there were a trend called “Chihuahua girlfriends,” it might not go over so well. (Though as one woman noted on X, girlfriends can be golden retriever-esque, too. “[I’m] always excited to see you, motivated by treats and pets, constantly shedding,” she jested.)

Men who self-identify as golden retriever boyfriends ― or whose partners have called them that ― told us they don’t take it too seriously.

“I’ve been called worse,” joked Walt, Riley’s husband. “There is no shame in giving my wife all that she wants.”

Bill Edmonson, a college student and journalist in the greater New York City area, is a proud GRB. He’s big on PDA and emotional vulnerability, and perks up when he talks about his girlfriend, Dee.

“Whenever my thoughts or conversations turn to my girlfriend, I find myself with a massive grin across my face. Doesn’t matter if I’m in the company of strangers,” he told HuffPost.

Bill Edmonson (left) doesn't mind being a GRB for his girlfriend, Dee.
Bill Edmonson (left) doesn’t mind being a GRB for his girlfriend, Dee.

Helpful as you’d assume, Edmonson also offered some unconventional tips for landing a GRB yourself.

“It’s a silly tip but the truth is, I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD and almost every man I know who has been called a golden retriever is some type of neurodivergent,” he said. “So I’d say go to your local Target and look confused around Legos or model trains and you’ll be fine.” (Single guys on dating apps are now self-identifying as GRBs, so there’s that option, too.)

Brad Hopkins, a “very much single” guy from Philadelphia, feels like a golden retriever in his bones. In relationships, he said he’s the kind of person who’ll always remind you that the glass is half full. (It’ll probably be one of those boot-shaped beer glasses, so that’s a bonus.)

“I’d define a GRB as being positive-natured, effortlessly fun and always aloof, to a somewhat annoying degree,” said Brad Hopkins, a self-professed GRB.
“I’d define a GRB as being positive-natured, effortlessly fun and always aloof, to a somewhat annoying degree,” said Brad Hopkins, a self-professed GRB.

“I’d define a GRB as being positive-natured, effortlessly fun and always aloof, to a somewhat annoying degree,” he said. “It’s comparable to a ‘himbo,’ with less of an emphasis on the body type and more on the personality.”

He added, “The thoughts aren’t always so deep, but they’re always best-intended.” Hopkins has that dog in him ― the dog being a majestic golden retriever ― and in his opinion, that’s a good thing. He thinks that other GRBs should be proud as well.

“It’s a lighthearted compliment, comparing you to the most beloved dog breeds of all time,” he said. “If you’re bothered by it, that sounds a bit more like poodle energy, to be honest.”

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *