Who can resist a male TikTok star in all his stereotypical six-pack, shaggy-haired glory? I certainly couldn’t, especially not when the one I’d been crushing on texted me that he was ready to “link.” I was laying in my hotel room at 1:00 a.m. during a digital influencer convention (I was on the talent roster for the weekend), scrolling aimlessly through Instagram when I received the spontaneous message.
I sat up and glanced at myself in the mirror, my less-than-ideal appearance reflecting back at me—retainer, frizzy strands and all. I debated leaving him on Read, but how could I? There was no way I could say no to those blue eyes, dimples and that goofy grin summoning me to his hotel room. I fixed myself up as best I could (messy buns with scrunchies have their own special, girl-next-door allure) and took the elevator to his floor.
As the doors opened, I saw at least 100 screaming tweens chasing him down the hallway. Though a creator myself and not a fellow fan, I could relate entirely to their excitement and adoration. Watching him autograph their arms and pause for selfies, I blushed with pride with the knowledge that he wanted to see me—I was the chosen one, the girl he was actually interested in spending time with. It felt too good to be true. I pushed my way through the crowd to reach him, and once I was within a few feet, he took my hand and brought me inside his private suite, leaving dozens of devotees lingering outside his doorstep.
No matter how hard I search for a grain of genuine emotion, I’m usually left lost and disappointed.
I’d like to say that what followed was pure magic, but in reality, it was just 90 minutes of nothing special. There were no meaningful discussions about life, no declarations of our feelings for one another. Just a highly anticipated lip lock—nothing more. When I left his hotel room so he could get some sleep, I passed the same group of girls still waiting outside, but I no longer felt lucky. I had been used and quickly discarded, just like the signature piece of gum he often spit out before taking the stage.
Full disclosure: This wasn’t the first time I’d been drawn to this type of guy. I tend to repeat the pattern, hypnotized by the shameless confidence and all-too-perfect physical appearance that these young male influencers exude. They don’t necessarily have any standout talents (well, a few of them sing or dance), yet I can’t help but want to get involved. I kick myself for continually falling for them. No matter how hard I search for a grain of genuine emotion, I’m usually left lost and disappointed.
That’s the thing about social media boys: Their egos are the center of their universe. They’ll entertain me in an attempt to build their platforms, but will sever ties the second they land a female with more followers. To them, romance is a numbers game, with any underlying emotions or potential for a meaningful relationship overshadowed by the opportunity to put on a “show” for their fandom.
The saddest part? Most of the time, these boys aren’t even the ones pulling the strings. A parent or manager is usually in full control, deciding who the talent should collab with, when they’re available, etc. I’m fully aware that the odds are stacked against me when seeking a connection with this kind of guy, yet I can’t control the fact that they make my heart beat faster, or that they occupy the majority of my midnight fantasies. I can’t help but hold onto hope that maybe, just maybe, they yearn for romance as well.
I can’t help but hold onto hope that maybe, just maybe, they yearn for romance as well.
One summer, I fell head-over-heels in love with a social media stud I met on tour, and I thought for sure he felt the same. In fact, he even admitted he was falling for me, allowing me to believe in a future sans digital distractions getting in the way of our emotions. Then, it was as if he flipped a switch. Out of nowhere, photos of us vanished from his feed and were replaced by shirtless selfies. Without explanation, he cut off all forms of communication, leaving a raw, open wound where he once occupied my heart.
I’d like to say that I was surprised by that tumultuous breakup, but a part of me expected it all along. Sure, I had fallen in love, but I had simultaneously fallen for a social media boy’s typical tricks, driving me to question my own value and worth. I had been led on, used as a distraction from the everyday stressors of the influencer world.
After several rendezvous with popular creators, I’ve finally acknowledged that I deserve better. I’m not just a TikTok accessory or temporary hookup—I’m a real girl with genuine emotions, who just wants to love and be loved. I can’t stop myself from swooning over social media boys, but I can try to lower my expectations. Next time I come across one of these drool-worthy males, I’ll try my best to smile, then look the other way.
I know that, somewhere, a perfectly imperfect companion who is vulnerable and open to love is waiting for me. Here’s hoping he doesn’t have an Instagram.