Boyfriend Tropes of the ’80s and ’90s

Posted by Rose Moore

Dating in the ‘80s and ‘90s was a simpler time. No Tinder, no Snapchat, no googling or ghosting. Instead, this was a time of phone calls (and answering machines), dinner dates, high school party hookups, and meeting the same guys over and over again. Of course, we don’t mean meeting the literal same person over and over (unless you spent these decades in a particularly small town), but meeting that same trope time and time again. He might have frosted his tips this time, he might have ditched that shell necklace, he might have chosen a suit in eye-wateringly bright colors, but he’s the same underneath it all…and whether it was the Boy Next Door or the Party Virgin, if you were dating in these decades, we guarantee you’ve gone out with at least one of these guys.




Boy Next Door (AKA Dudes Who Hate The Front Door)

Somehow, every teen girl in the world of '90s entertainment lived next door to an adorable teen boy who just happened to be her best friend and probably the guy she would end up with. Boy Next Door was always there for her, knew her better than anyone, and yet somehow, she never realized that she loved him till the end. Boy Next Door may even have had a handy dandy ladder to use to come in through her window, or maybe just a well-placed tree, and no-one ever seemed to think this was a strange way of coming over to say hi…



Jock With A Heart (AKA Dudes Who Make Stupid Bets)

Before social media, high school boys were often found alleviating the boredom of football games and house parties by making bets on fellow high school students — usually involving turning a nerd into a prom queen for no real reason. Of course, this didn’t just give them something to do. This allowed us to see that the central jock (probably a quarterback) was actually a sporty dude with the soul of a poet, and thanks to some time with a woman he would otherwise have completely ignored, he can embrace his inner creative self and become a better person, leaving his shallower jock-buds behind.



Artist Boy (AKA Guitar Optional, Pout Mandatory)

Ah, the creative soul who is horribly misunderstood, the pinnacle of trope boyfriends! Quite often, this guy was a musician, but there were plenty of other possibilities. Artist Boy could be a painter (who will sketch a soulful portrait of you before sulking off to smoke), a poet, a lover of vintage cars. Pick your poison, as long as Artist Boy is moody, difficult to pin down, and unbearably pretentious about how very artistic and misunderstood he is…until he falls in love with his muse, of course.


Forever Friendzoned (AKA The Lobster)

Will they get together? Will they break up again? Will Forever Friendzoned simply lurk in the periphery of our heroine’s life for several seasons until eventually being scooped up for the not-at-all-stalkery-gem that he truly is? These questions are the ones we always asked about the Friendzoned guy, the one who was moodily waiting for the girl he loves to realize that he’s the one, despite the fact he never actually asked her out. At the time, this guy was a hopelessly devoted romantic hero, but he’s one that has aged terribly, and is now frustrating everyone who remembers him. 




Mr. Rich Man (AKA Only Commits To Suits)

Finally, there’s the potential boyfriend who has it all: money, a strong jawline, a great suit collection…more money…if only he could commit to a single woman. But this besuited billionaire isn’t going to let his guard down for just anyone. However, he’s going to do it just enough to shower his lady in expensive gifts and dream nights out, before yanking the rug out from under her…and then catching her in his arms again. Teaching women everywhere that if you just lower the bar, you might land a handsome billionaire.


What are your favorite boyfriend tropes? Tweet @quirkbooks and let us know!