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How to Become a Stay-at-Home Boyfriend

Photographs: William Conrad; Collage: Gabe Conte

Somewhere up north, in a snowy area just outside of Toronto, your 25-year-old boyfriend is making you brunch. It’s crispy hash browns with a dill-and-mint cream sauce, he softly explains, plating some soft-scrambled eggs, salad, and grapefruit alongside them, and hand-delivering the meal to you on a wooden tray.

This is a point-of-view skit performed by TikTok stay-at-home boyfriend William Conrad, but is also the real life of actual stay-at-home boyfriend, William Conrad. The creator began going viral on TikTok this year for his soothing roleplay—“lobotomy-core,” one viewer’s comment described it—and has since built an entire brand (over 420,000 TikTok followers and 240,000 on Instagram) around the softer side of masculinity and what the “ideal boyfriend” can be.

Behind this stay-at-home-boyfriend there is, of course, a romantic partner venturing out for work. Her name is Levi Coralynn, and she’s self-employed as an adult-content creator. Conrad used to work in computer science, but when the pair got together, he left his job to assist her with her business. When he’s not bookkeeping, he’s cooking, cleaning, hemming, repairing, and fulfilling whatever other household duties. And no, it’s not a sex thing.

“What I present on the internet is just snippets of our real life,” Conrad says over Zoom. “Things that I was already doing.”

The stay-at-home mom has been a fixture in nuclear families (and perhaps more so, the American popular imagination) for decades. One of the recent concepts to roll off the TikTok assembly line of controversy-stoking coinages is the “stay-at-home girlfriend”—not a parent, but a partner who gives up working. This move is typically viewed as at best risky and at worst detrimental to feminism. It’s only natural that TikTok would spawn the stay-at-home boyfriend, but this role flips what is to many the regressive idea of the stay-at-home girlfriend. After all, rigid ideas about gender roles haven’t gone away, they’ve just been repackaged into terms like “cuck” and “simp.”

“We want to present gentle, not overt, masculinity,” Conrad says. “A man can be both masculine and feminine, and that’s okay.”

Here, Conrad shares the ins and outs of his lifestyle and advice for aspiring stay-at-home boyfriends.

GQ: First thing’s first, how did you become such a good cook?

William Conrad: I’ve always loved food and I’ve always had a passion for it. I’ve never had any professional training or went to school for it or worked in a kitchen. Everything I’ve learned has been from YouTube and reading books.

How would you describe your cooking style?

Classic French. My go-to cookbooks are The French Laundry Cookbook by Michael Ruhlman, Susie Heller, and Thomas Keller, and Larousse Gastronomique, which is actually this old encyclopedia of cooking. And then also Jacques Pépin. His YouTube I loved. He was very inspirational to me when I was first getting into cooking and the techniques and everything. And also I find cooking to be both a therapeutic thing, where I can divert all my attention to one singular thing and be very in the moment with it, as well as a form of creative expression of love towards Levi.

People also are very soothed by your presence. It’s almost ASMR-adjacent. Is that a conscious choice?

It was never a conscious thought. I would say that I’m a pretty mild-mannered, calm, soft-spoken person to begin with. And yes, there is a slight bit of like, Okay, let’s play into it. But this is just how I speak. And we also saw how a lot of food content, and just content in general, is very in-your-face and loud, to try to grab your attention. And Levi was like, “There’s this space missing.” You’re scrolling, and then it’s just me talking softly, serving you dinner.

Viewers are either talking about how soothing and amazing it is, or they are accusing you of hiding bodies in your basement. Are there any bodies in your basement?

No bodies in my basement, but we do have a creepy basement.

You’re like, “I have the basement part, but nothing’s in there.” Which is, I’ll say, more suspicious. Do you have a sense of who your audience is? Is it mostly women or men?

It is, I would say, a strong majority of female followers, ’cause the content that we’re presenting to people is “idealistic boyfriend.” Your girlfriend can watch and send this to her boyfriend [and say], “Oh, can you do this for me?” Like, “Why haven’t you done that?” We want to present the kinder acts of service—gentle, not overt, masculinity. And there’s gonna be a transition point of more men starting to watch this. In the LGBTQ community, especially, I have a lot of male followers, which, it’s great. I love them all.

I think it’s showing the duality of: a man can be both masculine and feminine and that’s okay. I can be in the kitchen cooking and cleaning, but I’m also fixing things around the house, doing woodworking projects, things like that, to showcase that you don’t have to be one or the other. You can be a soft-spoken person that’s a man.

What kind of “dog boyfriend” is a stay-at-home boyfriend?

I think very much so a golden retriever. A lab or a golden retriever. The stay-at-home boyfriend, for me at least, is my ideal world. Levi is my best friend. Being able to spend every day with her, it’s the perfect life for me. We do everything together pretty much. We go for walks. She recently posted a video of like, “Am I dating a dog?” I’m pretty easy to keep happy in that regard. I think I’m very much a golden retriever.

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What makes a good stay-at-home boyfriend?

I think providing food is a big part of it. What is going to fulfill them and show them that you love them the most other than giving them what they most want and like in food? And then just making sure that you’re picking up your other household tasks, making sure laundry’s done nice. And just little kind gestures—fold PJs before bed. It’s the little things. And I think about this in cooking as well. It’s the little things added together that make a big thing really great.

How would someone get started at this?

The most important thing is that every relationship is different. But when you’re wanting to be the best stay-at-home boyfriend or partner, and if you’re building around food, it is finding out what’s their favorite thing to eat, finding meals that they cherish and they really like. Maybe it’s a childhood one and that is attainable for you to start out. But it starts from learning your partner, what they want, and then building a meal around that.

Cooking’s the main activity you present online. Are there any other types of content you’d be interested in getting into that fall under the “stay-at-home boyfriend” brand?

I really enjoy fashion. I want to go into starting to explore my fashion side and our fashion side together. Like we have a few posts throughout my feed of us together in outfits. We like to dress good and we both appreciate fashion. I also hem lots of Levi’s clothing for her. She’s really short compared to me. So I’m also her seamstress. Then just projects around the house, like if it’s building a shelf, renovating a closet, things like that.

Now that the account is taking off, what are your goals?

I really think it’s just sending out the message that this is what a boyfriend can be, what a partner can be, and things like that. And really ensuring that we stay true to that core value. But I’m also interested in maybe transitioning to longer-form content. A YouTube channel, that intrigues me. I’ve always taken the approach of being open to what the future holds—just taking this crazy journey that is social media one step at a time.

Originally Appeared on GQ