The typical stay-at-home girlfriend video opens on a young woman in a pristine apartment. At 8 a.m., she makes the bed and cooks pancakes for her boyfriend before he goes to work. After a green juice, it’s time for self care: a private Pilates reformer session and a microcurrent facial. Then, she has lunch with a girlfriend at a local hot spot, goes for a long walk and listens to a podcast before it’s time to get ready for date night.

Clips like this abound on TikToksmooth, hypnotic videos presenting an idealized vision of a traditional marriage, minus the wedding ring, plus a dose of the current wellness boom. Being a stay-at-home girlfriend (or SAHG for short) is all about supporting your boyfriend with tasks like cooking and housework, plus a rigorous self-care regimen to keep up appearances. The phenomenon reflects a Gen Z move away from mid-2000s “girlboss” hustle culture, and toward aspirations of a softer life.

“My life was very, very slow and peaceful,” said Kendel Kay, 26, who moved from Los Angeles to Puerto Rico to be a stay-at-home girlfriend to her then-boyfriend in 2022. She described an “extensive morning routine filled with skin care” and juice and breakfast prep.

Videos of young SAHGs from Nairobi to Miami show them puttering around modern high-rise apartments, pushing Dyson vacuums and spoiling small dogs. They wear workout sets all day; they talk slowly; they seem unbothered.

The perfect veneer of stay-at-home girlfriend culture doesn’t always show the full picture. Along with tales of fulfillment, relaxation and empowerment are stories of breakups, professional struggles, boredom and insecurity. It’s a life that looks good, but is it a good life?

Many stay-at-home girlfriends say that it is. Kay, who is newly single and now based in San Diego, spoke positively about her time as a SAHG in Puerto Rico. Before she met her ex-boyfriend, who ran his own company, she earned money modeling and making OnlyFans subscription-based content. When he started supporting her, she said, “I just felt like I didn’t have to experience as much stress, and I was really able to be my best self and do a lot of self-improvement.”

Aliyah Wan, 26, who grew up in Singapore and lives in Los Angeles with her generous boyfriend, said that a lot of women aspire to this lifestyle these days. “With big cities, the cost of living is just so high that having somebody to provide for you makes living a lot easier,” she said.

Detractors say that ease comes with complications. “They glamorize financial dependency,” said Haley Sacks, who bills herself as a “zillennial finance expert” and runs the Instagram account @MrsDowJones. “But being financially dependent is a huge contributor to financial abuse. And being financially independent is truly one of the best gifts you can give yourself.”

All the women I spoke to have their own bank accounts, which they supplement through income made with content creation—affiliate links, brand deals. Therein lies the irony of much stay-at-home girlfriend content. While the videos might paint a picture of a life of leisure, they usually omit the nitty-gritty reality of influencer hustling.

Sacks said that in that way it reminded her of the “FIRE” (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement: “They’re like, ‘We quit our jobs. We live in a van,’ whatever, but they’re making money being ‘FIRE’ bloggers.”

“That’s what a lot of my viewers don’t see,” said Wan of her content creation. She said, “They think my life is fully funded and supported by the man, but it’s really not what it seems.”

Still, Wan, who was on a prelaw track at UCLA, is taken care of. She said, “I don’t get an allowance, but my rent’s paid for, food’s paid for and if I wanted something I just have to bring it up to [my boyfriend] and he’ll take care of it.”

Often, the boyfriends themselves are the ones to propose these arrangements. They’re working a lot, or traveling a lot, and want extra support at home. Or they just enjoy paying for everything.

“I love the arrangement,” said Travon Duncan, 26, who works in cybersecurity in Dallas. He suggested that his girlfriend, Erica McDowell, 25, give up her job working nights in a hotel in Baltimore to come live with him, and she agreed.

When McDowell first arrived in Dallas, she recalled, “I literally did not do anything.” Well, she clarified, she would “wake up, eat, shop, lay down, take naps, watch shows.”

Then they went to couples therapy, where her boyfriend admitted he would like her to contribute more. So she started making breakfast, cleaning and doing laundry, decorating the house more and creating content to build a little nest egg for herself.

“I look at myself as the alpha male,” said Duncan. “I’m always working, always grinding, always studying. I think it’s important to have someone in your corner that is there for you and understands your needs and your wants.”

“People might think it’s a sugar-daddy situation,” said Duncan, saying that some of McDowell’s followers inferred that he was an older man funding a young woman’s lifestyle. But, he clarified, “We’re in a relationship. This is a person that will be my wife one day.”

However, they’re not married yet. “My friends are like, ‘Girl, you are doing wifely duties before the ring,’” McDowell said. They tell her: “You’re doing too much trying to keep that man.” But she said she relishes the work. “I genuinely get a form of dopamine when I cook and he enjoys my meal or when I make him some cupcakes and he enjoys them,” she said.

These women don’t see themselves as 1950s housewives. There are no kids to care for—save for their little dogs—so the focus of their days is self-care. Most of the SAHGs I spoke to have cleaning help.

Being unmarried may have its downsides. “While they’re definitely contributing to the success of their partner by managing things at home, if they break up or something happens to them, they have no legal recourse,” Sacks said. She added that, without jobs, they are missing out on a chance to build their own financial futures.

Another risk? Ennui. Even with the influencer events she attends, the Pilates she does and the “minimal housework” she said she takes on, Wan said she runs out of things to do. Sometimes she thinks she should work a 9-to-5 job. “A lot of the days I’m just home and bored and in bed,” she said. She’s thinking of making a video about that.

Write to Rory Satran at