margot robbie as barbie (left) and ryan gosling as ken (right) in barbie

Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros. Pictures

‘Barbie’ unlocked a new phrase to describe the relatable absurdity of dating

It hits hard.


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Barbie.

Barbie’s brand of satire put a name to many things we knew of in our world but struggled to describe, but maybe nothing more so than the ubiquitous nature of the “long-term long-distance low-commitment casual girlfriend.”

The phrase is introduced after Barbie (Margot Robbie) returns to Barbie Land, which she discovered had been rebranded to Kendom. Thanks to Ken (Ryan Gosling) introducing Patriarchy, the Kendom has more horse imagery (so many horses), lots of prints, a faux Minx coat, Boys’ Night, and brainwashing the Barbies so that the women who were previously judges, doctors, astronauts, and physicists were now perfectly happy to cater to the Kens’ every whim and need, including serving them beer. Not to mention Ken’s Mojo Dojo Casa House.

Ken happily relays this to a dismayed Barbie, but he’s got one more thing to offer her: She could join him on the top of the Kendom as his “long-term long-distance low-commitment casual girlfriend.” 

But for many viewers well familiar with dumb romantic games, especially if they’re in the middle of a similar situation? Well, it’s all too relatable.

Long-term long-distance low-commitment casual girlfriend memes

The phrase is taking off on TikTok, where several versions turn the camera toward themselves, having just realized how hard that phrasing hit.

“Me and the girls in a long term long distance low commitment casual girlfriend relationship when ms greta gerwig put into words the stupidity of it,” @gpvafi wrote.

@gpvafi no cause that triggered me ngl #barbie #barbiemovie #ken #justken ♬ original sound – RA10

i have been thinking about this film for 3 days straight i have barbie brain rot

♬ original sound – RA10

Ken wants Barbie to be into him and only him, and he wants to be the person Barbie can prop up. It’s a 180 from how Barbies and Kens functioned in Barbie Land. But Ken doesn’t want to do any of the work to be in a relationship with another person, like a PG-friendly version of a fuckboy.

“When the barbie movie was a lil too personal so a sticker was made,” the caption of @sabv8’s video read.

@sabv8 long-term, long-distance, low-commitment, casual girlfriend material 😎🎀 #barbie #barbiemovie #kenergy ♬ I’m Just Ken – Ryan Gosling

Set to Phoebe Bridgers, one iteration of how relatable Ken’s phrasing was brought another Barbie who lives in different realms of reality—this time in the Toy Story movies—to tears.

@ifimagoodperson every man feels so utterly safe in my presence. they roll over and show me their soft underbelly. they give me a map of their weakest spots. they beg me to hold them and to listen to their biggest dreams, saying they see me with them. how come i always end up being the one gutted? #waitingroom #waitingroomphoebebridgers #phobebridgers #barbie #barbiemovie #longtermlongdistancelowcommitmentcasualgirlfriend #situationship #delusional #pf603 #fypシ #fyp #trending #foryoupage #viral ♬ original sound – ⭐️

Ken’s commitment to pushing for a long-term long-distance low-commitment casual girlfriend eventually backfires when the Barbies prey on the Kens’ insecurities by feigning interest in their interests and pretending to be interested in other Kens while in the middle of a serenade. But until then, it’s the kind of relationship dynamic that our main Barbie—who already wasn’t all that into Ken—wasn’t into. It not only leaves Ken with a better understanding of himself, but he’s also vibing more with Barbie’s National Anthem, Indigo Girls’ “Closer to Fine.”

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