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How To Know If You Are Dating A Man-Child

None of the care, none of the responsibility.
Hobbies are great. Just not this one.
Getty Images/Blend Images
Hobbies are great. Just not this one.

Returning to the dating world in my thirties has been a mixed bag, with stories ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Things have changed since flowers, chocolates and defining relationships were actual things. And I'm kind of old-fashioned.

Hook ups and Tinder swipes do nothing for me. Comparing notes with my friends, sadly the disposable, immediate gratification vibe to relationships seems to have drawn 'man-children' out in their droves.

A man-child [NOUN] is an adult male who is physically an adult but emotionally and mentally immature.

None of the care, none of the responsibility. They start off as fun, easy going guys, willing to live life to the fullest. Then they become disappointing and just damn exhausting. And they can be hard to spot. They might have good jobs and be successful, but here are some warning signs:

He's selfish

This is the big-ticket one. He's selfish with his time, attention, affection, money. He will always do what's best for him, and if you use the 'c-word' (compromise -- settle down folks!) you are accused of being unreasonable.

Nothing is ever his fault...

The man-child can never admit he's wrong. Whether it's because he actually, genuinely thinks he's always right, or he's just stubborn, either way, you can't progress a relationship like this. "I've done nothing -- it's your imagination" is a common cry.

But everything is someone else's fault...

He's more than happy to tell everyone else where they're wrong. That clash at work was his mean colleague, the reason you're unhappy is because you expect too much, he behaves like he does because you're on his back. Nothing that happens to him is because of how he interacts with others. If you ask how he would've handled things differently, the self-awareness fairy will sit on his shoulder blowing raspberries at you while he defiantly pouts that he did everything right.

He can't accept criticism

Whether he never got any criticism as a child or got too much and is defensive -- this will stop you sharing with him and put distance in your relationship. He is thin-skinned and takes everything personally -- but he doesn't think so. And these blind spots are intimacy defeating.

When you disagree... deep silence

Like deeper than a submarine in the Mariana Trench. Fights with a man-child suck. He is stubborn, whiny, and will cut off communications, saying your distress is hurting him. And don't expect him to watch you cry. So upsetting for the poor dear, all this consequences-of-actions stuff.

If not silence... threats

Threats that he's not sure about you, threats to end it. Like a toddler threatening to scream over a sticky bun a supermarket -- it's a bid to create a power imbalance. He doesn't want you to feel secure, he wants you to work for him so he gets all he wants without any effort back. Feeling safe in a relationship good days and bad is pretty damn appealing. Scrabbling for the approval of a man who has the resilience of home-brand paper towel, not so much.

He doesn't look after himself or the relationship

Whether it's gorging on junk food and beer, refusing to work out, or staying up till all hours and being too tired for you. You find yourself nagging, or begging for courtesy and consideration and you hate yourself. This guy is still not over the novelty of moving out of home and wonders why you feel like a low priority. He doesn't try to improve his body or mind and he isn't interested in improving himself.

He puts you down

Your feelings are dismissed as silly. Your frustration with him is you being 'crazy'. Your attempts to communicate with depth are 'rambling' and 'wrong'. You get the picture. You'll never be as good a human as him. Just ask him... and his mum.

He focuses on the one (kinda) good thing he did...

When you fight, he will rush to remind you of his perfection. He will distort half-assed efforts he's made into grand gestures. He can whip an exaggerated example out whenever he feels victimised (which is pretty often).

He has young obsessions

I love man with hobbies where he is trying to master a skill or improve himself. A guy who can teach you something -- photography, paddle-boarding, cooking --- is awesome. A guy who reads interesting books or watches interesting movies and can engage in conversation is great. I'm happy if we have separate hobbies which make our time together more valuable and interesting.

But a man-child has obsessions. Video games, sports (and promo girls) and adrenaline -- and I don't just mean the normal guy desire to balance time with you by playing x-box or watching footy with mates. I mean loses-all-concept-of-space-and-time-and-forgets-you-and-your-feelings obsessed. To the point it impinges on your relationship. Fun before responsibility. But he expects you to be okay with that. Because he doesn't get that life isn't all about having cake and eating it, too.

All talk and no action

Man-children usually talk a big game early. Grand gestures. Romance (they like adrenaline sports, remember -- the thrill of the chase). Then there's no follow through. The level of commitment he shows doesn't match the words he's said. You always make more effort than him. Rather than change anything he's doing to improve your relationship, he panics that might mean 'adulting', and runs away with excuses to make it seem like he's doing you a favour. He doesn't have sense of urgency about life and isn't willing to work to actualise his goals.

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