The idea of a boy who never grows up is promoted and even romanticized in our culture as sexy and just "the way men are." Sadly women often pay the price for such a prize. There are consequences to keeping this type of "man" in check. She does the work for two and he coasts by. This may partly explain why men, by and large, benefit more from marriage than do women.
Marriage brings for most men greater happiness, physical health and greater wealth than their bachelor counterparts. Women on the other hand, can't take for granted that they too will reap these same benefits. In fact, for women benefiting from marriage or long-term partnership is dependent upon the quality of the partnership.
Women: Before partnering up for the long term or considering marriage, strongly consider if you are dating someone you will have to carry along in life vs. a real partner you can depend upon. What appears fun and sexy now, could eventually become deadweight that you have to carry along with your children, household duties and finances. Here are 5 signs that you might be dating a "man-child:"
1. You Have To "Pick Up" After Him: This can be anything from the mundane -- picking up his clothes and food items around your/his living space -- to the more serious -- picking up after his unpaid debts, picking up the tab more times than not, picking out Christmas or birthday gifts for his family members. When something goes wrong with his work or friends, you are the one who bails him out--you explain things to take the heat or responsibility off of his shoulders. You find yourself making excuses for him, rationalizing his poor choices and working to see things from his perspective more than your own. When people do not fully grow up, they farm out the hard work of adulthood to those closest to them. It can be subtle but if you are making excuses--stop and reflect on why you're picking up after a grown man?
2. Talk of Children or Commitment Brings Panic To His Eyes: Once you have dated for some time, you bring up "THE FUTURE." You see panic and a desire to flee, immediately. Blaming your tactic, you vow to yourself to bring it up more casually next time. This time you say it in a joking way, when watching a sitcom about the horrors of potty training you say, "you'll be in charge of potty training when we have kids, ha!" You look over and see that same panic in his eyes. And within a half hour of you making this comment, he leaves the premises. If after a reasonable amount of time (note: this should not be years) you can't bring up the future on any level and have a reasonable discourse, you are dating a man-child. This behavior is strange. After all, just talking about the future or what you want or don't want doesn't mean it's going to happen or that you are certain you even want it to happen. Its just talk. You deserve to be able to have these talks with your partners so you can see if they want the same things you want. Duh?
3. You Incessantly Nag: You hear yourself nagging him but you can't stop. You feel if you don't remind him of what he needs to do, said he would do or should do, he will never do it. You invariably find yourself disappointed and let down when he doesn't follow through with plans or commitments. He tells you to stop nagging him but when you try to have a serious conversation about what bothers you, he shuts you down (see point #4). The "nag" always gets the bad press, but when you look deeper the nagging is usually the result of someone not taking full responsibility for himself and his actions. However, just like parenting a teenager, each time you nag you enable his behaviors. Instead of owning what he didn't do, he can deflect through blaming you for being such a complaining nag.
4. He Avoids Serious Conversation: When you stop the nagging and try to bring up your deeper issues or your deeper needs, he makes a joke, changes the topic, looks at his phone or turns the tables on you by telling you what you are doing wrong in the relationship. The last thing a "man-child" wants is a confrontation and he will do anything to stop you in your tracks. See when you try to bring something serious to his attention, if you are the one backing out of the conversation by apologizing about something you did wrong. Do you find your original point never gets address and you wind up talking about what you did wrong that triggered his poor behavior?
5. His Interests/Friendships Carry a Middle School Vibe: When he goes out or spends time with friends, he becomes an adolescent again. He can't keep adult limits with alcohol, abuses recreational drugs, participates in pranks or generally reverts to a middle school sense of humor. When around you, he doesn't exude this silly-fun-self and you feel like a buzz kill. Men who never grow up don't know how to deal with adult women who want to have adult conversation. They revert to their adolescent ways out of discomfort with intimacy and as a protection from getting too close to you. In fact the more adolescent your man, the more "motherly" you may be in his presence. It's hard to let go if you feel like you are the only one watching the controls. And it's even harder to have a thriving adult romantic relationship with someone who is glorifying his college days or constantly wants to hang with the guys. You may find you're alone more than you like and when together you don't truly have fun and enjoy each other.
If you think you are in love with a man-child, take a step back and reflect on what motivates you to continue in such a lopsided union. You likely fear letting go of control, not getting what you want, not being good enough to get what you want or having to start a whole new relationship all over again--perhaps you fear all of these things. Stop working on your man-child and start working on you. You are well worth the investment.
Tweet me your #man-child examples @DrJillWeber (there are so many: #can't change a flat tire, #plays video games all of the time, #pouts....).
For more tweet me your relationship questions @DrJillWeber, like me on Facebook or visit drjillweber.com. Dr. Weber is a clinical psychologist in Washington, DC and author of Having Sex, Wanting Intimacy -- Why Women Settle for One-Sided Relationships.