Hate ‘Em or Love ‘Em: How To Handle The Man-Boy Phenomenon

May 17, 2012  |  
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If you’ve seen any Judd Apatow movie then you know that American pop culture glorifies getting high, skateboarding to work and living in a house with 5 friends at 32 years old. No wonder women are always complaining that the only men out on the market are “little boys.” The truth is that there has been a surge of men/children.

On the show Mad Men, anyone who isn’t married by 28 is suspected to be gay or a unich. If you watch, well, any modern-day show, any man who gets married in his early twenties is considered a fool who gave up his freedom. Nothing has been fixed. We simply jumped from one restrictive extreme to another. Do the women complaining about the surge of man-boys really want a 26-year-old man who is ready to buy a house, have kids and close up his tab at the neighborhood bar for good? The answer is: no. They just don’t know it.

It’s true that, ever since the cap of “you must marry by 30” was removed for men, many became lost (happily lost) having no idea of when to put that cap back on. 40? 50? The common benchmark any dating columnist (like myself) will tell you is “when you’re ready.” Unfortunately, not everyone can determine that for themselves. Not everyone wants to. And you end up with the bad kind of man boy. At least, he is bad if you’re trying to have a serious relationship with him.

The bad kind of man/boy takes the freedom of being a modern man, who receives no societal judgment for his choice not to marry, too far. He thinks that being encouraged to act youthful means being encouraged to act immature. He hits on 20-year-old’s at the age of 40. He blogs about his sexual conquests. If you date him, he forgets to call. Sometimes, he just doesn’t call at all. He spends the entirety of any formal event you take him to hunting for booze. He rolls his eyes when you ask him to shut off his video game to enjoy the meal you’ve made for him. He speaks resentfully about having a girlfriend to his friends, because it is funny—because talking about the leash your female ties around you is the trend amongst men/boy’s. He dates you because it’s easier than hunting for a lay every night, and he lets the world know it as he laughs at your expense.

It’s the above type of man/boy that has women searching retirement communities for their next boyfriend. However, they aren’t all like that. The truth is, I want someone fun. As a woman, I’ve been freed from the confines of “you must marry by 30” also, and if I’m going to take advantage of this period of self-discovery, I want someone who is willing to do that as well. There are ways in which I like the man/boy (the right kind) that I believe all women do, and just don’t realize it.

I like a man who will go to ridiculously themed pub-crawls on a Sunday afternoon. I like a man who prioritizes socializing and going out, because being in the presence of others allows us to see sides of one another we just wouldn’t see if we were holed up on our couch, being a “grown up” couple. I like a man who has “traditions” with his friends, whether that be a weekend in Vegas every summer or drinking each other under the table once a month, for the hell of it because, that leaves me time to go do the same things with my friends. I like the idea that, after all of his conquests—after sampling plenty of women (most likely)—I was chosen. I wasn’t chosen because I was the first woman to invite him into my bed, or because someone was looking over his shoulder wondering when he’d put a ring on something already. Freedom, unlimited sexual partners and being a forever man/child was an option for him, but he gave it all away for me. I like that. I wasn’t the only option. I was just an option, and the one he chose.

Has the influx of the man-boy made the world a tougher place for single women? Not at all. The bad kind of man-boy has always existed, he simply used to carry out his shenanigans while in a marriage, because that’s what he was “supposed” to do. The removed pressure on men to grow up is really a favor to female kind. If a man wants to be a man/child forever, he can do you the decency of letting you know. He can let the whole world knows as he smokes out of his bong, with his X-Box right on his front porch at 45 years old. If women are choosing to ignore the signs that a man is the bad type of man/child, that is their fault. But to take away the entire concept of the man child would be to take away the positive sides of it too, like men who feel free to be forever young at heart, and who can still make great boyfriends.

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