Thursday, March 4, 2010

20 Something Peter Pans - My little man-child theory

So, I've been sitting on a theory about 'men' for a couple of months (okay years) now. I'm 26, so I've had SOME experience here and there with the male-sex and mostly, it's been a rather negative and truly confusing experience. Well, as far as dating goes it's been a rather negative experience, and that's not because I'm annoyed they didn't work out (though I am sometimes - ha!), but because of what I'm about to tell you.

It's all because of a species I'd like to designate as, Men-Children. Man-child. Boy-men. Late 20 something dudes who still live with mom, in the basement, and love their video games. 30 something dudes who are still, STLL only 2 years into their Bachelors degree and continue working at the Tiki Post Packaging Co. since high school. Men who 'date for fun' still at 31 and have not even fathomed what responsibility, commitment, or healthy dating realtionships means. Men that have always been and will always only ever be, life-long Peter Pans. The boy that never grows up.

I actually never thought of this theory until my last round with one of these now designated 'men-children'. As one does after 'breaking off' any sort of relationship, one reflects upon the whole process. Generally, I reflect on what I could've done better, what I learned from the experience, and what changes I'll make in the future. Lately, I've done some serious reflection not only on the most recent fail (a small e-rejection via email, very sad), but in all my previous fails before that; even in such smaller instances as first dates and non-call backs. And, all these experiences for the most part,  have been rather weirdly clossal fails of a somewhat non-conventional magnitude. Like, weirdly pathetic. Sometimes, we (x boy and myself) don't even make it TO the relationship part even after months of apparent 'dating' and mucho "so like, what are we?" confusion. There's been many a day, week, or month where my generally rational brain can not for the LIFE of it, figure out this confusing dynamic which is the male-brain. I mean, you think FEMALES are complicated and confusing (and they are), you should see some of the dudes I've gone out with (see a fore posted online dating excursions.. wow).

Thus naturally, upon reflection, I was inclined to think - well - all these weirdy relationship scenarios (dating and otherwise) happening or have happened to me have one thing in common - me. The common denominator. Clearly, not all of these seperate male individuals can all have something terribley wrong with their brain function and me be the normal one. Right? Logically, humbley, I must accept this evidence. I gotta figure out what I can change to make these weird, very consistent scenarios in my dating/relatioship life stop failing and begin working... even functioning in some relam of normalcy would be acceptable.

And then... it came to me...

Yes, of course there's flaws I can always fix. Yes, there are things about me that I can surely work on. And yes, I am aware I can be rather intimidating sometimes and I get that. But, BUT, other than 'me' being a common denominator in my twilight zone of a dating life to this point, is the type of guy I keep liking. And that guy, is a man-child... but I didn't notice it until now! I didn't notice it because the men-children I go for actually don't appear to be man-children at ALL initially - no! They appaer to have everything nicely in order on the outset: generally they're in school and actually, are very good students (I'm a sucker for the academic), they're good LDS preisthood holders that fulfill their callings and try their best, they're generally returned missioanries, and they all have worthy professional goals (examples: lawyers, professors (hot), geographers, public administrators, etc.). They live on their own (aka with roomies counts), and have enjoyable hobbies that include but are not limited to, sports, outdoorsing, music, and reading. Shore! All these guys seem like bonified men... but guess what?

They're not.

Emotionally they are still very much emotionally stagnating somewhere between the ages of 12-18. Truly. Emotionally, they're little boys looking for mamma to clean their scrapes and buy them otter pops (and you think I'm kidding... I witnessed the otter pop purchases... yep). What's more - they expect mom to make their decisions for them and led them through their entire lives without making individual decisions about tough things on their own. Emotionally, they can't handle reality - real people - real feelings - and real relationships. It's STILL a fairy-tale to them - and they just want to play cowboy and Indian anyway and not deal with those 'coodie' girls. This realization hit me squarely in the face a couple months ago. The world is filling up with men-children. I finally realized this when I recognized that my attraction to the 'outer-man' made his 'inner-infant' seem endearing and cute. I like some of these guys child-like responses to situations and general carefree, simple, outlooks. Um.... come to find... sometimes... that's not so good. Especially when I'm a grown woman and inside - he's a 12 year old. Yep. Retrospect is always 20/20.

So! You think my theory is based on a 26 year old LDS (UTAHN) single woman's tainted view of dating because (heaven forbid) she's not married or dating? WELL! I can see how you'd think that. BUT, I tell you, I'm not the only one. Perhaps the below article will add some validity to my theory. My good friend Heather sent it my way, and now I submit it to you.


Meet Mr. George F. Will
(A Man's View of Men)

The Basement Boys

The making of modern immaturity.

Current economic hardships have had what is called in constitutional law a "disparate impact": The crisis has not afflicted everyone equally. Although women are a majority of the workforce, perhaps as many as 80 percent of jobs lost were held by men. This injury to men is particularly unfortunate because it may exacerbate, and be exacerbated by, a culture of immaturity among the many young men who are reluctant to grow up.

Increasingly, they are defecting from the meritocracy. Women now receive almost 58 percent of bachelor's degrees. This is why many colleges admit men with qualifications inferior to those of women applicants—which is one reason men have higher dropout rates. The Pew Research Center reports that 28 percent of wives between ages 30 and 44 have more education than their husbands, whereas only 19 percent of husbands in the same age group have more education than their wives. Twenty-three percent of men with some college education earn less than their wives. In law, medical, and doctoral programs, women are majorities or, if trends continue, will be.

In 1956, the median age of men marrying was 22.5. But between 1980 and 2004, the percentage of men reaching age 40 without marrying increased from 6 to 16.5. A recent study found that 55 percent of men 18 to 24 are living in their parents' homes, as are 13 percent of men 25 to 34, compared to 8 percent of women.

Mike Stivic, a.k.a. Meathead, the liberal graduate student in All in the Family, reflected society's belief in the cultural superiority of youth, but he was a leading indicator of something else: He lived in his father-in-law Archie Bunker's home. What are today's "basement boys" doing down there? Perhaps watching Friends and Seinfeld reruns about a culture of extended youth utterly unlike the world of young adults in previous generations.

Gary Cross, a Penn State University historian, wonders, "Where have all the men gone?" His book, Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity, argues that "the culture of the boy-men today is less a life stage than a lifestyle." If you wonder what has become of manliness, he says, note the differences between Cary Grant and Hugh Grant, the former, dapper and debonair, the latter, a perpetually befuddled boy.

Permissive parenting, Cross says, made children less submissive, and the decline of deference coincided with the rise of consumer and media cultures celebrating the indefinite retention of the tastes and habits of childhood. The opening of careers to talented women has coincided with the attenuation of male role models in popular culture: In 1959, there were 27 Westerns on prime-time television glamorizing male responsibility.

Cross says the large-scale entry of women into the workforce made many men feel marginalized, especially when men were simultaneously bombarded by new parenting theories, which cast fathers as their children's pals, or worse: In 1945, Parents magazine said a father should "keep yourself huggable" but show a son the "respect" owed a "business associate."

All this led to "ambiguity and confusion about what fathers were to do in the postwar home and, even more, about what it meant to grow up male." Playboy magazine, a harbinger of perpetual adolescence, sold trinkets for would-be social dropouts: "Join the beat generation! Buy a beat generation tieclasp." Think about that.

Although Cross, an aging academic boomer, was a student leftist, he believes that 1960s radicalism became "a retreat into childish tantrums" symptomatic "of how permissive parents infantilized the boomer generation." And the boomers' children? Consider the television commercials for the restaurant chain called Dave & Buster's, which seems to be, ironically, a Chuck E. Cheese's for adults—a place for young adults, especially men, to drink beer and play electronic games and exemplify youth not as a stage of life but as a perpetual refuge from adulthood.

At the 2006 Super Bowl, the Rolling Stones sang "Satisfaction," a song older than the Super Bowl. At this year's game, another long-of-tooth act, the Who, continued the commerce of catering to baby boomers' limitless appetite for nostalgia. "My generation's obsession with youth and its memories," Cross writes, "stands out in the history of human vanity."

Last November, when Tiger Woods's misadventures became public, his agent said: "Let's please give the kid a break." The kid was then 33. He is now 34 but, no doubt, still a kid. The puerile anthem of a current Pepsi commercial is drearily prophetic: "Forever young."
After reading this I thought "Oh hey! My theory was right!" and then I thought... "ah... crap... my theory was right."

Need some more evidence from a man-observer? I submit the following...

Elder Oaks
CES Fireside for Young Adults

"In his address at the BYU commencement exercise two weeks ago, Elder Earl C. Tingey referred to an article in a recent issue of Time magazine about young people your age. It states that the years from 18 to 25 have become “a distinct and separate life stage, a strange, transitional never-never land between adolescence and adulthood in which people stall for a few extra years, [postponing] . . . adult responsibility” (Lev Grossman, “Grow Up? Not So Fast,” Time, Jan. 24, 2005, 44). The article describes these transitional individuals as “permanent adolescents, . . . twentysomething Peter Pans” (p. 42). Putting this analysis in terms more familiar to his audience of BYU graduates and their families, Elder Tingey spoke of “the indecision some college graduates have in . . . accepting the responsibilities of marriage and family” (address at commencement, Apr. 21, 2005)."

"...There is another possible contributing factor to the demise of dating and the prominence of the culture of hanging out. For many years the Church has counseled young people not to date before age 16. Perhaps some young adults, especially men, have carried that wise counsel to excess and determined not to date before 26 or maybe even 36.

Men, if you have returned from your mission and you are still following the boy-girl patterns you were counseled to follow when you were 15, it is time for you to grow up...",4945,538-1-3100-1,00.html
Now, don't get me wrong. This isn't a 'blame-game' or 'passing the buck' sort of post. I'm merely observing upon reflection of my very own person experience, that this makes a lot of sense for me. So maybe, it's not ME entirely, but the WHO I am looking for. Now that I know I tend to like emotional man-children, I can begin the process of not liking emotional man-children. Turn on the 'man-child' detector (and now that I have a few under my belt I can recogize the little beasties from MILES away), and just stear in a different direction... with the hope that somewhere out there... there's an actual MAN... and not a 7 year old playmate in a 28 year old mans body... I can eventually bump into. Lets just hope for that..

1 comment:

Marisa Jean said...

Complacency, can be a very detrimental thing. While I could write for hours on this topic (and trust me, there are PAGES in my journal about this exact topic), one thing I've learned is that yes, men have tendency to be childish, but that doesn't change just because vows are exchanged, but also, men wouldn't necessarily continue this behavior if it wasn't reinforced by the opposite sex. Just sayin'. 60 years ago a woman wouldn't look twice at a man that couldn't provide her security or was lazy, now it's not that way. I found myself even falling into that rut when I was dating because I was attracted to the man physically and "I could provide for us if need be." This philosophy wasn't good, for me anyway. Once I realized that I wanted someone who actually had work ethic, my outlook on men and who I would date completely changed. I just think too many women want "someone" and so will settle for these guys and wind up being the wife, mom and provider because the immature men can't hold down a job, etc. That was a lot more than I was going to write, but I kind of get carried away on this topic....sorry. I think we all have issues. That's just all there is to it.