Here’s the scenario: You vacuumed, paid your bills online, put in a load of laundry, made lunch and ran out the door to pick up his sister’s birthday cake, while your boyfriend sat on the couch looking at cars online. As you drove to the bakery, you listed all the times he’s let you down and been too self-absorbed to notice you need some help. You wonder why the man you love just can’t “man up.”
According to Gary Cross, you’re not alone. Man-boys are a historical phenomenon specific to modern 21st century culture. Many men prolong their youthful emphasis on self by staying in school longer and postponing marriage and parenthood. When they enter the labor market, they only have access to low-paying jobs and temporary work. This means that they delay financial and emotional independence, and they live in temporary situations and in temporary relationships much longer than men of earlier generations.
Since they’re everywhere, you need some tips to deal with man-boys — if you choose to keep them around at all.
1. Be Independent
When you do your own thing, you provide an excellent model for how he can get his own stuff done.
2. Don’t Be His Mom
If you’re a “rescuer,” this is probably a big challenge. Don’t get his sister’s birthday cake. Let him be accountable for whatever situation he creates. Accountability is an excellent teacher.
3. Stop Making Excuses
If you find yourself doing this, then you’re setting yourself up for being taken advantage of. You legitimize his behavior and override your own feelings that could alert you to long-term, problematic behavior. Listen to your intuition, not your mind.
4. Modify His Behavior In Small Steps
If you’re up for the challenge, you can try setting up the house so that he develops more helpful habits. For example, instead of asking him to put in a load of laundry and waiting for it to never happen, you can put the hamper at the top of the stairs and ask him simply to carry it down the stairs next time he is going that way. Put it right in front of the stairs so that he has to pick it up to get around it anyway. Keep your fingers crossed.
5. Be Real About Why You’re With This Guy
The bottom line is that a man-boy is a poor long-term partner. Eventually, even the most efficient ‘go-to’ girl will get tired of doing all the work. If you’re just there for the sex or the laughs, admit it to yourself and your friends. Don’t try to make your man-boy into a man-man by getting pregnant or marrying him. That won’t work.
Being with a man-boy is hard work. Getting angry won’t really change anything, because he doesn’t know how to meet your needs or how to respond to them, even when you tell him clearly what you need. If you decide to stay with your man-boy, do it because you choose this relationship now, just as it is. Stop waiting for him to grow up!