Ah, the Emotional Man-Child…a species of male that is seemingly on the rise. I see them among my friends, among my friends’ boyfriends—hell, I’ve even been in long-term relationships with them and have been spat out at the end of it like a washed-out emotional rag of a woman.
The Emotional Man-Child…a man of a certain age who really should know more about how the world works by now. Is it just me, or do these men seem to be less and less resilient to the daily challenge of living and more and more clueless as to how to survive in the real world?
The Emotional Man-Child…the Peter Pan…the Lost Boy…whatever you call them, these guys are everywhere. I’ve been around these men for long enough now to be able to easily (and finally!) spot the signs. Here are the warning signs you need to watch out for:
1. He has zero empathy.
The EMC seemingly cannot understand another’s perspective, and no matter how many times you try and explain how their actions or words may have made another person feel, they just don’t get it. How nice it must be to live in a world so black and white.
2. He is self-absorbed.
The EMC’s worries and anxieties are all that matter. Your grandmother just died? Don’t expect any emotional support; expect a lift to the funeral at best (that’s if he even drives). He just can’t deal with your issues.
3. He expects perfection in others but not himself.
He is obsessed with the idea of perfection and usually expects the person closest to him to be without flaw or sin. God forbid you have an imperfection he doesn’t like, and woe betide anyone who deals with the fallout from when the pedestal you’ve been chucked up on topples over. Hell hath no fury like an Emotional Man Child disappointed.
4. He is a poor conversationalist.
He can never quite give his full attention to your discussion. Quite often he looks over your shoulder to see what else is going on while you talk. Even when he gives the impression that he’s listening, he is really just waiting for his turn to speak. Oh, and by the way, fellas—making eye contact with me during chit-chat isn’t going to turn you into dust.
5. He is obsessed with a hobby.
Quite often he will have a hobby or interest that consumes his every spare second, often to the detriment of spending time with you. He shows a single-minded focus that is admirable on one hand, but it clearly isolates him from significant others.
6. He has a mother complex.
I’m not saying this is true for all EMCs. There are possible Oedipal influences here, some significant correlation between the EMC’s ability/inability to emotionally connect with another woman and the relationship he had with his own Mother Dearest. Whether the apron strings were too tightly tethered or were so loose it offered no security, it will translate into how he deals with you.
7. He emotionally stonewalls you.
Ah, this one—what a peach! The EMC needs you, needs to talk to you about his life, his problems, needs your reassurance that things will be OK—which also links to the mother complex—but when it comes your emotional need for reassurance or, heck, even good old plain intimacy, he.shuts.down.
It has been pointed out to me that all of the above makes me sound like a bitter old lesbian, but no—I am still a fully paid-up member of the Man Lovers’ Club. Despite my learned awareness of these types of men and in-depth experience of how difficult these relationships can be, I continue to be attracted to them. Along with all the emotionally draining aspects of their personalities, these guys are usually brooding, mysterious, and make you work for their attention—textbook behaviors that we perceive as manly and attractive and send our heartbeats fluttering and our appetites sinking. It’s almost as if they know exactly what they’re doing. But at least we’ll be skinny.