You see so many articles these days about the difference between dating a “man” and a “boy,” or the difference between a “woman” and a “girl.” Like most 20-somethings, I used to really identify with the articles because everyone wants to consider themselves a mature adult and express their interest in finding a likeminded partner. The thing is, there is no line that you cross from adolescence into adulthood. There is no age, no amount of responsibility or life experience that will make you this ideal person.
If you’re dating a guy or a girl that is jealous or dependent or catty or immature, you’re just dating a jealous, dependent, catty, immature person. It’s not to say that people can’t change and grow, but if these are personality traits that aren’t attractive to you, it isn’t fair to either one of you to stay in a relationship expecting the other person to become something other than what they are in that moment. You don’t stay with someone because of their potential. You stay with them because you would be completely content if they were to remain the way that they are for the rest of your lives.
I’ve seen some old souls in very young bodies. There are 12-year-old boys who have taken over the role of the man in their house and girls who are born introverts and don’t want to go out and get drunk enough to justify texting their exes. There are also 70-five year old men who are still sleeping with everything that moves and emulating people a third of their age. There will always be girls who need to depend on others to support them and who never really leave that 20-something mentality. For every single type of person, there is someone who is totally okay with the way that they are. It may be that they are in a similar situation or just have similar views on life. It could be that being with that person brings out parts of them that they can’t usually express. It may be that the relationship is just fun for the moment and they’re going with it. It’s less about age, and more about the stage that you are in your life, and people experience those stages at different times and in different orders.
Even those who would be considered “women” or “men” are still very likely to have their “boy” or “girl” moments. Women are still going to be a little needy at times. They still may drink too much, gossip, or act like a trivial 17-year-old. Men can also be indecisive, unemotional, ambiguous, and every other stereotype that you would attribute to a boy. Anyone can tap into their crazy or reckless side at any time, and I don’t think that’s something that you can outgrow.
It should also be noted that different people act differently when they’re paired with certain types of people. The “girl” that you’re dating may actually be very composed when she’s with someone who brings that out in her. The same can be said about a guy. A boy can be a player for years until he finds someone who he can actually see a future with. It doesn’t just come down to one person’s personality. A lot of it is just the composition of the relationship, how those two personalities react to each other.
We’ve all dated someone who has made us crazy. We’re all used to saying “I’m not usually like this.” We’ve all had those people in our lives who are calming forces and have made us get our shit together. The next thing you know, you find yourself in an awkward run-in with that jerk you dated five years ago and now he has a wife and a kid, and is shopping for organic shampoo. Do you see what I’m saying?
The world is not split into four groups: boys, girls, women, men. There is female and there is male, and within those categories there is a wide spectrum of personalities and dispositions that make people who they are. You can’t change people, and you shouldn’t try. It’s also not fair to label someone based on such circumstantial factors. The key is to pay attention when people show you who they are, and decide if that is something that you want in your life. The ideal partner for you at 25 may be totally different than your ideal partner at 35, and that’s fine. That doesn’t make either party any less of a man or woman, that makes you malleable individuals with the ability to make conscious decisions about who you want to be and who you want to be with.