• Tue, Jul 10 2012

I’m Giving Up The ‘Man-Child’ (And Why So Should You)

The ‘man-child’ has been on my mind a lot during my dalliances with Tattoo Guy. He is, by definition, a man-child – and he knows it. He is 36 years old, has two roommates, his phone sometimes gets shut off because he can’t afford to pay his bill, he’s content to drink too much, bang any woman he can, then be hungover the next day. This is his lifestyle, and although I’m younger than him, but not by much, my lifestyle isn’t very different. I’m technically a woman-child, and one who has loved too many man-children, but I am now ready to convert.

With this all in the forefront of my mind and my having already made the decision to write about it for this week, I was confronted with Hot Neighbor last week and his questioning of me about wanting to settle down. Despite it being close to 6am and having been up all night with him and my neighbor Alex, who is a deviant and brings out the deviant in me, I realized as I watched Hot Neighbor pack for his weekend trip to the beach in his underwear, that to him I really am a woman-child. I may be able to pay my rent on my own, I live alone, I pay my bills on time (sometimes), but that Peter Pan complex in me runs deep, far too deep for a woman my age. I blame New York City, of course. New York City allows us all to be kids far too long; it caters to a society of people who aren’t in a rush to grow up, who work hard to pursue their dreams for minimal money (or in some cases, a lot of money), then play even harder thanks to bars being open until 4am. We really do not sleep here, because if we did, we’d probably miss out on some fun. We’ll sleep when we’re dead, thank you very much.

However, for some reason I really let what Hot Neighbor said get to me. The majority of my friends who are my age, even the ones here in the city, (I’m in my early 30’s, OK?) have settled down, they have married, and had kids while I’m standing around trying to figure out why that is still not an attractive way to live in my mind. I’m here trying to understand why I relate better to a 24-year-old than a woman in her 30’s. Granted, I’m lucky enough that I can easily pass for someone in their mid-20’s, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m no longer 25. Age may be just a number, but sometimes it’s a number that counts when you realize that you’re not only late to the party, but you’ve had the directions wrong most of the way there.

I still turn my head when I hear the sound of a skateboard against the asphalt, just as I did when I was 12. I’m more than happy to buy dinner for some struggling artist I’m dating because he’s yet to “arrive.” I’m also willing to overlook the fact that a hot 36-year-old tattoo artist shares his apartment with a man in his 40’s and a woman in her late 30’s who calls herself the “Zombie Queen.” I forgive this, because I feel I have no right not to do so. But I’ve changed, or rather, to quote Daisy Buchanan: “Tell ‘em all Daisy’s change’ her mine. Say: ‘Daisy’s change’ her mine!’” Amanda has changed her “mine!”

My next birthday will probably be the last one I’ll celebrate in an obnoxious over-the-top way as I always have. I plan to remember ever bit of the night, and not end up on a sidewalk in my $1200 dress, barefoot and crying to my sister that I’m old like I did when I turned 30. Nor will the evening be followed by a three or four day bender like the ones I used to share with Swede because I needed him to feel young; I needed proof that I still had “it,” that I could drink and dance and party for days and come out the other side still in tact. But as I look at the concept of the man-child, I’ve realized I don’t need to date one or even be one to never lose the fact that I was and will always be a bit of a party girl. It will always be there in me, but it just needs to be tamed a bit. I need to learn to stop after a couple drinks, I need to start facing things head-on with the gumption of an adult and not the fear of a child, and realize it’s time to grow the fuck up.

Why am I giving up the man-child and you should, too? Well, let’s cover the pros and cons, shall we?

Pro: They’re fun as fuck!

Con: They’re unreliable – not just emotionally and mentally, but when you lend them $40 so they can pay their electricity bill but blow it on whisky and end up at your house until they can afford to have it turned back on because you refuse to lend them more money, you’ll see that you’re not only a sucker, but they just can’t get their shit together.

Pro: They’re fun as fuck! Yes, no truer statement has ever been written.

Con: You will have to pay for everything. I don’t need some fella to buy me dinner or flowers; I can do that myself. But when you realize you’re always paying, because they’re always broke, because they’re either “waiting to be discovered” or spent their money on, oh I don’t know, whisky again! You’ll realize that it’s not a partnership; it’s more like mothering.

Pro: They’re fun as fuck? Is this actually a true statement, or is it rather exhausting?

Con: They’re still trying to find themselves. “Seriously, it’s not you; it’s me. I just can’t settle down because I need to find myself.” Really? You’re fucking 38. If you’re not going to find yourself tomorrow, then it’s not happening.

Pro: They’re fun as fuck. (Yawn.)

Con: They tend to love with one foot out the door. I actually don’t knock this thought process as much as I should because you never know who’s around the corner or whom you may meet in your life that is more your match, than you ever thought possible. However, if you’re looking for commitment and he’s looking for the next hot thing, then you’re wasting each other’s time. In other words, you could find yourself standing on a corner with your life in both shambles and suitcases somewhere wondering what the hell happened.

Pro: They’re fun as fuck… I feel like I’m repeating myself here if only to convince myself of something. I’m having some sort of inner struggle. I may need a cupcake.

Con: They’ll probably be 50 and still fun as fuck, but it won’t be cool anymore. No one wants to be the oldest one at the bar, or the person hitting on someone half their age. It may be fun, but it’s more sad than not. You can’t be The Fonz forever. Have you seen Fonzie lately? Exactly.

Honestly, nothing is more fun than being wrapped up in a world without responsibility or consequences. Believe me, I keep hanging on to this way of living with everything I have, but I fear I’m trying so hard that my palms are sweating and it’s forcing me to slip even faster. I can’t stop sliding from my place in Woman Child World!

Eventually it gets old; it really does. But the problem with the man-child is that they’re not only late to the party, but they’ve been partying too hard all this time to have noticed otherwise. I don’t fault them for it, if anything I love them more, but I’ve realized they’re just no longer the type of fellas for me. Granted, this will take some getting used to and hanging around places where “grown-ups” go, but I’m going to give it a real shot — although I’m not quite sure how to go about it. I’m thinking the Chase bank on my block is good beginning, because someone with a checking account would be a great start.

 

Photo: Someecards

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  • zanbrody

    Good luck on the new man . I dropped the man-child dating and it made my life about 100 times awesomer.

    Then you look back in horror at how you ever dated dudes who had blanket nests, in a mud room, as their living quarters.

    • zanbrody

      I meant “good luck on the new man criteria” or something like that. :)

  • mr_man

    the only reason men “grow up” is to attract a wife. because most women these days put off marriage until their 30s so they can concentrate on their careers, there is no longer an incentive for men to grow up. sorry, but you ladies only have yourselves to blame.

    • Maggie

      I’m sorry us women folk have created so many douche bags and forced you to live on your Mom’s couch forever. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive us when you’re still single after 40, because it’s OUR fault your drunken pickup lines and receding hairline are preventing you from getting a wife.

      …Oh wait…

    • DM101010

      Well feminism really has created these kinds of men…. Since modern women are no prize (rather they are selfish, entitled, and materialistic), there is really no reason for us to grow up.

    • Amanda Chatel

      Maggie, I love you.

      And who refers to themselves as “mr_man?” I’m guessing a delusional “man-child!” Yeah, that’s who.

    • Maggie

      Yay, thanks Amanda! :) Maybe the screen name “mr_man” is to make him feel like a grown-up? Or maybe he was too busy re-living his high school glory days with his other man-child “bros” to come up with a better one.

    • duckie

      To elaborate more on your reason of why men “grow up” is probably due to the peter-pan complex not being fun anymore… mortality starts to creep up on them and they realize they want to have a baby. And in order to have a baby, they need a willing grownup woman to impregnate. Hopefully it doesn’t damage any kids brought into the world with that reasoning and these men do end up being great fathers with a new set of responsibilities.

  • Cec

    I just ended things with my man-child, the line about mothering your partner, that felt right. Things were headed in that direction since I believe he thought I was nagging him, and I’m not a nag, so I stopped nagging and also stopped dating him. I’m 25, but I’m ready to stop with the broke “fun” guy who eats way too much fast food. I’m okay being single and waiting for the guy who can afford his own internet and phone bill. He told me he’d change and that when he got married and we lived together… I worry that this would be because I would essentially be mothering him.

  • Ellen W.

    Pro: everyone is proud of you when you drop them!

    • Amanda Chatel

      You’re so right! I already received a congrats someecard and two “high-five” texts!

    • zanbrody

      I feel like you should have some type of party to celebrate this life milestone.

      You know–everyone keeps saying how much fun the man-children are..but seriously my mature adult husband is crazy fun, spontaneous etc. too. He just happens to also have a successful career, decent car, ability to implement steps toward life goals etc.

      In fact, in retrospect, for all the “crazy fun” I had with immature guys, I had WAY more times where they ditched me, disappointed me, embarassed me etc. Maybe that’s just my experience though.

    • Amanda Chatel

      @zanbrody

      I think you may be right – I should.

      And like you, there have been countless times, where I was ditched, disappointed and all that bullshit. I’m just over it.

  • Miss Meppy

    It’s crazy, all week I’ve been planning an article on this exact topic. I just broke up with my man-child a few weeks ago, and nearly all of my girl friends are in various stages of struggling to dump their own. It’s hard to let go of someone who’s fun as fuck, so sometimes it takes a few tries. But once you do you just deserve all those high fives that much more!

  • Lastango

    “I need to start facing things head-on with the gumption of an adult…”

    Sounds good. One way to get an adult compass is to spend time with people shouldering adult responsibilities. Volunteering with folks who work with the mentally retarded, or man a crisis intervention hotline come to mind as examples. Someone once wrote, “College perpetuates adolescence, the military truncates it”. You can’t join the Marine Corps, but there may be equivalents that can take you outside yourself to something larger.

    Good luck with your life-change!

    (…but I’m not optimistic unless you drop the booze. You’re an alcoholic, and that probably has to stop first before you can make progress.)

    • Amanda Chatel

      LASTANGO!

      I quit drinking. And quit calling me an alcoholic, it just makes change even harder.

    • Lastango

      You quit drinking, Amanda? Wonderful! A week and a half ago you weren’t ready to:

      http://thegloss.com/culture/i-can-finally-admit-that-i-have-a-drinking-problem-771/

      Regarding calling yourself an alcoholic, what did you feel like you were saying when you wrote, “I can finally admit I have a drinking problem. I know that I’m incapable of controlling it” – ? The first of AA’s 12 steps reads “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – and that our lives had become unmanageable.”

      The fourth step is “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” From this post, it sounds like you’re working on that too.

      Alcoholics in AA admit that there is no such thing as an ex-alcoholic, just two types – on the wagon or off. The urge is always there, and their challenge is to manage it.

      Please call yourself what you want, but you might consider asking some AA folks how they feel about calling themselves alcoholics. It wouldn’t surprise me if they reply it’s part of taking adult responsibility for their lives — just what you seem to be heading towards. (In effect they’re calling themselves that every time they go to a meeting.)

      (…and I won’t say you’re an alcoholic anymore. I want to support you, not tear you down. Unless you raise the topic again I’ve said my bit about that. The next person to call you an alcoholic should be you – if you want to, and if it’s right for you.)

    • Lastango

      “You make me regret writing that entire piece”

      Well, I’m glad you wrote it. I’ll bet others are too, though few who fight their own demons in the dark may say so. You might be helping a lot of people who hide substance abuse problems from themselves and everyone else. Pain is everywhere, it seems, just out of sight. That’s one reason I check out PostSecrets every Sunday – real life is so hard, so beautiful.

  • Sabrina

    This came at exactly the right time. Thank you.

    Good luck with the changes. Change is always both really hard and exciting.

    • Sabrina

      Also, and I hope this isn’t too pry-ish, but does this mean there will be no more Tattoo Guy?

    • Amanda Chatel

      Sabrina!
      No such thing as prying with me… however, that question will be answered before the week is out.

  • d

    “Granted, I’m lucky enough that I can easily pass for someone in their mid-20’s, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m no longer 25.”

    Umm….

  • RM

    Pro: easy to get dates with a man-child
    Con: hard to find non man-children. At least in my Peter Pan city.

    • Amanda Chatel

      Do you live in NYC, too? Or is this spreading to other parts of the country like a horrid plague?

    • holleeta

      Very true.

  • holleeta

    Let me just warn you, as someone with a lot of experience in dating the non-man-child, a lot of guys are just man-children in adult clothing. I’ve dated so many that have successful careers and a healthy work-life balance and are still so emotionally immature. In that area, they weren’t any better than the man-child. The positive side to the man-child is that you know what you are getting – it’s upfront and there is no bullshit so there can be no disappointment.

    • Amanda Chatel

      This is also very true.

  • MZT

    Most men will not be interested in women who have spent their twenties dating and having sex with a sizable number of these party guys you write about ( not saying that you did, but a number of women do)…unless they too have had similar level of experience…but a relationship where the woman has substantially more sexual experience will leave such men, who often make excellent husbands and fathers, in an emotionally fragile position making them unlikely to want to commit to a long term relationship.