A male perspective on why men aren’t growing up
It's been all over the news and blogsphere. Modern men apparently aren't "growing up" as they go to college and never seem to leave that mentality, despite aging. They'll want to spend all their free time playing video games, watching sports, partying, looking for sexual hookups, and/or masturbating to porn.
It's also led to many female friends constantly breaking up with new boyfriends, claiming "he won't grow up". I've also seen many "experts" try to explain this, but I think too many are pulling out psychological and sociological theory rather than really try to understand the modern male and why he's not choosing to live as his father might have. My hope today is to explain it as I see it, from a male perspective.
You can't easily define "grown up" anymore
According to most of the articles and study, they define "grown up" as when you're working a full-time job, getting married, and having a family. That's a great notion if it were 1962, but this is 2012. Things have changed, we went through the sexual revolution, women's liberation, and many instances of the youth redefining "normal life".
I've seen the "man child" term tossed around so loosely to basically describe any man who won't fall in line with that old, outdated thinking. From the socially inept male who works a dead end job and spends his free time playing video games and masturbating to porn; to the financially successful yuppie male who is fueled by testosterone to work hard, play harder, maintain a physically fit body, and lay every hot woman he lays his eyes on.
Who is the man child? One? Both? Who gets to define that? Plus, why is it only applied to men? Karol Markowicz spoke of the double-standard in how women can delay marriage, party like crazy, seek out a sugar daddy, shop, etc...but are seen as "empowered" or "independent". Men unfortunately do not receive such a positive designation for doing the same.
The economy isn't helping
Let's be brutally honest. This economy has been terrible for men. We can claim it's because most of the new jobs are white collar, while many men work blue collar. We can also speculate if Corporate America is hiring more women simply to pay them less than men (illegal, but hard to prove).
One way or another, not having a job or not having a decent income can do a lot to a man in his self-esteem. While the modern world has changed from that 1962 life I mentioned, it's hard to feel like a man when you're unemployed, struggling, and worse, living at home as a "boomeranger".
How many of you ladies have "must have a job" on the requirements list for a boyfriend? I'm sure most of you do. So imagine what most of these guys who have no job must feel. I've been there. You end up falling into a reclusive life. These are the unemployed adult males who then find happiness in video games, TV, and internet porn. Some still try to land a date, but many others (including me at the time) decide simply to back-burner dating, thinking no woman would want them until they find a job.
Finding a job even can still not mean totally growing up. We live in a culture that constantly pushes us to "keep up with the Joneses". Suddenly it's not enough for someone to work and have a place to live and food to eat; but he feels he must have a more luxurious place to live, a better car, and all the new "toys". For some guys, they never reach this point, so they continually delay things like marriage and such while they work for it. Others attain this goal, but then find a life of cruising in an expensive car, playing video games on a massive screen, and picking up hot young women at the clubs looks more appealing than settling down.
Again, this is why it's hard to define "grown up" because the bar is continually set higher in tougher times.
Dating is a big mess
I made mention to the "requirements list for a boyfriend", but I'll be honest. Dating is a big mess now in our society, mainly because of the wild directions many take in their youth which make it harder to grow into a more "traditional" ideology as we age.
I won't dive into the idea of "bad boys" or "nice guys", but simply point out what are simply "winners" and "losers". From puberty, the winners get girls out on dates, into bed, etc. while the losers seem to strike out every time they try.
Through high school and into college, we'll see the winners continually lavish in the easy sex world of hookup culture while the losers fall into social seclusion, giving up on it all due to low self-esteem. The result is you end up with literally a "30 year-old virgin". Much like the character Steve Carell played in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, these guys are similar in how they live an almost child-like life with little to no push to ever socially relate and grow with women.
The other side of this coin isn't much better. While the losers are alone and not learning how to date or relate to women, the winners also grow their own opinion of it all. I'm sure many women have faced the issue of a handsome successful male who you think would be the ideal boyfriend and later husband/father of your children...only to find out he has no intention of ever "settling down" in life.
The hookup culture combined with pornography has bred the winners to have a very skewed view of women. If they're not slender with big breasts, long hair, in lingerie and ready for sex, these guys aren't into them. I'll see many women complain how they meet some attractive man but find out he really doesn't know how to date. She expected flowers and a candlelit dinner, but he felt going bar-hopping and later to bed was all that was needed. Worse, as these guys get older, they find commitment to be unfavorable over hooking up.
Many more men are just plain confused, primarily on gender roles. We grew up with males being the dominant, then told them to treat women equally. So we go to work, treat women equally to an extent (we save the dirty jokes just for the men-folk), but then all of a sudden, women demand to go backwards to the old-school way of dating, where men take the lead. I know to you women this doesn't sound strange, but to men it does.
Even more, it's driven both the winners and losers in dating to ask "why should we go back?" Men now are questioning why they should buy women drinks in clubs, or why they should pick up the check at dinner, or even why should they have to take on the risks of approaching and asking out women. Ironically, when some women try to reverse roles (like asking a guy out), those very men are still confused and can't handle it.
Dating is a royal mess now, and it shows much of why many men have fallen back on societal ideas of "adult maturity".
Marriage gets a bad rap
Many of you might remember sitcoms of the 1980s like The Cosby Show, Growing Pains, and Family Ties. Ever notice that no matter what, the husband never really ended up "sleeping on the couch" and the husband/wife never went to divorce? Even when the kids were bad, they still respected their parents.
Go into the 1990s with Married... with Children and The Simpsons. Now suddenly the family is dysfunctional, the kids are brats, etc. You even see many other family sitcom shows where it seems the wife is the beautiful smart superwoman who can do it all, while the husband is the bumbling idiot who seems to anger his wife with every episode. Meanwhile, you have plenty of reality shows and other programs depicting this wonderful life for single folk. Guys look great, meet gorgeous women, have sex, have fun, make mistakes, but still never seemingly end up old and alone.
Like it or not, the divorce rate is high, and many more men now on both the winning and losing sides of dating are questioning "what's in it for me?" when it comes to relationships and marriage.
Men are continually shown marriage as this horrible end in life, rather than the wonderful thing women believe it to be. They see depictions in the media and in real life of beautiful women marrying, then a few years later gaining loads of weight, chopping all their hair off, and becoming nagging bitches. Many men now see the wedding itself as this massive monetary expense geared solely for the bride while the groom is just an accessory. They are even seeing children now as these crazy messy creatures that suck away time and money, rather than as "their offspring".
Many women out there hope to land a "winner" for a boyfriend and later husband. Unfortunately the winners have decided that marriage and children are now the dreams for women, not men. Look on any "bro culture" site and see how much they ridicule the two institutions...and men do read this.
So unfortunately, women end up with their choices being the "losers" whom they never were attracted to versus the "winners" who have decided they don't have to settle down in life...simply because they are desirable and thus have an easy selection of women when they need. More so, many of the losers have grown bitter and thus embraced the "Men Going Their Own Way" (MGTOW) ethos, where they simply choose not to be part of the dating pool at all.
Women can see all of this as childish as much as they want, but with more men pushing away marriage and children, it's not going to be easy for many women to find their husband in life.
Parents are not helping
I know the first notion in one's mind with all this is "where are their parents?" In the old days, a parent might scold, push, or even toss their adult child out of the house to force them to grow up. Nowadays, parents nurture too much and overshadow their kids to death. They want to protect them so much they'll cheat and do anything to keep their child from failing or facing any hard times in life.
The problem now is these kids never faced actual failure. Failing always hurts in life, but it's worse if your first failure is as an adult. My first really big failure in life was flunking out of college at age 18. I feel now that this experience, combined with other failures in work (layoffs and unemployment) pushed and strengthened me to go from slacker to driven.
When you allow your son to live in the basement, bring girls there regularly for sex, work a dead-end job in their twenties, and spend all day playing video games with no long-term goals, you empower him to stay a "man child". Worse is when you do his laundry and cook him meals. Why would any man leave that, especially if he can still go out, party, and get girls into his bed without the "ew...you live with your parents" stigma?
So how do we fix all this?
The first step in solving any problem is first facing up to it. Modern men are frustrated, confused, and allowed to remain boys by the society around them. Fixing this problem isn't going to be a "get tough on them" solution, but more a "rethinking society" ideology.
I think gender roles need to be redefined across the board. Men now have to be more willing to take on roles women used to only hold, and women especially need to toss away the old "traditional" thinking in dating and marriage when it comes to gender roles. Stop looking at a "Mr. Mom" or a guy who doesn't make as much money as the woman as a "loser".
Marriage-minded women are going to have to realize that the more options a man has, the more likely he'll want to stay single. I know women carry fantasies of being "amazing enough" that she'll tame the untamable, but in reality life doesn't work that way. Both genders need to grow together, not a few "winners" selected while many fall to the wayside. I'm not saying for a woman to marry an insecure basketcase who can't remember his name around a woman, but the hopes of taming the "winners" into marriage needs to change, or else things will remain the same with women complaining how the "good men" won't settle down.
I also personally think marriage and kids has to be shown as something appealing to men again. If all we men see are women who somehow "transform" from beuatiful girlfriends to nagging wives with that ring, then men won't want to do it. If we see kids as loud gross money vacuums, then again...we'll see video games and a dog as more appealing. I'm not sure exactly how to make marriage/family look appealing to men now, but I think the dynamic has to change where it's not rushed and even the balance of personal time/material desires versus adult responsibilties is kept.
The parents need to also pitch in. Be a parent who guides, not just protects. Let your child fail in life so they can learn. Nurture them to not give up and to try harder when they fail. When they reach adulthood (male or female), be ready to show "tough love" if they won't become adults. You're not helping them in life by keeping them as children.
What do you think? Why do you think many men aren't "growing up" now?