Most of us are likely already familiar with the concept of a manolescent. Sometimes described as having Peter Pan syndrome, these guys, who are also referred to as “manchildren,” will never mature into any semblance of adulthood. Not really.
They might look like grown-ups, complete with encroaching back hair and greying facial scruff, but really they’re just boys wearing man-suits, delighted that they can now drink legally forever.
TV shows and films are rife with tropes featuring guys like these: think Jake Peralta from Brooklyn 99, Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, any role Will Ferrell has ever played, and even the 11th Doctor on Doctor Who. They’re all awkward and juvenile, but even though their immature antics and comments can be absolutely infuriating, they can also be horribly endearing. They’re funny, energetic, and even when they say or do the most offensive things, you know that they don’t do so out of any sense of spite, but because they’re really just boys who won’t, or can’t, grow up.
Those moments of endearing sweetness can’t always make up for their frustratingly irresponsible behavior, though. These guys tend to be unreliable, self-absorbed, and utterly oblivious to their immediate surroundings. They might not change their clothes for days, will step over puddles of cat vomit because they just don’t see them, or nestle in amongst piles of empty beer cans and pizza boxes because they’ve been engrossed in epic gaming sessions. What’s the problem?
Well, the problem is that a lot of these guys are also lonely, and would like to cultivate relationships with partners who are open to putting up with them.
How To Make Your Relationship Work
Is it possible to have a real, long-term romantic relationship with a manolescent?
Absolutely, yes… but the key to success is to realize exactly who you’re dealing with, and accepting him exactly as he is, with no expectation that he’s capable of changing on some fundamental level. That’s the bottom line.
You cannot go into a relationship with a guy like this thinking that you’re somehow going to be the magical catalyst that’ll make him into a man.
He is the way he is for countless reasons, and the only way you can make your relationship work and both be happy is if you accept each other exactly as you are, without any expectation that there will be significant change required on either side. This is important to acknowledge, because it isn’t just a question of hoping that he’ll mature: it’s hoping that he’ll be open to accepting your quirks and issues with the same open arms you’re offering to embrace his.
If you’re thinking about dating a juvenile guy because you see him as a project, full of potential that you can mold into your ideal man, forget it. He might be able to play that role for you now and then, but it’s not going to last very long, and you’ll both end up feeling resentful about the charade.
There’s someone out there for everyone: the key is to be with someone who embodies the traits that you find appealing in a partner.
You know how there are some young women who are attracted to older men because they find father figures appealing? They have a “type,” and they’re not going to be happy with a partner who’s just playing a role in an attempt to force things to work. People have to be able to be themselves, and authenticity is of vital importance in any real relationship.
In that vein, the person who is best suited to date a manolescent is someone who is happy playing the role of responsible, mature partner to counterbalance their guy’s immaturity. We’re not talking about sullen resignation to one’s fate here, either: we’re talking about a sincere desire to cultivate a long-term partnership with a doofus who will behave like a teenager for the rest of his life.
That may sound off-putting to most of us, but just like those guys who want to be called “Daddy” in bed, there are men and women for whom a relationship with someone who’s eternally young at heart isn’t just appealing – it’s vital.
People like this tend to like to be in a leadership role when it comes to their personal relationships. They like to be the ones making the decisions, governing finances, basically micromanaging everything so that it all works out exactly as they like it. They need the manolescents in their lives to depend upon them to help govern their own lives, without having to worry about a strong personality butting heads with their own.
They might also really enjoy the youthful vitality that the manchild brings to their partnership. After all, relationships with guys like these are never boring. They might surprise you with tickets to Disneyland for your birthday, or keep you on your toes when they decide to ride a wheelbarrow down a dangerously steep hill.
One great benefit to dating a guy like this is that they have the potential to keep you young at heart in turn. On one hand, you might feel frustrated that you’re the only real adult in the house and the onus is on you to make sure that bills are paid, the house is kept free from rats, and the children aren’t wallowing in their own filth, but you can be damned sure that he’ll treat events with real joy and enthusiasm, and he’ll make you laugh, a lot, especially if he makes you obscenely shaped pancakes for your birthday breakfast.
Love And Appreciate Your Manchild, Or Let Him Go
As mentioned earlier, you have to accept that a manolescent is never going to grow up, and if you have the unrealistic expectation that he will, everyone is going to be miserable. You’ll be upset because he isn’t magically maturing into the guy you think he has the potential to be, and he’ll be devastated because you’re constantly haranguing him into being something that he’s not, and then getting frustrated and disappointed with him for not living up to your expectations.
Who’s happy in a situation like that? Nobody.
Maybe your therapist.
A whole lot of resentment can brew when there’s imbalance in a relationship, especially when it comes down to irresponsibility and not being able to depend on one’s partner. Manolescents are notorious for not doing their fair share of the housework, for example, or being less-than-diligent when it comes to childcare.
Are you okay with the idea of being with someone you may never be able to count on, even in a crisis? Someone who may run and hide from potential life problems instead of standing by your side to face them head on? Someone who will always need you to write his “to-do” lists for him because he honestly doesn’t know what to do without your explicit guidance?
A guy who’ll try to seduce you while wearing Spongebob underpants non-ironically?
If you can answer those questions with an enthusiastic “yes,” and mean it sincerely, then you may have a chance with your manchild.
If you can’t, or you’re hesitant to develop a future with this guy, you might want to break it off and leave him for someone else to deal with.
Like any other fetish you’ll never be able to explain to your coworkers, attraction to a manolescent has to be sincere on a fundamental level, or it just ain’t gonna work.
Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.