Love & Relationships

7 Subtle Signs Of A Certified Man Child

Oh, the infamous man-child. Some of us have had the pain of encountering a man who has the mental and emotional maturity of a petulant child. I know I have. Between the weaponized incompetence, arrested development, lack of self-awareness, lack of impulse control, and lack of introspection that tend to come with this type of partner, the jokes can write themselves in the pursuit of a relationship with an evolved man who can actually meet you at your level.

As women, we are encouraged to keep our standards high, which ordinarily allows the man-child to stay in the wild where he belongs. Even though the current state of our dating pool is not giving what it needs to give all the way through here, standards and boundaries have long served as effective tools in weeding through the “potential” and showing suitors the door if they aren’t on our level.

But let’s be real; sometimes, an unworthy partner can fall through the cracks as their “representative” takes the lead during the courtship stage. Months and sometimes years later, you might not even realize the full breadth of what you’re dealing with until the proverbial mask begins to slip. Instead of being a help, he’s more of a hindrance. Instead of being an equal, he’s more of a dependent. And instead of being invested in the commitment of a relationship, he’s more into indulging in laziness and low-effort tendencies.

7 Signs You're Dating a Man Child

In essence, a man child, also commonly referred to as Peter Pan Syndrome, is a man who is stunted (read: emotionally immature) and refuses to grow up. Instead of feeling like you have a partner, you end up falling into the role of a second mama, and who wants that?

Be prepared to run, not walk, if any of the following signs apply to your guy.

1.They lack purpose and/or direction.

Who was it that said a man with no direction can’t lead you anywhere? Whoever said it deserves credit for doing the Lord’s work and then some. Purpose is how you know fulfillment. Direction sets the tone for the path you are taking in life. Without either or both, you can find yourself squarely in a dead-end relationship with a man who isn’t capable of leading the relationship. More than that, being directionless can manifest in other detrimental ways to the way he leads his own life. This can look like not having routines, procrastinating like a mutha, or even avoiding self-work or self-improvement.

The man-child is just going with the flow and taking one day at a time. While being present is always a gift, the man you’re with shouldn’t be afraid of setting long-term goals so that his present can inform his future.

2.They become paralyzed at the sound of a commitment.

“What is marriage? It’s just a piece of paper. Why do we need to move in together? Everything is going fine just the way it is.”

Being strung along is too common when engaging with a man-child. Common relationship steps considered to be pivotal in moving the relationship forward are things they wince at or things that they just act very indifferent about. It’s not an act, it’s a refusal to commit to the commitment, a paradoxical reality the man-child can write the book about. It’s why questions of moving in together or marriage are things Mr. Go With the Flow can see himself doing without.

A reluctance to truly commit could also be why the relationship might feel like it’s not on solid ground. He prefers to run instead of resolve and sometimes waivers under the weight of what should be viewed as a simple mistake. And if you don’t want to feel stuck in a loop of are we or aren’t we, or worse, plateaued forever, you might be better off letting the runner be the track star he so aspires to be.

3.They rarely (if ever) take initiative in big things and small things.

Whew, chile, can’t you just feel the brunt of emotional labor brimming from this one? Whether it’s meal planning for groceries during the week or even planning dates and trips, hell, even your own birthday – everything seems to fall squarely on your shoulders to get done. More than that, you know if you didn’t take care of it, it wouldn’t get done. A relationship is not a one-person effort, so there is no reason why you can see that things around the house need to get done or things in the relationship need to be maintained, but your partner cannot.

Newsflash: they are okay with being willfully ignorant and might even be serving you a side of weaponized incompetence on purpose.

A healthy partner is willing to look at your mental and emotional well-being and take the initiative to take things off your plate, not burden you with the task of upkeeping most if not all, of the expectations of a household. Let alone a thriving relationship.

4.They always have an excuse.

Couldn’t wash the dishes or clean the bathroom today? Excuse. Couldn’t communicate they’d be running late? Excuse. Couldn’t pick up the kids on time? Excuse. Couldn’t create a meaningful idea for his turn to do date night? Excuse. Couldn’t get groceries done this time but wants to eat? Excuse. Couldn’t be bothered to cook tonight? Excuse. Any behavior deemed bad or unreasonable that they have done? Of course, an excuse. Whatever the instance may be, the ownership is severely lacking with this one, and the blame is always on someone or something else that will rarely (if ever) have anything to do with them.

There’s even an excuse about why past relationships didn’t work out, and surprise, surprise, their exes are almost always the cause. Early on, the blame game with his excuses applies to everything and everyone outside of them. Just know, eventually, he’ll also blame you. Speaking of which, this brings me to my next point…

5.They can’t take accountability if their life depends on it.

Maybe he shuts down when you bring up anything remotely serious or shrugs it off as not being able to do “negative emotions.” Maybe he downright denies it when you mention something he has said or done is hurtful to you. Maybe he acts defensive or doesn’t allow you to take up space in the conversation and instantly dishes out a rebuttal. Something he did is not acceptable under the light of accountability, and so it becomes about what you did to him. You’re being “too sensitive,” that’s not what he meant, you’re “overthinking.”

Maybe all of this points to the man-child you’re clearly dealing with is one that refuses to take responsibility for his actions or his words when it comes to you. He deflects instead of owning, whether it’s his bad behavior or his own emotions. Who wants that?

6.They have standards that they can’t or won’t meet themselves.

It starts with a comment or two here or there while you’re out and about, but they make it known how high their standards are regarding cleanliness or upkeep. But let them get into a relationship with you, and the unsolicited criticisms about how you are and how you move are never-ending. It can start with something seemingly small, like commenting on your cooking despite not ever lifting a finger to cook a meal themselves. The complaints themselves are self-serving because while they attach a lot of expectations to you, they never have any intention of meeting their own strict morals or high standards.

Said man-child might also appear withdrawn or “pout” when things aren’t happening “his way.” It’s almost as though they want you to fit squarely into what they believe a partner should be, say, or do, all while knowing they have no desire to also meet those standards.

Honorable mention to the version of these types that are able to dish it but can’t take it and lash out whenever they feel remotely offended. Pot, meet kettle.

7.They are still attached to the teet.

Sometimes, the makings of a man-child and a mama’s boy do overlap, and honestly, when you think of the refusal to grow up or be responsible in both types, you can probably understand why. In the case of a man-child, this can also manifest as relying on his mom to cook his meals and do his laundry, or calling her for every little thing.

It could also look like wanting to be the center of attention at all times and questioning why he is not the focus when he wants you both to do something he wants to do. Mr. Man-Child is used to being doted after by his mother figure, and wants you to fill her shoes, and wants you to be just as self-sacrificing as she is/was while doing it.

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Featured image by Dragos Condrea/Getty Images




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