Almost daily, I overhear my 11th and 12th grade female high school students recount the bittersweet trials and tribulations of their young dating lives. Often, I find myself in the position of a relationship counselor from whom these hypersensitive and impressionable minds seek advice. As difficult as it can be to offer up my personal time to hear these tales from young girls who would better spend their time on their studies and intrapersonal growth, I sit and I listen.
As their voice level and tone rise, their hands gesticulate their frustration, and their hearts spill, I can’t help but see myself in them. It becomes clear to me that at the age of twenty-five, my “man problems” are not unlike those of my students.
Eight years their senior, I still meet men who seem to act the way boys did when I was in high school, men who never seem to grow up, men who can’t let go of their high school or college glory days. These men seem to suffer from being a manchild.
A manchild can be defined as a male who while being physically mature, lacks mental and emotional maturity, the ability to communicate as an adult, authenticity, consideration and personal responsibility.
They often have successful careers, stable incomes, and are, at very least, relatively attractive. And while one may assume that a manchild is very young, the inability to communicate and demonstrate maturity does not discriminate; he may be of any age, race, color or creed. Unfortunately for women, however, this only makes it more difficult to weed them out from the real men.
I’m confident that most women have experience in dealing with at least one manchild in their life. Perhaps he led you on and there weren’t any signs that he wasn’t genuinely interested in you. Perhaps he only wanted to sleep with you or maybe he even pulled a disappearing act. Take a closer look at the details, and even if you can’t find any evidence that this person wasn’t interested, chances are you will find evidence that YOU weren’t interested in him. Ultimately, you must recognize that he’s not for you and he did you the favor.
Often times, though, women get caught up with the idea of a man. We’re too blind to notice that deep down we’re not interested or this man lacks what we really need in a partner. We’re too blind to notice, or too caught up to stop denying, that he never makes us feel good, he never compliments the way we look or notices the nuances of the outfit we exerted mass energy planning, and he never demonstrates a genuine interest or investment in our emotions.
This idealization is even more common among Latinas. It’s no secret that there is a lack of available (emotionally and/or physically) Latino men who are well-educated and goal-oriented, in addition to being kind and family-oriented. This understanding produces a frenzy when one comes across a Latino who appears to harbor these qualities. This near euphoric sensation colors our vision rose and, at times, both prevents us from seeing truth and leads us into the arms of a manchild.
Still, despite how upset one might feel upon coming to the realization that he wasn’t right all along, the only person at fault is the manchild who more than likely will never own up to his inconsistency, mixed messages, and overall lack of consideration.
Listen, he probably wasn’t the first and he probably won’t be the last manchild we encounter in our lives. Even though I feel confident that we will never know the reason why some men’s social-emotional growth and communication skills are stunted, I do know that we are not alone in our experience. As women, we need to learn to rise above and extract what we can from each positive and negative experience in our lives.
I’m going to offer you what I tell my students and what I find myself repeating in times of dating frustration: don’t resign yourself. Regardless of what you think you may have done “wrong”, it really isn’t you; it’s him.
Don’t let a few bad experiences with a manchild dictate your outlook on life or the possibility of a great relationship with a great man, because, yes, great men do exist. Instead, use these experiences as a way for you to make the clear distinction between your wants and needs.
Chances are, mujer, he couldn’t handle your fire anyhow. After all, dating a primera dama is not a job for the faint of heart.
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