As men, if a woman is happy to pick our shit up, clear our plates, tidy the house, tell us when we have to be at the doctor’s, after making an appointment for us of course, arrange the holidays, sort out confrontations, manage the household bills, look after the kids, leave us alone while we play video games, watch sports, drink continual amounts of beer, play with our buddies in the ‘man cave’, listen to our tantrums, all while looking hot in the process and willing to bend over at a moments notice, would receive the thumbs up from most guys.
Like all aspects of life, human maturity is in a continual state of evolution. New information, knowledge, experiences, and understandings build upon the old and growth occurs.
Pretty standard stuff.
The question then, is why, through a lot of cultures, does the emotional growth of the male species seem to slow right down, or worse, completely stop and stagnate around the late teens or in early adulthood?
The fact that the male species finds it so hard to transition from boyhood to man has even had its own names ascribed, that being the ‘adultescent’, ‘kidult’ or ‘manboy’.
Various reasons abound as to why this is, ranging from no real male role model at home, how masculinity has been perceived from society in general, the portrayal of men in the media or the internal inadvertent wounding from mothers at childhood.
Chances are it will be a mixture of all of these and many more reasons but the wounding from mother the most likely.
Regardless, the end result is often the same. A lot of men find themselves in relationships with women who are the projected surrogate mother and with whom he can play all of his unresolved shit out with.
The woman of the relationship is often faced with a barrage of tantrums, fights, and other emotional abuse, depending on the needs of the man, if she continues to wear the mask of mother, effectively becoming his parent.
Of course this can manifest in varying degrees from the subtle to full on babying. A man will never be able to truly see his woman, be present with her, hear her or emotionally hold her if he subconsciously sees someone else’s face instead of hers.
If we have unresolved wounding from mother as a child; whether that is not feeling heard, seen, appreciated, judged, held enough or a plethora of other scars, we can energetically choose a woman who often mirrors our own mother.
She can spot the signs of his triggering before him, calms his down, smooths things over while picking his dirty laundry off the floor and waiting for him to stagger home late from the pub, night after night.
Where his boyish charm and carefree attitude may have been a source of attraction and endearment during courtship, this can quickly accelerate into full-on baby-mode when with the right (or wrong) woman.
The feminine energy is the nurturer after all and can easily overlook how much care is going to need to be provided, leading to a dysfunctional relationship. Basically, the man needs mothering and the woman is happy to oblige – on a subconscious level at least.
The man gets a woman mother, but one with who he can sleep with.
We don’t do this intentionally of course. We don’t see a chick at the bar and think “wow she looks just like mum, I’m going to hit on her” but rather we can very quickly transition into a place of safety and familiarity once the initial high of a new relationship starts to fade away.
I would argue that most, if not all men still have some degree of ‘little boy’ inside us somewhere. To what degree we let this boy dictate not only our relationship but life choices, reactions, behaviors and how we show up in the world comes down to our Emotional Maturity – which is not to be confused with Emotional Intelligence.
INTELLIGENCE OR MATURITY
It’s now widely acknowledged that Emotional Intelligence is a key skill for managers and business leaders and that getting in touch with your emotions and managing them when interacting with others plays a major part in managerial effectiveness.
This is good, very good.
The problem is that Emotional Intelligence can be a learned thing. It can be assimilated and understood from an intellectual level and so someone who has mastered a high degree of Emotional Intelligence may still have a complete lack of Emotional Maturity.
Emotional Maturity is mastered when we deal with the root cause of any emotional issue.
So, in a given situation, a person with high Emotional Intelligence may feel a particular frustration surfacing and have techniques to defuse how this may affect his reactions. They may still find it hard to manage their emotions or emotional reactivity and quickly revert to old, self-destructive emotional habits and patterns when certain triggers are pulled.
A person with high Emotional Maturity may not even feel the frustration to begin with as they would have worked on and fully understand the actual cause.
The manboy has an extremely low Emotional Maturity quota. At least in his personal relationship with his partner anyway.
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A MANBOY AND A MAN:
A Manboy cannot see past his own opinions – Has no concept that others may think or feel differently to him.
A man openly welcomes the opinions of others. He is not insecure about how he understands the world and realises that others may have things to teach him. He is also respectful that everyone has different experiences in life and therefore, different views.
A Manboy is self-absorbed, controlling, selfish, judgmental and defensive.
A man who knows himself has worked past these negative traits.
A Manboy is not ‘present’, deflects and quick to change the subject in uncomfortable conversations.
A man knows how to communicate his needs. He is assertive in getting his point across, yet not pushy.
A Manboy is manipulative – He knows how to work people in getting what he wants.
A man is respectful and lives by integrity.
A Manboy is needy, often co-dependent with his partner for his emotional needs.
Men are independent. They have no problem relying on others when they need help, but they know that no matter what happens, they will be able to take care of themselves.
A Manboy is passive. Letting others make decisions for him.
A man knows what he wants out of life. He is assertive and self assured, while taking other peoples needs and wants into consideration. He can make his own decisions and can lead from a place of self-sovereignty and respect.
A Manboy never puts his partner’s needs first but usually expects his own to be met.
A man will not just recognise his partner’s needs, he will encourage, support and want her to be the best she can be.
A Manboy is intimidated by smart, intelligent women.
A man is stimulated by them.
A Manboy plays the victim – It’s never his fault; it’s yours, his boss’s, the other driver’s, blah, blah blah.
A man knows he is responsible for his own happiness.
A Manboy partakes in escapism – Drinking, drugs, video games, workaholic or any other behaviour that covers up his internal wounding.
A man has little or no internal conflict to escape from.
A Manboy is irresponsible and lacks self-control – An unrealistic career path, temper tantrums, binge drinking or inappropriate behaviour.
A man is a master of his own behaviour, actions and reactions.
A Manboy is highly sensitive to things done to him but blind to anything he does to others.
A man is fully aware of himself and others and has no reason to be offended.
A Manboy doesn’t see things through and boredom quickly sets in.
A man is willing to invest in long term goals.
A Manboy avoids confrontation – Dislikes being ‘ticked off’ and will do anything to sidestep it.
A man will stand up for what he believes is correct.
A Manboy has a constant need for approval.
A man doesn’t look outside of himself for validation from others. He gives himself the majority of his own validation because he is already proud of the person that he is becoming.
An emotionally stunted male is not simply the dude sitting at home playing World of Warcraft on his Xbox while his partner has returned home from collecting the kids with three bags of groceries in hand, it can manifest through all walks of life, even with the most Alpha of Alpha males. It matters not on status, earning potential, popularity or anything else. The workaholic millionaire businessman maybe just that because of his low Emotional Maturity as he has sunk all of his attention into his career as an escape of feeling into the pain he carries deep inside.
So what can be done?
With anything, the man first needs to be aware that this is actually happening. Perhaps bringing his attention to his trigger points. Does he notice he gives the same reaction to similar scenarios? Ask why he doesn’t help around the house if this is relevant for him, or why he feels the need to let the woman take control of all of the arrangements in life.
Therapy may be a good option but remember that we can’t make anyone change, all we can do is point them in that direction – unless, of course, you make the appointment for him!
A Man knows himself. It is not about his income, his car, status or how big his biceps are. He knows himself emotionally and this makes him competent and trustworthy. He is aware of his little boy and how he can manifest in his life. He is not ashamed of him but rather he fathers him. Because of his heightened sense of self he becomes deeply empathetic, he listens, can communicate, he wants to lift others up. Simply put, he embodies all the traits of healthy masculinity and his personal relationship with is partner reflects this.