Man-boys are a curious breed; they are a mixture of emotionally and relationally ill-equipped boys that inhabit the bodies of grown men. These creatures are readily found among guys in their late-20s and 30s who graze in urban and suburban environs. Initially they are indistinguishable in both dress and mannerisms from fully functioning men. At first glance, or even after numerous dates, a woman may not know she has encountered a man-boy. It is not until something triggers a deeply rooted insecurity or selfishness that man-boys show their spots.
The real problem of man-boys is not where they are in life. There is nothing wrong with being in a place of uncertainty or enjoying the life one has. The wrongness stems from the selfishness that arises out of the centrality of the uncertainty and/or contentment, which consumes any potential margin for health, concern for others, etc. that might exist. The man-boy is focused on himself, his wants, his questions, his pursuits, his desires. And if he finds a woman attractive he reaches out for her to temporarily quell his want, question asking, pursuit, and desire. While reaching out he does so with nothing to offer, to give – not that he has nothing to impart, but that he lacks the ability or willingness to do so because his attention is otherwise diverted – and everything to receive, to take.
Man-boys have duped me more then once. Thinking the guy I was dating or friends with was a man, slowly (or, more likely, I was slow to see) the inner-boy scratched through the façade to reveal the inner sweet but unreliable kid whose life and uncertainties left no room for anyone other than himself. The end result is always inappropriate behavior (for any age) along the lines of ignoring other’s needs, placating but not hearing, speaking out of their wounds without regard to the
receiver of those piercing words recipient, being physically present without emotional and/or relational presence.
Now this is not a strictly male issue. There are woman-girls too. Far too many. From the age of 22 to 27, I was a woman-girl: selfish, stubborn, angry, easily hurt, and determinedly in love – a winning combination. What changed me? Life, taking responsibility for every thing I say (or don’t) and do (or fail to do), choosing to be healthy over what/who others think I should be, embracing Truth that brings grace and healing.
My current mantra: No more man-boys.
When I told my close friends about my mantra, one dear friend responded, “Good. But what does that look like practically speaking?” (Gosh, I love that gal! She always gets to the heart of matter.) Honestly, I am not entirely sure what it looks like. It has looked like me choosing to honestly confront the man-boys in my life (both platonic and romantic) about their actions’ effects, and ending some of those relationships. As for whatever else no longer suffering man-boys means, only time will tell.