This week I am writing to you from the gorgeous town of Queenstown, New Zealand. I am here with my 22 year old daughter, who is on university break from her Law degree ( mama is so proud!) We spent a week in Lake Tekapo, where I was best man at my best friends wedding. Now Sara and I will venture around the South Island of NZ, spending some quality time together – as I know this alone time with my daughter will soon come to an end.
A subject matter Sara likes to ask me about is the life stages of the male. As a 22 year old woman, she has categorized the men she has met into categories that will start to negatively impact the happiness of her future relationships. In fact, the only male she feels is 100% honest – is her Dad (awe!)
So to help Sara understand men a little better, I broke down their life stages into these generalised stages below.
PLUS…I offer you a few tips on how to deal with your man if he is in one of the stages below.
There are several key stages in a man’s life that will drive his passions, relationships, and fears.
The three pivotal stages which will decide ultimately who he is and what he will accomplish will occur sometime between his early twenties and late forties.
The man in his twenties is focused on leaving his mark. Men gauge much of their worth by their job performance, so it is not uncommon to find men of this age becoming workaholics. Beyond work, the younger man is busy discovering who he is and what he cares about. If he fails to find a stable partner, it may set the stage to enter his thirties in stagnation, self-absorbed and fearing commitment.
A good woman can save him from this, but she will need to learn to communicate with him. If a woman wants to get something across, she has to come right out and say it in concrete terms. When a woman complains of being unhappy in terms like, “Even when you’re here, you aren’t really here,” he’s going to look at her like she’s speaking Dr. Seuss. Instead, she could say, “When you come home from work, I understand that you may need time to unwind, but I really enjoy talking to you, and would like to do it more often.”
A man in his twenties may doubt his ability to make a woman happy, compensating by dating as many women as he can. Younger men seek safety in numbers (of women), but what they fail to realize is that women hate the numbers game, and those numbers can dwindle quickly once one number starts talking to another.
A guy in his thirties (depending on if he is married) may not feel much different from his twenties. He may be slightly irresponsible and selfish, but will soon realize that he is not as indestructible as he once thought. These are the years when he will realize his inevitable decline. This may benchmark a sadness over his lost youth, but can lead to a renewed drive to find a lasting love.
Working against his search for companionship will be the fact that he is becoming set in his ways as a single bachelor. This can bring about a lot of conflict in relationships, as while he may say he wants to be a team, he lacks the ability to think beyond himself. Getting a guy in his thirties to commit is a bit of a race against time. The longer he enjoys his bachelorhood, the more set in his ways he will become.
One of the first things a woman can do to ease a thirty-year-old into commitment is to understand his fears. One thing all men fear is failure. Failure at work, life, and in their relationships. Men like to be the hero, which means knowing he can please his partner, making her feel secure and loved. Men are more apt to listen and act upon relationship problems when criticisms are preceded by a compliment.
Being comfortable and secure in life, family, friends, and career are what every man hopes to achieve by the time he is forty – but not every man does. Some men have no more understanding of who they are at forty than when they were twenty. A confused guy in his forties may wish he could start over, pulling away from his long-term partner, cheating on his wife, buying a red sports car, and partaking in what’s been described as a “mid-life crisis.”
The unmarried forty-year-old has lived for himself for over twenty years. He has seen enough weary married men dragged through the mall behind their wives to believe that there isn’t always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. He may fear commitment and marriage more than ever, and the chance that he will make a lifestyle change is slim. If he doesn’t want to get married (i.e., doesn’t want kids), take his word at face value. What you see/hear is generally what you get.
One of the biggest complaints for older men is that they are stuck in their glory days, wearing the same clothes, listening to the same music, and using the same pickup lines as they did in college. Women, however, embrace the new by keeping up on the latest music, fashions, and hip dialect. This may lead some women to date younger men, but with age comes benefits. The older man is generally more stable (emotionally and financially), a better listener, and in some ways a superior (more controlled) sex partner.
All men mature differently, offering a different experience depending on the outcome of each stage. Ultimately, what you are looking for is a man who knows who he is, or is at least well on his way to making that discovery!
My advice to Sara, is to keep an open mind, as she herself is also growing and changing, depending on her own life experiences and opportunities. Not every man can be as wonderful as her Dad (of course), but each man is different and she should never assume one man is like another.
What’s your take on how men mature… or don’t? If you are a man, please add to this conversation with your experience.