man child main.jpg

Image: Dreamstime

#1 The school boy

He’d rather spend time on childish hobbies, like collecting comics and vintage toys, than accompany you to the theatre (yawn). Oh, and he just blew his bonus on a life-size replica of the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones!

“I’m dating him!”
“My 25-year-old boyfriend Steven*, a Masters student, is like this big kid. He watches cartoons and plays video games all weekend. He has a huge collection of Star Wars memorabilia, and I sometimes feel he’d rather spend his money on Princess Leia collectibles than on me. And I wish I could throw out all his cartoon character tees. He wears them all the time.

It frustrates me that Steven hates doing grown-up things, like fine dining and visiting art galleries. When I try to get him to exercise or come shopping with me, he’ll insist that he needs to de-stress… with his toys!” – Melissa*, 26, human resources executive

How to deal
We know it’s tempting, but don’t nag and clean up after him, says Petra Kreatschman, a UK-based love and relationship coach (www.petralovecoach.com). “The last thing you want is for him to see you as his mother or housekeeper,” she says.

His Star Wars obsession may be annoying, but it’s generally benign, so go easy on him. Tell him how much it would mean to you if he acted more maturely. Try this: “Those cartoon tees are nice, but you’d look manlier in a button-down shirt. I’d love you to look sharper and more polished.”

“If he doesn’t think his habits are a problem, weigh the pros and cons of staying with him. For instance, do you feel happy thinking about a future with him?” says Petra. Also ask yourself why his childish behaviour bugs you, and would you love him less if he didn’t change? 

#2 The Leonardo Dicaprio

Like Hollywood’s eternal bachelor, he acts like a commitment-phobic teenager, who won’t settle down. He hates making plans for the future with you, can’t fulfil promises, throws tantrums when you fight, and never admits when he’s wrong.

“I’m dating him!”
“Kevin* and I are the same age. We’ve been together for three years. I feel we should be discussing a future together, but he always tells me to chill. He says he still wants to enjoy his freedom and that marriage is for losers!

Last year, he promised to take me to Australia for my birthday. When it was time to book the holiday, he told me he couldn’t afford it. He didn’t even try to make it up to me. Instead, on my birthday, he went partying with his friends and turned his phone off . It was as though he was trying to avoid me.

When I try to get him to talk about his feelings, he tells me I’m smothering him and then avoids me for days. I feel taken for granted, and that he’s just stringing me along.” – Alicia*, 27, administrative assistant

How to deal
Even if he hates it, pin him down for The Talk. Stick to the facts by mentioning specific behaviours and how they made you feel, says Kloudiia Tay, a love coach and author of The 69 Love Notes – Secrets To A Loving And Lasting Relationship.

Ask him how he’d feel if you did the things he does to him, and never raise your voice or sound needy as this just pushes him away. Such guys tend to be self-centred and don’t know how to empathise. This approach helps him realise how his behaviour has been affecting you.

There could be many reasons why talking about the future scares him off. “Maybe he’s not sure if you’re The One. Or perhaps he equates commitment with losing his freedom,” says Kloudiia. “Whatever it is, he needs to figure it out and confront these issues on his own.”

If he loves you enough, he will start to tackle his issues about commitment. If he doesn’t, walk away and find yourself the man you truly deserve.

#3 The Bum

He’s childlike and irresponsible when it comes to his career and finances. He job-hops, doesn’t pay his bills on time, and prefers to invest in get-rich-quick schemes with friends instead of saving.

“I’m dating him!”
“Jason’s* mum buys his underwear and toiletries, and pays his phone bills for him. He’s 28 years old! His excuse is that he’s broke and can’t afford those things himself.

He was a marketing assistant for a while, but quit his job a few months ago because he felt ‘boxed in’. Now he does odd jobs for friends and refuses to apply for a proper job until he finds ‘his dream role’ in advertising. Thing is, I don’t even think he’s tried applying for work.

On weekends, he borrows money from his parents to go clubbing. Every time I ask him to get serious about his future, he tells me he’s still young and doesn’t need to worry just yet.” – Aileen*, 28, writer

How to deal
Tell him to get his act together. How he’s behaving now is a sign of what he will be like after you marry him, so don’t make excuses for him, says Karla Moore, a dating strategist with Ninegps (www.ninegps.ning.com), a US-based executive matchmaking and date coaching agency.

Then tell him you can’t be with someone who’s irresponsible and refuses to act his age. If he doesn’t get the point, keep a slight distance from him. Return his calls less often, or hang out more with your friends. Once he sees that you won’t wait for him to grow up – or that (gasp!) he might lose you to a more mature man – he might wise up.

Bottomline: He must want to change for himself first. “If he talks about aiming to get rich or finding a well-paying job, see if he’s doing anything to make his goals happen,” says Karla. “It sounds harsh, but consider dropping him if he doesn’t make any effort. If not, you may grow to despise him for not respecting himself.”

*Real names not used.

This story was first published in HerWorld Magazine October 2014.

Want more answers and advice about your man’s behaviour? Find out why he finds it hard to communicate and answers to more pressing questions here