Date Archives February 2012

Oops. I married a Giant Man-Baby. Now what?

I have the BEST readers. Seriously.

One of my smart, articulate, funny ladypeeps just sent me this (via email) in response to TK’s awesome writeup on the Giant Man-Baby Phenomenon. This one is all about what to do if you find yourself already married to a giant man-baby. [I have a new post of my own stuff coming real soon (working on it right now, in fact), but I can’t resist posting another great perspective on a topic that seems to have hit a nerve.]

And now, I surrender the floor to … let’s see. She told me not to use her real name. In that case, I shall dub her the Mistress of Infinite Pleasure and Wisdom. (See what happens when you give me a little license?)



I’m going to go way out on a limb and respond to TK, even though I never read your original man-baby article.

First, let me say this:  TK, would you like to meet for a drink?  (Ladies, don’t laugh.  A guy who’s actually willing to articulate such a thoughtful response is someone I’d like to be dating.  At the same time, I’m sure he’s waaaaay too young for me.)
Second, TK has a point.  If you don’t step into a “parental role” with your guy, you’ll never set yourself up to take-on parental responsibilities.  And personally, I never, and I mean never, have wanted to be my lover’s mother.  It’s best to just talk to your partner like he’s an adult, albeit one who may be communicating in a language slightly foreign to your own, while at the same time “getting the gist of it.”  Ladies, I’m not saying you haven’t done this already. I’m just saying that TK has a point.
However, only some of the man-baby problem can be solved that way.  Let’s pretend, for instance, you married your husband while still in your 20’s.  You, neither of you that is,  pretty much  knew diddlysquat about how to run a smooth life – finances, jobs, meal planning and preparation, pregnancy, children, balancing acts, stain-free laundry, boiler explosions, dog licensure (and excrement), mail stoppage for vacation, budgeting, joint tax prep that includes real estate, buying real estate in the first place, property lines, weird neighbors, etc., etc., etc.  Maybe you knew somestuff, and if you were raised in a traditional household, you may have had more of the ‘girly tasks’ down.  Maybe not.  In any case, I’m not sure how many young almost-marrieds ‘study’ the various living skills of their potential mates.  The importance of doing so is an awareness that develops with maturity.   People who marry at older ages are much more in tune with that importance.
Now let’s say, you’ve made the plunge. Okay, you find that you should have, maybe, studied his living habits a bit more.  You find out he has certain qualities terribly similar to those of a certified man-baby.  What do you do?  Rat poison in his coffee?  Pack your bags?  Call your mother? Cry like a woman-baby?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you should talk to him like a real smart adult.  Things won’t necessarily be perfect afterward, but you’ll always have the assurance that you made your best, most mature and loving, stab at it.  The idea is that, in the end, you don’t want to be responsible to tell him to do everything that needs to get done.  You want him to see things for himself.  If you don’t want to be his mom, don’t act like his mom, nag like his mom, scream like his mom, and punish him like his mom (ladies, you know what I mean here).
The real problem comes when you discover that your partner is not really ready to let go of childish patterns – those acts of dependency that scream, “I JUST WANT YOU TO TAKE CARE OF ME, BECAUSE IT’S FUNNER THAT WAY.”  This is a particularly resistant form of man-baby for which there is no real training program.  Neither is there an intervention that helps, short of leaving him flat.  However, in my experience, this does not constitute the majority of situations out there.  And neither is it only a male problem.  There are plenty of prima donnas out there, whose husbands shuttle them a cup of coffee in the morning, fill their gas tanks weekly, do most of the cooking and a good bit of the cleaning up, and actually make dry cleaning runs for silk dresses.
What I want to know is why I can’t find one of those guys.  It’s not like I’d exploit him or anything.  I pretty much took care of a husband-baby for a quarter century, and didn’t even mind it terribly much, except when he was mean. Or got colic. But I’m thinking right now that I’m kinda tired of being the big mommy.  I’m looking for a wife-ish husband – someone who does more than half the stuff.  Who has to remind me when some chore or other needs doing.  Or just does it himself.  Happily.  Someone who doesn’t stomp around with a long face because I’d like to rake the leaves together one October weekend.  Or lay in bed like chief thundercloud because that’s the day the kids need to go in two different directions, and I can’t drive two cars simultaneously while he watches Wimbledon on TV.  Yeah, that’s right, that’s what I want because I’M THINKING THAT KINDA GUY MIGHT BE A LOT FUNNER.

The Return of the Giant Man-Baby: A dude weighs in

Hi all! I know I said my next post was going to be all about the Irishman, but one of my brilliant readers derailed me! (Working on that next post now, peeps. Never fear!)

Remember the Giant Man-Baby Phenomenon? Well, one of my dudely readers took the time to write a very insightful comment on it from the guy’s perspective. I wanted to make sure you all got the chance to read it, so I’m pasting it below. As always, I’d love to hear your comment on his comments.

And now, I surrender the floor to TK:

I liked this story more than I thought I would. I was initially bristling at the concept of “man-baby” because the doofus male is such a stereotype, and deeply held among American women. Nonetheless, my ex-girlfriend told virtually the exact same story regarding her ex-husband, so there’s plenty of truth here. You’ve articulated a lot of things she was trying to say. (We’re still friends.) So thanks for that.

Regarding point one — ask yourself, “How did he act before he lived with you?”

For example, did he manage his own apartment just fine before you came into his life, doing his own laundry, tossing out the garbage, paying his bills, etc.? I have seen a tendency among women to confuse “not how I do things” with “wrong.” It’s a deeply ingrained tendency. Fight it.

For example, I bought a house and keep it clean, paying my bills on time, etc. My credit rating was over 800. I had been employed steadily for 25 years. My most recent ex-girlfriend once said, “I don’t know how you managed to live on your own.” As if I was a doofus. Meanwhile, she had a stack of unpaid bills three months back, I’d repeatedly bailed her out of those, and her house looked like a tornado hit it. But I didn’t do things how she would — so she “corrected” me until I told her to stuff it.

Excessive correction about non-important things will drive a man away. If he can’t do anything without a comment, either good or bad, as if you know the “correct” way and he needs to be “taught,” he’s going to think you’re a condescending jerk and you’re going to find he’ll spend a lot of time away from you. But he won’t say that.

Again, how clean was his apartment when he first met you? How did manage his life without you before you met? And if you don’t like the answers to those questions (i.e., the same before the relationship as he was in the relationship), why was his behavior with you a surprise?

That said, if you’re saying — I don’t care how the garbage is thrown out, as long as it is, fine. If you’re saying, don’t forget to spray Lysol on the bottom of the can each time you change the bag, you’re a nag.

I have found in general men are far more results-oriented about how things get done, as long as they are done and meet the agreed-upon specifications. I have found women seem to take a relationship-based approach to things, and so they read current-relationship-status into something like throwing out the garbage.

While I understand that female tendency myself, you need to understand that to your average man that thinking is unfathomable. So he shrugs his shoulders and you think he’s clueless, but as much as he’s missing how you think, you’re not understanding how men think. To him, you are taking the temperature of the relationship by how and when the garbage gets tossed out. To a man, it sounds narcissistic and paranoid. Hence, women think men are stupid, and men think women are crazy.

If you want to communicate better with the male gender, cracking the code on male thinking will help. Very few men actually understand a women’s relational approach to thinking. Similarly, very few women understand a man’s mission-oriented thinking, which requires detachment from emotions and achievement of goals independent of relationships. Relationships may be a part of how the goal is accomplished, but to a man, the achievement is key.

“I think I saw a rat/insects/children eating out of the garbage” should trigger a man to fix a garbage problem, if addressed not as nagging and “I told you so”. As women, give men problems to solve, and then let them go solve it their way. Once a man is in his thinking tunnel (e.g., working out a solution to a problem), he has detached and that’s a good thing. Thinking about what that means to a relationship simply sounds insane to a man at that point.

I once saw a woman ask a patient suffering from dementia to read off a list of financial numbers, rather than simply pass me the piece of paper with the numbers written on them. I asked what she was doing, and she said, “I was trying to include him.” The idea that such a task would bore him and slow down everything pointlessly, never occurred to her. She was trapped in relational thinking and interfering with accomplishing the goal.

Hope this perspective is useful.


A message from Adele’s best friend

I know that everyone thinks Adele is theirs. You know — her songs really “speak” to you. She says juuuuust want you’re feeling. You’re so connected. 

But I want you to know this: She’s actually mine. I’ll share though if I have to — and now I guess I have no choice since she was such a genius at the Grammy Awards last night.
Watch this to get your pants charmed off by this unassuming superstar-thang of a girl. Seriously: I predict that when you’re done watching this, you’ll look down and be pantsless. I also predict that someday Adele and I will make cupcakes together. I love a girl who loves her cake. I think we’ll do carrot cake. Or red velvet.
Nah, carrot cake.
[Also, let me just point out that we have become a world where an interviewer gets interviewed about the interview he just conducted. Oy.] [But I’m not gonna say I didn’t enjoy it.]
I remember the first time I heard “Rolling in the Deep.” I was on my way to work  and I was so knocked out I nearly had to pull over. Plus, I was sporting a bit of a ‘tude at the time about a dude (a phenomenon known as a “dude ‘tude”) so it was particularly satisfying.
And then I thought: This girl is speaking to me. She is saying juuuust what I’m thinking! We are so connected! I wonder if she likes carrot cake?!!!
Everyone — including me, her best friend — is blown away by the fact that Adele is so young, yet so confident. So sure of herself in her talent. Knows who she is.
And that’s something that I (Adele’s best friend) think a lot about. I mean, it’s hard at any age. And she’s like, 23.
Believe it or not, I have a point to make here. (No, really.) I think I’m on the verge of making it, too. Let’s see, shall we?
The Irishman knows I have a thing for Led Zeppelin. A few months ago he got us tickets to see a Zeppelin tribute band called Get the Lead Out. I was … dubious. I was like, “Oh boy. A tribute band. Nice sentiment here but I think he just missed the mark … I (Adele’s best friend) do not do tribute bands except in an ironic way.”
However … they were damn good. They were awesome, in fact. They didn’t try to look like Zeppelin, which I really appreciated. They didn’t try to imitate their stage moves at all. They were like, “We’re not trying to be them, we just want to give you the experience of this great music in a live setting.”
And they were stellar musicians. They nailed — no lie — EVERY song. And this is coming from a girl who spent many many hours sitting in between the stereo speakers in her teenage bedroom devouring Zeppelin on vinyl. I know my shit.
But …
At the end of the day …
They are a cover band.
The lesson in the whole thing for me was this: You’re only going to get so far imitating someone else. If you really want to fly — if you really want to be great — you’ve gotta be your own thang. Whatever that is. (And only you know.)
Speak up, peeps. Let your freak flag fly. Live the life on the outside that you’re feeling on the inside.
And then come over to my house and Adele and I will make you some cupcakes.
* Sorry about the weird formatting — WordPress is refusing to honor my spacing for some reason …  grrr …