About six months ago, I realized something about men. Something about men I have never thought about. Something about men that is fascinating… I believe I’ve learned:
The different dating stages of men.
Sure, I casually thought about how a man’s perception of dating, women, relationships, children and marriage may change over time; usually I thought about it when I meet a man so ready to settle down and get married – or the opposite – a man who ran screaming down the street if the word “girlfriend” was used.
A few months ago, I started branching out of my “appropriate age for dating” range, and started looking at different men. I didn’t look at these men to date or have a relationship with; instead I’ve spent time with them, talking and learning about their prescriptive on women and life goals.
This very scientific* study is complete, accurate, and free of any stereotypes or judgments.
(A man whose age ranges from 20-25ish)
Ah. The young twenty-something guy. Overwhelmingly upbeat. Surprisingly kind. He’s the guy that says super optimistic, dreamlike things, “One day, I’ll have lots of kids. You know, when I’m much, much older. Like 28.”
He’s the guy that has dated a bit, mostly in college and maybe even had a girlfriend or two. Chances are, the relationships he’s had with women weren’t super serious and were in high school. Since he’s started (or just finished) college, he’s not interested in finding anything serious, and wants to have a whole lot of fun. (After all, serious relationships are reserved for waaay later. Like in 5 years).
He’s much more approachable, yet not very confident. He tends to run out of things to talk to women about and ends up talking about his favorite Star Wars movie, his comic book collection, or how he just learned how to do laundry. You know, stuff women love to talk about.
He wants to get married. Chances are, he hasn’t had his heart seriously broken. He hasn’t be trampled on by any woman and still likes the idea of a relationship. He’s just getting his feet wet.
He parties. He parties hard. He can party super hard and bounce out of bed in the morning and do it all over again. He doesn’t need coffee, but he drinks it because everyone does at college. Or work. Or wherever.
He’s much more comfortable around his guy friends but loves to be around girls. He’s adorable and I love him. He’s um…. well, slightly too young. Okay, he’s way too young. Too young for anything I’m interested in. Or any woman in their late twenties. (Unless of course, she’s a cougar in the making).
He looks great. He goes to the gym everyday, runs miles and miles and is in the best shape of his life. He can eat whatever the hell he wants with no consequence.
(A man whose age ranges from 26ish-34ish)
Oh. The 30-year-old. Hmm. Well, let’s just say this is the age range I know best. Until recently, this is the age range I lived in. This is the age range I wouldn’t dare venture from.
The 30-year-old guy has had a serious girlfriend. (Hopefully.) Maybe he’s lived with a woman (or two) and gets it. (Please, God). He generally knows things about women. He pretty much knows how women work and what totally pisses them off. So, he’s a in a good “dating” stage because he doesn’t do the annoying things 20-year-old men usually do because he’s been there, done that, he has a few T-Shirts. He listens to you when you talk. He doesn’t bore his dates with dumb stories about getting drunk. Or boring stories about bugs. (Or, he usually doesn’t). (Yes, I’ve heard many stories about bugs and people being drunk. Weird, huh?)
He’s jaded. He’s been stomped on by a woman or two and is not so happy about it. He’s distrusting.
He wants to get married and have kids, but not now. He’s focusing on his career/education/life right now and isn’t quite ready to settle down.
He still loves women – at least all the good things about them – but is kinda over it. Sure, he’ll be happy to have a girlfriend for all the benefits – a date for Saturday night, someone to share meals with and do other things couples do. It works for him.
But to marry that girlfriend? To settle down and start having kids? Whoa, whoa, WHOA. He’s skeptical. Sure, he wants kids. Yeah, he likes, okay loves his girlfriend. But, he really likes the money he’s now making and enjoying his freedom to ski, snowboard, bike, hike, travel, sky dive – YOU NAME IT. He loves “his” time and is looking forward to having a house of his own soon to have a garage and a man cave. He LOVES the idea of a man cave.
His friends come first. Heck, they’ve been there for him when that chick (or chicks) dumped him or treated him like dirt. They’re loyal. They’re his boys.
He still looks good. He must go to the gym everyday to look so good. He works out a bit harder to get the same results. He’s starting to show signs of aging; the recessed hairline, maybe a few gray hairs.
(A man whose age ranges from 35ish-40ish)
The 40-year-old man was a mystery to me for a long time. Okay, the idea of it totally creeped me out. But, after spending time with a few 35-year-olds and 36-year-olds, and okay, a 37-year-old, I realized a few things about this elusive age range.
The 40-year-old man has been around the block. Many times. He’s had a long term, serious relationship. He may even be divorced. Might have a kid. Or two. Or three.
Despite his heartache with women, despite the divorce, the child custody bullshit, or the messy 7-year relationship with his live-in girlfriend ending, he’s game. He still wants a relationship. He still wants someone to come home to at night, share his day with, and possibly have children with. He wants someone to share his life with.
He loves his friends, but having a woman in his life is way more important.
He may be balding. He looks um… aged slightly. He has wrinkles around his eyes and most likely is going gray. He doesn’t have the body or strength he used to.
But, in reality, a man may not go through these stages at all. I’ve known men who are 21 that skip the 20-year-old phase and go right to the 40-year-old phase. I’ve also met men in their late 40’s who act like a 20-year-old. Graying, balding, freaking Peter Pans.
Fine. I’ve also met 30 something’s who are kind, responsible, good guys looking for a relationship. They aren’t all bad. Just some.***
It’s all a freaking crap-shoot, really.
*Scientific meaning not actually scientific at all.
**Or totally 100% biased.
***By ‘some’ I mean most.