Young men’s self-delusion

I’ve been wanting to blog about this forever but I’ve been so busy this week!

Before I begin, I should credit a great amount of this post to the brilliant thinking of my friend Rebecca.

They say that girls mature faster than boys, but I was always under the impression that boys had caught up by now…or even 6 years ago.  Frankly, even when I was 11 I couldn’t see a developmental discrepancy.  But it’s there.

We all know how much I love to generalize. I’m sure many of my male readers will have problems with this post, so feel free to comment.

Basically, my thesis statement is this: Most men are self-consumed until around 28.  Some guys will be self-consumed until 26, some until 40, but very few will snap out of it before age 18 or 22.

What does it mean to be self-consumed?  It means you are mostly only able to consider your own wants and needs.

On top of this, most men my age also have very low EQs (Emotional Quotients). This means that not only are they unable to identify their own emotions, they are pretty clueless when it comes to other people’s.

The problem is that young guys don’t realize this about themselves.  If you are unaware of how you feel, then it’s not your fault that you can’t be honest with yourself or someone else about how you feel.  You simply don’t know that you have emotions worth paying attention to!

Need I explain how this creates problems?

Most guys think of themselves as good guys.  So they’re going to act accordingly. “A good guy would text a girl he hooked up with, so I’ll do that,” typical guy thinks to himself. “I’m a good guy and I make a good boyfriend, so I’ll see how things go with this girl,” typical guy thinks before he calls the girl to make plans.

All the while, we girls are monitoring these actions. “He texted me, so that means it was more than just a hook up!” typical girl thinks to herself. “Wow he’s really making an effort here and I’m going to see him again–what a good guy!” typical girl thinks as she hangs up her phone.

By now, both parties are thinking the guy’s a good guy, but 9 times out of 10, one party will change her mind by the time things are through.

Because what happens is, things are going well…it’s so exciting to like someone new, to be intimate with a new person–it feels so good…but then it gets too real, and the guy isn’t interested anymore. He couldn’t tell you why he’s not interested anymore because he has a low EQ and he doesn’t really understand why.  He just isn’t into it. And he doesn’t feel too guilty about it cause he’s so self-consumed. Make sense?

But when this happens, the girl is completely confused (and probably angry). “But why did he say he’s never felt this way before?” “Why did he call me every day?” “When I told him I’d go to that concert with him 6 months from now, I meant it.  Why would he ask me to the concert if he didn’t see us together in 6 months?” You were honest about how you felt, wasn’t he as well??

Well, the answer is, he probably thought he was. It felt so good to be excited about you that he thought he meant it.  He wasn’t lying, he simply was saying what he believed to be true in that moment…a belief that holds little weight when you have a low EQ and don’t think about the long-term implications of what you say.

And then when he sees that he’s hurt this girl, he still doesn’t get it it.  He can’t. Developmentally, he can only think about himself and he is also unable to understand how someone else feels. Either that, or he’s psychologically unwilling to go to a place where he has to accept the gravity of his actions.  He sees himself as a good guy, and a good guy wouldn’t do what he just did. To confront his behavior would be to challenge everything he thinks about himself. Instead he just attributes the relationship not working out to the girl being “not right.”

What he doesn’t see is that a girl will never be “right” as long as he’s not ready for someone to be “right.”

Often girls are fooled when a guy has had a serious girlfriend in the past.  “Oh, he’s a relationship guy.  Check.” Buuut nope.  That means nothing. It means he was ready for a serious relationship then. It doesn’t mean he wants one now. And he may even tell you that he does. But you really can’t take his word for it…because there’s a good chance that he actually has no clue what’s he’s ready for.

What can girls do about it?

  • Tread carefully with young guys. Start off assuming any guy under 28 is not relationship material, and let him prove you wrong.
  • Don’t ignore bad signs. The minute things aren’t as good as they used to be and continue to stay that way, get out. He’s already checked out and hasn’t realized it yet.  Talking it over with him won’t do any good because he doesn’t understand his emotions enough to be of any help. So go with your intuition. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s not.
  • Along the same vein, have enough self-respect to put your needs first. We waste too much time in dead-end situations because we are patient and sympathetic to whatever excuses are thrown at us. It also makes us feel good to feel wanted by someone, but he won’t be wanting you too much longer.

I’m not saying guys aren’t good people. In most domains of their lives they usually are. But when it comes to love, the younger ones tend to be oblivious about not being ready.

Cheers to the guys who don’t hide the fact that they only want to hook up and cheers to the guys who make their girlfriends (or future girlfriends) very happy. It’s those of you who think you want something you don’t actually want who I need to watch out for.

Here’s where I include my disclaimers. Some girls are afraid of commitment, too. Some guys never have this problem and are always committing. Some guys have high EQs and some aren’t self-consumed.



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2 responses to “Young men’s self-delusion

  1. Lauren

    I mostly agree. Men say a lot of shit they don’t mean…or they think they mean it at the time and they don’t. I’ve definitely fallen victim to this. And you’re right about making excuses. People (esp women) shouldn’t project their feelings into what people say. I think woman tend to think well, if he said “xyz” then he must be thinking what I’d be thinking if I said “xyz”. That assumption is basically never true. Solution: don’t trust things people say and don’t make excuses for shithead boyfriends that want you to move to NC. Great post, Ariela!

  2. Benjamin E.

    Yup, I hear that. Mostly because (assuming I’m not still deluding myself, which is entirely possible) I feel like I distinctly recall the period of time during which my EQ rose to the point of having a legitimate sense of my emotional state. That said, even after that, it still didn’t fully translate into starting to be able to do it so successfully in a relationship context until I had actually been in a couple relationships. But I hear what you’re talking about.

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