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    Stages of a (Wo)Man: Are We More Alike Than We Think?

     Me, climbing on my soapbox. 

    Me, climbing on my soapbox. 

    Recently I was having a conversation with a male friend about life and why his brethren is absolutely out of control (bless his heart for even engaging the topic with me). I’m not entirely sure how we landed on the subject, but I ended up sharing my theory on the different dating behaviors of men based on their age. After nine years of dating and parlaying with men that range in age from 19-31, I’m pretty confident in my completely unscientific theory. So of course, I was excited to share and burn his ears off with it. With that, a few descriptions of the dating behaviors of our dear Kings…

    The Sweetheart (18-21)

    Young men are pleasers and extremely genuine. They’re eager and haven’t been jaded by all of the trash behavior we pick up over time. Oddly enough, these are the men who know how to articulate “I’m not interested in anything more right now” before having sex and being the little spoon. They communicate their shortcomings and flaws before they become a nuisance. If enrolled, they share their meal plan with you. Overall nice guys but sometimes a bit…boring. That for sure plays into the terrible idea that women like assholes but, alas. The hyper excitement about everything may get a bit annoying after some time. You usually leave this guy for the ‘bad boy’ (unless you end up staying together forever because who doesn’t love a cutesy ‘we fell in love at 20’ story). 

    The Heartbreaker (22-24)

    I struggled to not be rude and characterize this age group as ‘Community D’ but…if the shoe fits. Men this age are my Achilles heel because their facial hair has come in pretty decently and they’ve had enough sexual experiences for you not to teach them ‘what to do next’. But that’s the exact problem- they know they’re popping and eat that shit up. Don’t be surprised if this is the guy who has three girlfriends and doesn’t think twice about informing them about one another. Depending on your circles, this could be the college graduate who still frequently dips in the undergrad pool for free meal plan swipes and attends house parties. He’s a little less in tune with his emotions (i.e. he ignores them) because he probably got hurt by some woman during his “the sweetheart” phase. This is the man you try to love to life then you discover you’re not the only one he’s whispering sweet nothings to under the cover of darkness. They’re by far the hardest to forget because they’re so elusive. In short, the woman who manages to gain his undivided attention will have a lot to grapple with. 

    The Used & Abused (25-27)

    “The Used & Abused” aka “I Stopped Hoeing & Let a Woman In Then She Hurt Me So Now I Hate Love” man. That’s literally the entire description. These are the ones who either a) are looking for unrealistic perfection in a woman or b) think that they can control their next heartache by avoiding it. Men this age are pretty introspective and wise; giving their heart to a woman, even if it didn’t work out, gives them qualities that are comforting. They have all of the really “good” boyfriend qualities but sort of operate in a gray area. They may not “hoe” but they make very clear their lack of intentions for the women they’re involved with. Basically they’re the men who like to use the word “transparent” to avoid responsibility when someone falls for the boyfriend qualities. Not bad guys, but they’re working out their issues so it’s probably for the best that you keep them at an arms’ distance. 

    The Biological Time Bomb (27+)

    Aka “Let Me Get You Pregnant Tomorrow” men. The older guy who jumps straight to phone calls and FaceTimes week one. The ones who want to skip the baby steps and fast track to marriage, kids, and a house in the ‘burbs. They’ve been hurt a few times and (hopefully) have worked through those emotions. But if all of their friends are in serious relationships, marriages, have kids, etc. and they don’t, their biological clock ticks loud as hell. Therefore, they emote all over the place. Basically this is the guy that professes his intense like after three weeks of texting. They aren’t terrible but depending on where you are in life, they can be extremely overwhelming. And kind of weird. Because why are we discussing babies and we’ve only been out for drinks? 

    Now typically when I share this theory with men it goes in one ear and out the other- which proves my point that they can’t multitask worth a damn but whatever. This time though it was different. As I wrapped up my mini-rant to my friend with a smug face of victory, he nodded in agreement and then dropped a bomb that left me shook. HE posed a theory of women and used the simplest analogy to explain it. 

    “I can send a snap to three different women and get three different results. The first will open my snap and reply immediately; she’s probably younger. The second woman will open my snap and reply later via text; that woman is probably your age. The third woman, she’s going to open my snap and never reply. That woman knows what she wants and isn’t about to play games. And she’s probably close to or over 30.”

    His theory is waaaay simpler than mine. An abbreviated version of his thoughts:

    1) Young women (under 24) are definitely eager to please. They haven’t really been hurt yet so they’re more willing to go the extra mile for a guy.

    2) Women my age (24ish) are no longer eager to please. They’ve been hurt a few times and now have expectations. But, the expectations may be a) too high, or b) not really carried out. So they may have this long list of expectations for a partner but may not always choose the partner that fulfills all or most of those expectations. At this point, they’re also growing in their selfishness. Making choices that please themselves. Being a little less humble. But still learning some hard lessons. 

    3) Older women (26+) know what they want. They have realistic expectations and rarely, if ever, entertain men who can’t meet them. They make intentional choices in men because they are 100% confident in what they want and need and will not settle for less. These women are at their peak and choose themselves first in all ways.

     Me, shook. 

    Me, shook. 

    Boop. Not only did my friend listen to what I said about men, he shook up my entire thought process by actually responding with his own valid ass observations. As he explained this all to me, I thought of so many examples that fell in line perfectly with his rationale. At 21 I refused to date men under six feet. At 24 I’m considering the possibility that my King just may be 5’9″. While the Snap analogy had me weak, it was true. I may not reply to your Snap immediately but I’m for sure gonna hit you up later. While not 26, I do see a difference in dating practices between myself and my older female friends. Though they aren’t all in relationships, they definitely have a more concrete explanation of what they want and how it fits in with their life.

    I do, however, have female friends my age and younger (and know males of all ages) who aren’t boxed in by any of these descriptions. But in my excitement to air my grievances, I forgot the simplest thing. We are more alike than we think. As men and women, we are all going through ebbs and flows with our dating behaviors. We’re growing, maturing, and becoming more critical of ourselves and others. While our “stages of dating” may not always perfectly align, we’re equally moving along some type of spectrum. Our wants and desires change over time, as they should. Sometimes we’re too eager to please people, no matter how old we are or how much we know better. Sometimes we have “hoe phases” and get under (or on top of) anyone who gives consent. And eventually, we’re ready to build with the person who matches our stage in life. And after my countless reads of men, that’s what ultimately matters. That we find our way to each other and build a radical, powerful love that defies all the unscientific theories of 20-somethings.


    Image Sources: Giphy, Flickr

    Ashley Johnson
    Ashley Johnson

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