I was at a birthday party for my nephews over the weekend and I overheard a conversation at the table behind me that piqued my interest. Four women were sharing stories about their husbands and the antics that take place in their daily lives. As I sat there chuckling at the humorous war stories being shared, one of the women asked the age old question, “Do men ever grow up?!”
This question has been plaguing women for years. I have heard the question posed at family functions, church, work, at the mall and I have to admit, my wife has even asked me if I ever plan on growing up. I have never answered her because I was sure the question was rhetorical but after hearing the question for the millionth time in my life, I feel like I have to answer the question once and for all.
“Do men grow up?”
“No, we don’t! Or at least not in the way women would hope.”
The truth is simple; by the standards our wives use to judge us, men don’t grow up. I can imagine guys everywhere trying to convince the woman in their life that I am wrong; that I don’t know what I am talking about, and that I can speak for myself but I don’t speak for men all over the world.
But trust me; I do speak for most of us. I know there are exceptions to every rule but for this rule, I haven’t found the exception yet! The fact of the matter is that no matter what the guy in your life does to show you that he has grown up, become an adult or somehow maturated or morphed into the reserved, well meaning, responsible adult that “you want him to become”, it is all a façade; it is just another game he is playing.
It doesn’t mean that we don’t act responsibly, dignified or mature when we need to show our serious side because we do. We are business professionals, parents, and community leaders and will uphold those standards each and every day. In social settings, though, there are small periods of time when we act and respond accordingly; normally at a wife’s office function or when our wife’s parents are visiting and even then, men will find ways to subconsciously sabotage our own best efforts. And no matter how hard our significant others try to mold us into a responsible adult male; men find more and more intriguing ways to remain young at heart. It’s a game for all of us and men like to win games; we’re kind of childish in our competitiveness.
Let me ask this one question: “How many women reading this article have a husband or a boyfriend who is involved in one or more fantasy sports leagues?”
Fantasy sports are so commonplace that you can find fantasy web sites all over the internet. ESPN has even dedicated an entire section of their website solely to the promotion of fantasy sports and regardless of the sport (football, baseball, basketball, hockey, golf; yes, we have even created fantasy golf), it is a way for a guy to stay in touch with his competitive side and compete in a high tech version of a child’s game.
Games are good for men because we get to compete against our friends and better yet, we get to compare our skills against professionals in the public eye who we admire or revere. By competing in fantasy sports, men get to pretend that we are the general manager, the coach or the mastermind behind the world’s greatest sports franchise ever created. We know we will never be the coach or general manager of a professional sports franchise but in our own minds, fantasy sports allow us to prove that we are just as good as the men who have these jobs.
Fantasy sports leagues also allow us to compete against our friends by dedicating ourselves solely to our fantasy teams. We eat, breath, and live for our fantasy franchises. We taunt each other, we argue about statistics and who the best players are and we mock draft as much as possible. We research every little detail and go to the farthest corners of the internet to learn every fact, about every player in our league, so that we have the advantage on our friends, and then, we research it again to make sure we got the information right. We talk incessantly about our franchises and we engage in the art of deception by trying to deceive our friends into passing on players to make our teams that much better. These are games and we obsess over them much like we did when we were children, but they also allow men to find a way to communicate with one another and develop stronger friendships.
If the involvement of fantasy sports isn’t enough to convince you, ask yourself this: “Does your husband or a boyfriend have a Play Station, X-Box, or any other type of video gaming system?”
Most men have at least one video game system and although we tell our wives and family members that we bought the video games for our children, it’s a rouge; a smokescreen. Men will find excuses not to do the laundry, the yard work, pay the bills or any other chore that might end up on our significant others “list of things to do” because we never have time. But the second the phone rings and a friend challenges us to a Madden tournament, we suddenly have hours on end to devote to beating everyone we know to claim the title of “Madden Champion!” Video games, much like fantasy sports, give men a reason to hang out, compete against one another and to talk about what is happening in our own little corners of the universe. In other words, they allow us to bond.
But our fun is not just relegated to fantasy sports and video gaming systems. We buy the latest computers, high definition televisions, stereos, cars, and a myriad of other gadgets that are basically the high tech equivalent of the Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots we played with as children. If it is fun, cool, or the latest thing on the market that none of our friends have, we buy it and we play with it until the next new “toy” comes on the market. And the more money we make; the more expensive and elaborate our toys become. It is another form of competition amongst our male counterparts to prove the point that “he who has the most toys wins!”
A few years ago, my Aunt and Uncle held the family Christmas Eve party at their home. The men watched football and then we all adjourned to the finished basement where my Uncle has a pool table, pinball machines, a few other games, a weight bench and a cool train set that he built that has all of the bells and whistles that a great train set should have. All of our relatives were at their home that evening and instead of sitting around on the couch and catching up on our lives, all of the grown men packed into the basement to play with my Uncle’s toys.
We were doing what we did as children. We watched football, we played with toys and we told funny and exaggerated stories of our glory days. It is what men do best, we like to have fun and we like to compete. For men, competition breeds respect for one another and respect for one another will ultimately become the underlying basis for every friendship we will have in our lives. It may seem childish but men bond by competing against each other, not by sharing our emotions.
Unfortunately, this competitive streak that inherently exists in men means that the women in our lives feel like they get forced into the role of the authority figure. Women feel like they have to police our behavior. Which is precisely why women are frustrated enough to constantly ask the various forms of the question, “Do men ever grow up?”
Well, the answer is simple, “No, men do not grow up! Not in the way women would like us to.”