March 12, 2007 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
Dear Dr. Turndorf, I Have Been Dating My Boyfriend For About 2 And A Half Years We Are Planning On Getting Married Within The Next Year But Some Thing Is Really Bugging Me About Our Relationship,
He Is Very Immature.
I Have Had Discussions With Him About How He Needs To Save Money And Get his Drivers License And Find A Better Job. He Is 20 Years Old And He Still Lives With His Mother
I Currently Have A Place Of My Own And A Great Paying Job Along With A Newer Car. He Cares More About His Friends And Having Fun More Than His Future. I Have Tried Yelling At Him About It, Helping Him Get Things Together, And Even Breaking Up With Him.
I Am At Wits End. I Just Want Him To Be A Mature Man.
You didn't say how old your boyfriend is. If he's also 20 years old, then his behavior isn't that surprising. Men mature at a slower rate than women do. At 20 a guy isn't even fully grown up. In fact, many parts of his body, even his vocal aren't done maturing. And, his brain isn't yet fully developed believe it or not.
You are a very mature woman for your age. He is still a kid. It is very normal for guys his age to focus on having fun with friends. I'm not clear on why he doesn't want to get his license, since most young men do. This is the only thing that makes me wonder if there is, in fact, some reluctance on his part to grow up and be responsible.
Obviously, the methods you have been using to attempt to induce him to grow up aren't afraid effective. Yelling, threatening, nagging, etc. are all counterproductive. In fact, you could actually be triggering an oppositional reaction in him that will, in fact, make him behave in a more infantile way just to annoy you
If he actually has an oppositional personality, he will do the opposite of what you want from now until forever. In fact, when dealing with an oppositional person, you need to tell him to do the opposite of what you want in order to get what you want.
In this case, you would say, 'A boy like you isn't mature enough to get his license.' He would then feel angry and get the license to spite you. You can use this form of reverse psychology and it will be effective in terms of modifying specific behaviors, but the underlying problem of immaturity and/or oppositionalism will still remain.
If we're only dealing with immaturity, then he should grow out of it. But if this guy is oppositional, you'll be battling the problem forever. Is that what you want?
You really need to take a look at what you're getting out of this relationship. What do you gain or hope to gain by being with a man who you always have to whip? How does this pattern relate to your childhood? Did your mom browbeat dad? Are you now recreating her marriage and copying her behavior?
Or are you trying to repair a relationship with a parent who didn't respond to you? And have you chosen a guy who isn't responsive in order to replay this earlier problematic relationship, and, hopefully, achieve a resolution this time around?
If you focus more on understanding yourself, rather than changing him, there will be a shift inside you and within the relationship. When he feels the heat is off of him, he'll stop rebelling and grow up on his own.
Even when he does mature, you will always need to be aware of your tendency to browbeat him into complying with your wishes; and his tendency to rebel against your demands.
So, you're going to want to find a more effective way of handling him because new issues will always arise, and unless you want to be in a permanent tug of war with him, you're going to need to change your tune.
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