All guys look forward to reaching certain milestones, such as our first chest hair and our first legal beer, whichever comes first. Other milestones we dread reaching — even if we know we’ll get there someday — like fatherhood, buying a tuxedo instead of renting again, and (far less intimidating) death.
However, we overestimate the value of some momentous occasions and underestimate the value of others — especially in regards to becoming a man…
First Time Getting Laid Vs. Getting Dumped
What You Expect Will Make You Grow Up: Losing your virginity seems like a significant achievement. But as memorable as those couple seconds are, they won’t change your fundamental personality — you’ll feel a temporary boost of confidence, sure, but you haven’t evolved as a person just because you successfully ejaculated into latex instead of Kleenex for once.
What Actually Makes You Grow Up: The first time a girl kicks your ass to the curb — and delivers an unfiltered critique of your entire personality — you’ll chalk it up to her being a merciless, ball-breaking she-devil. In the coming months, however, you’ll begin to notice yourself exhibiting the very same behaviors described. With deep reflection and sincere effort, you’ll admit to and fix those frailties, become a more thoughtful, self-aware person and find a new girl, who’ll then dump you over a totally different list of wretched flaws.
College Graduation Vs. Self-Sufficiency
What You Expect Will Make You Grow Up: For four years, you’ve studied hard and partied harder. (Well, maybe five years.) Now you’ve tossed your cap in the air and framed your diploma — you’re a fully adult member of society, right?
What Actually Makes You Grow Up: Paying your bills without Mom’s and Dad’s assistance, sadly impossible for many college grads in recent years due to companies replacing entry-level jobs with internships. This not only denies young people an adult salary; it denies them adulthood, because balancing a budget requires and produces far more maturity than begging your girlfriend to float you for another month. (By the way, making cash doesn’t mean you’re a grownup; making cash and choosing to not spend all of it on stupid sh*t does.)
Being In A Relationship Vs. Leaving A Bad One
What You Expect Will Make You Grow Up: Finally, after years of desperate searching, you’ve found someone to share your Netflix account! OK, maybe it’s not the most stable relationship ever — you have blowout arguments numerous times per week, you’re no longer permitted to see your friends or leave the apartment without her, and she kinda stabbed you that one time — but at least all your Facebook contacts think you’re capable of a long-term relationship.
What Actually Makes You Grow Up: Getting the hell out of a toxic relationship, even if it hurts the other person’s crazy feelings. (Just make sure any knives/scissors/other castrating instruments are safely out of reach.) Even if your partner isn’t unbalanced — just a bad match for you — calling it off is still the adult decision. You’ll know the right person when you find her; she’s the one you grow closer to (and together with) year by year, not grow apart from daily.
Sorry if I was just possessed by the demonic entity known to mortals as Dr. Phil.
Getting Married Vs. Moving In Together
What You Expect Will Make You Grow Up: When you make that vow to keep it in your pants forever (except for the occasional Wednesday night when the Mrs. can’t sleep), nobody can question that you’ve become a man. You’re a husband, for crying out loud — isn’t that the pinnacle of male adulthood?
What Actually Makes You Grow Up: Your wedding will be an awesome party (it’s open bar, right?), but chances are you’re already cohabiting before “I do” crosses your lips. Spoiler alert: A marriage license and a new Crock-Pot won’t affect your relationship nearly as much as becoming roommates, because that’s the real test of compatibility. You’re gonna bicker over everything from the thermostat to personal hygiene (specifically, your lack of it), which means you need to learn compromise, understanding, forgiveness, gratitude and a whole bunch of other qualities that take serious dedication.
And then you’ll forget all of them at the exact wrong moment, and say the exact wrong thing, because there’s no guy on the f*cking planet who’s totally mature.
Photo Credits: Brand New Images & Joos Mind/Getty Images & H. Armstrong Roberts/Henrik Sorensen & Image Source/Facebook & Jamie Grill
Photo Captions: Marty Beckerman