Manchild, adult baby, immature—no matter what you call it, it can be difficult dating someone you feel like you have to parent.
But as one single mother found out, there are some plus sides to dating a not-so-grown-up. One of which is using advice from parenting books on your date.
It might sound crazy, but as Youngmi Mayer can attest, it works.
Playing In The ‘Major Leagues’ Of Dating
Comedian and host of “Feeling Asian” podcast Youngmi Mayer recently shared her dating pro-tip with the internet. A self-proclaimed “pro dater,” Mayer explains that “dating as a single mom in New York City is the Major Leagues of dating.”
Needless to say, Mayer was open to all the pro-tips she could get. But what she didn’t expect was where she’d find those pro-tips—her parenting books.
After practicing her parenting tips on a particularly cranky date, she realized just how useful (and universal) those parenting books could be.
‘All He Wanted Was For Me To Validate His Emotions’
In typical NYC fashion, the L train wasn’t running when Mayer was on her way to her date. When she arrived late, she recalls her dated being “pissed.”
“Then, I got pissed because I thought, what kind of loser would hold that against me?,” she continued.
Rather than rationalizing with her date that the problem was out of her hands, Mayer thought back to a book she was currently reading: “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.”
In that book, Mayer read that when a child is experiencing an emotion, they need room to experience it. It’s important not to minimize or rationalize it away.
So, Mayer calmly said to her date, “You are angry that I am late, and that is valid.” To Mayer’s surprise, her fuming date instantly calmed down. All he wanted, she said, “was for me to validate his emotions.”
Since that experience, she’s used this tip on her child with similar success.
‘When Your Kid Doesn’t Want To Do A Chore, Turn It Into A Fun Activity’
Mayer also used her parenting tips on a “hot bartender who never washed his hands.”
The bartender fingered Mayer after his shift (shudder) and gave Mayer bacterial vaginosis (BV).
The next time the pair hung out, Mayer was finishing up the last of her antibiotics. As they started to get intimate, all Mayer could think about was his “crusty, bartender-y hands.” (Same.)
Mayer remembered another parenting tip that said, “When your kid doesn’t want to do a chore, turn it into a fun activity for the both of you.”
Disregarding how concerning it is that a grown man would ever consider hand-washing a chore, Mayer was in a tough spot. She didn’t want BV round two, but it’s also pretty awkward telling your date their hands are too dirty to touch you.
Instead, Mayer suggested she and her date wash their hands together. “We had a weird, sexy, naked hand-soaping moment in the bathroom. Is that funny or disturbing? I don’t know.”
I say maybe both. But, hey, it’s definitely effective.
‘To Be A Great Mom Or Lover, You Need To Be Selfish’
Finally, Mayer learned one of the most valuable lessons perfect for all aspects of life by reading her feminist parenting books. “To be a great mom or lover,” she said, “you need to be selfish and prioritize yourself.”
Mayer quickly clarified that she’s wasn’t suggesting women need to do work to become better for their partners or children. Rather, she explained, “You need to give yourself love and respect before you can authentically do it for other people. No one should read parenting books to be the perfect mom or girlfriend.”
She said, if anything, “people should read parenting books to heal their own child self.”
And that’s something to apply to all aspects of life—parenting, relationships, friendships or careers.
Looking For Love (And Advice) In Unexpected Places
Unless you’re extraordinarily lucky, you’ve likely dealt with a date or partner who never seemed to “grow up.”
Maybe their childlike tendencies were minor, like never wanting to floss or flush the toilet. Or perhaps their habits held more weight, like never communicating their feelings or following through with commitments. There are lots of ways to show emotional immaturity. Luckily, there are also lots of ways to deal with them.
Mayer’s experience offers greater insight into how we might navigate all of our relationships—romantic, familial, professional or otherwise. Because at the end of the day, we’re all kids walking around in adult suits. We carry our childhood experiences with us whether we’re 17 or 70. And sometimes, the best way to communicate with someone is to talk to their inner child—not the adult suit.
Validate their feelings. Navigate around stubbornness or awkward situations; don’t plow straight through them. Prioritize healing and loving yourself so you can authentically reciprocate it back to others.
And maybe most importantly, make sure your partner washes their hands before your romp in the sack.