In your opinion, what's the definition of a "Manchild"?

I don’t look at being a manchild as something that’s defined clearly by having your own place, paying your own bills, etc… It’s much more of a maturity thing- I know a few guys who verge on manchild status, but who are otherwise financially and professionally successful, because they are sort of Peter Pan-like. As in, their main life focuses are on things that are somewhat immature for 40-something men to have as primary life focuses. I mean, both have had serious relationships, but neither seems to have been willing to be flexible enough about the lifestyle disruption (perceived lack of freedom/constraints imposed by the SO) that living together/marriage would entail, so these relationships have always ended. Their main goals/hobbies/activities are partying/going out for one, and anime/comics/sci-fi fandom for the other. Neither volunteers, or is really involved in the community in any way- they basically go to work and go out/do their anime stuff otherwise.

I’m not trying to say that having a SO/family or is the only way to not be a manchild, but there’s something immature about them… it’s like they are 46-47 year olds still doing the same basic crap we all did when we were 20. I’d say that if you were like these guys and had some other failing- unable to keep a job, unable/unwilling to get your own place, etc… then you definitely qualify as a manchild. As it stands, those two friends of mine are close.

To be fair, I’ve never seen 10 seconds of that show. I used IMDb’s “man-child” keyword and went with the first thing I recognized that was still on the air.

You’re missing out, it’s one of the funniest shows extant and the characters are all amazing. Binge it, you’ll thank me!

Yeah Manchild might be one of those unnecessarily gendered words, what is the female version of Manchild? Because I know a few women (either friends or family members) who after college decided the best course of life was to move back home, not get a job, but still continue their lifestyle of partying every single day.

It’s on the list. Thanks!

I don’t see people who’ve elected out of certain steps in the “normal” progression of life as necessarily maladjusted or stunted–they’re just living life on their own terms and there’s nothing wrong with that. My BFF is single, completely uninterested in having kids and lives with her mom and stepfather but she also owns her own business, has extensive friendships and is just living life on her own terms. Yeah, she’s not on the “normal” life trajectory expected of women of a certain age but her circumstances suit her and she has good reasons for doing things the way she does.

Manchildren, by definition, are those who are majorly NOT handling their own issues and life tasks. They’re not consciously opting out or opting in to an alternative life, they’re just all around failing to launch, either financially, physically, emotionally or all of the above. Manchildren are not doing well, they’re probably unhappy and spread that unhappiness around to any poor soul unfortunate enough to be glommed onto.

A man who creates more work than he performs, especially in the household where he lives.


I find it amusing that that some of the definitions here would include the classic '50s sitcom dad (comes home from work, puts his feet up, doesn’t do any housework whatsoever), and some would emphatically not include the classic '50s sitcom dad (has ‘childish’ hobbies like games and anime).

I agree with all of this.

I am someone who does not live the stereotypical adult life. For the past month, I have been all about riding my new electric scooter in my free time. I come home from work, scarf down Sunday dinner leftovers, check the news long ago to conform a tornado isn’t coming, and then I am off to play, riding for as long as my scooter will take me.

Is this similar to what kids do? Sure.

But am I am womanchild for not being interested in the other things women my age do in their spare time? No. Because my child-like ways are not a burden to anyone. I may keep my house a junky mess, but I make it immaculate when guests come over. I may only cook once or twice a week, but I know how to cook and could do so every day if I had to. I would probably get on someone’s nerves if I lived with them, but it wouldn’t be because of my lack of contributions to the household.

A happy bachelor who doesn’t want to commit to something if it means compromising his lifestyle too much
isn’t deserving of an insult. He deserves props for living his life the way he wants to without feeling entitled it an SO at the same time.

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Add a third category for pornography obsession. I don’t mean looking at it occasionally to have a nice wank; I mean spending every possible waking hour seeking it out, etc.

Nobody so far has mentioned the ultimate manbaby: the guys who have children and refuse to take care of them, on any level, and then can’t figure out why the mom left (whether they were married or not) and they can’t see the kids they weren’t interested in when they were living with them.

There’s a BIIIIIG difference between a man who doesn’t cook or do laundry, because someone else does it for him, and a man who trashes the house and then expects the (clears throat) maid to clean that up. I’m not talking about, for instance, ordering a pizza, eating what he wants, and then just leaving it; I’m talking about guys who do things like dump out all the drawers, empty the fridge’s contents onto the floor, etc. and then deny any knowledge of how things got that way and, oh, by the way, you can clean it up.

No personal experience with this kind of thing, but I definitely have known people who did.

Every main male character on The Big Bang Theory, to different degrees of severity. And most of those are conventionally successful, so I don’t necessarily equate a man-child with a classic loser.

I would take slight exception to this description. Does this person pay rent/utilities/food at a market level to live in the home as essentially a roommate? If not, then “living life on her own terms” means leeching off mom/stepfather, which IMHO is not a mature position. As for “good reasons”, um, yeah leeching off mom/stepfather.

I live alone. I have no spouse, no children, no family living close by, and only two close friends. I am not that interested in interacting with other people.

OTOH, I have a full time job and I pay my own way. When people criticize how I live, I inform them “I’ve been taking care of myself by myself for longer than most people have been alive.”

Not always. She could be taking care of things and allowing them to live independently; they could travel a ton and like her to be watching the house while they do; they may genuinely enjoy her company and like having her around; she may be an only child and they are affluent and it’s all going to her eventually so paying rent seems dumb.

She may well be “leeching”. But if they are happier to have her there and she’s happier to be there and they don’t need the money, how on earth would it be more ethical for her to reduce her happiness and theirs by moving out?

It’s a bit hard to define, because “manchild” isn’t a diagnosed disorder. It’s a comedic trope from film and TV. The “manchild” is portrayed as anything from a completely dysfunctional, unemployed adult who lives at home with his parents and spends his days pursuing juvenile hobbies to a successful (often extremely so) functional adult who is unwilling or unable to take on any serious commitments or responsibilities. They can be portrayed as extremely charming or socially awkward.

I think that one thing that is consistent with the “manchild” is that makes them different from someone “living life on their own terms” is that they don’t “live life on their own terms”. They are usually supported by enablers who provide them with housing, money or some sort of codependent companionship that “normalizes” their behavior (i.e. womanizing, lack of ambition, drug use, self-destructive behavior, juvenile hobbies, etc). Often their “terms” are thrust upon them (unemployment, lack of relationships, etc) because they did not develop the necessary life skills. And they frequently exhibit childish character traits (selfish, quick-tempered, emotional, defensive, attention-seeking, lack of empathy or self control) that are disruptive to the people in their lives.

Which is not to say that one can’t show aspects of being a Manchild and live a successful, happy life. Maturity is not being serious all the time. Maturity is knowing when to be serious and when to have fun.

That’s basically what I’m getting at; they were all manchildren at the beginning, with Leonard and Howard growing out of it the most, and Raj the least by the final episode.

I guess it’s more of a… immature self-centeredness than anything else. I really don’t know how to articulate it- it’s not centered around the nature of one’s hobbies or relationship status, but rather how they interact with the world and it’s relationship to themselves.

I think the closest thing we have to a gender-nonspecific term for that might be “Failure to Launch”.

I agree that the gendered term “manchild” seems to connote something other than mere “failure to launch”. To me, it signifies not just bailing out on your responsibilities, but as monstro and Manda JO said, selfishly offloading your responsibilities onto someone else, especially a woman, in a complacent and entitled sort of way.

In my first real job, I had an older male coworker who drank a bunch of coffee but simply would not learn how to run or clean the office coffee machine. The other coffee drinkers in the office, primarily the female ones, took care of running and maintaining the machine and he routinely drank quite a bit of the coffee they made without ever lifting a finger to help them, and he was pleased as Punch about it.

The guy may have been a responsible breadwinner in other respects, but his attitude toward the office coffee was very manchildish.

Well, I was, according to my wife’s ex-husband. Of course, that was mostly because I’m almost 15 years younger than him. He used to periodically ask my then-girlfriend, “are you still dating the manchild,” until one day he asked and she said, “Yup - and I’m going to marry him.” :smiley: