General Question

nikipedia's avatar

Are there developmental stages to dating?

Asked by nikipedia (27300 points ) April 10th, 2009

I find guys in their mid-to-late twenties completely inscrutable. Completely. Their behavior as it pertains to dating makes no sense to me, whether they’re dating me, actively not dating me, dating my friends, actively not dating my friends, pursuing my friends and taking them on one date and then never calling again, obsessed with girls who are completely nuts, etc.

This has never been an issue in the past (I am 24 now, and the bizarro dudes in question range from 23 to 31). Additionally, dudes well into their 30s seem to behave in a normal, predictable, sensible manner.

Am I inferring a pattern where none exists, or do guys tend to go through stages of dating wherein they do seemingly nonsensical things in their 20s and eventually return to normal? Is there some kind of internal conflict or existential crisis driving this behavior that I’m just not aware of? Does anyone, especially dudes who have been through their 20s, have any insight?

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35 Answers

Randy's avatar

I believe the word for the fellows your mentioning, where I come from at least, is douchebag.

kevbo's avatar

I think most people in their 20s are either on the marriage track or stumbling fools. But unless you catch a very lucky break early in life, the psychology of the opposite sex remains as you say inscrutable until shortly after 30 when one finally submits to the inevitability of the illogical.

I would also say there is wide variation among people in their 20s relative to their dating smarts.

casheroo's avatar

I agree with @kevbo they either want something that leads to marriage, or they don’t. The ones that don’t, are usually the ones that are unreadable. You never know exactly what they want, you have to get to know them to find out.
My now husband was all about marriage and kids when we began dating, he said he knew it’s what he wanted with me as soon as he started talking to me. maybe not the kids part, but he wanted to start a serious relationship with me So, I met my now husband when he was ummm, 22 turning 23 soon. So, I guess I caught him at an age where he was ready to settle down, and I didn’t have to deal with any mess with it haha.
Before that, I dated a guy for a while..he was all “I love you, I want to be with you…I’m not ready for anything serious!” It was a nightmare of a relationship! He was 21–24 when I dated him. You might be on to something with your theory. But, I think they’re usually older when they want to settle down, like 25–30.

westy81585's avatar

I believe there are “stages” to the type of relationship a guy wants/is willing to do. Like when I was younger the idea of dating someone that I would eventually marry scared the shit out of me. As I grew older I went from wanting a “steady” relationship to just wanting “hook ups”... then back to a solid relationship (but on a more mature level than in high school)... and now i’m to a point where i want a solid relationship with marriage “potential” (though not necessarily a must be)

I don’t claim to be talented enough to label all these stages. And I’m sure they vary from person to person (some people probably skip some stages all together, or go in different orders, and at different ages and whatnot).... But I would definitely say there are stages.

Facade's avatar

Not in my book. If I’m “dating” you, I plan on marrying you.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@nikipedia, I’ve noticed it, too, about guys in that age group. There’s more than a few, that, like Cher’s character in Moonstruck, I want to smack ‘em upside the head and say, “Snap out of it!”

Wildman's avatar

In teens and twenties our penis do all of our thinking.Later sex is no longer everything,but love,and the right girl start to emerge in the thinking pettern.Looking for possible lifetime mates etc.Basically anyway,but there are exceptions to the rule.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@Wildman, it’s not even that. There’s a significant segment of anti-social, socially clueless depressive men in that age group. More so than the generation before or after. Great guys, but extremely frustrating to relate to. I personally wonder if it has to do with their parents being of a generation where gender roles were more traditional, but family structure was in flux, and not as flexible or forgiving, and as a result, their perspective on coupled relationships was damaged.

Wildman's avatar

@AlfredaPrufrock Was not thinking from a psychological view point,but you may have something there.Parents or lack thereof have a lot to do with our attitudes towards everything.That’s a great comment.

cookieman's avatar

My nephew is that guy.

@AlfredaPrufrock describes it perfectly.

He is extremely frustrating, and I’m just his uncle.

Well he’s married now (as the result of an “oops”) and very bitter and clueless as to what he wants. I don’t see it ending well.

nayeight's avatar

Screw guys in their early 20s. From my experience, they are douchebags. It’s not until 25–26 that they start to act semi-normal.

Zen's avatar

Yes.

wundayatta's avatar

I am not now, nor have I ever been a dude in my twenties. I think I was put in suspended animation for a decade, and then decanted when the witchy-women who canned me decided I was safe to let loose among femdom. Unfortunately, I can’t remember anything from the time. I’m pretty sure that had nothing to do with the…uh… substances I was ingesting. No, not those. I meant ice cream, cake, brownies… that sort of thing.

In any case, men, unlike women, do not go through phases of anything. We are born perfect, and stay that way throughout the rest of our lives. If you women would only relax and lie back, it would be so much easier for you to understand.

Hmmm. That sounded a twee bit patronizing, didn’t it? Never mind.

Now, as you know, there is precious little variation in male behavior. We are all pretty much the same. And, when you think about it, it’s a good thing. We wouldn’t want to confuse the little women’s minds, would we? So, unfortunately for you, men can’t return to normal, because they never left it.

In any case, male behavior is perfectly sane. In fact, given what we have to deal with (aforesaid crazy women), it’s amazing how remarkably calm we remain. So, I’m sorry, but I can’t explain the obvious to you.

But I was wondering. Is there any little bit on insight you could give me about the absolutely double black diamond mysteriousness of feminine behavior?

SeventhSense's avatar

@Randy
Gordon Ramsay is a world class chef and if he’s a douche bag he has much to show for it. Society loves a douche bag almost as much as we love a slut
@daloon
As per gender, you are hardly typical

hearkat's avatar

@daloon: Not all females are “double black diamond mysterious” either.

@nikipedia: Dating in my 40s isn’t easy, either. I find that with some years of experience comes baggage, and gender roles from our generation have most of them very reluctant to open up about their “issues”. And now that they are seeing the effects of aging, many are hitting the ‘mid-life crisis’ phase of wanting to cling to their glory days from their teens and 20s (shall we call them “douchebag 2.0”?). So they want some hot young thing or might settle for some silicone botoxed imitation, but most can’t be bothered with an authentic, ‘seasoned’ woman.

qualitycontrol's avatar

I’m a 20 year old dude. I’m looking for the person I’m going to marry. I’m trying to build my career and my credit so I can provide for my future family. I don’t look to hook up or to date different people. I want one who will always be there. I don’t party or go out looking for a good time, just school and work. I want to buy a house before I’m 25 so that I can pay it off before I’m dead…Is this weird at my age? Other people are like that right? The majority of my close friends seem to be in their late 20’s or 30’s. I feel like I’m trying to catch up to them and accomplish what they have accomplished. I want to be older. It seems to me that all girls my age want to do is hook up and do drugs and drink and I’m not into that at all. They think I’m boring ;(

SeventhSense's avatar

@hearkat
Douchebag 2.0! LOL. As per the seasoned woman, I guess it all depends on her particular type of seasonings. :)

SeventhSense's avatar

@qualitycontrol
You have to break some eggs to make an omelette. At 20 you should have fun and be open to new experience. There will be time enough to be serious later. You don’t have to drink or do drugs though. You will never feel as good, look as good or have as much energy as at 20. Don’t try to catch anyone. Enjoy it!

nikipedia's avatar

@qualitycontrol: I agree with @SeventhSense. This will sound condescending, but I don’t mean it that way: I think a lot of guys your age feel a certain pressure to be responsible and fulfill specific roles, and find themselves dissatisfied and filled with existential angst several years later.

Then again, you might be completely happy. Who knows. Everyone’s different.

@all: Thanks for the replies. I feel much less like a crazy person.

Jack_Haas's avatar

I believe these stages are: getting to 1st base, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, home plate, moving on.

Zen's avatar

@qualitycontrol What’s your number? PM me, have I got a (Jewish) girl for you!

qualitycontrol's avatar

@zen: ha-ha-ha soooo funny…I guess I’m just abnormal

veronasgirl's avatar

I think that guys do go through “relationship stages” The guy I was with previously was 19 almost 20 and he wanted a serious relationship…the guy I am interested in now is almost 21 and an undiagnosed douchebag.

SeventhSense's avatar

@veronasgirl
Have you gotten a second opinion? In a young guy, douchebag (and its gay equivalent douchebuggery) is sometimes hard to diagnose. In fact even in older guys, testosterone often makes diagnosis problematic.
Now total bitch symptoms-complete entitlement, hyper materialism, brand name labelism, and permanent PMS are more easily determined. And I don’t know if your insurance covers it but a specialist is sometimes necessary. Your general practitioner should be able to refer you to one. Best of luck.

Loried2008's avatar

Randy’s answer was my favorite ^-^

FreddieMack's avatar

Date.
First base.
Second base.
Third base.
Home run!

SeventhSense's avatar

@Facade
What is it about you nice girls which just makes me want to corrupt you all..

CMaz's avatar

Get in, get out.

tadpole's avatar

when you’re 16 you only date them if they don’t want you…when you’re 61 you’ll date anyone…

asmonet's avatar

And people wonder why I never even thought about dating until I was 20, I fucking knew better. Boys are idiots, keep looking maybe you’ll find a few good men. Or maybe just one.

Facade's avatar

@SeventhSense lol, I am just now seeing this :P and I don’t know why you would want to tarnish my squeaky clean soul like that~

SeventhSense's avatar

Nah, it’s not your soul I’m interested in…umm..it’s uh…your umm uh…mind…ya that’s it…

doxie_chick's avatar

well the saying women mature faster then men is no joke. men in the age range from teens to around their early 30s tend to be very immature. this is a generalized statement of course but it is primarily true. Men in this stage tend to want to have play the field

DrMC's avatar

@nikipedia I do think there are developmental stages, and it has a hell of a lot to do with specifically what you are looking for and what you are capable of dealing with. If I had energy I could make this funny, but for now I will just say that when you are 5 your friends are one dimensional. At age 10, 2 dimensional. At 16 you <might> obsess about sex.

At 46 you might notice you no longer think about it all that much and go see a doctor.

You stop making jokes about sex

At 76 you start joking about being old.

“you know your getting old if when you take off your bra and your wrinkles go away”

Along these lines our version of ourselves and our relations <tends> to get deeper and deeper.

Social skills tend to improve.

A 16 year old will act nervous

A 26 year old will try something.

A 46 year old will take you out for ice cream.

A 76 year old will tell you about their kids.

My 2 cents worth.

creative1's avatar

@wundayatta what are you talking about men are all normal??? They always talk a good game but when it comes down to the brass tacks of things thats all they ever were was talk. They keep you on a line for as long as they can hold you until they drive you crazy trying to figure out if your coming or going and I am talking about men of all ages now I am in my 40’s and seeing from a perspective that I have, you just never know what kind of lie is going to pop out of them whether it be in person, via phone, instant messenger or what have you. They tell you they you want you, but when they actually can have you they don’t, they decide they no longer want you. Plain and simple men love to play head games and see how far they can take it.

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