Let’s discuss something that’s been on my mind lately. I don’t want to scare anyone away, but I’m talking about the M word… and it’s not marriage or money – it’s maturity! In the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Relationships” (which I just made up while writing this post), I’ve self-diagnosed several instances of what I’ll call Non-Syncing Maturity Levels (NSML).
More on NSML in a minute, but first, a few defining features of this unfortunate malady. When I say someone is mature, I mean he or she possesses a set of skills such as the ability to communicate effectively like an adult, to not be overly judgmental or heavily influenced by peer pressure, to use manners and common sense appropriately, and to see the world realistically and practically – basically, skills that teenagers tend to lack but are typically solidified in those with more experience. In my opinion, maturity has very little to do with money, interests, looks, career, or personality – it’s more of a quality that you pick up on while getting to know someone. A person can love comic books and laugh at the Three Stooges but be pretty mature (hey, Dad!). Conversely, you can own a house, car, fancy clothes, nice job, have a great education, and still spend years texting girls “hey, wuts up” at 10pm. Additionally, a person can be mature and also fun, spontaneous, and creative; similarly, one can be intelligent, reliable, and get drunk every night while refusing to learn how to pay bills.
Here’s my point: I don’t care what level of maturity you have. I’m not ascribing any qualitative judgment to any particular level on the maturity ladder. You could be in a committed, fulfilling relationship with someone who, by my definition, is pretty immature. But, the problem of NSML occurs when you are on one rung of this metaphorical ladder and the person you are interested in, dating, or committed to is on another.
So, Caryn, you may ask, how can I avoid the frustration associated with NSML? Well, there are no guarantees, but it’s as simple as first figuring out where you are (or want to be) on the maturity ladder. Then, seek out dating partners on the same or nearby rungs. To identify your level, ask yourself questions like: “Do I frequently throw temper tantrums in public?” or “Am I capable of making everyday decisions without relying on the opinion of my Twitter followers?” As far as I know, there is no current search function on JDate to narrow your matches by maturity; however, I think this is something that you can feel out in a few dates. So if you’re a 45-year old guy reliving his frat boy days, you may want to think twice about messaging the girl who loves Emily Post. However, if you find that girl who loves Tucker Max, well, I hope they serve beer at your wedding.