When the person who you are in a relationship with seems to be extremely volatile and immature, chances are you are dating a teenager in an adult’s body.
An insidious trend has been gaining steam for a number of years. I’ve seen this with my own eyes, read about it in professional journals, and have heard the chilling first-person stories from clients.
What trend do you say? Teenagers inhabiting the bodies of adults. Quite a ghastly and cunning thing. It is particularly devious because at first glance you could not know that the man, or woman, with whom you are speaking is in fact a teen. Why not?
To start, they are generally well into their twenties, sometimes even in their thirties and beyond. Secondly, when first meeting these individuals one often finds them charming. There is something exciting about their spontaneity and naivete. This magnetism has lured many an otherwise level-headed adult into a romantic relationship with the teenager in an adult body (let’s just use TIAAB for short). And this is where things get interesting.
TIAABs are attractive, at first glance, because of their youthful exuberance, sense of abandon, and infectious energy to seek out fun at every opportunity.
None of these are bad qualities. When harnessed to a mature character they are assets. When yoked with developmental arrest they become a source of great stress for those who have chosen to be in a romantic relationship with the TIAAB.
Perhaps you are wondering if your love interest falls into this category? Important question. If that turns out to be true, you can count on a tumultuous relationship. Disappointment, confusion, and pain. If you are a persistent type of soul you will be greeted with more disappointment, confusion, and pain. Pretty much can count on just repeating the ‘wash and spin’ cycle as it were. Not really the best of selling points when looking for a soul mate.
Although it’s possible that in time your true love will mature into an adult, it’s much more likely that he or she will remain stuck in the adolescent phase of life for many years to come. Sometimes for decades.
With this in mind, it pays to be able to tell if the person with whom you have given your heart is a TIAAB or simply someone with a number of quirks (in which case we can all say “Welcome to the club”).
Here are the major signs to look for when determining TIAAB status.
1. Everything is a crisis and dramatic action needs to be taken immediately.
The emotional life of your significant other resembles a pinball bouncing from one crisis to another. The boss giving someone else a promotion is a calamity because it signals some unfair preference (not the fact that the promoted employee worked longer hours and performed better). The TIAAB response is “I might just quit. Let them see how well the business runs without me!”
A friend not returning a telephone call creates anger and despair because it demonstrates mean spirited insensitivity. The solution: “I’m cutting them off. I don’t need a friend like that!”
If you forget to call home when running 20 minutes late this will be seen as a callous disregard for making the relationship a priority. The TIAAB responds with “Fine, I guess there is no need for me to tell you if I will be out all night with the guys. Don’t come crying to me when your shoe is on my other foot” (Pro Tip: If they misstate a common aphorism, just let it go).
2. The TIAAB lives by the unspoken belief that “If you do not agree with me you are a very bad person.”
Some creative types will also let you know that by not agreeing with them you are “being hurtful.” Or better yet, “Your words are a form of violence against me.”
If you are a novice at dealing with the TIAAB, you might respond by trying to show you meant no harm. For penitence, you end up cooking a special meal, doing all the grocery shopping for a week or two, and cleaning the house so well it would make Martha Stewart blush.
Rookie mistake. Your significant other sees this as a confession of your sins. It will be noted in the Book Of Wrongs! Moreover, your implicit confession will be brought up and vigorously waved about as evidence of your cretinous nature during the next conflict (trust me, this won’t take long).
3. Disagreements are frequent…
…and not relegated to just the important issues of life, but even the minor ones.
You are expected to apologize in every case because… well, because you are always wrong.
The ability to conjure up a conflict from the most innocuous topics is a strength of the TIAAB. Minor differences regarding vacation plans, one’s view of friends, or politics spark argumentative firestorms. Reason plays no role in resolving these conflicts. The TIAAB requires total capitulation, capped with a heartfelt apology.