What’s His Maggage? (That's Male Emotional Baggage)
While most things about getting older are good, finding a decent man once you’ve whizzed past 25 can prove a minefield. You see, it’s not just us women who by that time are likely to have packed in a bit of emotional baggage over the years, but the boys will have acquired their own – known as maggage – too. “Men find it harder to manage emotional baggage because in genetic terms, any previous relationship failure is an evolutionary statement of ‘not good enough!’” explains psychologist Dr Victoria Galbraith (counsellingpsychologist.org). “Also, women recover better because men won’t discuss their feelings. Instead of talking it through, they act it out in their dating habits.” Which manifests as one of the all-too-familiar types below. Here VIVA identifies the common ‘Maggage Carriers’ and asks the experts – ‘Help! How do I unpack that?’
The Peter Pan
The PP is unable to accept that he’s ageing, so wears over-large headphones, a hoody and still believes he can make it as a DJ. With him, ‘fun’ quickly becomes ‘immature and undignified’. And yes, he really did just call the waiter ‘dude’.
Celebrity PP: Keith Richards
Unpack it: “He hates responsibility,” explains Galbraith. “Either his youth was so much fun he won’t move on, or it was so bad that he craves the childhood he never had. He won’t recognise this in himself, so enforcing responsibility will fail. Benefit from what you can’t change. Give him time and keep the serious things light – he’ll naturally start to take a more mature approach then.”
The Rock Star
You’re fabulous and successful – his masculinity can’t take it as he believes he’s a rocker at heart and you should be forever gratfeul that he’s even noticed you. May complain that ‘when we go out, you ignore me’. When he breaks it off, you can’t help but feel he’s doing it to regain some power.
Celebrity RS: Liam Gallagher
Unpack it: “This is down to low self-esteem,” says Galbraith. “Initially he thinks, ‘she’s amazing!’ which makes it confusing when he retreats. But don’t criticise; let him see how he contributes to your life. Compliments like ‘I can only do this with you’ will go a long way.”
Doesn’t want a soul mate so much as a Farmer’s Market companion and someone he can talk to about architecture/fine wine and late 40s film trends. You suspect he would dump you for himself if he could. Is never seen without a scarf.
Celebrity TI: Simon Cowell
Unpack it: “Culture has created this aesthetically oriented man and if you’re not careful, he will objectify you too,” says dating expert Paula Rosdol (paularosdol.com). “Be emotionally savvy. If you’re always attracted to this type, it’s because he possesses traits you wish you had. Maybe it’s the finer things in life or a hobby. Why not start doing these things for yourself rather than via him? You’ll stop subconsciously craving completion and instead start to look for different traits in a man that complement yours.”
The Middle-Aged Bore
All spirit has been broken by his previous wife/ex. Potentially mature, but soon reveals a clutch of boring hobbies (website building/Thai cookery) or endless physical ailments upon which he harps on about constantly. May have children.
Celebrity MAB: Ross from Friends
Unpack it: “Women can reject great men over small things,” says Rosdol. “Look deeper and be patient. Falling into the perfection trap can mean missed opportunities with people we could fall deeply in love with given time. Remember that the MAB’s previous relationships have made him this way, so shifting his habitual dating dynamic will reveal new sides to him.” She continues, “Fake ailments signal sadness so show him how exciting he can be! If he does have children, you’re dating a pre-made unit – and you’ll always come second. Things will be less spontaneous, but the rewards come from learning to adapt, plus knowing that he will have a deep appreciation for all of you.
The Jack the Lad
He adores you, but fears hurrying into ANYTHING. Such commitment-phobia means he typically enthuses, then promptly bolts. Mate-based beer nights may ensue in his attempt to rescue his freedom – which you cruelly stole from him by suggesting a weekend away.
Celebrity JTL: Vernon Kay
Unpack it: “Unfortunately, modern women are used to fast-paced lifestyles,” says Rosdol. “And we want our relationships quickly too. But it takes men longer to decide, so slow things down.” Glabraith adds, “It’s likely his parents or previous partners overruled his choices. He doesn’t trust himself not to make a mistake so this type takes longer to reach relationship maturity. Be patient and date longer, which is easy if you’re an independent type. If not, maybe he’s not for you…”
The Don Juan
Gets his plea in early by announcing that he’ just broken up with ‘someone’ and ‘isn’t looking for anything serious’. You suspect by ‘someone’ he means ‘gorgeous woman who was possibly a supermodel in a past life’. Of course, he is smoking hot. Which makes him so much harder to dump when you know you really should.
Celebrity DJ: Colin Farrell
Unpack it: “It’s nothing personal,” says Rosdol. “Men are programmed to look for youth and beauty because it signals fertility. Unfortunately, women see this type as a ‘fixer-upper’, hoping that they’ll be the one to change him into a keeper. But falling for someone’s potential is fatal.” She adds, “What you see is always what you get. At best, understand the deal you’re getting: this is just a confidence boost for you so have fun, enjoy looking at him and feeling other women’s envious eyes follow you as you walk beside him – then move swiftly on.”