Failure to Launch

Date posted: September 1, 2007


I was watching Matthew McConaughey's and Sarah Jessica Parker's romantic comedy Failure to Launch, and I was highly entertained by the idea of working as an "interventionist". I would kill to get that job! Come on … look at it my way … it will get me to date regularly and …. I will get paid for it. The plot was built around Tripp, a 35 year old dude, whose parents were trying to get him to move out of the house. He had a nice job and a passion for sailing. His mother still made his bed, vacuumed his room, picked up his dirty clothes and left his clean laundry for him. She also made him pancakes, eggs, and bacon for breakfast. Sounds familiar?

At first I did not get the point of the movie – so what?! A single adult living with his parents – there is no law against that! Then I realized that in real life, with a subconscious twist, I selectively date men who live on their own. I also noticed that my resentment for guys who still lived with their parents erupts in sarcastic comments, sudden mood swings, unjustified aggression, or implicit punishment sentences. Deep down I would automatically consider him as less mature, less responsible, less reliable, and less worthy when compared to me. In that sense, I would be more experienced and more exposed than he ever was. I know this sounds awfully judgmental but this is how I weigh it.

It took a lot of strength and courage for a single girl like me to move out at the age of 28. Society, family, friends, men, and people who did not even know me frowned upon my decision. In the eyes of some, I was an outcast, for others I was insane, and for the majority I was a question mark. Five years later people still cannot understand my quest for independence and my need for growing into a whole person instead of becoming another female invalid who needs to lean on male crutches. I admit that leaving the nest has its pros and cons; the best thing about it is a sense of pride that only achievers can relate to. The worst thing about it is an utter lack of freedom. Yes! No freedom … responsibilities and bills govern almost every decision I take.

"To leave the nest, some men just need a little push" but what kind of push are we talking about when it comes to our men? How can we push a man away from his mommy's arms? How can we plant any seeds of responsibility in the soul of men who are so spoilt beyond reconciliation? Unlike parents here, in the movie, the parents were upset that their baby would not leave the nest; they felt that they did something wrong in the way they brought him up because he failed to claim his independence. They hired Paula to motivate their son to move out. Her strategy was basically to meet him by coincidence, get him to ask her out, involve him in a trauma, meet his friends and get their approval of her, delay sex, have him teach her something, and finally launch him. She believed that men still living at home lacked self-esteem so she would establish a relationship with the man, build his confidence up and then move him out of his parents' house.

Let's assume that I got Paula's job. Let's assume that I am on a mission to throw men off the terrace – set them free in my sick metaphorical way – and that I will follow Paula's plan for launching a man. I would expect the following scenario: We meet by coincidence, he plays Mr. So-Big-So-Hard-To-Get, then after several maneuvers from his side and some well-aimed blows from my side, he finally gets attached. I declare that our relationship will not progress until I know that he is an independent person who can survive on his own. Like other guys who are trapped in the comfort zone of their parent's house, he throws one excuse after the other at me and I brilliantly fail at my mission.

Excuses? Yes! Plenty! "My parents are too old. I have to take care of them and their needs. They will be heartbroken." Or "when I got married" or "people do not respect men who live alone, they automatically think that this man is a womanizer." Some are more honest and they just say that they are comfortable and well taken care of. Some say that the only thing they would miss about living on their own would be the ability to come and go as they pleased, and with whom ever they pleased. One guy told me honestly that he could not afford it.

On the other hand, parents panic when their grown up little boy asks for his right to blossom into manhood. Somehow they interpret it as treason and ingratitude. They feel that they raised up an ungrateful little monster who walked away on their old age. Of course I will not start a girls-living-alone movement here; I am still fighting the battles of self-esteem with my fellow women. But men, our men, our macho men, our male prima donnas – why are they seeking refuge in the sheltered nest of mother goose? In nurturing societies like ours, independence is translated into aloofness and people living on their own are automatically categorized as trouble makers. Good boys and good girls never leave the nest unless they are dead, married, or forced to work abroad. Failure to launch … this is the one failure that families celebrate rather than lament!

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