To all the women I "dated" before I was 30 … soz.
I say "dated" because in hindsight I was never in a relationship, despite my girlfriends assuming we were. I didn't even know what a relationship entailed, or how to approach one with anything resembling honesty or maturity. To me, it was just sex and partying with a posh takeaway meal now and then.
Before 30, I, like nearly all men, was incapable of the self-reflection or emotional chops to be anything more than a cardboard cut-out of a boyfriend. I was perfectly fine to be wheeled out for gatherings, occasions and soirees, however I had the emotional range of a cauliflower.
So ladies, I now declare that ALL men under 30 should ONLY be considered for the following: Sexy bedtime hanky-panky, wedding-arm-candy, and helping you hold stuff while you're shopping.
For anything more, such as if you want an adult relationship where you reinforce each other's lives in a genuinely supportive, inspirational and mutually beneficial way … date blokes 30 and upwards. I can't guarantee they won't still fart on your head, but they'll be far more likely to get your back when you're going through a rough patch.
I was too selfish in my 20s. I know that's exactly what that time of self(ish) discovery is about. You don't wanna focus on anyone else and all that lovey-dovey nonsense would derail you from where you're going. Which is usually on the pull.
So why aren't we just honest about that?
Men have a habit of progressing relationships that we're not that into. Fact. We lead women down the garden path then skip off and strand them among the petunias, covered in jam and surrounded by ant nests.
We all know that women become more emotionally astute earlier than men, so is it because we think that's what women want? Or is it that we want all the benefits of a relationship without contributing our fair share?
I honestly don't think I had the capacity to even confront those internal questions at the time they were relevant. All I know is as soon as there is a real emotional need from our girlfriends — "I'm having a hard time, will you be there for me" — we flee from its terrifying gooeyness.
Straight away we have the mantra "I don't wanna deal with your s**t" and go crack open a cold one with the boys, celebrating the narrow escape of being trussed up by the ballsack in agonising servitude to the old ball and chain and 'er bonkers mood swings.
Real talk, I've seen female friends of mine get dumped by long-term boyfriends after bereavements and abortions. Real classy, fellas.
Oh, oh, but don't forget, we won't bring it up, though. Oh no. We'll wait for you to do it. We'll wait for you — the engaged one — to ask questions of the relationship because you want to solve these issues together and move forward together. And that's when we'll dump you. Crying while we do it though, because it's "sooo haaard baby and we love you reeeeally but that's why we can't be with yooooouuuu ooooh boo hoooo hooooo sniffle".
In truth, I think the tears from us are sort of genuine at the time, but they're not tears of loss or heartbreak. They're more tears of guilt for being such a chicken-hearted, blubbering man-toddler.
Dear Christ, I want to punch 20-something me in the face and tell me to Woman The F**k Up.
The fact is that women give more and men get more in relationships.
There's a well-known study which concluded that men live longer and women die earlier when they're in a relationship with the opposite sex.
Take a long look inside yourselves, boys. Examine how you approached relationships in your 20s and tell me that I'm wrong.
I'm not saying all women are brilliant and all men are arseholes (I kind of am though) and we all reach a reasonable level of emotional maturity and empathy at different times, but for the most part pretty much all men are knackered old write-offs for a decent relationship until they're at least 30.
However, there are unicorns out there. Those 20-something men who are capable of being mature, honest, committed, playful, charming, wild and faithful. I know of two men who are like this. They were there when I was 20 and they still are now, in their 40s, with the same women.
However, for the remaining masses of regular old under-30 males, I suggest only venturing into that cock forest if you want a root, a booze-up or some furniture moved.