What term can be used for an adult, especially a man, who is in his forties and still behaves like a teenager, shunning responsibilities typical of mature people, preferring to enjoy himself?
I would just call such a person immature, defined by The American Heritage Dictionary as:
adj. Marked by or suggesting a lack of normal maturity: silly, immature behavior.
Perhaps man-child, Peter Pan or perpetual teenager.
I do not think immature is the correct word, as maturity is defined by sociocultural norms. I think the word you're looking for is simply childish, because that describes behavior appropriate for a child (which is generally accepted to be someone who hasn't hit puberty).
Adulthood and Adolescence as States of Mind
What you are describing may be best characterized as someone who is a “late-stage” or “age-inappropriate” adolescent. An adolescent is neither a child nor an adult, but has one foot planted in each of those two worlds. Only once the former gives way to the latter does a person cease to be an adolescent.
That’s because when speaking not legally or biologically, but rather behaviorally and socially, adolescence is a state of mind. It’s a mental condition, a particular way of looking at oneself, one’s fellows, and one’s world.
As a social condition, adolescence persists until the individual lays aside the carefree world of the child. Only then can they take up the mantle of an actual adult with all its concomitant responsibilities.
There is no fixed time for this to occur; it may be early or it may be late, and it may not even be permanent.
Some few do this by age 14 or 15 when they marry, start families, and move into a home of their own, a practice far more common in earlier eras than today in the developed world.
Others delay until their 20s or 30s, or increasingly now in modern society, even into their 40s.
And some there are who forever remain adolescents until they at last die of old age.
A relevant quote from literature
The great American author Gene Wolfe frequently writes of these differences between children and adults, and of that “feet in both camps” world which adolescents for a time inhabit. Perhaps his clearest statement in this area is the following quotation:
Adolescents are simply those people who haven’t as yet chosen between childhood and adulthood. For as long as anyone tries to hold on to the advantages of childhood — the freedom from responsibility, principally — while seeking to lay claim to the best parts of adulthood, such as independence, he is an adolescent. [. . .] Eventually most people choose to be adults, or are forced into it. A very few retreat into childhood and never leave it again. A large number remain adolescents for life.
A person who per your description is “behaving like a teenager” is an adolescent, no matter whether they are 11 years old or 21 — or 51, 71, or 91.
Consider using one of these to describe such behavior:
You can call him an infantile person.
- of or pertaining to a child or to childhood.
- childishly foolish, immature or trivial.
I'll concede this answer lacks some of what you're after - i) it's gender independent, ii) I typically associate the term with the behavior (the verb it's applied to is puerile) and not the person/object (in which case the noun it's applied to would be puerile).
Based on the question though, you may not even be after a word associated with immaturity. For example, "preferring to enjoy" oneself might be better described by hedonistic, and for "shunning responsibilities" simply irresponsible.
I guess if one were feeling particularly mean, a puerile, hedonistic, irresponsible adult.
Do you mean a nonadult? That's the best thing I can think of. You can also call this person a peter pan, since he/she doesn't want to grow up.
From a medical/psychiatric view point, such a person may have a borderline adult personality disorder.
I would normally call that person a big baby.
My grandmother still calls me juvenile.
A man in his 40s who acts as if he were still a teenager? I have an expression for a "man" who has never grown up.
I'd call him a boy because he acts as a child.
child: an immature or irresponsible person
This is probably not always fair or applicable to specific instances, but often such ones are called bachelors or playboys.
In France, we would call that kind of person "adulescent."
adultescent: a young adult or middle-aged person that has interests, traits, etc., that are usually associated with teenagers.
kidult: an adult who is interested in forms of entertainment such as video games, TV shows, etc. that are intended for children.
In the way of adjectives, "adolescent" sounds like a good fit.
adolescent: emotionally or intellectually immature.
I call that person "unfledged".
I would call such a person a free spirit or wise man.
“Woe to the downpressors,” I would say.
protected by RegDwigнt♦ May 12 '14 at 9:03
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