The 11 Differences Between Dating a Boy vs. a Man (and a Girl vs. a Woman)


A few months ago, one of my father’s co-workers (of all people) sent a link his way with a note saying to pass it along to me because it seemed “right up my alley.” Considering most of the stuff the older generation forwards to me often feels a bit dated or out of sync (despite their good intentions), I didn’t have very high expectations. But since said-coworker was a cool, younger female, I decided to check it out. And man am I glad I did, because it is pretty much the crown jewel of dating advice for our generation. That might sound extreme, especially given the abundance of “do this, not that” romantic garbage out there on the world’s widest web, but there was something different about this guidance–it felt fresh and insightful, it actually made me think (!), and it helped me put words to the flaws I was constantly encountering in my male prospects and in my own behavior. It is all-encompassing–the advice is fluid and can seemingly apply to hetero and non-hetero relationships.

It didn’t hurt that the author started off talking about attractions of deprivation–that favorite topic of mine. Like her, I’ve often  been attracted to the jerky, game-playing time that I’d never want my friends to waste their time on. And, like her, this has had a lot to do with my own daddy issues, insecurities, trying-to-figure-out-who-the-hell-I-am-ness, etc. But slowly things are starting to change for me, along the same lines as she describes below (I added the parts that aren’t italicized):

I learned to love myself.  I became independent, confident, and started to value my self-worth. I went through hardships and heartbreaks and picked myself back up which built my strength and courage. Instead of relying on beauty as my source of empowerment, I focused on basing my empowerment on my intelligence, successes, values, contributions to the world and how I helped others. In a sense, I finally grew up. I went from being a girl to becoming a woman. And as a woman, you are attracted to very different things than you are as a girl.

A girl is attracted to boys (or other girls). A woman is attracted to men (or other women). Now, this has nothing to do with the actual age of a person. I’m referring to maturity, life vision and stage of life. In fact, some people regardless of their age, will never really grow up.

So, her prescription for those of us trying to find someone who qualifies as more man than boy, or woman than girl, is the following list, “11 Differences Between Dating a Boy vs. a Man,” which I found to be pretty on-point:

(You can switch the genders in this post and most points would likely still apply.)

  1. A man knows what he wants, and goes for it. A boy may have somewhat of an idea, but not really. He doesn’t think too much about it, and even if he does, doesn’t exert much effort to get it. A boy is passive, a man is assertive.
  2. A man plans for his future and is working towards building a foundation and infrastructure in order to have a family (at some point in his life).  A boy lives only in the moment and his plans are mostly around which bar he’s going to hit up on the weekend. (TC Note: Obviously not everyone wants to have a family, but I think the beginning of the point is important regardless.)
  3. A man looks for a woman with intelligence, who is supportive, grounded and encompasses a shared set of values when choosing a partner. A boy cares mostly only for girls who are hot, wild and exciting.
  4. A man knows a good woman when he meets one and will take initiative to get to know her. A boy may make an attempt if you’re lucky, but gives up before ever really trying.
  5. A man has the courage to have uncomfortable conversations. He is honest with his intentions and lets people know where they stand. A boy avoids. He ignores confrontation or any serious talks about feelings. Instead of dealing with a situation, he runs away from it or creates drama or excuses to mask the fact he’s not that into you or a relationship.
  6. A man knows when to invest in a woman and jump in with two feet. A boy is always “testing” – he doesn’t fully commit because he never knows if he is quite ready. But the truth is, because he is a boy, regardless of who he meets, he will never be ready due to the stage of life he is in.
  7. A man knows how to have a good time and be social, but is often busy making strides in his career and building his life. A boy is getting drunk with his buddies at the bar every weekend.
  8. A man takes the time to reflect on the type of man he wants to be, the example he wants to leave and the vision for his life. He has put thought into his values. A boy has not established his moral compass or values and consequently, is often inconsistent.
  9. A man has integrity. He means what he says, and says what he means. He has follow through and actions his promises. And if he can’t he has the guts to tell you why. A boy makes promises but doesn’t follow through.
  10. A man is afraid of rejection but will put himself out there anyway. A boy is afraid of rejection and acts passive so that his pride and ego won’t ever get too banged up.

Now, a lot of these differences require taking the time to know someone to figure out if the apple of your eye is indeed a man, or a mere boy. However, one of the quickest filters that you can notice from the beginning is this:

11. A boy plays games. A man doesn’t.

*To clarify, when I’m referring to “games” I mean mind games.

What are your thoughts on these guidelines?

You can check out her similar list, “11 Differences Between Dating a Girl vs. a Woman” here.

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