11 Differences Between Dating A Boy vs A Man

11 Differences Between Dating A Boy vs A Man by Amy Chan, with additional commentary by James Russell Lingerfelt. See below for details.


When I was in my early twenties, if a guy acted aloof, called back only sometimes and showed minimal interest, I would get hooked. You could say I was addicted to the bad boy/ unavailable boy/ player.

I was drawn to what psychotherapist, Ken Page terms as “attractions of deprivation” – when we are drawn to people who embody the worst emotional characteristics of our parents.

Basically, the theory explains that we are attracted to people who can wound us the same way we were wounded in our childhood, as our psyche tries to recreate the past void and save us by changing its ending.

Games used to work on me because 1) I had unresolved daddy issues and 2) At the tender age of 20, I was trying to figure out who I was, ridden with insecurity, and a low sense of self-worth.

But somewhere in between the passing of a decade, something changed.

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. A woman is attracted to men. 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.

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

If you are a girl (lack independence, are ruled by insecurity, lack self-respect, throw tantrums, have princess syndrome, don’t have strong values or boundaries and can’t hold yourself on your own) then expect that you will attract only boys.

However, if you are a woman (independent, ambitious, knows your worth and value, has a strong moral compass, is considerate and an able communicator and doesn’t let insecurity dominate your psyche), then you should be dating a man. And if you can’t spot the difference just yet, here are some pointers.

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) or another purpose or passion. A boy lives only in the moment and his plans are mostly around which bar he’s going to hit up on the weekend.

James Russell Lingerfelt: Many mature men still don’t know what they want. But a mature man takes responsibility for that (here, let’s define maturity as the ability to express love – and love as the ability to sacrifice unselfishly). He does what he must to provide for himself and his family. He might not have himself or his life figured out, but he knows he must be mature if he chooses to be a provider and the kind of leader others can depend on. Becoming mature is a choice, not a by-product.

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.

James Russell Lingerfelt: A mature man is seeking a partner who will be an appropriate and compatible life-long partner. Will she be a good wife for me and a good mother to our children? Will she be a person of love? The question is not, “Am I good enough for her?” or “Is she good enough for me?” Rather, the question should be, “Will we love each other and are we a good fit?” He understands that they’ll “be in this together,” for the rest of their lives. He better be ready to put her desires and needs above his own. And vice-versa. This is what’s required from both partners if a marriage is to be healthy and successful. When we couples decide to get married only because we see it as the next step after a period of dating or because “we’re in love,” I believe we’re setting ourselves up for problems.

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.

James Russell Lingerfelt: A mature man understands the importance of honesty, openness, and clear communication. This is the only way both partners can find satisfaction in a relationship. A boy isn’t ready for such a relationship. He’s still playing. Does this mean he’s a bad person? No. It’s just that he’s still a kid. He’s still learning. 

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 still getting drunk with his buddies at the bar every weekend.

James Russell Lingerfelt: A mature man has the experience to understand that a rhythm of work and play is necessary. Work hard but we need to take some days away to “sharpen the axe.” No one who loves the work they do, and sees their own financial success, enjoys taking time off. But it’s necessary to stay balanced. As for the boy, he’ll be more interested in punching the clock and looking forward to the weekend. Long-term planning isn’t a top priority. 

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 mind games. A man doesn’t.

James Russell Lingerfelt: As I’ve grown older, some things have proven true to me over and over through observations and experience. If you want a man to become mature, he must be given responsibilities and he must learn to love. This requires life experience, but most importantly, it takes the boy willing to decide to become mature.

Lastly, a lot of boys can be quite successful though they did not have a strong father figure to teach them how to be a man. They relied on their mother. Therefore, many will seek a strong woman to be a mother figure and continue to take care of them. They do not try to avoid being a man or strong leader – they are just not aware of what being a leader, pursuer, planner is like. 

Read another popular post: Don’t Ever Apologize For Loving Someone – Not Ever!

This article first appeared as 11 Differences Between Dating A Boy vs A Man by Amy Chan. Click on her name to follow her on the social networks!

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