The 11 Differences Between Dating a Boy vs a Man

suit tie Jaclyn Auletta

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.

“The child in us believes that if the original perpetrators — or their current replacements — finally change their minds, apologize, or make up for that terrible rupture of trust, we can escape from our prison of unworthiness. Our conscious self is drawn to the positive qualities we yearn for, but our unconscious draws us to the qualities which hurt us the most as children.”  - Psychology Today

So 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 and to top it off, 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. Or, read this post on “The 11 Differences Between Dating a Girl vs a Woman“.

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.
  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 crunk 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.

Photo credit: Jaclyn Auletta


  • Reply November 26, 2014


    Surely this is simply one persons opinion backed up by a majority vote of today’s society in which most people simply follow others. Just because somebody makes a list does not mean its right, do what makes you happy and be with who makes you happy. Do not your wasting time.

  • Reply November 28, 2014


    1. Absured. I’m a man, and sometimes I need time to think. Consider this me being decisive about YOU being over-critical of me.

    2. The financial crisis hit men more than women. Only 1/5th of the layoffs that ensued affected women. Add to this, the ruling class hasn’t upped the middle class wage in over 50 years to keep pace with inflation. And the housing market is set to crash because it’y over-inflated internationally. Generation Y will never be able to retire. WE DIDN’T plan for this – stop judging me for it.

    3. Men understand then value of someone hot AND intelligent. Unfortunately they don’t usually go hand in hand in women … (Contrary to what most women hold men to!)

    4 This isn’t true anymore. You “good women” simply don’t exist, because you’re so busy treating us like we don’t have feelings, or like we WANT to sign a contract that gives you the legal freedom to take my loved ones, my capacity to retire, and my value as a mate simply when things are no longer CONVENIENT for you.

    5 So, in a fight I can’t leave and I can’t raise valid concerns or show any feelings? (ie drama!) Wow… You must really know me in this relationship.

    6 I will not sign a contract that gives you the legal authority to talk my children and assets away. This isn’t testing the waters – it’s a reasonable expectation for respect and accountability to our OWN actions when we’re a part of each other’s lives!

    7 While MEN are getting educated in high value careers, you women are busy wasting your 20s getting drunk and taking arts credits and social studies! – And the “women” expect MEN to devalue that effort with no strings attached!

    8 This one is a great sentiment – though I wish we could hold women in marriage to the same kind of trust. Unfortunately we DONT give them any consequences, no the state rewards them when they’re unfaithful by handing over half the earnings of their last chapwhile they’re fucking their new husband. (Much opportunity to reflect for women!?!)

    9 This isn’t specific to one gender. ( Are you being sexist? Or holding women to a different standard?)

    10 Actually, most of us are just tired of self a entitled hand wreckless women trying to devalue other people’s worth in society when people show a genuine interest in you.

    I don’t approach most women because I’m VERY dissatisfied with their REDICULOUS obsession with devaluing MEN.


  • Reply November 28, 2014


    Hi Amy,

    Enjoyed your article, it seems from the comments that you have struck a nerve with many of your readers. Good job. :)

    Keep doing what you do, just by sharing your articles you are creating change. :D

  • Reply November 30, 2014


    Oooh so am a boy……..I play games, never ready for serious relationship. . .mmmmmh somehow true

  • Reply November 30, 2014

    John C

    This is so idiotic.

    Here’s my list.

    1. A man/woman doesn’t read online lists about what it means to be an adult because they understand that the goals of an individual probably doesn’t match up identically with everyone else’s.

    2. Being a man/woman means not creating pretentious lists of social hierarchies.

    That’s it. I’ll only give two.

    Why are these articles a thing? Why not just go out and meet people and stop making this crap up about perfect men and women. People don’t always take mold to your hierarchy, sorry.

  • Reply December 3, 2014

    Caleb Peiffer

    I’m a man. Who’s still a bit of a boy. And I agree with you on every point. But I would like to add another criterion.

    12. A man is always growing, always learning, and always improving himself. He accepts advice, follows good guidance, and as he undergoes the process of expanding his horizons and developing his integrity he does so with confidence and humility. A boy is insecure, and his insecurities make him stubborn and irrational. He doesn’t listen to advice, he’d sooner throw it in your face. He sticks to doing the same thing, and when he doesn’t get the results he wants, he continues to do the same thing and expects different results.

    You’ve received responses from several boys who are very hopeless to grow up, and I’m sorry for that. I know it’s difficult to put yourself out there and receive such a negative reaction. Certainly your list isn’t comprehensive and we could scruple over minor details, but on the whole it’s clear, sound advice. I value your perspective as a woman, as the workings of the female mind can be difficult for men to understand, and I appreciate an insight like this. I think it’s important for men to understand what women think of them, and what they want from them. I don’t see it as you, a woman, telling men what to do for the sake of women. I just see it as an insightful, instructional observation, and a very shrewd one. I admire your perception. You seem to understand men pretty well. I even envy your crystal-clear writing style.

    I also want you to know why it’s difficult for men to accept that your criteria actually make sense. It’s because finding a woman worth being a man for is increasingly difficult. In my case, most of the women I’ve known fit your description of a boy. Your criteria for a man would benefit women, as well. My point is, we’re telling girls nowadays “you’re perfect just the way you are,” “just be you,” “sisters before misters,” while we continue to teach the exact opposite to men. It’s like saying a man should have to pay full price for a sandwich with nothing in it, and a woman should have to pay half-price for a sandwich with the works. This fosters the common notion that men have no feelings, no respect for women, and no understanding of what it‘s like to be overpressured and undervalued.

    My guess is that most of the other men didn’t read the entire article before responding. I have to be honest, I didn’t either until now. (Nota bene: Men read. Boys skim.) So now I’m even more grateful to you for making it clear in your article that if men have to be willing to grow and to improve themselves, so do women. No, ladies, men don’t care how much you weigh or how much makeup you have on or how big your chest is. Boys do. Forget the boys. Because yes, a man does care that you’re an intelligent, virtuous woman. Chivalry isn’t dead, but girls have tried to kill it, so it dies unless it can find lady-like women. If you treat a man like a boy, he’ll go find a woman, and you’ll be left with the boys. If you want a real man, try being a real woman. No, that doesn’t mean you have to be submissive and weak and objectified. That’s the opposite of a woman, a lady. A lady isn’t stepped on or sexualized, a lady is respected and admired for her intelligence, her integrity, her honesty, her values; so on and so forth. Because a woman makes herself worth respect. A girl expects respect without giving men any reason to respect her.

    I thank you again for sharing a well-reasoned article. I found it both enlightening and inspiring.

    • Reply December 3, 2014


      I had to say, great response and thank you for it.

  • Reply December 18, 2014

    Chris H.

    What a load of crap.

    Society has shown that the value of a man in today’s era is in his ability to earn income.

    Women have been given impunity from their mistakes by virtue of the act of child birth and divorce court. Don’t like that guy? Trade him in for a free upgrade, and use his money and children against him.

    Men realize that being with women is inherently a risky business, and they are cautious. Boys fuck everything in sight because they can, until they have the misfortune of meeting an enterprising girl who isn’t satisfied.

    Women understand that they are accountable for everything. Girls blame.

    Men are happiest when they are understood as being men, with all of their stereotypical shortcomings.

    Girls try to make men into something they want. Women are content with the core of their man, and don’t get hung up on their shortcomings.

    Life used to be a lot simpler, and a lot more balanced. No one is saying go back to the stone age, but things are out of control and not improving.

    If you want your men to not be boys, you girls and women need to stop diminishing the value of being male.

    The fact is, women don’t need men anymore except for the act of procreation and their income – and we know it. Boys ignore that fact because they don’t have experience with the ongoing, lasting pain and consequences. Men understand that ‘half’ is just the beginning, and they need to be absolutely certain of their choices in a girl or woman’s character.

    If you girls aren’t happy – so what? It takes no special power to get knocked up and grind your man into dust. If you want to earn respect, commit to not getting divorced. Ever. Then you’ll get the respect and recognition that you all crave.

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