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 June 24, 2014

    Courtney Rachelle

    I absolutely agree with this article simply because I’ve personally dealt with a boy figure and a guy trying to better himself daily. I am now with a man who does all of the above and treats me EXACTLY how you should treat a woman. BUT, a woman should do the exact same for her man. The respect and effort should be there on both parts, not just one. Each person deserves someone who gives them true love, loyalty, respect, security, companionship, strength, endurance, stability, etc. If one isn’t apart of that scenario, then check them off the list and find someone who is capable to do so.

  • Reply June 26, 2014


    This is one of the worst articles I have read. Not because it is wrong, but because it comes from an angle which betrays it’s authors own predelictions and insecurities, and does not actually show a proper understanding of a boy’s or man’s perspective. I could go into more detail, but I’m not into sparking internet hate. If you want constructive criticism though, you have my email.

    I like the format of your blog though.

    Sorry, had to get that off my chest. Now to continue doing something productive with my life.

    • Reply July 11, 2014


      John, you’re in the wrong, not this article.

      By definition blogs represent the authors views and opinions, blogs are never said to be objective scientific fact.

      Thus saying something is bad because it doesn’t align completely with your opinion is pretty bad feedback…

  • Reply July 1, 2014

    Merrill Sandburg IV

    Honestly as a male (of only 17) this list really makes me think. Accorfing to this list I am a man for 3 reasons and a boy for 9, of course I am a teenager. First off, I dont “play games” as you put it, point in my favor I guess. I don’t mind uncomfortable conversations, I am assertive bit only in social areas I amfamiliar with, because if it has happened to me I know how I want to react and can do so. And lastly I am a reflective person by nature, I am always trying to socially better my self. I know what kind of man I wish to be. Everything else on this list is a quality I have to a point and am still trying to figure it out

  • Reply July 11, 2014

    joe sitty

    There is children more mature than any adult. Children are just little people, maybe a little less years on the planet and maybe a little green, but really your just projecting what is really disfunctional adult problems onto kids, and on top of it all in the dating field where in fact many kids are dating yet even.

    Your a man when your body matures, your a child until your body is matured. Simple as that.

  • […] Read up on my a few of my sources that point out the differences between dating a boy vs man, and a girl vs a […]

  • Reply July 22, 2014


    Generally on-point, but disgustingly reductive. These qualities have way more to with wisdom than gender, and should be sought by all humans. There is no man/boy light switch. It’s a sliding scale. Everyone falls somewhere on a spectrum of emotional maturity, and behavior can be heavily influenced by external factors such as environment and context. A “man” may behave as such in certain situations, and not in others.

  • Reply July 23, 2014


    A friend sent me this because they found it interesting. After reading, I found myself being in the middle but leaning more towards being a man than being a boy. I just turned 20 and am a full time college student.

    Dating is not my thing because I do not feel that it is right to date many women. I also do not have that much time on my hands and I prefer spending most of it with my family after some hardships and my family breaking apart. I did have a significant other and we broke up coincidentally when all of that was happening. I became really emotional and drove her away.

    But I feel that this is mostly true. I think a lot of maturity has to do with confidence and being able to think things through, not just reacting on the moment because that could have consequences you may regret.

    I had trouble being confident of myself when I went through these problems with my family and I had to become my mother’s support because she was unemployed, found out my father was having an affair, and we almost lost our home. That was how I began college.

    I lost a lot of confidence because I was confused and I became too emotional(mostly anger and sadness) too quickly during that time. I was also impatient. It made me seem like a ghost that would erupt when put under any kind of pressure. I was not myself and did not like going out or having fun. It took some time for me to wake up and renovate myself.

    I remember when I was in high school and I was very confident. I had a vision and I had a set of rules that I would live my life by. After my emotional and family troubles, I realized that I lost myself more than anything else.

    I do not feel that this is an issue between dating a man vs dating a boy, but more so about dating someone who knows what they want and who they are vs dating someone who just parties and does not want commitment. Both can have confidence, but one (in this case the man) is true about it while the other (the boy) is just being blindly confident to make it seem like they know what they are doing.

    Eventually as time goes on, you will figure out what kind of person they are. I feel that the better relationships come from friendships or after getting to know someone for some time.

    It has nothing to do with age. I feel like my father is immature and still a boy for the way he treated my mother and my family. I do not care if he has a job, a car, a place to live, he is still a boy for the way he thinks, and for being so close-minded.

    Just be confident in yourself and be honest to yourself. Do not please others just to be liked. Do what you like, be yourself, and you will find what you are looking for.

    If a guy (whether he is a teen or an adult) does not throw himself onto others and is capable of being patient, if he knows what he wants and you see that he works to try to get there, whether in school, work or etc. then he is most likely capable of having a serious relationship.

    That is what I feel this is more about. I may be wrong or right but that is what I think. But i guess putting the title as dating a boy vs a man might be a simpler way of putting it for others to understand better.

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