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 3, 2014


    p.s.: most boys never really grow up. maturity takes intellectual capacity that most simply do not have….its like not having a talent to sing, not having a talent to paint, not having a talent to mature.

  • Reply November 3, 2014


    Write all the editorials you want, it’s not gonna stop females from going after boys. Somehow, the female mind is more attracted to it. You girls bring it on yourself.

    • Reply November 3, 2014

      Anita Cochime

      This isn’t a list describing the differences between a man and a boy. It has nothing to do with being a man or a boy. Rather, if you are reading through the list and you think “hey my man is like this!” It’s simply because you aren’t attractive enough to hold onto him. If you were, he would be acting in ways in which you approve because he would delight in your happiness.
      Indeed, far be it for someone to pigeon-hole men and boys into lists. It’s a desecration to the sanctity of what it is to be a MAN! We choose how we act based on the situation at hand. It’s not us, it’s you.

      • Reply November 4, 2014


        I just got a kick out of your comment “We choose how we act based on the situation at hand. It’s not us, it’s you.” oddly enough if you CHOOSE it isn’t us, its YOU! And if you don’t choose to act like a man, then you aren’t one!

        • Reply November 5, 2014


          It really isn’t about male vs female. If our arguments revolved around blaming each other for not being mature than we’re essentially just showing off our own immaturity. Getting into labeling a “real” man or women or who’s fault it is for not being one… really just establishes a foundation for an even wider gap between genders. As a man, it is my responsibility to be a man to the best of my ability and let women be women to the best of their ability. It is our mutual responsibility to support and uplift each other. With this mindset we lose the “blame-game” approach and work together for the good of each other. And if you find someone who’s dating material then date them… not because they’re a perfect person, but because you love them enough to work with them in imperfection. It’s never about what you can get out of it… if both parties are focusing on what they can give… if they genuinely want what’s best for the other, then both end up winning in the end.

          • November 5, 2014


            I couldn’t agree with you more.

        • Reply November 7, 2014


          kay, he’s right. this isn’t a list of differences between a man and boy but a guy who really is into and not. if they act like a “boy” they’re just not that into you. if they act like a “man” then they obviously are very interested in something more serious with you.

    • Reply November 3, 2014


      What else do girls bring on themselves?
      The article did mention why some girls go for boys, however, it also mentioned how boys do the same. You can say that boys bring it on themselves as well :), wouldn’t you agree?

  • Reply November 4, 2014


    Good luck finding a MAN like that.

    • Reply November 5, 2014


      With a mindset like that you have already lost.

    • Reply November 8, 2014


      I have a man like that :) Bullseye on all points. How lucky I am

    • Reply November 14, 2014


      they do exist. took me 40 years to find one. worth all the wait.

  • Reply November 5, 2014


    so what’s the delineation of dating a lil girl versus a bad ass beautiful woman? no one gets to denigrate or dismiss a level of xpected maturity without first, xpecting and embodying that level of maturity first. ya dig?

  • Reply November 6, 2014


    haha don’t even get us started on the difference between a girl and a lady…

  • Reply November 7, 2014

    Lavel Horton

    Nice article I understand your point, but I do think that how you define a boy vs a man is a little black and white. At the end of the day a man can be a good man, but just not the right man for you.

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  • Reply November 13, 2014

    Ryan Zeller

    The author clearly has the right insight into men vs boys. Way to go.

  • Reply November 22, 2014


    to all of those who say ” it’s not us its you” then why is he sticking around in the first place. The author is trying to make the point that the “man” will know if he is with the “right” girl and make it clear to her if he is interested or not instead of sticking around unsure of the whole situation.

    I get it, it’s not easy to be certain, but I understand from what the author is saying that the more “mature” you are, the more certain you are about your bearings in life, the easier it is to make the decision about whether you are into a person or not.

    I don’t completely agree with the author’s “black-n-white” depiction of boys vs. men but I do agree with her concept of maturity. When you are mature, you take responsibility for your own life; applies to men and women!

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