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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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