Man vs. Boy. Why Knowing the Difference Makes all the Difference

I've learned more recently that the difference between being twenty years old and being twenty one years old isn't actually correlated to the fact that now I am able to legally drink and gamble in the United States. No. The same thing can be said as I transition over from my "yolo" year to being twenty two years of age. The only thing that has changed noticeably throughout the years, my physical attributes aside, are my perspectives in life as well as the people in it. In high school and all the way up to my junior year of college, I've always been drawn to the guys I can't have. Not because they were already in a relationship (because that is just not my cup of tea) but because they were young and aloof. So it wasn't a surprise when I find myself being bro-zoned yet repeatedly, which at the time felt like a pretty big slap in the face and ego. But somewhere in between preparing for graduation and surrounding myself with much older successful peers, something changed.

I began to feel more confident with my physical appearance. I was independent, passionate and it became quite obvious to all my friends that sometimes I get a little carried away when it comes to penciling things onto my GoogleCal. While I was able to mature internally, I also became tired of wearing a big fat oversized sweater and sweats every time I go out because of my fear of objectification. And so along with my new internal confidence, I also learned that it's perfectly fine to embrace my sexuality and sensuality so long as I walk with grace and class.

Physically speaking, I was on my A-game when it came to my eating habits and exercise routine. I'll say this right now and that is I'm in the best shape of my life!!!! I had to add in several exclamation marks since it has been two and a half years since I started my fitness journey and let's just say I've come a long way since walking those double X miles at Jordan Intermediate. I feel extremely empowered not only because I can finally rock a bikini the way that I want to but because I've been surrounding myself with very empowering women. And so in the midst of adjusting to all these new internal and external changes, I find that my taste in guys have also changed. And believe me, the comparison between what I thought I knew about the opposite sex versus what I know now is so great that I should give myself a nice pat in the back right about now. It all goes back to this summer.

Four months ago, I met him. Him...the guy who made me feel a little bit more optimistic and hopeful about commitment and relationships. Him...who reminded me that a woman should feel incredibly uplifting and 100 percent herself because he respects her for the person that she is. Him...who encompasses a shared set of values and is unafraid of taking big risks because he knows that something great will come out of it. All of this reflection has made me realize why I've been so unsuccessful in my dating life and that's due to an undebatable fact that I've been meeting boys not men. Now it has nothing to do with their age, rather a hell lot to do with their life experiences, maturity, and emotional stability.

Although that person no longer plays a prominent role in my life (long story short: Different stages. He was ready to settle down ie. marriage and I wanted to build my career), I am still very appreciative of our friendship because I've learned a whole lot from him and one of things include how to spot the differences between dating a boy versus a man. I was able to gather some of my insights and compiled it down to the pointers below.

A boy - Says he'll do something, but finds every excuse in the book not to do it A man - Follows through with his words. Credibility is important to him

A boy - Wants to initiate a date or conversation, but is afraid to make the first move A man - Not afraid to go after what he wants

A boy - Plays the game A man - Knows the game, played the game but walks away from it entirely

A boy - Tells you what he thinks you want to hear to get into your pants A man - Takes his time and puts in effort to get to know you better

A boy - Values quantity over quality A man - Values a quality woman over meaningless encounters

A boy - Makes you an option A man - Makes you the priority

Looking back, the distinctions between the two is so clear and drastic. It even seems ridiculous and almost hysterical on my end. You see, a couple of months ago, I would have been okay with settling for dating a fun, good-looking, and charming fellah. And I did it. I dated one and he was great because he was exactly the kind of person that a busy girl like me needed at the time. I knew going into it that there was no future for us so I enjoyed every single moment when we were together, but that's as far as it went (which is not really that far). Nowadays, I see dating in a whole new light. Objectivity aside, I am only willing to invest my time and effort in someone I see potential with and that person is a man not a boy. We're going to have uncomfortable conversations, but at the very least, I'll know that it's raw and honest. Open communication and a maintaining a high level of consistency is important to me.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not looking for my soulmate or the father to my child because I'm fairly certain that I won't find him anytime soon. However, if I'm going to date, it will be with a person who knows that I am deserving of nothing less than a gentleman. So for all my ladies out there, I hope you don't feel as if you're being too picky in this millennial age where hooking up and hanging out are the norms. No. This is my way of telling you that you are worth so much more than that and given the right time, place, and person, you'll find a person who appreciates and adores all of you. Not just the parts that he likes. Again, we're all in this together and I'm just extremely excited to explore the rest of my early twenties, enjoying every moment that it has to offer, and I bet you..when you and I least expect it, the right person will walk into our lives and make us realize why it never worked out with anyone else ;)