The transition from boyhood to becoming a man doesn’t happen automatically or overnight. Experiences, relationships, and challenges faced along the way shape each of us into unique individuals. And all of these factors help a boy turn into a man.
While most males learn and grow on this journey, others do not. How a boy responds to the adversity along the way will determine if he matures or gets lost in an arrested development. Some males learn from their mistakes, seek wisdom from older adults and take the challenges that come at them head on.
Here are seven characteristics that differentiate a man from a boy.
1. They plan their future
Men think long term—about their relationships, career, finances, living situation and more. They aren’t just winging it. Sure, they may not have it all figured out, but they have a good idea of where they want their life to go in the next five or ten years and they are laying the foundation to get there. On the other hand, boys who are yet to become men don’t have these plans and live moment to moment.
2. They take responsibility
Men have a lot of pressure on them these days and let’s face it, we don’t always get it right. Being a man means owning up to your mistakes and taking responsibility for your actions, even if you are in the wrong. Boys, however, tend to make excuses rather than take responsibility. A common complaint of partners I hear is that their guy acts more like a boy than a man.
3. They think about the kind of man they want to be
Men reflect on their values and morals, and what kind of person they want to be. This includes what kind of partner, father, employee and friend they are and how that matches what they want. Men have put thought into their values and lead lives that reflect them. Boys aren’t sure about their moral compass just yet and don’t steer their life with such intention.
4. They know what they want
Men who are truly men have a clear vision of what they want for their future. They know what they want in a partner, career, and in life in general. For instance, men pursue a relationship with a woman instead of chasing after dates with girls.
5. They are decisive
Because men have a better idea of what they want, they tend to make decisions easier. They go after career opportunities that interest them and are willing to commit to a partner. They aren’t afraid to make a decision because they have a clear idea of who they are and what they want.
6. They practice integrity
Men have integrity. They say what they mean, they show up when they said they will, and they follow through on their promises. While boys who haven’t become men yet are flaky and don’t follow through.
7. They understand what it means to pursue love
Men may be fearful of rejection, but they will still initiate conversation with a woman, knowing that the reward can be greater than the risk. They understand what it takes to seek out a woman and they muster the courage to do so. Boys may pursue for a short time, but then give up when it gets difficult.
Two males can wear the same clothing, go to the same job, and even date the same woman. On the outside, they may look similar, but after taking a closer look, it can become clear that only one is really a man, while the other is still functioning as a boy.
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