Ah, your twenties — also known as the years when you cycle through all sorts of quirky, insecure and goofy dates in your quest to find a well-matched hook-up or relationship.
If you're a straight woman, you'll have noticed that dating is a very mixed bag right now. One of the reasons is that somewhere between their 21st and 31st birthdays, most guys (and probably girls, too, but I haven't dated any of those) have a "growing up" moment in which they miraculously gain about 100 maturity points.
One year, they're a sweet but unreliable boy. The next, they're a mature man with the ambition, manners and personal hygiene habits to prove it.
The difference matters because men are not only better at commitment than boys — they're better casual hook-ups, too, because they're more respectful and clearer about boundaries.
The difficulty is that it's tricky to tell at a glance whether a guy has matured into a fully dateable adult yet, or whether he's still firmly planted in the beer-pong-with-his-college-buddies era of his life.
So here's a boy vs. man checklist. If the guy you're seeing is still doing any of the below, he's still got some growing up to do.
1. He cringes at the prospect of meeting your family.
Unless your arrangement is a strictly casual affair, meeting the parents is just a fact of life once you've been dating for a certain amount of time.
It's normal for a guy to be nervous about the first introduction, of course. But it's pathetic for him to make excuses or roll his eyes as if your family is a lame, dorky inconvenience.
Think of it this way: As an adult, he needs to know how to put himself in uncomfortable situations when it's the respectful or courteous things to do. And if he buys your mom flowers, that's about 20 bonus adult points.
2. He still uses "The Simpsons" and "South Park" quotes as standalone jokes.
We get it. These shows will always make for classic lazy Sunday viewing, particularly if you're nursing a hangover.
But there's nothing more high school than explaining a Milhouse one-liner to your girlfriend. It's a fallback position for boys who are too nervous to make engaging conversation.
3. He thinks the word “feminist” is scary.
When a guy tells me that he doesn't "get" why feminism exists or makes some tired old quip about "hairy-legged man-haters," he's telling me he doesn't engage with social movements. Or read much. Or keep up with any kind of topical conversations, for that matter.
That whole "learning is uncool" attitude is very eighth grade. And if a guy feels threatened by women who demand the same rights as men, he doesn't deserve a space in your bed.
4. He plays jealousy games.
An ex-boyfriend once sent me a flirty text that was addressed to an attractive acquaintance of mine, but sent to me "by mistake."
This kind of attempt to induce jealousy is as transparent as a J-Lo dress at the Met Gala... As is boasting to you about girls who've hit on him, or flirting with girls in front of you to provoke a response.
And if a guy becomes nasty or controlling when you go out on the town without him, or wear a short skirt? That's the reddest of red flags. Trust and respect are foundations of any mature, healthy relationship, so he needs to kick that behavior (as in, yesterday.)
5. He won't make concrete plans.
So he suggests "hanging out" or "catching up," but he won't make a plan more than a few hours in advance? Sorry, lady, but this is not a grown-up you're dealing with.
Legit adults make weekend date plans on Wednesday, Thursday or even earlier. (And no, vaguely inviting you to meet up with his friends at a bar late on Saturday night doesn't cut it.)
It sounds old-fashioned -- but if a man knows that he wants to see you, he'll always find time in his busy week. He's also show you the courtesy of giving you plenty of notice so you can check your schedule, too.
And if he doesn't? Well, he's probably not yet a man at all.
Anything I've missed? And for those readers who don't date guys: What are some equivalent examples with girls vs. women?