The Five Things That Separate Men From Boys

by Katya Polo

The transition into manhood is something that differs from one individual to the next. Even the definition of ‘manhood’ in itself is depicted in various ways. Some people consider the ascension from adolescence alone to be the beginning of one’s post-pubescent journey; others strictly believe that the post-college years mark the beginning of life in the real world as a real man.

The truth of the matter is: you’re not a man until you learn to act like one. You may greet your day with a 9 – 5 and have a field of chest hair that puts the 40 year old virgin’s chest to shame, but if you don’t possess these five fundamental qualities, you haven’t earned the right to call yourself a man.

1. Respect

Unfortunately for our generation, respect is a quality that seems to be fleeting due to lack of proper upbringing within homes. Everyone has had at least one unfortunate experience with some kid exhibiting a nasty attitude; showing little to no respect to those around him. This sort of interaction with the general public is hard to outgrow, and it takes a substantial array of life lessons to learn how to overcome it. But if your mama raised you right, you know how to be respectful to those around you. Thank her for that.

Respect is an important value to possess because it directly affects your actions and, in turn, demands an equal response from those with whom you interact. If you can walk into a room with the proper courtesy and consideration, you will be approached with that same regard. Whether or not religion has played a significant role in your life, the Golden Rule is, and will always be: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This saying has stood the test of time for a reason: its meaning bares truth.

Being respectful to the people and things around you also denotes your understanding of value. What we deem valuable greatly differs amongst individuals; however, the treatment we provide those things exemplifies its significance. For example, a boy will take and abuse anything that’s new and anything that shines.

In other words, he’ll see a toy and want to play with it. Whether it’s a woman or a brand new car, he’ll get it by whatever means necessary and keep it as his possession until he is bored with it. A man understands the value of such things. He will work for the car, as well as the woman, and treat them both the way they deserve to be treated because he understands their value.

Some guys like to argue that there are woman that hold no value because they don’t respect themselves. They use this as an excuse to unveil their lack of respect. This is generally not a problem for a real man. Boys chase the girls that treat their bodies like they are disposable because those are the type of females they attract. Respectable men, on the other hand, attract respectable women. It’s science.

2. Modesty

Do you remember that one guy in the 2nd grade that had that brand new lunchbox and ran around showing it off to everybody until the entire class was blue in the face? Chances are, that guy is probably still considered to be that guy. Some people never abandon their arrogant attributes; some people never grow up.

The same way it made everybody sick then, it makes everybody sick now. Success is a wonderful thing and you should always take pride in the hard work and effort you put in to achieve it, but don’t shove that into everyone’s face until they can no longer see it because you’re forcing it down their throats.

If you truly worked your ass off for something, you have nothing to prove to anyone because you’ve already proven it to yourself. Of course, you will always have bragging rights for those few select things (i.e. marrying the girl of your dreams, getting that big promotion, etc.) and they will always be considered acceptable, but even those will prove that moderation is key.

This is the problem with the “self-acclaimed men” in our society. They want everyone around them to know just how well they’re doing. They want to walk into a club and make sure no one leaves without knowing what a big deal they are. They want to throw cash on some models and rap about it. In this day and age, rather than just showing off to those around them, they can show off their success to the world.

And they damn sure do. The question is: if you’re genuinely proud with what you’ve accomplished and consequently attained, why do you need the public’s approval? And if you’re only somewhat satisfied, but consider your success feasible enough to brag about, do you really think a few compliments can fill the void broadened by that room for improvement? It can’t.

Rather than doing just enough to gain a little envy, try putting that extra energy into making it better. You’ll find that if you do put all your energy into something and take pride in yourself rather than what others have to say, the envy and compliments will come naturally, without you having to even utter a word.

That guy you see taking pictures of all the cash he has and constantly boasting about the new car he bought three years ago is not only demonstrating a child-like demeanor, but he’s not working hard enough for the right reasons. Hard work and ingenuity will take you places that your strive for attention can’t reach. Real men stay humble.

3. Choosing Your Battles

Many believe that strength is what makes a man. That the “I pick things up and put them down” type dudes personify the true essence of masculinity. That has to be the biggest joke anyone can think of. Attaining and using your physical strength instead of using your brain doesn’t make you a man; it makes you an animal. We, as human beings, were given the gifts of logic, thought and the dexterity to attain an education—why are you not utilizing them?

Making the wrong choices within disputes doesn’t only have to get physical to be considered animalistic. The simple act of raising one’s voice can strike enough fear into those surrounded by you if done with enough clout. And whether your voice shakes the place or you shake the person, you have to ask yourself:


Is it really worth it? One of the characteristics of a man is knowing when to ignite the fire and when to put out the flame. You don’t throw yourself into every disagreement because life will teach you that those come a dime a dozen. There will always be someone who disagrees with you. If you believe yourself to be right, that is all you need. You waste both time and energy by consuming yourself with every dispute.

A man knows to choose his battles carefully. He chooses to fight for what he believes in, that which is worth fighting for. Anything that is guaranteed to lose its relevance in the near future or anything that’s been brought upon by something of little concern to you should not be a priority of yours. Kids bicker and fight over the things that hold little significance. Men know to leave well enough alone.

4. Personal Fulfillment

Men are typically simple beings and can be pleased with the same general things: money, women and power. It’s the method of acquisition that separates the men from the boys. Anyone can be considered a winner if they possess what they intended to, but you know what they say—“easy come, easy go.” With that being said, the pursuit of what you desire most must be worked for.

You don’t get the woman of your dreams or become the VP of the company by sitting on your ass and dreaming of ways to get it. That may have worked for you when you were a child, but it will get you nowhere now. Before you had any real responsibilities or decisions pressing weight onto your shoulders, you could ask for almost anything and you would get it, simply because you were a kid and everything you did was cute.

Those days are long gone. Now that you’re older, showing off the Lamborghini daddy bought you or living in luxury because family money brought you there isn’t cute—it’s a cue to grow up.

5. Regarding the Future

It’s important to understand that it’s not your lifestyle choices that determine the existence of your manhood, but the bearing of those ideologies. As a man, you have to know what you want and conduct your life with reason. The endeavors you choose to embark on and decisions, from large to miniscule, that you have to make are important factors that make you the person you are and the man you will become.

You have to understand how the little things at your plate now will affect your future. A part of growing up is learning how to think long-term, and making choices that will benefit you in years to come. That’s not to say you should avoid spur of the moment ventures and completely disregard spontaneity, but you have to tend to such circumstances with regard to your responsibilities and obligations. You need to have a plan, or at least an idea, of where you want to end up.

When you were a kid, you didn’t have to think about those things because you knew you would end up in your mother’s house at the end of the day. If you still find comfort in knowing you’re quiescent under your mother’s roof, how can you consider yourself to be a man?

It’s true that anyone, at any age, is capable of acquiring the title of a man. The reason you never see a seven-year-old boy carrying himself like one is because the necessary qualities that open the doors to your manhood come with time. Life is relentless in throwing you curveballs and hardships to test your character.

You cannot become a man until you learn from them and use them to your advantage; that is how you grow. Your inability to grow a five o’clock shadow doesn’t impugn your masculinity. Just remember the important values. Be considerate of your future, work for it, fight for it, respect what it brings you, and stay humble. And most importantly, stay Elite.

Kathy Polo | Elite.