From Man-Boy to Real Grown-Ass Man in 7 Years

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To hear my female friends tell it, there’s a plague on the dating scene.

Man-boys are everywhere.

The man-boys are afraid to call rather than text to set a date. They’re unclear about their intentions and string women along. They visually assault women they haven’t even met with unsolicited dick pics.

(BTW, is there such a thing as a truly solicited dick pic? If so, text me.)

The plague is so bad that most women have given up using the word Men to describe us these days. Instead, they use the word Guys.

You’re letting us off the hook ladies. You’re not challenging us to live up to our potential.

And neither is society. Instead of preparing boys to provide as men, we’ve developed a culture of taking man-boys who move from mom’s bosom to girlfriends’ bosoms to wife’s bosom.

Sure, most of us can earn a paycheck. We can pay our bills and cook something more impressive than ramen. But can we give back to our communities, mentor the next generation, and meet our loved ones’ emotional needs? Or are we too busy playing Call of Duty and looking at porn?

Take. Take. Take.

For what it’s worth, there’s also a plague of woman-girls. These are females who are so afraid of confrontation that they’d rather ghost than decline a suitor’s interest. Or they’re so afraid to be rejected themselves that they lose themselves and parrot their partner’s behavior.

Don’t believe me? For the latter, just look up the “cool girl” speech from Gone Girl.

But this post isn’t about woman-girls. After all, I don’t really know much about them. If I did, I’d see the signs and not go on so many second dates with them.

This post is about man-boys. I know a lot more about them. I used to be one.

From Boyhood to Manhood

Seven years ago, I was a boy. A 29-year-old child.

skinny man-boy

I was a skinny 29-year-old man-boy in August 2009.

I didn’t know how to care for myself, let alone others. I was a taker, rather than a giver. I took from women. I took from family and friends. I took from the world and gave almost nothing back.

Then I found my way into a group of Men who changed my life. At 29, I was almost always the youngest person at the table. (Sadly, even at 36, I’m still almost always the youngest person at the table.)

And these were Real Grown-Ass Men. Respected community and business leaders. Strong fathers and husbands. Patriarchs. Providers.

I learned to be a Man in their company. I learned to be vulnerable, to share my emotions, to live in alignment with my values, to be a giver rather than a taker of spiritual energy in the world.

It didn’t happen overnight.

For example, my Timehop app recently reminded me that January also brought the fifth anniversary of the day I picked myself up from my engagement’s end. After neglecting the basics for four months after our split, I finally bought a bed online, hired a housecleaning service, and shopped for actual groceries at Trader Joe’s – all in a single morning.

A man living in a house that hadn’t been cleaned in five months, sleeping on a borrowed twin bed, and scrounging up food at the office is hardly a man. And he’s certainly not a Real Grown-Ass Man.

It was exactly seven years ago this month that I began to look to this group of Men for mentorship and guidance. Today, I’m a mentor to younger Men. I’m a provider of energy back to the broader group. And, of course, I’m still a (sorta) humble recipient of guidance from my elders. It’s been one hell of a journey.

Masculine Rites of Passage

These Men were my guides from man-boyhood to Real Grown-Ass Manhood. There wasn’t a formal ritual marking my transition, but there was definitely a coming of age.

Coming-of-age rituals were commonplace before the Industrial Revolution. Elders took a boy from his mother and prepared him – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – for adulthood. (It’s kinda like when Obi-Wan ushered Luke away from Tattoine for training.)

Now what’s left? Frats have induction rituals for 18-year-olds man-boys, but they’re more about indoctrination and machismo. They’re not about learning to provide for the tribe.

There are also holdovers of the old rituals. A bar mitzvah is an ancient tradition. However, a modern 13-year-old doesn’t emerge from his bar mitzvah and begin courting and joining his dad at the office.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I don’t think a 13-year-old Jew or an 18-year-old frat boy needs to be ready for Manhood in modern society. The crop will still be harvested without their contribution.

I certainly wasn’t ready at 13 or 18. It took me until well into my 30s to get there.

At 36, I’m not perfect and I’m pretty sure that I never will be. I mean, it was less than a year ago that I was still drinking too much.

Even today, I act out of my old man-boy self from time to time. I allow the dishes to stack up and my hair to get too long. Or I swipe right on women who are clearly not a match. Or I think with the wrong head.

I even get too busy or lazy to call a woman and I text her instead. But I swear that the text never has contained and never will contain a picture of my dick.

Now that’s the sign of a Real Grown-Ass Man.

You’re welcome, ladies.

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Lewis and Clark National Historic Park

In honor of a seven-year journey, here’s a throwback to the seventh national park of my first Meander.


  1. Great story and we’ll written! Grown-ass woman!

  2. Last summer I learned while teaching at the Barrow Neurological Institute that men’s brains aren’t fully matured until they turn 30…for women it is when they turn 25. This explains a lot so don’t beat yourself up. As my older sister would say, “Put the hammer away.”

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