A significant proportion of unhealthy relationships are the result of the failure to differentiate between a man, who is merely an adult male, and a Grown man. Sadly, too many men were never taught how to be Grown (or worse, had role models who taught them anything but Grown manhood), and too many women don’t know one when they see or meet one—or are too willing to settle for less, at least as a “placeholder.”

One result is that many women fail to set a healthy, self-loving standard for relationships, instead accepting the best of the men available to them and trying to motivate, bribe, guilt or coerce them (using sex, affection, money and even procreation) into Grown manhood. The theory: If I love him right (or enough, or however he wants it, or more than anyone else has or can), then I can change him into the man he was meant/I want him/I need him to be.

The reality: You can’t. Living in the Grown Zone means recognizing that it is not your responsibility, nor is it within your power, to change, fix or control the behavior of another person with your love. (And if you’re counting on sex, even if you can put it on him better than anyone else can, that will not change established habits; it can only reward existing—including unwanted—behavior. Sex is a form of approval, not correction.)

RELATED: 3 Signs That She’s Not A Grown Woman

A man who is not Grown can’t change for you. And a man who is Grown will only change for himself, out of a commitment to his own personal growth and who he chooses to be, not who you want him to be. By the way, attempting to manipulate a Grown man will result in his distrust, resentment and, ultimately rejection of you. So forget what you may have been taught, by your girlfriends, movies, books and even your mother, about using sex, money or emotional blackmail to get, keep and control a good man.

So rather than trying to take a “piece of man” and somehow make a whole one out of him, better to learn to differentiate between a Grown man and merely an adult male right from jump, before you even consider relationship options. First, take your time. How much time? As much time as it takes. Until you confirm that a man is a Grown man, it’s best, as an act of self-love, to assume he’s not. (And if you can’t stand to wait, that’s a sign that you still have some personal growth work to do.)

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