A Grown woman is a healthy, whole, and content person, who chooses life alone over anything less than loving, loyal and respectful treatment in a relationship with another person. She sets a high standard based on self-love, and won’t consider anyone who does not rise to it…. In the meantime, she is focused on her own growth and personal development, not dictated to by a biological clock nor passing months on the calendar…. A Grown woman believes that a relationship partner who recognizes her true value, and honors, esteems and respects her accordingly, is worth waiting for. By the way, the lack of drama, complications and “placeholders” in her life makes it easier for potentially worthy relationship partners to find and appreciate her. In the meantime, she is happy, whole and fully committed to meeting her own needs and pursuing personal growth.

The above passage is from a chapter of our book Loving In The Grown Zone, “3 Signs That She’s Not A Grown Woman,” in which we outline just a few of the distinctions between a woman who is Grown, versus one who is merely an adult. However, it is fair to ask, do Grown women, as described above, actually exist?

RELATED: 3 Signs That She Is Not A Grown Woman

Our answer: Yes, they absolutely do. (Zara was just such a woman when she and I met.) However, we live in a society that only gives lip service to valuing healthy, self-loving choices made by women, while celebrating adult-and-messy (often labeled “grown and sexy”) lifestyles that are anything but Grown.

For an unflinchingly candid, sometimes painful, often funny reality check of what it can mean when a woman chooses to set standards, enforce boundaries, and settle for nothing less than a healthy relationship on her own terms, I strongly recommend reading the latest addition to our Grown Zone Book Shelf, The C Word, Celibacy: My 28-Year Journey by Ingrid Bohannon. Let me state this unequivocally: This is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

You read the title correctly: Bohannon has practiced celibacy for more than 28 years (actually 30 years, as her book was published in 2016). A woman whose personal brand is all about grace, style, poise and elegance, the author is a voice over artist, studio session singer, interior decorator, home staging expert, pageant coach and mentor to girls and young women.  Bohannon became celibate, after a failed marriage, to honor her relationship with God. In her book, Bohannon is clear that she committed to the celibate lifestyle with the full expectation that she would be married again in due time (that has yet to happen). She still hopes to find and marry the right partner today—but she refuses to change her standards, to have premarital sex, to do so.

The C Word is one of those books I found impossible to put down once I began reading it—I literally finished it in one sitting. As Bohannon shares her journey since committing to a celibate lifestyle, she is neither saint nor martyr. She does not position herself as superior to those who are not celibate or engage in premarital sex, nor does she come off as a person to be pitied. Instead, she provides a straightforward, entertaining, sometimes heart-breaking account of how the people in her life—male and female, married and single, secular and religious—react to her choice, too often with disbelief, bewilderment, and even ridicule and social rejection.

Most telling is the degree to which Bohannon’s experiences illustrate how many men not only did not honor, esteem and respect her commitment to celibacy before marriage, but were determined to do whatever it took—including date rape—to overcome her resistance to their sexual advances. Chapter 6, “What the Preachers and Tyler Perry Say,” alone is worth the price of the entire book. You would think (as her match-making friends did) that Bohannon, a devout, church-going Christian woman, would make for perfect First Lady material for a man of the cloth. What she discovered were ministers and pastors who preached the gospel of “saving yourself before marriage” from the pulpit, while making it very clear to her that they were having premarital sex, and that a potential First Lady would be expected to do so as well.

However, the primary reason for reading this book is watching Bohannon emerge unbowed and without regret, a living example of a Grown woman living life with courage, confidence and conviction, on her own terms and without apology. She is the healthy, whole and self-loving example woman should be taught to aspire to, and every man should be taught to honor, esteem and respect. Bohannon remains great marriage material—precisely because she will accept no less than genuine love, on her own terms. For both men and women, The C Word is the book you read to understand what a truly Grown woman looks like, and how she came to be that way.

Stop chasing and losing. Start ATTRACTING and CHOOSING! Learn proven guidelines and principles GUARANTEED to make you happy and fulfilled REGARDLESS OF YOUR CURRENT RELATIONSHIP STATUS. Use the power of self love to become an irresistible MAGNET for the lasting, drama-free, AUTHENTIC LOVE created specifically for you and ONLY you! Order your copy of Loving In The Grown Zone TODAY at LovingInTheGrownZone.com!