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She’s got curves for days, luxurious tresses down her back, and a fantastic wardrobe that says sexy fashionista at work, at the club, and even at church. Earning an advanced degree has led to a six-figure position at a major corporation; she earns additional income as a freelance model. She has perfect credit and six-pack abs. And parked in front of her condo is her current-model luxury car, with a license plate that reads “GrownAndSexy1.”

Is she a Grown woman? Don’t be so sure. Unfortunately, many of the adult choices that women embrace as “grown and sexy” are anything but Grown, healthy ones. And in the Grown Zone, only Grown is sexy; if it’s not Grown, it is not sexy. Just as it takes time, investigation and observation to identify an adult male as Grown, there’s more to differentiating between an adult female and a Grown woman than age, income and dress size. And, as is the case when assessing adult men, a significant proportion of unhealthy relationships are the result of assuming that a woman is Grown—committed to self-love, better decisions and healthier relationships—when she is anything but.

RELATED: 3 Signs That He’s Not A Grown Man

It’s no wonder that both genders are confused and confounded about what constitutes healthy, Grown decision-making and behaviors for women. We are constantly bombarded with conflicting messages about what’s attractive, healthy and appropriate for adult women, with everything from hair, to sexual choices, to body image under scrutiny. Is the model for healthy womanhood the “blessed and highly favored” church girl who is waiting for God to reveal her anointed mate? Or the Louboutin-wearing, reality-show diva with the perfect weave, super-model make-up job, designer clothes and pro-athlete boyfriend? Is she the high-powered, financially independent professional woman? Or the “keep-it-one-hundred” single mother with the banging, tatted body, who will twerk at the drop of a dime? Is she sexually free? Or just a “hoe?” Should she lose weight? Or be proud of her curves? All of this is made more confusing by the fact that much of what our society demands of women is not in their best interests, but driven by the desires and fantasies of males.

It takes a Grown woman to navigate this barrage of conflicting, judgmental and even oppressive messages to and about women by media and society, and emerge as a self-loving, whole person, accountable to herself and committed to personal growth. The challenge, particularly for those looking to engage in healthy relationships, is that, at first blush, a Grown woman looks like any other adult woman. As with men, don’t go by appearances; go by behavior over time (before you give access to your body, money, heart or home), during which you should be both observing and investigating her character, habits and track record. This is not an all-inclusive, exhaustive list, but she’s not Grown if:

  1. She measures her self-esteem by the length of her hair, the depth of her cleavage and the breadth of her butt. A woman who takes the time to stay well-groomed, dress well and care for her body is great. A woman who feels she has nothing to offer but her looks and body is a problem. Watch out for the woman who puts her breasts, butt and legs on display whenever you see her, including when attending church services, picking up her children from school and in her Instagram posts. She may command attention. But she is not grown. Women who place their self-esteem in their appearance and body bring insecurities that manifest as possessiveness, pettiness and jealousy—like the evil queen of fairy tales who constantly asks the magic mirror, “Who’s the fairest one of all?” and who is threatened by anyone she perceives as a rival.

Ironically, such women tend to choose men who are also not Grown—men who see women as trophies, to be valued for their looks alone. But even when they attract those who see their value beyond their looks, they tend to distrust them and doubt their judgment. A person who does not value her own mind, talents, potential and spirit can’t see why anyone else would. Either way, the result is anything but healthy, sustainable relationships.

A Grown woman honors, esteems and respects herself as a whole person, and requires the same of others, including men. She does not rank her beauty and body among her most important attributes, and she rightly bypasses would-be suitors who believe otherwise and can’t or won’t see beyond them. A Grown woman recognizes her value at all times, whether she is dressed in pumps and a mini-dress with a fresh mani-pedi, hairdo and make-up job, or she’s wearing no make-up, curlers, sweat pants and a t-shirt. More importantly, she places her opinion of herself above the opinions of all others. A Grown woman knows that her body and its adornments are merely packaging that will change with time and circumstance. She recognizes that her true beauty and value is immutable, defined by her mind, spirit and her life’s purpose, and that she is the true gift.

  1. She confuses being wanted and desired with being valued and loved. A woman who is not grown will literally trade her brains in for a box of rocks at the prospect of being wanted and desired sexually. This is the woman who will co-sign for the car, give up the panties (without a condom in sight), and do all kinds of reckless, silly things, just because she is told that she is sexy, or that someone she likes is hot for her. This is also the woman who, in order to maintain her self-esteem and feed her ego, needs to feel that she is irresistible to others—even those she has no real interest in. She will openly flirt with and even seduce you, just to prove that she can, even if she is already in a relationship—and especially if you say that you are. If you allow your ego to convince you that you “took” her from her man and are determined to prove that you’re the one for her, you will quickly find that she is neither capable of nor interested in a healthy, sustainable relationship. You’ll soon be competing—and even literally fighting—to keep her. Nothing would make her happier; it’s just the kind of conflict and drama that makes her feel most desired.

A Grown woman is not impressed with being desired by others—she expects it, based on her respect and love of herself. She knows she has a lot to offer, and therefore sets a high standard for those who would prove worthy of her time and company, not to mention access to her heart, body, money and home. A Grown woman does not need the attention of others to feel desirable or worthy of love. And she knows the difference between being desired and wanted for what she looks like, what she has or what she can do, and being loved and valued for who she is.

  1. She feels incomplete and/or inadequate when she’s not in a relationship—any relationship. This is the woman who believes “half a man” is better than no man, and that she is “less than” when she is alone. She’ll endure mistreatment and disrespect, including infidelity, to keep a relationship, and quickly (before really getting to know a person) surrender sexually, emotionally and financially to get one. She’ll also risk permanent consequences—including pregnancy—based on temporary feelings and circumstances. Unfortunately, she tends to attract men who are “penis-led” (men who lack self-discipline when it comes to managing their own sexual urges), who have neither the desire nor the capacity to engage in healthy, sustainable relationships. As a result, she is constantly in and out of “love,” including with men who are married or otherwise unavailable for long-term, honorable commitment. She often doesn’t find out about his wife, baby momma and/or kids until she has already sexually and emotionally committed to him. Or worse, she doesn’t care.

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. That includes not allowing anyone to hold her past against her (including choices she made before she was Grown) or try to make her feel unworthy of choosing better for her life. 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. As a result, she feels no pressure to surrender access to her heart, body, money or home before potential relationship partners have proven their capacity to care for her. 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.