10 Life Rules that Separate the Men from the Boys


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Being a male is a matter of birth, being a man is a matter of age, but being a gentleman is a matter of choice. Not a choice made once or twice during one’s life, but a series of choices made every single day when navigating the world, and life.

So – what then – are these choices that separate the gentlemen from the rest of the pack? The men who hold themselves to higher standards. Let’s explore.


A gentleman is kind to everyone.

A man of quality is never afraid of equality. There is no reason to talk down to, or disrespect anyone who you come across in your daily life. Whether it is the person serving your coffee, cleaning the floor at the gym, or the CEO of your company, they are all human beings and are deserving of respect.

A gentleman never shows up empty handed.

If someone is extending the kindness of hosting you at their home, never show up without a sign of gratitude. Your choice will range depending on the context of the occasion and who is doing the hosting, but showing that you’re grateful for the invitation is what counts.

A gentleman is always improving himself.

In order to get respect from others, you first must have it for yourself. This means taking care of both your physical and mental well-being. In a photoshop-ridden society, our generations certainly appear to value surface over substance, but a gentleman understands the importance of what goes beyond the outer shell.

Whether it is reading books, listening to lectures, watching documentaries, or any other education medium he prefers, it is important to not lose sight of improving the mind while also working on improving the body.


A gentleman values his family and relationships.

More important than professional accomplishment and success, is cultivating the relationships with the people whom you will share it with. A gentleman will understand that no matter how far he makes it in life, it is better to be in a cottage with people he loves than it is to be in a mansion by himself.

A gentleman isn’t afraid to be wrong.

Many people in today’s day and age seem to have an incredible avoidance to being wrong. They will take a stand on a position and never allow new information or evidence to change their mind. This puts up a stone wall around your current base of knowledge and allows no room for expansion beyond it.

The only way to learn or grow, is to be wrong. Only when you are wrong do you absorb new information, change your stance, and subsequently become “right.” Without the ability to admit a mistake, there will be no lessons to take from it.

A gentleman always keeps the woman in his life happy.

It is important for a gentleman to hold high standards for how he acts when he is in a relationship. This includes never mistreating her or taking her for granted. Always valuing her and showing her that he does (not just telling her). He will understand that the effort it took to get the type of woman he wants, is the same effort it will take to keep her, and that a lady would never accept being taken for granted any more than he would.

He will never lose sight of doing the small things that make her happy.

A gentleman is always honest.

A reputation for honesty breeds a reputation for reliability. A reputation for trustworthiness. A reputation for being honorable. Consistency is important in both personal and professional life.


A gentleman understands the difference between confidence and arrogance.

And knows which side of the line to stay on.

A gentleman knows the difference between calling a woman sexy, and calling her beautiful.

And he knows how and when to use each term.

A gentleman puts others first.

There is no room among the gentlemanly for the selfish. There is no room for those who believe climbing the ladder means stepping on others along the way. There is no room for those who mistreat others for their own benefit, or any reason at all. A gentleman isn’t kind to people because of who they are, he is kind to people because of who he is.

A gentleman will respect other men, women, children, and animals – and treat them with kindness. There is no need for a confident man to hurt another being in any way, as he gains nothing from it.

Gentlemen are a rare breed in today’s society. It is important for men to strive for these ideals as well as for women to show the men their efforts are appreciated and recognized. While many men reach for these qualities without any need for outside influence, we can also assume that more would put in effort if they knew how much of a difference it would make in their life.

But if they don’t, gentleman cannot be afraid to separate themselves from the crowd. The effort they put into living the best life they can comes with a reward that many others will never receive: The accomplishment of that goal.

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  1. Ashley on January 24, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    James, please writer more on Thought Catalog. The men of TC NEED you.

  2. Juana on January 24, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Have you heard of The Good Men Project? It’s a site that advocates for the betterment of men in all ways. I think you’d enjoy it; perhaps your writing could be featured in it.

    • James Michael Sama on January 24, 2016 at 8:36 pm

      Hi Juana,

      Yes, I have actually been writing on there frequently for a couple of years now. Great site, thanks for your feedback!

      – James

      • Juana on January 25, 2016 at 5:04 am

        Hi, James.
        I couldn’t remember whether you were a contributor or not. It is a great site, I really like it.


  3. Masculine Monday- #1 | Donal Graeme on January 26, 2016 at 12:00 am

    […] came across this article recently, which is titled 10 Life Rules that Separate the Men from the Boys. Here is how it […]

  4. Robert Collins on January 26, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Hey James,
    nice values of a gentleman but today’s women don’t respect rules or law and can break them every time while we as men are held accountable for all of our actions. How can we be a gentlemen without being a door mat?

  5. J walter on February 12, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Hey James,
    nice values of a gentleman but today’s women don’t respect rules or law and can break them every time while we as men are held accountable for all of our actions. How can we be a gentlemen without being a door mat?

    I agree with this. What can we do?

  6. Prashant Prem on February 24, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    Hello James,
    I would like to suggest an addition to very nicely catalogued article on a gentleman’s qualities.
    ‘A gentleman accepts defeat with grace,’

  7. […] 10 Life Rules that Separate the Men from the Boys […]

  8. Gina on November 1, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Hey James! I have a lot of male friends and I always try to educate them on being gentlemen and forward your articles and other resources I find valuable. I am really struggling with something and was hoping maybe you could shed some light… I recently ended a friendship with a man I had a romantic past with. There was a lot in him I admired, though later I realized thus qualities did not translate to real potential as a partner, (Ambition, drive, passion, spontaneity, zest for life, sense of humor, etc.) he said he wanted a friendship with me after he rejected me, and I thought I wanted one with him as well, because I wanted to continue to enjoy his presence in my life even if was not romantic, but he wasn’t a very good friend to me either, he was unresponsive, short, always kept me at arm’s length, would not invite me to events he organized or when he did he wouldn’t speak to me the whole time I was there. I got the impression that he said he wanted the friendship out of guilt and too not feel like a huge jerk, not because he actually wanted me in his life in some capacity. Anyways, I ended the friendship when I realized I deserved better even from my friendships, but since we are both in the same groups of friends, I do see him still quite a bit, and he is a relationship now with someone who he is everything he said many times was not his type (breast implants, very concerned with looking good, etc), so I lost some respect for him for that but he always seems very loving and very gentle, and a acts like such a gentleman for her. She did not know who I was or my history with him and she commented “I love him because he is soo sweet and caring”, is he being fake to impress her? Its not jealousy that is making me uncomfortable, I really hope he is a better person to her than he has been to me but I couldn’t help but wonder if there was anything I failed to do to earn that kind of treatment from men. As you say men are kind because of who they are not because of who they are being kind to, but how can one same person be so completely different, I get he didn’t have a romantic interest in me, but am I missing something? Did I put up with too much mistreatment that cost me his respect before I finally walked away from our “friendship”? any words of wisdom for me?

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