So, what’s emotional immaturity anyways?
Emotional immaturity, as explained by Berit Brogaard in this article published in Psychology Today, is usually thought of as a situation where an adult is acting childish and immature, despite their age.
Samantha Burns, relationship counselor, also explains in one of her articles, “emotional immaturity can reflect a lack of depth and understanding about one’s own emotions, inability to communicate and process things related to the relationship, as well as lack of empathy and ability to understand your partner’s emotional experiences.”
If you’re now wondering how the heck to avoid this, or deal with it head on if alarms are going off in your head, fear not! Read on for three major red flags that will help you determine whether your boo might be lacking in the emotional maturity department and how to best address this.
1. It’s All About Them, Always
Picture this: it’s been a long day and you’re in the mood to just plunk into your bed and chill out for the night. You have, however, agreed to virtual date night to enjoy dinner together. You let your date know you’re looking forward to seeing them, but can’t stay up too late because you’re tired, and your bed is already calling your name.
Instead of empathizing with your long day, your date says they need to postpone to 10 pm because a friend stopped by. You suggest moving the virtual date to another day, because hello? You’re exhausted from work and 10 pm is bedtime. At this point, they get offended. They insist they want to see you at 10 pm and tell you you’re “boring and lame” for wanting to go to bed so early. Ouch!
They go on to tell you that you should be more understanding because they haven’t seen their friend for a long time. Don’t fall for it! What’s really happening here is they’re focusing on their needs and ignoring yours entirely – AKA it’s all about them.
How to address this:
When someone’s emotionally immature, you’ll probably notice one of the first signs will be that they tend to focus on their needs only.
When they’re not understanding your needs or point of view, paint them a picture of why you’re feeling the way you are: “I understand your point of view, I would also like you to understand where I’m coming from. This is why I’d like to be in bed by 10 PM…” Directly asking them to focus for a moment on how you feel can help them snap out of their selfish thoughts and listen to your needs.
Another sign you’re dating an emotionally immature person is they avoid taking responsibility for something they did and end up blaming you for what happened. This behavior is also known as blame-shifting.
Let’s be real, emotionally immature people aren’t particularly good at apologizing. In fact, they usually flip the script and make you feel bad for voicing your opinion or having a normal reaction to their bad behavior.
Or, perhaps when you call them out on something they did, they shift the focus from their unacceptable behavior to something you did or your reaction to what they did and make the situation way bigger than it is.
How to address this:
If you start to notice this behavior and the other person tries to blame you for what happened, redirect the focus of the conversation to what they did.
A good way to do this is by saying: “I know I did X, and I’m genuinely sorry for that. However, I’m talking about Y and how it made me feel, which is a behavior I can’t accept.” You’re not trying to play the blame game here, you’re simply trying to make sure they understand they’ve upset you and you want to talk about it maturely.
3. They’re Overly Jealous or Looking for Control
Feeling jealous from time to time is totally human and doesn’t make you emotionally immature. However, if someone you’re dating is showing consistent feelings of intense jealousy towards things you might be doing or people you might be seeing, this is definitely a sign they have some work to do.
Once, a friend of mine went out with a group of friends. They were in a bar and she ran into the guy she was dating, let’s call him George. It was a nice moment for her because she was happy to see him.
The next day, George called to ask her what she was doing out with “so many guy friends.” He went on to ask her details about every guy in her group — how she knew them, what kind of relationship she had with each of them… you get the gist.
Now, it’s obvious this George guy had some deep insecurities, but his behavior is also a total red flag.
How to address this:
Always remind the other person that you have a life and friends outside of your relationship, and that’s perfectly okay and totally normal!
Healthy relationships require mutual and unguarded trust, and this can only happen between emotionally independent people. If someone doesn’t trust you, they might have unresolved issues to work on, and you might find it hard to build a positive, healthy relationship with them free of conflict.
If you’re newly dating and you’re already noticing signs of controlling behaviour, I encourage you to pause and reevaluate the relationship.
If you’re dating an emotionally immature person, you can address their behaviors with the skills you’ve just learned above, but it’s always important to remember that it’s essential to always set healthy boundaries. If you see the above-mentioned behaviors become a pattern in the relationship, and the person you’re dating isn’t willing to correct them, the best option might be to call it quits and just start fresh.
If you see things are improving after having some conversations, it’s a great sign the other person is aware of their behaviors and is actively working on bettering themselves. Help them through the process and encourage them to seek professional help if needed! We’re all just learning as we go.