What is emotional immaturity? How do you recognize it and what causes it?
If you have been asking yourself these questions, it’s great that you came across this article. I’m going to tell you all about emotionally immature people, and you’ll get to find out how you can recognize them.
You can also try and figure out if you have any of these traits. You might be one of these people without even realizing it.
Others like to believe that emotionally immature people will never be able to grow up. They believe that they’re stuck in a dependent relationship and will forever act childish.
But if your partner is the childish one, you shouldn’t be surprised if they start acting like a baby, as it’s what people like him usually do.
Being immature is a problem, especially when it comes to having a healthy relationship. You want to be in a relationship with someone who’s mature and not with a crybaby.
You will see the signs that show that these people truly don’t know how to behave in a relationship. Instead of making compromises, they will try to do whatever they want and get their own way.
Then when it comes to taking responsibility, they’re all too quick to point fingers. It’s so much easier to blame everyone else for their problems than to accept fault.
You’ll rarely hear them saying they’re sorry because they don’t see the point in apologizing. They’ll never make amends for what their wrongdoings and you’re crazy if you believe they’d ever admit to their mistakes.
What is emotional immaturity?
The most crucial trait of emotional maturity is that it allows you to see things clearly and deal with problems in a healthy way.
Unlike children or immature adults, as a mature person, you’re able to control your emotions and take responsibility for your life. You can handle resentment, fear, grief, anger, insecurity, guilt, disappointment, and other emotions and feelings.
So, what is emotional immaturity? Emotionally immature people can’t handle negative emotions or make sense of bad situations. They never learned how to protect themselves.
Possibly the most significant problem these people have is that they are incapable of talking about their feelings. That’s not good for their own well-being.
Your immature partner will have different emotional reactions that you wouldn’t expect from a grown-up.
It dates back to when they were a kid and it’s quite possible that they even had emotionally undeveloped parents. They will never open up completely and it’s hard for them to make plans for the future because they live in the moment.
It doesn’t really matter whether you’re a man or a woman, there’s not much difference between emotionally immature people.
This happens because they were discouraged to talk about their feelings when they were children and that had a lasting effect on them. They never learned how to recognize their emotions or deal with them.
You can’t be in a relationship with someone like this. They will never know how to deal with difficulties appropriately.
If you’re the one struggling with emotional immaturity
If you are the one to struggle with emotional immaturity, you’ll likely have an inability to cope, which causes you to fall into depressive states.
You can also pay attention to the signs that will be listed below to know if you’re truly the problem. Sometimes, you could be gaslighted into believing that you’re the issue.
However, if you genuinely are the one who isn’t mature emotionally, then you may want to pay close attention to your own behavior and emotional state. You could experience very strong, volatile emotions.
It’s important to look after yourself by eating well and getting regular exercise. Sounds unrelated, but emotions can overwhelm you to the point where you completely ignore your body. At one point, you may stop eating and not be able to get out of bed.
Do you truly want to find yourself in that situation? You need to be able to get through this hard time and learn how to deal with your own undeveloped emotions.
If you’re not taking care of yourself, then you won’t be able to handle your feelings at all.
Try to work on your ability to foresee stressful events and don’t hesitate to ask for support from your friends and family. It’s not bad to ask for help, you know? Sometimes, even the strongest of us need it.
Stop blaming yourself, though. You will only create bigger problems by doing so.
It’s not your fault you’re this sensitive. It’s a problem that was caused by the people who surrounded you from a young age.
Now it’s your time too look on the brighter side, which definitely includes getting better.
What causes emotional immaturity in people?
We’ve already talked a bit about the fact that this isn’t the fault of the people who experience this issue. The problem is deeply rooted in their childhood.
When we’re going through the development stages, our brain absorbs information like a sponge. That also includes behavioral patterns.
Those who aren’t emotionally mature were often either neglected by their parents or their parents wanted them to never grow up. That’s why they’re now stuck in their early stages.
If your parents were very critical of you in your developmental years, this is what caused your emotional immaturity.
Instead of applauding your efforts, your parents belittled you. This is why you’re now classified as an “adult child.”
Whenever you’d try to do something, your parents would take over because they knew what was best. This made you anxious that your progress and abilities could hurt your parents and their self-esteem.
That’s a simplified explanation, but in a nutshell, adults who are emotionally immature experience this because of their parents.
While you’re fighting this battle right now, you have to remind yourself that you’re not responsible for what happened to you in your past.
But you can change this. It’s possible for you to change and it’s your responsibility to work on yourself from this day onward.
16 signs of emotional immaturity
Although there are multiple symptoms of this issue, once you see the whole picture, it will be easy to spot them.
If you’re looking to find out whether you or your loved ones are showing any signs of emotional immaturity, be sure to continue reading.
It may just turn out that you’re in a relationship with an emotionally immature person, and that won’t be an easy thing for you to tackle.
These people aren’t really good in relationships because they have stayed a kid and don’t have the maturity it takes to have a healthy relationship.
Don’t worry, though. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but you’ll have to realize that your significant other has some emotional growth to do.
You can talk to them about how you’d like the two of you to grow as a couple to become a stronger team. Don’t single them out as emotionally inept because it will make them defensive. They could even throw a tantrum.
Praise them when they do something you like and let them know when you feel connected. It’s important to give them positive feedback.
At the end of the day, you can always seek professional help. It’s never too late for self-improvement.
For now, let’s see the signs of an emotionally immature human being.
1. They find it hard to talk about their feelings
Emotional immaturity sometimes causes the person to become “allergic” to feelings.
Everyone has feelings and it isn’t mature to pretend otherwise or choose to ignore them. But immaturity causes a person to be unable to process or explain complicated emotions.
We all know that we’re not really taught emotional intelligence. We have to learn how to recognize, express, and deal with emotions. But for them, it’s so overwhelming, they often withdraw or shut down because of feelings of shame or vulnerability.
If you’re like this, you have to understand that it’s important to talk about your feelings.
On the other hand, if we’re talking about your partner, you will have to help him recognize his emotions. Ask questions calmly and supportively, so that he knows that he’s in a safe space.
You can’t have a healthy relationship if one of you completely shuts down as soon as the topic of feelings comes up. Your feelings are a part of you, and you need a partner who accepts that and expresses their own too.
You can’t be happy with your partner if one of you starts acting out the second something isn’t okay.
Your adult life will bring many ups and downs, so you might as well work on these issues while you’re together.
2. They don’t talk about the future
If your partner can’t commit to any future plans with you, even the smallest ones like a spa weekend, it’s a major red flag of emotional immaturity.
Their emotional state makes it hard for them to think ahead and make any plans for the future. Instead, they tend to live in the moment and see how it goes.
Even if this person sees a future with you, they will find it hard to communicate their vision.
You don’t need me to tell you how important it is to have some plans for the future, especially when you are in a relationship.
I know that now, with the pandemic happening and everything, it’s not easy to make plans. However, you two should be able to make a rough plan on where you want to be in a few years.
Do you want to get married? Do you want to move in together? What about children?
Answering these questions shows that you are committed and that you have an end goal for your love. But these people find it hard to think that way since they are just living day by day.
You could try to ask your partner these questions and try to formulate the answers together. Don’t just leave them to think of everything by themselves.
You will probably see that they have difficulties with decision-making, so you will have to help them navigate through it.
Of course, only if your own mental health allows it.
3. Their partner feels lonely in the relationship
What’s the point of a relationship? It’s to be loved, respected, and supported. So, it’s awful when you feel like you’re alone in your relationship.
One of the signs of emotional immaturity in a relationship is a lack of emotional intimacy, which will always leave you feeling disconnected. The reason for this is that your partner isn’t capable of bonding on a deeper level.
Relationships are built for two people who are willing to put in an equal amount of work because they both actively participate.
You shouldn’t be feeling alone when you’re in a relationship, so you need to address this problem from the start.
That said, sometimes emotionally immature people are really good at masking their issues. You may only become aware of this later down the line and feel like you were completely blind at the beginning. But it’s not your fault.
People with issues like these are very good at love-bombing you. You thought of their childlike behavior as sweet or cute back then. You probably saw their playfulness as a sign of love.
Now, you’re just so extremely lonely, you didn’t even know that it could hurt this much. Even when they’re right there next to you, you feel as though they don’t even acknowledge your presence.
4. They can’t move past a surface-level relationship
When you’re trying to connect on a deeper level with your partner, it can be quite disappointing to find out they want to keep things superficial.
You try to open up to them, but they are always holding back. Because of that, you feel like you’re oversharing.
Maybe your partner is entertaining to be with, but when it’s time to get more intimate, they can’t go there. Emotional intimacy is such a huge phobia of theirs.
Intimacy is all about opening yourself up, connecting, and sharing. It leads to affection, familiarity, and a sense of closeness.
So, if you have a problem with a lack of intimacy in your relationship, it may very well be your partner’s emotional immaturity to blame. You can’t be emotionally intimate with someone who isn’t able to understand or express their feelings.
If you truly want to help them out, you will have to listen carefully, analyze their mood swings, and also come to terms with the fact that they aren’t connected to their emotions at all.
In situations where you want to get them to talk about their emotions, you will have to ask specific questions to get them to open up.
Your partner might enjoy a surface-level relationship, but it has to get deeper at some point. If you’re not emotionally intimate with each other, then you might as well be single and go back out on the dating scene.
Because there are many funny and adorable guys out there. The difference is that you want to be with someone you have a genuine connection with.
5. They distance themselves during the hard times
You know what the best thing is about a relationship? To have someone by your side during the good times and the bad.
But if you’re in a relationship with someone who has a problem with emotional immaturity, the latter isn’t so easy.
They don’t really know how to be there for you or support you in times of stress, whether it’s a family crisis or a work-related problem.
You’re in a relationship with them and their support means the most to you. Your friends are amazing, of course, but your partner should be your number one shoulder.
Besides, you’re always by their side, so it’s normal for you to expect the same. But you notice them distancing themselves when you really need them, and that has to hurt.
It’s hard when your partner isn’t there for you when you’re going through a tough time. You need someone to be by your side, and they are not capable of it.
That will have to change in order for your relationship to work out. It can’t always be a one-way street.
You’re a human being who needs support and love from your partner. When that partner is aloof and doesn’t even bother to understand your needs, then it’s better for you to be by yourself than with them.
6. They are unable to compromise
We all know that compromise is the key to a successful relationship, but your partner doesn’t seem to get it.
They find it hard to find a middle ground when you’re arguing. That happens because of their emotional immaturity.
If your significant other throws tantrums just so you won’t get your way, you have a severe problem on your hands. People who have this problem always have to have everything how they want it.
They won’t hesitate to lie, blame, and guilt-trip their partner just so they can get everything that they desire. This is an enormous problem in a relationship, as you can’t be happy with someone who always has to win every argument.
Your partner has to learn how to compromise for your relationship to stand a chance. You have to be aware of your self-worth.
When you’re setting boundaries, it should be done in a way that keeps you safe. You can’t let your partner walk all over you without any remorse.
You will break at one point if neither you nor him respect your boundaries.
For a healthy, happy, and long-lasting relationship, psychologists today strongly advise that you communicate about everything – especially your boundaries.
You have a right to tell them that you won’t talk to them unless they lower their voice. You are not the person who has to tolerate that behavior just because their parents did.
People walk away for less and your needs are being completely ignored. To be honest, I don’t even understand why you’re even fighting for him at this point.
7. They are defensive over small things
A mature person will never get overly defensive at a little criticism, even if their feelings get hurt.
Healthy relationships are all about talking things through, especially problems, and finding ways to deal with them together. It isn’t healthy when you have to walk on eggshells so you won’t upset your partner.
The thing about emotional immaturity is that it makes your partner extremely defensive, even over the small stuff. You may even notice that your partner is showing signs of narcissism.
You’re not really sure what you can do at this point, because whenever you want to talk to them about an issue, you’re apprehensive about it.
Why would you want to talk to someone who obviously doesn’t care how they make you feel? The only thing they care about is the fact that you’re telling them they’re doing something wrong.
They will show you no empathy, whatsoever. In fact, the more they’re in the wrong, the more defensive they will get.
If you step on their toes, they will have a very bad outburst of emotions. They won’t hesitate to use name-calling and attack your character.
If you have a problem like this with your partner, they have to start working on it.
You can’t go through life with a fear of upsetting them. You have a right to say when something’s bothering you! They will have to find a way to change their behavior.
You’re not obligated to choose your words carefully and start every single sentence with a disclaimer simply because they can’t handle a little bit of feedback.
8. They expect you to do everything for them
Of course, it’s good to do nice things for your loved one… but do they do the same for you?
When you’re constantly doing everything for your partner without them lifting a finger for you, it’s a problem. This sort of thing can only lead to a one-sided relationship, and you don’t want to be stuck in something like that.
The thing about the people who deal with emotional immaturity is that they expect you to do everything. On the other side, when they have to do something, you will have to ask them multiple times before they take action.
That’s not all, because even when they actually do something nice for you, they will do so grudgingly and even make you feel guilty for making them.
You may have to listen to them complain about it for days to come. They will be passive-aggressive about everything and they’ll only make you feel awful about it all.
That’s why, at one point, you’ll stop asking them for anything. There’s no point in asking them to do favors for you if you can do it yourself and not have to listen to that nagging.
But you shouldn’t do that. You’re not their parent. You don’t have to cook for anyone but yourself, you don’t have to make their bed or do their laundry.
The only thing you do need to do is take care of yourself. Because if both of you aren’t putting an equal amount of work into the relationship, then you might as well be single. You’ll be happier that way.
9. They don’t take responsibility for their actions
Being mature means acknowledging when you’ve made a mistake, it’s about doing what you can do to make amends and apologize.
Those who aren’t mature, however, won’t admit when they make a mistake. They don’t like to be held accountable and would rather place the blame on someone else.
This type of person doesn’t take responsibility for their mistakes and actions and when there’s a problem, they’re quick to blame-shift. It seems like it’s never their fault, and there’s always someone pin guilt on.
This is very childish behavior and a person like that is not mature enough for a healthy relationship. They have to start taking responsibility for their actions and learning how to say sorry.
Even when you try to confront them in a very calm manner, they automatically assume you’re accusing them of something awful. That’s when you’ll see them play the victim and completely ignore any facts you present to them.
Your partner will find any and every excuse they have just to put the blame on you or someone else. They may even gaslight you into believing that you’re crazy for ever accusing them of anything.
These people are master manipulators. Even though they have to battle their emotional immaturity, they’re still able to manipulate your emotions quite easily.
10. They are selfish
If you’re looking for a helper-type of partner, keep searching. Emotionally immature people will not help you unless it benefits them in some way.
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear. This person would step over anyone in their way just to can give themselves a leg up.
Such people only do what benefits them and their own end goal. Unless giving you what you need benefits them, they won’t do it.
They won’t be there for you unless that helps them on their own journey to get what they want.
That can be extremely exhausting for you because when something good happens, you don’t know if it’s genuine. Chances are that most of the time those things are just a facade for their own selfish ideas and plans.
I’m probably making your partner sound like some type of a villain, but let’s call a spade a spade here, right?
You’re always second-guessing their behavior. How are you supposed to feel in a relationship like that?
Selfish people are the worst romantic partners, so it’s time for them to introduce a little selflessness into your relationship.
Or you’ll always be the only one putting effort in. You’ll do things to make them happy, but they will only do things for you to make themselves happy.
A relationship like that will never work out long-term. You deserve so much better.
11. They hold grudges
It’s perfectly normal for something in the past to still bother you to this day. Some things simply leave a deeper mark on us and we can’t really shake the hurt off of ourselves.
A healthy way to deal with it is to communicate your feelings to your partner and find a way to work on them together in order to move on.
When you don’t communicate about the issues you face, you leave a lot of gray areas open. You leave a lot of space for overthinking and overanalyzing, which isn’t good at all.
When you share about everything you go through, you’re also giving your partner a sense of security.
You’re not letting them wander through their own mind to find the answers, you’re giving them what they need in order to feel calm.
But holding grudges isn’t healthy, especially in a relationship, where it almost always leads to resentment.
Immature people aren’t capable of controlling their emotions and reactions toward their partners. This results in lashing out and long-held grudges.
When someone’s emotionally immature, they hold on to the silliest and smallest things that happened in the past. It’s like they never learned how to forgive someone.
There is no place for this type of behavior in any relationship. It only leads to fights, resentment, and eventually, hatred. And these are incredibly hard to let go of later.
If you truly did something unforgivable, then that’s kind of understandable. But if they make the decision to keep you in their life then it’s because they genuinely want you and in that case, they should really forgive you.
12. They are egocentric
What does it even mean to grow up? It’s actually the realization that the world doesn’t revolve around you.
Babies don’t understand that, so they cry in the middle of the night when their parents are sleeping.
As we grow up, we learn that we can’t always get what we want.
We learn that other people exist and have needs of their own. It’s all about freeing ourselves from the chains of our ego.
When we lose the illusion that babies live in, we start gaining understanding. We learn how to explore other people’s worlds while preserving our ego.
Those who are emotionally immature have trouble with this because they are egocentric.
It’s not the same as being selfish, because this is on a whole new level. They genuinely believe that you have to worship them and cater to them on a daily basis.
They make you feel so absolutely inferior. If all of your attention isn’t on them, they will create problems.
Just like a child throws their toys around and breaks things simply to get their parent’s attention, that’s what your partner also does.
You can probably see this happen when you tell him you’re going out with your friends and he starts making a scene because of it. You assume he’s just jealous, but it’s much deeper than that.
13. They have trouble with commitment
If you offer a child one candy now or two later, they will always choose now.
That’s because they are not capable of understanding that they will get something great if they lose the opportunity they have right here in front of them.
Mature people know that sacrifices and restrictions are necessary in order to achieve a particular goal. Someone with emotional immaturity doesn’t understand that concept, though.
We realize that committing to a person or an object doesn’t limit the freedom we have; it’s merely something we agree to for the long-term goals we have.
If your partner has trouble with commitment, it could be because they are emotionally immature. They would rather have the thing they have right now than wait for what they could have in the future.
That’s why your partner may even cheat on you. If the opportunity arises, they’ll take advantage of it.
It’s something you will never know for sure until the moment it happens, but they truly don’t feel like a long-term relationship is worth staying away from other people.
14. They have dependent relationships
An immature person will not need you because they love you, but simply because they need you to take care of them and love them. This is why they tend to be in codependent relationships.
Autonomy is necessary for a healthy relationship. You should really base your romantic relationship on freedom and independence. You need to be able to take care of yourself first and foremost. Your partner comes second.
But the problem is that immature people don’t really understand the concept of independence, and most of the time, they think it’s about doing whatever you want.
They think that they’re independent because they’re so assertive and aggressive. In actuality, they crave your assurance, validation, and affirmation.
They need you to take care of them because they wouldn’t know how to do so on their own.
That’s exactly why emotionally immature people get whiny when you want to live your life and don’t give them what they need right away. Just like a little child.
15. They are irresponsible with money
Immature people are absolutely always impulsive and you can see the impulsivity in the way they handle their money.
This is the type of person who will always spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need. This is because they mostly care about immediately satisfying their desires. They need that feeling right away!
This is the type of person who won’t hesitate to take crazy financial risks and have trouble with objectively evaluating investments. Also, they aren’t good at making long-term projections and this is why you will often find them in debt.
They end up in debt because of the desire to satisfy their whims. Sometimes it’s a small thing that doesn’t make a big hole in their pocket, but other times it’s something that will leave them without any money at all.
So, if you’re in a relationship with a person like this, you might have to help them out financially from time to time. Depending on their immaturity level, you may even have to spend your money on their stupid whims.
Still, that’s not the solution, and they will have to start working on themselves. Because if they’re irresponsible with their own money, they will be irresponsible with yours too – and that’s not very reassuring.
You’re probably planning a future with this person, so imagine how big of an issue this will be when you start to share everything (if that ever happens, that is).
16. They don’t like spending time on their own
Immature adults don’t like to spend time on their own, without any distraction. Just like a little kid.
They can’t be alone to think about who they really are and all the things they have experienced.
Mature people can examine and really feel their feelings, even when they aren’t pleasant. Those who are immature, on the other hand, can’t be alone with their thoughts.
They will always search for someone or something that will curb the risk of being alone. They easily get overwhelmed by silence and lack of attention. They may even start to panic at one point.
Mature people know how to enjoy their own company, and they would rather be alone than in the wrong company. Someone who battles emotional immaturity doesn’t understand that.
If your partner is immature, they’re constantly running away from discovering themselves and being left to their own thoughts.
Did you discover that your partner is emotionally immature? It’s time for them to snap out of it and start working on themselves!
Emotionally immature people don’t have it easy, but neither do those who are in a relationship with them. The first step is to realize that they have to make a change in their life.
The rest isn’t so hard, as long as they are determined to grow and advance. You can be there to help them on their journey.
If you two can’t manage it on your own, you can always try couples therapy. The problem started when they were a kid so it may be useful to have them talk with a professional about their childhood.
Either way, good luck!