Emotional immaturity will ruin relationships, or stop them from becoming what they could be. The thing is, unless it’s YOU who’s emotionally immature – there’s not a lot about you can do about it. Unfortunately, they won’t listen.
So in this post, we’re going to simply help you spot the signs of emotional immaturity. How do you know if someone’s emotionally immature? And, more specifically, what does emotional immaturity look like when dating or in relationships? Well, let’s start from the top.
What Is Emotional Immaturity?
Before we look at the signs of emotional immaturity, let’s get clear on what emotional immaturity actually is.
Definitions vary, but essentially it’s when a person finds it difficult to effectively communicate or process their emotions. As part of this, you’ll often find that they’re also not able to understand the emotions of others. (i.e. yours!)
It may be that they’re also emotionally unavailable. But it doesn’t have to be. A person can be emotionally available – they just don’t quite have a handle of those emotions, which is ultimately what emotional immaturity is.
This can make them unpredictable and irrational. Let’s explore this further…
10 Signs Of Emotional Immaturity
Let’s start from the top with some of the key signs of emotional immaturity.
1) They Keep Things Surface Level
Emotional immaturity is often related to a person being unable to talk about their feelings and emotions. For this reason, it’s no surprise that emotionally immature people can tend to keep things at surface level. This means that:
- They’ll delay tough conversations or avoid them completely.
- They struggle to open up, or go deep. This means it can be difficult to form a real, genuine and meaningful connection with them.
- They find it difficult to express themselves and therefore unable to speak about certain things. And it’s not just the talking part that’s hard! Often they’re unable to make sense of their feelings, even in their own mind.
To avoid particular conversations, you might find that they laugh things off, distract themselves with something else, brush it off, change the subject.
You may feel like you know them… but don’t fully know them.
Please note: this isn’t always the case. You can meet someone who’s emotionally immature and they’re fine with opening up. Or so it seems! It’s not always black and white or set solely on that.
You may also meet emotionally immature people who are open about some things (super open actually, which is why you don’t recognise this is the case initially!) but very much not about others.
In fact, if you touch a nerve, push too far or hit a trigger, that’s when they won’t be able to cope. And that’s when they’ll run. This leads me onto some of my next points…
2) They Avoid Talking About The Future
People who are emotionally immature don’t tend to like to get into the “serious stuff!” They may not like to think or plan ahead, finding things like that a little overwhelming.
Instead, they prefer to live in the moment. Take each moment as it comes (and know that they can get out if they need to – as we’ll touch on shortly! Ouch!)
If they do see a future together, they may struggle to articulate it and really get that across to you.
On the flip side, they may also have a habit of rushing things – getting swept away by their initial feelings for you (especially if there’s a lot of chemistry there). However, this can be short-lived. They may not necessarily mean it or have thought it through.
They just got swept away in “the moment” that they very much love, which is why it can come crashing down.
3) They’re Likely To Run
One of the biggest signs of emotional immaturity is in signs of conflict. If emotions get sparked – either from your side or theirs – they’re unable to deal with it.
They hate stress. They hate difficulties. But instead of calming down and working through them, they’ll run. They’ll leave. They’ll be done with it.
It’s not always rational, fair or reasonable. And emotions can often run high when there are feelings involved for another person – so sometimes it’s unavoidable.
But this is why it’s so difficult to be in a relationship with someone who’s emotionally immature. You’ll either not last very long – or feel like you’re treading on eggshells.
4) They Can Be Distant or Intense
Everything can feel like it’s extremes when you’re with someone who’s emotionally immature. It’s either really good, or really bad.
They’re either pretty intense, or super cold and distant.
You either know how they feel (and feel he wrath of it!) or have NO CLUE what’s going on in their head at all. Or, it can swap and change between the two.
It can become pretty exhausting. Hot and cold. Hold and cold.
5) They Can Be Thoughtless
People who are emotionally immature will often be careless and thoughtless. They say things without thinking. They’re insensitive and “don’t get it” when it doesn’t get the reaction they anticipated.
They also often brush off others feelings, particularly if it’s as a result of something they’ve said or done. It can seem like they don’t care, and I guess in some ways – they may not. But it’s more driven by a lack of understanding.
Which can feel ironic. A person can have their life together in so many ways, be so good at what they do… and get still be emotionally immature. Baffling, I know!
6) They Only Think About Themselves
Emotionally immature people are generally pretty selfish. It’s like they can’t fully comprehend the way the world works, or more specifically, the way that happy, healthy relationships should be.
Just like a baby will cry at 2am in the morning until they get food, people need to learn that they can’t always get everything they want. Others exist and have their own needs as well. But with someone who’s emotionally immature, they aren’t willing to compromise.
It’s their way or the high way, and – unintentionally – they may even stoop pretty low to get it! We’re talking lying, blaming, guilting, tantrums even! (Yuck!)
They also get defensive and blow things up when they don’t need to, until the other person backs down, or again, gets their own way. It’s pretty toxic, but it doesn’t mean they’re all in all a terrible person.
It also doesn’t mean that they don’t care about you, or don’t have feelings for you, it just means they don’t know how to treat you properly. (Although if they actually then lost you and it wasn’t their choice, I guarantee it would be a shock to the system!)
They have a lot of growing up to do. And even if it’s not to this level, a lack of care about you as a person – what you’re doing, how you’re feeling, what you’re passionate about, those are the more subtle signs of selfishness with emotional immaturity.
7) They Have Commitment Issues
You may also find, if a person’s emotionally immature, you don’t even make it to the “exclusive” or relationship stage. This is because – like we mentioned above – they run before it gets too serious, and they don’t fully let you in to allow those further stages to properly develop.
The truth is, they’re scared. Relationships are scary for a person who’s emotionally immature. Why? Because it makes them feel out of control. It’s daunting. Intimidating even. And it only gets more so as things develop.
But that’s the difference between being emotionally immature and emotionally unavailable. They haven’t grown up. They’re not pushing themselves out of their comfort zone and allowing themselves to embrace this new stage. They take the easy option out.
8) They Can Be Demanding
On the flip side from a lack of commitment, they can also be very demanding. Like we said above, there’s a naive lack of awareness about other people and their emotions. Their self-entered nature also plays into this.
They let their emotions take over. When they know what they want, or crave to feel a certain way, they can become demanding, clingy, needy even. It’s their childlike ways coming out!
They can also be attention seeking, taking over conversations (particularly in groups) or bringing things back to them again. It goes back to control again, although it’s not necessarily intentional.
9) They Very Rarely Take Responsibility
If they mess up, you get excuses. They become defensive or unkind. If you get upset, you get blamed for being unreasonable or blowing things out of proportion.
It’s always someone else or something else.
This is one of the biggest signs of emotional immaturity and it can become infuriating at times.
On a similar note, people who are emotionally immature often hold onto grudges…
Yep, I know. It’s like they’re the saint of all saints, but someone else puts a foot wrong and BAMN – they are in the doghouse!
10) They Don’t See Things From Your Side
People who are emotionally immature, often discount your feelings and emotions. It could be that they outright don’t understand them, or it could be that they don’t want to try to understand them. They’re in their own little bubble, like we said.
So if they let you down, they don’t admit their mistakes, it’s likely that – on top of that – they also don’t see things from your side. They can’t comprehend how you’re feeling, and they don’t show that care, comfort or remorse that sometimes you may need.
It can feel like hard work. Like trying to explain things to a toddler and – still – after that, often seeming to not quite get through. This is where the immaturity comes into it. They’re closed minded in many ways, and unable to see things from different angles.
They’re also often unaware. They don’t give you the emotional support and don’t even always realise when you need it. This can make you feel isolated and alone.
See, emotional connection is also a thing, and an important part of relationships. Click here to read more about it.
What Do You Do If They’re Emotionally Immature?
When it comes to what to do if you’re dating someone who’s emotionally immature, well, let’s look at it this way. In physical terms:
Maturity means that a person, animal, or plant has reached their final stage of growth. Someone who hasn’t reached that stage is immature…
Emotional immaturity could be because that person still needs to grow up a little. Maybe they’re not ready for a relationship, even if they think they are.
However, knowing this can be little comfort at times. You want a partner, not a project. And sometimes – there’s only so much you can do.
When you’re with someone who is emotionally immature, you have to consider:
- The degree of the impact. How bad is it? How are they behaving?
- Whether they’re aware of the things they’re doing wrong and are actually trying to grow up a bit, take responsibility and work on them.
It’s the willingness that’s important. The compromise. The effort. The care still being there.
Even if they don’t agree with you, they don’t see things from your side, they don’t always treat you 100% right (because no-one is perfect and we are all on a journey of self improvement) – the most important thing is that they’re not running, they’re trying. They’re stepping up and doing their best.
Maybe you’re at different stages. Maybe you’re not quite right. And perhaps it is better the two of you go your separate ways. But regardless of how it works out – the relationship will only ever stand a shot with the person if the good outweighs the bad, the bad isn’t horrendous and these are things that are being worked on.
I know it’s tough, and it’s tougher when a person doesn’t recognise a problem, but talk about it. See what you can do. Then make the decision that’s right for you.
OH… and if the emotional immaturity is coming from your side, don’t beat yourself up. Just focus on improving. Work on it, bit by bit, day by day, and gradually you’ll start to change. Need a little extra help and guidance? Remember… I’m here.
Good luck, take care!