What Is Emotional Immaturity And How Does It Affect Your Relationship?

Updated June 15, 2024by Regain Editorial Team
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The truth is that there are many emotionally immature people out there, and while many of them are young people, there are far too many that are actually fully-grown adults. The problem with this is that these adults are not "grown" in the sense that they're not paying attention to the things that mature people should be paying attention to, like their future or the world in general. Instead, they choose to pay more attention to themselves or unimportant things. While this can be fun to some extent, it's definitely not the kind of thing to base a relationship on.

What is emotional immaturity?

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Emotional immaturity is more common than you think

People demonstrate emotional immaturity for a number of reasons. One factor is something known as "Peter Pan Syndrome." While this "syndrome" isn't technically a diagnosis, it refers to an adult individual who does not want to grow up—they may avoid responsibilities and expect others around them to care for them. Another reason an individual may be immature emotionally is due to some traumas or adverse experiences they experience in childhood. Things like abandonment, neglect, exposure to abuse, and growing up in an unstable family home all impact an individual's emotional development. A third reason that someone may be emotionally immature is that they haven't learned appropriate emotional skills.

Recognizing emotional immaturity

Determining whether a relationship is being sabotaged by emotional immaturity is not as difficult as one might think. After all, it's all about the way that people feel and believe. Recognizing a spoiled individual who believes the world revolves around them is generally not a difficult feat. Still, there can be some other tips and cues that will clue someone into whether or not their partner is emotionally immature.

They stay focused in the present

Someone who is emotionally immature doesn't like to focus on the future or even think about it. Instead, they want to live immediately in the moment. They want to enjoy their life the way it is and however this moment is. They also want to focus on their own wants and needs. Focusing on something in the future seems impossible, or it seems entire too far away for them to even think about. So, they skip over these types of conversations or try to avoid them by any means necessary.

They don't talk about their feelings

Talking about feelings requires a level of emotional maturity. While some people will struggle with talking about certain feelings, it's generally possible for them to do so with a little prodding. Someone who is struggling with emotional immaturity is generally incapable of talking about emotions, or they could overreact to the emotions they're expressing. Feeling vulnerable could even cause them to pull away or attempt to break away from whatever makes them feel that way. This makes it difficult to express feelings to them since they aren't sure how to process anything.

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They don't form a connection

It's difficult to connect with someone who is emotionally not there. After all, emotional connections are one of the foundations that a relationship is built upon. If there's no way for the two partners to connect on an emotional level, it isn't easy to understand how to draw them in or how to get them to express themselves. This means that the two partners may have a relationship, but that relationship isn't as close as possible because of the lack of emotional intimacy.

They don't get involved

It can be great hanging out with emotionally immature someone because life feels like a never-ending party. They're fun to be around, and they know how to laugh and celebrate. However, these individuals have a hard time getting into deep conversations and often feel like they need to stay loose and free. Even friends and family may not know them and think because they don't want to get too close to anyone.

They get out of the way

When stressful events are coming, emotionally immature people are the ones who want to get far away as quickly as possible. They don't want anything to do with that stress or the drama that could come with it. They want their lives to stay fun and fancy-free, and that's only possible by avoiding anything that might cause stress or work within their lives. As a result, these individuals tend to try and get away if anyone brings up a stressful or highly emotional issue because they have no way to process it. They struggle with things like traumatic events or workplace stress.

They get overly defensive

Not knowing how to handle emotions means that someone emotionally immature may have difficulty accepting any level of blame. Even blame for minor issues can turn into a big problem with someone like this. They feel like they need to defend themselves rather than simply apologizing and moving on. Instead, they want to defend why they didn't do anything wrong, or why the rule or request doesn't make sense, or it's someone else's fault. It's very difficult to get these individuals to blame anything that happens, no matter how obvious the fault is to others.

They want it their way

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Emotional immaturity is more common than you think

These are selfish people overall, and that means they want to get what they want to get every time. They're willing to whine, cry, scream, and anything else to get what they want, and this can turn into an embarrassing predicament. These are fully-grown adults who act in this way, which means it's a difficult experience for any loved ones who happen to be in the area at the same time. They don't know how to turn off the theatrics.

Childish behaviors

There are a number of childish behaviors that someone emotionally immature may engage in. They may have frequent age-inappropriate "outbursts" such as yelling/screaming and may even break or throw things. This is something that young children may do when upset, but an emotionally mature adult will not resort to behaving this way. As a result, the arguments between someone emotionally immature and someone who is not can be difficult.

No impulse control

Once again, just like children, individuals will act out in any way that they want. They don't care who they hurt or how silly they look. If they want to do something or get something, they're going to do or get it right this moment. Rather, they skirt the rules and take charge for themselves, often leading to even more poor decision making. These individuals will act without thinking and could end up hurting themselves or others.

All the attention

Finally, these individuals tend to want to be at the center of attention. They can act like children, and this type of emotional immaturity makes them do silly or strange things because they want to make sure that everyone around them is watching and paying attention, regardless of whether or not what they're doing is disruptive appropriate, or timely. Whether those whose attention they seek approve, disapprove, or have other opinions is entirely irrelevant, as the emotionally immature party's goal is to garner attention and make sure that there are plenty of eyes and focus on them. This can also play into the lack of impulse control previously mentioned.

If you feel as if you may be emotionally immature or suspect that you're dating someone who is, you may want to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help you understand what you're going through, support you, and teach you healthy coping mechanisms and constructive ways to communicate and work towards self-improvement. They can also make sure that you're getting the treatment you need to continue improving yourself and becoming a better boyfriend or girlfriend. A licensed counselor can also help you become more confident to address how to grow from emotional immaturity in your relationship, including potentially ending the relationship if it's unhealthy.

There is a myriad of information about different mental health and relationship-related topics. You can create a profile that allows you to interact and book appointments with the right therapist for your situation and preferences. If you're looking to improve yourself or your relationship, consider reaching out to Regain and matching with the counselor that's right for you. Online therapy is proven by research to be an equally effective form of treatment for several different mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, and more, when compared to face-to-face options. 

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