Have you ever seen a grown person throw a temper tantrum and completely lost control of their proverbial sh*t over something that truly wasn't that big of a deal? Welcome to just one of the signs that your partner is emotionally immature. There are many. As a former Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, I've seen the ways emotional immaturity rears its ugly head and how it can destroy relationships.
Believe it or not, emotional maturity doesn't necessarily have to do with age. Sure, there's a certain amount of aging and life experience that has to happen in order for a person to become emotionally mature, but an 18 year-old can be more emotionally mature than a 40 year-old. In a lot of ways, emotional maturity is a skill you have to learn and practice. If it's not a skill your partner ever learned, it doesn't necessarily mean your relationship is doomed. It is likely, though, that you're in for some drama. That's because emotionally immature people don't have a strong grasp of their own feelings, and lack the coping skills to deal with emotions they don't always understand.
You might have some snags when it comes to healthy communication. You might have trouble setting up boundaries. You might have some fierce disagreements. But emotional immaturity can be overcome. If your partner had any of the following traits, it may be time for some overcoming.
1. Everything Is A Joke
Yeah, it's great to have a partner who is witty and playful, but not everything in life isn't a joke. Sometimes you have to get real and take things seriously, especially issues that are attached to complex emotions. If your partner has difficulty with strong emotions, especially negative ones, and chooses to make jokes instead of getting real and deep, there's probably a good deal of emotional immaturity going on.
2. There's No Self-Awareness
Have you ever seen someone berate their server over an incorrect side dish, then later in the conversation remark about how kind and patient they are? That's a person who lacks self-awareness. They know that kindness and patience are favorable traits, and they want to be perceived as having them, but they don't take an honest look at where they are. Their words don't match their actions.
3. Their Personalities Are Fluid
Emotionally mature people have a pretty good sense of self, including who they are, what they believe, their strengths, and their flaws. Emotionally immature people do not. In fact, they often make up parts of their personalities as they go along, usually to please, impress, top, or fit in with the person they're talking to. They're the ones who just happen to love everything you love or who have different styles, interests and personalities depending on who they're with.
4. They Don't Handle Their Scandals
Your emotionally immature partner will look to you to bail them out whenever life gets tough. They'll be bad at paying bills. They're be totally conflict avoiders. They'll have at least a coupe of people mad at them at all times. They're the type of people who don't reach their goals because it's hard. Who don't look for solutions to problems because that might entail uncomfortable emotions. They don't make big decisions because they don't know what they want, and if they do, they know what they want can change in an instant.
5. They Bail When Things Get Intense
Have you ever had someone break up with you because you were sick, or because someone in your family died? Sounds horrible, right? But it's a common calling card of an emotionally immature person. Similarly, this person will bail when you have your first fight, or have a total meltdown the first time you fight about something that was truly their fault. And if all the intense stuff is good, that doesn't mean you're safe. Love and intimacy can be hard for emotionally immature people to deal with, too.
6. They're Testy
Like toddlers, emotionally immature people often don't know how they feel, and this causes frustration and anger. Even plain old boredom or the temporary loneliness of having no plans can lead to a total crisis. You never know when this person's emotions will get too big for their britches. They're not good at letting the little things go for the sake of keeping the peace, and they're certainly not good at not getting their way. They're the ones who storm out of the store and wait in the car when you suggest they don't need something in their cart.
7. They Can't Be Alone
Loneliness is a powerful emotion, and one that can be difficult for emotionally immature people to deal with. Always being around people is a good distraction. Plus having people around helps ensure that the emotionally immature person will always have someone there to deal with the difficult stuff and be a witness to their crazy drama.
In short, they're those people who post about how much they hate/don't tolerate drama, yet they're the only ones you know who have drama. It's fine to work on things, but you don't have to (and can't) force someone to gain emotional maturity. Don't feel like it's not a good enough reason to cut the cord. It totally is.