If you've been with your partner for forever and you feel like you're dealing with emotional immaturity from them that might not get better, you may be right. While everyone has the ability to change (if they want to) most of us get stuck in our ways as the years go on. So if your partner tends to put their priorities first, and act childishly — and this hasn't changed — there's a good chance they won't grow out of it.
When that's the case, you'll need to decide whether or not their immaturity is something you can work on together, or something you'll be able to put up with, if they're unable to change. And if not, it's more than OK to move on. "Life is too short to be taking on 'projects' or trying to change water into wine," relationship expert Kevin Darné, author of My Cat Won't Bark, tells Bustle. "Generally speaking people don't change unless they are unhappy. The goal is to find someone who already is the kind of person you want to be with."
That's not to say, however, that your currently relationship is doomed. It's OK if your partner occasionally makes mistakes, or goes through a problem or two. But if they constantly let you down, argue with you, or put their needs first, that's a good sign they're immature in a way that won't bode well for the future of your relationship. Her are a few signs experts say may mean your partner will remain immature.
1They Keep Making The Same Mistakes
While nobody's perfect, if your partner keeps making the same mistakes over and over again, it might be a sign they're not listening to you, or that they're struggling to make the relationship a priority. And both can be part of an immature pattern that'll be pretty hard to break.
"When you let your partner know that something about their behavior doesn’t work for you, and they continuously step over that boundary, they are showing you they are set in their ways," says Sassoon. "Honoring your loved ones’ dealbreakers, and being sensitive to what upsets them is a sign of a mature and loving partner."
2They Make "Jokes" To Knock You Down
There's a big difference between a partner who makes jokes to be funny, and one who jokes with an intention to hurt you. And the latter is all sorts of immature. That's because, as Sassoon says, a partner who makes "jabs" disguised as jokes is likely doing so because they don't know how to communicate, or open up and be vulnerable.
And if that's a deep-seated problem that they're unwilling to work on — perhaps by seeing a therapist, to get to the root of the issue — it isn't likely to go away. "It’s one thing to have an insecurity; it’s another to be immature with how you communicate," she says. "If either of you don’t feel safe communicating — this is a red flag."
3They Get Bored Easily
If your partner can't seem to sit still and have a serious convo for five seconds, you might be dealing with someone who's immature. As Darné says, this type of person will likely "get bored very easily and [need] to be entertained to keep them engaged." And as a result, they might even reject any type of convo that seems like it'll be "boring," or make jokes to avoid it instead.
While it's fine to make heavier convos easier to talk about by keeping things lighthearted, an immature person won't want to talk about those issues at all. And since it's going to be important to talk about "boring" things — like relationship problems, money, and bills — their inability to do so might not bode well for the future.
4Their Friends Mean More Than You Do
If your partner has friends that mean a lot to them, that's a great thing. "Healthy, sustainable romantic partnerships most definitely require each partner to invest time in nurturing friendships outside of the relationship," Erin K. Tierno, LCSW-R, a licensed clinical social worker and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "Where the problem arises, however, is when you recognize a trend in that your partner is always putting their time with pals ahead of time with you. If you notice that you keep being put off until last, then you might need to take a closer look at whether your partner’s level of maturity matches your own."
5Their Finances Are Always In Disarray
It's OK to struggle financially, and to not know everything there is to know about money. "Your partner definitely does not need to be a millionaire, but it is a sure sign of immaturity to spend impulsively and fail to prioritize the financial basics," Tierno says. "If you observe that your partner's debit or credit card is declined on a regular basis, or they mention in an offhand manner that they’ve bounced their rent check but in the next breath are describing [something expensive they just bought], this might be cause for concern."
If you try to talk to you partner about establishing better financial habits — as all long-term couples should — but they laugh it off or can't seem to make a change, it might not be something that will change any time soon.
6They're Incredibly Impatient
While everyone has the occasional cranky moment, a lack of patience can be an easy-to-miss sign of immaturity. So take note if they often get irritated when they don't get their way, or when they have to wait. "Maybe it’s for lunch, dinner at a restaurant, or being put on hold for five minutes," Bonnie Winston, a celebrity matchmaker and relationship expert, tells Bustle. Regardless, they may overreact quickly.
If your partner does things like this on the regular, try talking to them to figure out what's bothering them. They might have something going on under the surface, like anxiety or a ton of stress, that's causing them to react that way. But if not, it might be a sign of underdeveloped maturity.
7They Don't Have A Team Mindset
If someone doesn't have a "team" mindset when it comes to sharing their life, experts say they might not magically develop one later — or be a very good partner. So be on the lookout for signs your partner might be more concerned with just themselves.
"Building and maintaining a healthy relationship requires a team effort," author and relationship guru Dominique Clark tells Bustle. "It can't be more about one than the other. If they are unwilling to do the work to reach a common goal and are more inclined to fight you at every challenge than fight with you — so that together the relationship can overcome a challenge — then that's a definite red flag you need to pay attention to."
8They Never Ask How You Feel
Mature partners show empathy in small ways, often by asking about your day, or asking how you feel about something relating to your relationship. But that'll be in stark contrast to an immature partner, who might only focus on themselves.
"A mature partner is interested in knowing about your feelings and about [their] impact on you," Tierno says. "While you do need to take responsibility for your half of the relationship dynamic, a mature partner will be engaged with you in understanding how their behavior and patterns affect your experience. A mature partner wants to be on the same team as you, figuring out the challenges of your relationship together."
9They Aren't Willing To Apologize
People who lack maturity tend to have difficulty with apologizing, or admitting their mistakes. So take note if your partner is this way, too. "Partners who are never willing to apologize and consider the ways that their behavior has impacted you are demonstrating an unwillingness to grow, which is a definite sign of a lack of maturity that they may not outgrow," Tierno says.
And if they can't change that, even after you've brought it to their attention, it may be time to rethink things, especially if you're not feeling fulfilled. "A mature partner has flaws," she says. "A mature partner may struggle with a wide variety of issues, but the difference is that this partner will own up to these flaws, and already be a 'work in progress' in terms of approaching solutions or workarounds to their shortcomings."
10They Argue In An Unproductive Way
If you've been on the receiving end of an unhealthy arguing style since day one, you might not even realize how unproductive all those fights and name-calling sessions have really been. And yet, an inability to discuss issues in a calm way isn't something you should ignore. "If your partner consistently acts defensive, tries to prove you wrong, becomes angry, or refuses to explore solutions for a problem, growth and maturity are virtually impossible," therapist Dr. Minnie Claiborne tells Bustle.
A mature partner, on the other hand, will accept responsibility. "A mature individual can focus on the problem as the problem, rather than seeing the other person as the problem," Claiborne says. "A mature person can approach a problem with a ‘Let’s see how we can resolve it, and seek solutions together' attitude."
11They Blame Others When Things Go Wrong
As dating and relationship coach Rosalind Sedacca, CLC tells Bustle, "Someone who never accepts responsibility for their behavior or the problems they are facing is demonstrating a child-like approach to coping with challenges. Blaming others and not being accountable is an immature way to handle issues they don't want to address. These people learn little from life experiences as a consequence." So if your efforts to talk things through prove fruitless, take note.
12They Often Leave You Hanging
If you're used to being left hanging — cancelled dates, broken promises, chores that were "forgotten," etc. — you might not realize it's a sign of immaturity on your partner's part. And yet, it really is.
"They promise to do things, but don’t follow through so it feels impossible to count on them," relationship therapist Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, founder of the online community Relationup, tells Bustle. "They may have good intentions, but you find yourself consistently frustrated that you have to remind them of things ... They may be rejecting responsibility or inviting criticism, but either way, you hate taking on the parental role in the relationship."
13They Lean On You Emotionally
Being in a relationship means being there for your partner, and vice versa. But if your partner leans on you 24/7, things may tip over into the realm of "immaturity" pretty quickly.
"Emotional over-dependency is [a] sign of immaturity," Jane Reardon relationship therapist and founder of the RxBreakup app, tells Bustle. "While it’s always a plus to be a good listener and to support your partner through the rough patches, if the scales start tipping from the weight of your partner’s emotional woes (that don’t let up), you can quickly move into feeling the life sucked out of you. Sure, everyone loves to help, but if that’s all it is, there maybe deeper needs that your partner isn’t aware of, and the more mature move would be for them to get some professional help, so the relationship can start to really thrive." If you think this is the case, try encouraging your partner to see someone who can offer professional help. But also prioritize your own mental health if this begins to wear on you.
14They Have A "Fear Of Commitment"
While committing to one partner isn't for everyone, if your partner often jokes about being afraid of any type of commitment, you might want to start listening. "If someone says that they have a fear of commitment," this can be a sign of immaturity, Amica Graber, a blogger for the background checking site TruthFinder, tells Bustle. "Adulting is a series of commitments. A commitment to paying your bills and rent on time. A commitment to showing up to work — even when you're hungover. And a commitment to your significant other, if you have one. When someone says that they have a fear of commitment, they're often using this to really say 'I don't want to be dependable' which is an ultimate sign of immaturity."
15They've Been This Way Since The Beginning Of Your Relationship
Everyone has to ability to change, so it's important not to hold your partner to their past behavior, if they're making a genuine attempt at bettering themselves. That said, if your partner is currently immature, and has been this way since the beginning of your relationship, that may be a red flag.
"The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior," certified counselor David Bennett tells Bustle. "If someone has consistently been immature, then the best thing to assume is that they will not magically begin acting more maturely in the future. Many partners think that their adult partner who acts immaturely on a daily basis will suddenly outgrow that behavior, when all the regular evidence is that the partner has no interest in maturing."
If your partner is immature now, they may be able to change once you bring it to their attention, and once you start to work on ways to have a healthier relationship as a couple. But if your partner isn't putting in the effort, and you notice you are the only one working to better your relationship, it may be a sign that this immaturity will not pass.