How To Tell If Your Partner Has Never Been In An Emotionally Mature Relationship
It's never fun to enter into a relationship with someone you really like to find out they have a hard time dealing with real issues that make up a serious adult relationship. Although the tendency is to wait and hope for change, experts say you may have to wait a while. Depending on the circumstances, you may be dating someone who doesn't really know what it means to be in an emotionally mature relationship.
Being in an emotionally mature relationship means you can communicate your issues in an open, honest, and tactful way. You can work out issues as they come along. Most importantly, you always know where you stand with your partner. There's no having to guess and wonder, "What are we?"
But this isn't always the case. "In some relationships, one partner may not emotionally mature enough to be a good partner to the other," relationship expert and spiritual counselor, Davida Rappaport tells Bustle. In some instances, this doesn't mean the relationship isn't going to work out. According to her, if one partner can temporarily step up and put in more effort while the other actively works on changing for the better, things may improve.
However, if the emotionally immature partner is unable or unwilling to change, it may be best to move on. "Once a partner become resistant to change or growing up, there is no reason to wait for them to wake up," Rappaport says.
So here are some signs that your partner may not know what it means to be in an emotionally mature relationship and what you can do about it.
1. They Can't Take Care Of Themselves
"There is no 'perfect partner,' but there are red flags to watch for that suggest a person may be unable to engage in a serious relationship," psychotherapist Laura Dabney, M.D., tells Bustle. If your partner shows signs that they can't take care of themselves like they can't hold a job, they're always angry and lashing out, or there's substance abuse issues, Dr. Dabney says they may not be capable of being in an emotionally mature relationship. According to her, things like these are too big to "wait" out or try to fix. "These may be indicative of a personality disorder which can take many years of expert treatment to resolve," she says.
2. They Don't Know How To Resolve Conflicts In A Healthy Way
The clearest sign of a person who is not emotionally mature enough for a serious relationship is an inability to resolve conflicts in a constructive way. "Being able to 'fight fair' is the strongest and clearest indicator on whether or not a relationship will be successful," Jerome Myers PE, PMP, relationship expert and author of the book Politics of Marriage tells Bustle. "Unfortunately conflict resolution isn’t something we are taught and is rarely modeled for us in romantic relationships." If your partner says hurtful things during fights or doesn't even want to deal with conflict altogether, they may not be ready to be in an emotionally mature relationship.
3. Their Communication Is Inconsistent
"When you’re the one always reaching out and starting a conversation first, it’s a sign that they may not be ready for something serious and mature," therapist Alisha Powell, PhD, LCSW, tells Bustle. This can apply to couples who are newly dating or are already in an established relationship. Regardless of your relationship status, Powell says going days or weeks without checking in and catching up can mean that they have other priorities. Besides, it's not that hard to send a check-in text to someone you care about no matter how busy you are.
4. They Aren't Intentional
Another sign that your partner may not be ready for an emotionally mature relationship is they aren’t intentional. According to Powell that means you don’t know where you stand with them and they haven’t let you know. You feel like you’re an outsider in their life and they don’t make an effort to include you. "Their overall lack of caring is apparent because they seem consistently indifferent," she says. That's not exactly serious relationship material.
5. They Get Weird When You Ask To See Their Phone
If your partner gets confrontational or angry about you asking to see their phone, it's an indication that they may not be mature enough for a serious relationship, E. Michelle Thomas, host of the Mated Podcast and author, tells Bustle. Just to be clear, this doesn't just apply to situations where you're asking to see their phone because you suspect something is up. This can also apply to a situation in which you want to Google something real quick, and they refuse to let you even hold their phone. That's because Thomas says our cellphones hold all our secrets. "Secret web searches, conversations, relationships, etc. The ability to relinquish [their phone] shows there's nothing to hide and is an indication of transparency," she says. "Confrontation and anger reveal something more is hiding below the surface. It's a sure giveaway that emotional maturity for a serious relationship is lacking."
6. They Feel Super Uncomfortable When You Get Emotional
Your partner may not be emotionally available if they can't give you space and compassion to work through your "difficult emotions," Andi Forness, online dating coach, tells Bustle. For instance, they might brush off your feelings by telling you to "just be happy." This doesn't necessarily mean that your partner is unfeeling. They probably just don't know how to deal with emotional situations. In that case, they may not be able to provide you with the emotional support you'll need long-term, but that is up for you to decide.
7. They're Indecisive About Their Own Life
If your partner is unable to make tough decisions in their own life, such as a career choice or figuring out their true passion, Jenna Ponaman, CPC, ELI – MP, relationship coach and expert, tells Bustle, they are not ready to be with someone else. "Our inner perceptions are reflected into our reality," she says. "If someone struggles internally to lay out their life the way they want, or aren’t even sure about what it is they want, that is reflected into everything else in their life, including their relationship." In short, if they were to enter into a relationship with that indecisive mindset, the relationship might feel unstable. They may even rely on you to help make major life decisions for them. "If you want this relationship to thrive, this person needs to learn to make the tough decisions for themselves," Ponaman says. "Be supportive and give them the space to learn about how to take care of themselves, whatever that looks like to you."
8. Their Actions Don't Match Up With Their Words
If you want to know whether or not your partner is emotionally ready for a relationship, Julie Williamson, Licensed Professional Counselor, tells Bustle, you need to ask yourself this one question: Do their actions line up with their words? It's one thing for your partner to say they love you and they want to marry you in the future. It's another if they flake out on dates, take forever to respond to your texts, and give poor excuses as to why they can't see you as much as they'd like.
This also applies to the opposite. If your partner has told you that they're not looking for a serious relationship and refuses to label you as in one, but treats you as if you were together seriously, that's a red flag to watch out for. That means they don't really know what they want, and a lack of a title gives them the freedom to take their sweet time to decide.
Should you ever wait for someone to change? Honestly, probably not. "People have to decide on their own to make changes and commitments," Williamson says. "No one can make someone change. If patterns continue, especially if they are unhealthy and taking an emotional toll on you, I recommend moving on. After all, the person may need to be broken up with in order to understand the severity of certain issues, and the consequences they have on others."
This doesn't necessarily mean you can't wait or it won't work out in the end. But if you have everything in your life relatively together and you're ready for a serious relationship right now, maybe the person you're with is not the right person for you at this time. As hard as it may be to let someone that you love go, you need to think about your needs. If a deep, emotional connection is what you truly want, you will find that. You just have to be OK with letting the wrong ones go first.