Finding a partner who's just as ready and mature enough for a long-lasting relationship as you are is easier said than done. If it were, none of us would have to deal with ghosting and breadcrumbing. But according to experts, it's one thing for a person to be immature, and it's another for them to be emotionally immature. If you're ready for something serious, you need to be aware of the signs that the person you're dating may be emotionally immature.
"As I see it, general maturity deals with the interpersonal disposition of an individual (i.e. how they interact with the world)," Darren Pierre, PhD, relationship expert and author of The Invitation to Love, tells Bustle. "Emotional maturity asks the central question: how do they interact with themselves?"
Early on in a relationship, you can begin to sense the emotional maturation of a person by looking at how they manage their emotions, he says. For instance, if they had a bad day at work, do they actively seek outside validation in order to feel better again? Or if someone cut them off on the freeway, did they completely lose their cool?
We all have moments of self-doubt and we all get angry from time to time. But if you're dealing with someone who is emotionally immature, Pierre says you'll be dealing with someone who provides "limited consistency." For instance if they're quick to anger, and you never know which version of that person you're going to get.
"Discerning emotional maturing is tricky, but important," he says. "Be present, be patience, and be trusting of yourself as images start to emerge giving you a better portrait of your potential partner."
If your partner can't tell you these things early on, experts say they might be emotionally immature.
"I'm Not Interested In Dating Other People"
Within the first few dates, the nature of your relationship will probably be a little ambiguous. However, if things seem to be going really well after three or more dates, Andrea Amour, Founder at UpDate Coaching tells Bustle, an emotionally mature person will let you know what they're looking for. This won't be a "scary and awkward" conversation either, she says. They'll be able to say what they want directly so you have a clear understanding of where they want the relationship to go.
"Sure, Let's Get Tested"
"A huge red flag of emotional immaturity in a relationship is a refusal to get STI tested or to engage in safe sex practices," Susan Bard, MD, tells Bustle. This shows a lack of consideration for others as well as a lack of responsibility and self-care. Plus, some STIs can be really sneaky and won't show any symptoms for a long time. If someone doesn't care about their own sexual health, how can you expect them to care about yours?
"Your Opinions Are Valid, But I Still Disagree"
"As we all know, no relationship is perfect, but the ability to agree to disagree can speak mountains for a couple who is looking to take the relationship to a 'more than just friends' status," Dr. Ronica Arnold Branson, licensed therapist and relationship coach, tells Bustle. Emotionally mature individuals are willing to listen, and look at at both sides of the story. They won't keep bringing things up in order to cause arguments and they won't throw a tantrum when you don't agree with them. "A person that wants to constantly bicker about unimportant issues or gets upset when things don't go their way, may not be the person who you want to expend any more energy on," she says.
"Let's Keep Our Problems Between The Two Of Us"
The person you're dating may not be at your level of emotional maturity if they constantly feel the need to post or announce everything about your relationship on social media. They don't post passive aggressive quotes or memes and they don't air your issues out to every single person they know. "Emotionally mature people are able to sit down and talk face to face with their partner about their relationship in a civilized way," Dr. Branson says.
If your partner can't say the words, "I'm sorry," they might be emotionally immature. They may not know how to take responsibility for their own actions or mistakes and they may place blame on you instead. "If you are dating someone like this you will end up making a lot of concessions until (or if) they decide to grow up and take responsibility," relationship expert and spiritual counselor, Davida Rappaport, tells Bustle.
"I Forgive You"
On the other hand, someone who is emotionally mature is also able to forgive and move forward. "When two people are in a serious relationship, there is no room for what some may refer to as 'games,'" Dr. Branson says. There shouldn't be a dynamic where one person does something wrong and the other one has to get them back. When mistakes are made, you apologize, forgive, and move forward. "Emotionally immature people haven't yet reached this level," she says. "There is no sense of forgiveness, [...] they try to make the person feel guilty, and constantly bring up past mistakes to justify reasons for their inappropriate behaviors."
"You Can Trust I'll Be There"
A lack of consistency is one of those silent relationship killers. It's hard to trust someone who says they're going to be there for you and flakes out on you at the last minute. It's worse if they can't ever commit to plans you've made in advance. Rappaport says that's a major sign of emotional immaturity. "If you see someone who cannot or will not commit to simple plans, you are better off finding someone who is willing to step up," she says.
"I'm Falling For You"
It may be too soon to say "I love you," but if you're with someone who's emotionally mature, you won't be too surprised when it finally comes. "Emotionally mature people are aware of their feelings and not afraid the share them," dating and relationship expert, Sonya Schwartz, tells Bustle. You'll never have to question how they feel because they drop hints or show you how much they care. When you're with someone who's emotionally immature, they might act like they love you one day, and then pull away the next.
The good news is, you can help your partner become more emotionally mature. But only if they're open to it.
"It's important to understand that you are not their therapist," Licensed Professional Counselor, Julie Williamson, tells Bustle. "But you can help by listening to them, being present with them, and validating their feelings."
When you're able to openly share your feelings with your partner, you can create that safe space for them to do the same.