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Emotional Immaturity: How to Recognize Them & Help Them Grow Up

If you’re around someone with emotional immaturity, you’re sure to be frustrated. While they can work on it, it has to be effort they put forth. 

Emotional Immaturity

Most people think maturity is all about age. In reality, a true measure of how mature someone is lies in their emotional maturity. Emotional immaturity is when you have the emotions of a child, or the lack thereof. If you think you’ll change someone who’s emotionally immature, think again.

You see, we all have emotions but how you deal with them separates you from those who have matured in this regard to those who haven’t.

It’s not possible to have strong relationships and deal with the regular ups and downs of life unless you have emotional maturity. Without it, you’re sure to lurch from one extreme emotion to the next. That also means you’re exhausting those around you.

If you’ve ever spent time around someone who is emotionally immature, you’ll probably realize how frustrating it is. It’s not possible to have an adult, regular conversation without them ‘flying off the handle’ or turning everything around on you.

In the end, you become so annoyed that you simply try not to spend time with them. It’s not ideal, right?

[Read: How to develop empathy and master the art of growing a real heart]

Wait, what exactly is emotional immaturity?

When someone is emotionally mature, they’re able to regulate their emotions to some degree. For sure, they still have emotional reactions to things that upset them or bring them great joy, but they tend to be less up and down.

Someone who is emotionally immature is more likely to live life on a rollercoaster. One minute they’re happy and the next they’re angry, then they’re sad, and happy again. It’s exhausting to deal with and probably pretty exhausting for them to live with.

A person who is emotionally immature can change the situation, but they have to do the work themselves. You can’t do it for them and they have to realize there’s a problem first of all. That’s not always easy.

Have you heard of emotional intelligence, or EQ? This is different to IQ, which measures general intelligence. A person who can handle their emotions has a higher level of EQ compared to those who can’t.

You can increase your emotional intelligence with practice and self-reflection but again, it comes down to individual effort. [Read: Emotional connection – 15 reasons and signs why it’s so important]

The most obvious signs of emotional immaturity in your mate

Emotional immaturity is not a habit you break someone out of. It is the inability to grow up and see anyone else’s perspective. Although the result of many different things, like modeling, the individual’s personality, or sometimes trauma or negligence in their past, everyone grows at their own pace, and some people just never mature, period.

These signs of emotional immaturity let you know what their deal is. [Read: 10 immature things couples fight about all the time]

1. They never take responsibility for anything they do

Someone emotionally immature has an inability to ever see themselves as responsible for anything they do or anything in their life. Anything that goes wrong is because of someone else. Everything they don’t have is because someone took it from them.

They just can’t see how their actions are the cause of anything bad in their life. Their failures all stem from someone else. Everyone is trying intentionally to keep them back and holding from them what they want. [Read: 22 secret signs you’re dating a self-obsessed egomaniac]

2. They lack empathy

Someone with emotional immaturity is incapable of putting themselves in someone else’s shoes. That doesn’t just mean that they can’t feel bad for the people in their life, that means they don’t feel sorry for poor people in other countries, they use stereotypes to define people and why they live in poor circumstances, and they generally just don’t ever feel an obligation to give someone a break, period.

They can’t feel for anyone else but themselves, nor do they care how anyone feels unless it touches or screws with their world. [Read: 7 reasons why empathy is important in a relationship]

3. They put people down to make themselves feel powerful and strong

Someone who isn’t emotionally mature usually isn’t very secure about themselves. They make themselves feel powerful by putting other people down and making others feel less than.

The worse that someone else feels, the better an emotionally immature person feels.

They use intimidation, name-calling, and whatever other bad behaviors they can, to win an argument or to put someone in an inferior position so that they feel superior. [Read: 16 signs a narcissist is using and abusing you]

4. They refuse to listen to anyone else’s opinion

Going right along with the empathy theme, someone who isn’t emotionally mature doesn’t want to hear what other people think or have to say.

Don’t try to convince them that they are wrong or that their opinion might not be right. They will not cave, nor will they even listen.

Arguing with someone who doesn’t have the maturity to see things from another point of view is completely pointless. It gets you nowhere. Much like insanity, trying to change their mind is tantamount to beating your head against the wall. [Read: 16 clear signs you’re in a narcissistic relationship]

5. What they want comes first, like a child

If you don’t acquiesce to an emotionally immature person, they have no problem throwing a hissy fit. It might not be them throwing their body down on the ground or stamping their feet *or it might* but the result is the same.

When you don’t give in to someone emotionally immature, all you are left with is a reprisal of some sort and bad feelings. What they want is what they get.

If they don’t get it, then you eventually end up giving in just to make the temper tantrum stop. [Read: 15 things immature men do and why you should definitely avoid them]

6. They have an inability to compromise

Being in a relationship with an emotionally insecure mate leaves you never getting what you want. You always give in and give up. They don’t have the capacity to compromise. That would mean that if they don’t get exactly what they want, they won’t stand for it.

Compromise is something big kids learn. Emotional immaturity is the checkerboard thrower who continues to win or gives up.

They won’t accept loss or defeat. So be prepared to sacrifice and give in. There is no such thing as meeting you halfway or even a tenth of the way. It is my way or the highway, baby. [Read: Compromise in relationships – 12 tips to give without losing]

7. They don’t care about your feelings if they get in the way of theirs

Emotionally immature people don’t care about how you feel or what you want. You are only a means to their end. They manipulate you any way they can because the only person that exists in their head is themselves. They aren’t going to give a shit if you are in tears.

In fact, your emotions and reasoning with them only irritates and angers them. They don’t care about what you want, so stop thinking you just lack communication. You communicate just fine. They refuse to listen because they don’t care. [Read: Emotional manipulation and 14 ways people mess with your mind]

8. They are great at holding grudges

Emotionally immature people are fantastic at holding grudes. They’re not able to forgive and move on, or work through issues like an adult.

Instead, they sulk, hold on to bad feelings, and allow all of that to cause their relationships to become toxic. They’ll throw something back at you that happened years ago if they see fit, because they don’t have the emotional capacity to let things go. [Read: How to forgive someone – 15 positive ways to unburden your mind]

9. It’s impossible to have an adult conversation with them

You can’t sit down and have an adult conversation with a person like this. They will simply talk over the top of you and insist that they’re right. Of course, that always means you’re wrong.

They’ll never admit to a mistake and never see your point of view. Conversations will always end with you becoming frustrated and just letting it go. It’s not healthy and it means that issues are never sorted out or overcome.

10. They’re not great at controlling their emotions

An emotionally immature person is likely to experience a myriad of different emotions within the space of one day. You can never be sure what you’re going to get.

They might be happy one minute and then seething about something small the next. Their inability to handle and control emotions is a sure sign of low emotional intelligence and it makes being around them exhausting. [Read: How to control your emotions and become the pinnacle of restraint]

11. They can’t make plans

Because of that inability to control their emotions, don’t attempt to make plans with a person like this and expect them to stick to them.

They may experience an emotion that causes them to refuse to go out of the house or cause your day to be ruined. They’re also very flaky and will cancel on you if something better comes along. Again, this comes down to their lack of empathy and lack of care when it comes to your feelings generally.

12. You often walk on eggshells around them

A person who is emotionally immature doesn’t handle problems well. Their emotions will spike and they’ll overreact rather than sit down and see things rationally. So, you often feel like you’re walking on eggshells when you’re around them.

Maybe you won’t want to mention something that is concerning you because you’re worried about their reaction. So, you avoid it and tip-toe around the problem instead.

Basically, you can never be truly relaxed around a person like this. [Read: 15 signs of a toxic relationship that’ll go from bad to worse]

13. They often use negative coping habits

When your emotions are all over the place and you simply don’t really have much care for anyone else, life is pretty negative, don’t you think?

A person who is emotionally immature may show a boastful side to the world and pretend everything is fine, but deep down, they often struggle with life’s ups and downs. For many people in this situation, they turn to negative coping habits, such as smoking, drinking too much, overeating, or perhaps even drug use.

How can you get them to grow up?

Basically, you can’t. They have to do it.

For sure, you can sit down and try and put your point across but it’s up to them whether they hear you or not. It’s far more likely that they’ll simply refuse to listen to what you’re saying or call you a liar or a trouble causer for having the audacity to suggest there is something wrong with them.

In this case, it’s often best to walk away with your head held high and let them do the work on themselves they need to do – if they ever see what they need to do. [Read: How to be mature – 25 ways to grow up and face life like an adult]

You can’t change someone. You can only help them see when a problem occurs. Then, if they refuse to do anything about it, you have to put yourself first.

Not everyone grows up. It isn’t a requisite. As long as you feed into it and don’t force them to change their immature ways, they will use your kindness to their advantage to get what they want. The only way through is to focus on you.

[Read: What age does a man emotionally mature? 19 signs he’s grown a real pair]

The next time your mate decides to hold their breath until they get what they want and act like a two-year-old, treat them as such and ignore it. Rewarding bad behavior at any age only perpetuates it. Nip the emotional immaturity in the bud!

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