One of the most important things needed to have a healthy relationship that is fulfilling, intimate and long-lasting, is the ability to deal with the hard times, and the struggles and conflicts. And this requires emotional maturity and self-awareness. Avoiding, denying, saying everything is “all happy and good” when it isn’t – will never ever withstand time.
It takes two to tango – and both partners need to be emotionally mature. And if you think that you can change someone to be more emotionally mature – think again. You can’t. You can’t change anyone, you can’t fix anyone and you can’t save anyone. We can only do that ourselves and are only responsible for ourselves. Understand that people will use you to re-play and re-live their pains and mind’s narratives, because unfortunately, a lot of people are at war with themselves and they’ll battle themselves through you.
Emotionally immature people can be extremely difficult to deal with. They blame others for their emotions, sadness, anger, problems – but don’t look inward into how they’ve contributed to their own life and never take responsibility. They are egoistic thinking the world revolves around them and expect others to fit into their expectations, views and validate them all the time. They are controlling. They are emotionally co-dependent and process their emotions like a child. They seek to find reasons to justify their inability to handle their own feelings, and they manipulate others. When they do not get “their way” they act out – either by controlling tactics or lashing out. They lack self-awareness and are blind to how they affect others. They are entitled, controlling and emotionally unavailable; incapable of building intimacy and a committed relationship.
Emotional maturity is the ability to process and handle emotions in a healthy way, and navigate through emotions such as anger, sadness, disappointment, grief, resentment, fear, insecurity, failure etc.
Relationships are hard work – and for emotionally immature people, they will never be long-lasting. Things are not always great in life; struggles and harships happen. And the ability to sit down and have an intentional dialogue, take responsibility, have compassion and resolve the problems – instead of walking away, looking away, avoiding, denying, lashing out, playing victim, manipulating, controlling and so on and so on. It is uncomfortable. Absolutely. But this is what a mature healthy intimate relationships demands.
As things arise in our relationship, we need to be able to sit down and talk about uncomfortable matters and deal with emotions, and as such – we need to be able to possess great self-awareness and emotional maturity.
We also need to have relationship accountability. The lack of relationship accountability is like a state of stable ambiguity; people are giving “just enough” not to feel alone but to get the reward of affection, while certainly not giving “too much” to compromise on their freedom and become trapped because of their unwillingness and/or fear to commit. Relationship accountability begins with personal accountability – with a system of values that we hold ourselves to, with a sense of self-awareness, and with a level of emotional intelligence that only we ourselves can develop in our lives.
Here are some things to look out for to signal emotional immaturity – because like I already said – don’t lie to yourself that you can change someone. Know yourself and understand the signals.
They are not good at spending time with themselves.
The capacity to be alone with ourselves is absolutely important. It is the ability to not need stimulation from someone or something else; the ability to be emotionally self-sufficient individual without needing someone else to fill gaps within you; the ability to know how to sit with your emotions as they rise to the surface and process them instead of distracting yourself; the ability to feel comfortable in your own arms without needing the validation of someone else.
Emotionally mature people understand how to feel their feelings and process their various emotions of sadness, anger, grief, guilt, disappointment, failure, shame, etcetera – without projecting it on someone else or lashing out at someone.
Emotionally immature people just don’t have that capacity and they will constantly find someone or something else to distract them from their own minds and feelings and emotions – or just become their scapegoat.
They don’t remember much about their childhood – or say everything was perfect.
Let’s be real – we all have some version of a difficult childhood and wounds. But when we have suppressed it – we are only being dilusional that it isn’t there anymore. It is always there. And the only way to resolve it – is to face it. When someone doesn’t remember much about it or says it was all “perfect” – this is just a signal that they haven’t yet began to process it and its effects on their behaviours, attitudes and relationships. What matters is not that the childhood was happy or sad or perfectly remembered – but how peaceful and calm we are with the reality of what actually happened. If we still carry unresolved matters that are not even being aware of – this is just a recipe for disaster down the line. Nothing is ever hidden or forgotten – it all comes out.
They prefer shallow conversations and avoid deeper emotional topics that have to do with sadness, disappointment and grief.
Emotionally unavailable. No self-awareness. We can only understand others as much as we understand ourselves. We can only hold space for another person’s emotions as much as we have the capacity to hold that space for ourselves. If I don’t know how to deal with my own sadness, I would be uncomfortable to deal with someone else’s. If I am too critical or judgmental of myself, then this will be projected onto others as I become too critial and judgmental of them. Point is – people who are emotionally unavailable is because they are detached from their feelings and emotions – they don’t know how to handle that – they suppress it, deny it, avoid it – but eventually it will all come out like a beast. These are serious issues, do not underestimate when someone is unable to talk about the hard stuff – it means that they can’t process it and have depersonalized from their “self”.
They are incapable of building a deep true connection and intimacy – which is what a relationship requires to be fulfilling.
“I’m not responsible for how you feel.”
While we are only in control of our own reactions and responsible for our own energy, this statement does not imply that we hurt or harm someone by our words and actions. While we are not responsible for how someone interpreted our statements or how it triggered them, we are responsible for not harming others. I’ve seen and experienced people who would say the meanest and rudest and most hurtful things and then say, “Well, I was just being honest”. No – you were being hurtful. Being honest in our conversations and staying in our truths is not the same as lashing out or hurting someone. And when we do cause someone harm by our actions and words – we are very much responsible for how they felt. We need to be aware of how we are affecting others with our actions and words. And unfortunately, emotionally immature people just aren’t. The world always revolves around them and their feelings.
“Everything is all great, all great…”
Nothing is ever all great. This just shows denial and avoidance – or unwilligness to share and open up on the more serious topics of life. It can also signal controlling issues (which can then progress to various forms of abuse) since the person wants to control their life so tightly that everything is only according to their plan. We need to know how to handle the not-so-great moments and resolve challenges in a healthy way processing our emotions. When everything is declared “all great” – this just shows no resources for coping with anything less-than-all-great as it arises.
They are selfish and egocentric.
The world revolves around them. They need constant validation because of their insecurities. Understand this – you cannot ever have a healthy stable relationship with a selfish person – it is always a one-ship.
They have a tendency to blame others and play the victim card.
Everything is someone else’s fault. The inability to take responsibility for our own lives means that we will be incapable of resolving challenges and struggles with another person in this thing called a relationship. It is impossible to talk sense into someone who never assumes accountability and always blames others. Resolving problems demands us to have the humility to see reality for what it is, take ownership of our behaviour and attitude even when it’s uncomfortable to admit it, and be willing to come to a compromise. This is impossible with emotionally immature people.
They have short-lived relationships.
It is impossible for them to have long-term relationships. They don’t know how to compromise and build intimacy. Their fear of intimacy stems from fear of not being real – because they can’t handle themselves in their “real” selves. They have trouble with commitment and their “relationships” are always short-lived. They even turn friendships into enemies and often blame everyone for everything. Or the people in their life will distance themselves from them once they tire of their unreasonable demands and childish tantrums. At their very core, they are stuck in a child’s age and this is how they behave.
Relationships are only fulfilling when they are built on intimacy and deep connection and understanding. We need to be able to handle our own emotions, be self-aware and resolve struggles – because there will always be struggles. This demands emotional maturity – for both partners. Don’t lie to yourself that you can change someone – so go and choose the best person for you. Don’t fall in love with the potential of someone – see their face and have the humility to accept reality.
Relationships are uncomfortable. The more intimate, closer and emotionally and sexually we become with someone – the more seen and vulnerable we feel. And our partner starts reflecting our shadows – this is what relationships are anyway.
We need to be willing to see ourselves – to be self-aware, conscious and emotionally mature.
We can’t not talk about stuff, we can’t avoid stuff, we can’t not look at uncomfortable things – we need to have intentional conversations, with deep listening and understanding, with intimate communication with our partner – we need to dig deep down into the deeper issues and fears and old belief patterns – and resolve our relationships.
I understand it can be difficult to love someone who perhaps loves you too and yet is immature, and this makes the decision harder whether to move on or stay. But if they are not willing to work on themselves, by their own choice and willingness and effort to do so, you need to re-evaluate – and perhaps it is best to separate. As time passes, perhaps someday they will be able to come back to you when they are ready to be in a grown-up real relationship. We all have our own paths in life and timing and learning experiences, so this isn’t about judging them nor is it about we ourselves getting stuck in perpetual blame cycles continuing to stay in that relationship so that we have someone to blame for our own lack of making a decision for our happiness. We need to take responsibility with our life and make our own choices with discernment and clarity of mind.
Find someone who is willing to stand beside you, look you in the eyes and work things out – someone who is emotionally mature and committed to your bond. Don’t settle for less, because like I always tell my clients, who you choose as a life partner is not just a person you are choosing – you are essentially choosing the kind of life you will live.