It’s one thing to go through life with childlike wonder, and quite another to act like a big kid.
When someone lacks emotional maturity, they tend to hurt themselves and those around them.
This is because it is such an important aspect of our personal development that affects our relationships, decision-making ability and general well-being.
It’s time to grow up!
Here are some important signs of an emotionally immature adult to look out for.
1) They seem to have no awareness of how they come across
They are people who make a scene, oblivious to the horror of countless onlookers.
They speak their mind with little thought to how it will be interpreted.
They are unaware of what people really think of them.
The reason for this is that they are lack of any self-awareness.
Before we can consider how our behavior is likely to be viewed by other people, we must be able to reflect on ourselves.
This is not a skill that emotionally immature adults have yet learned.
We need to know what drives us and why we do certain things.
However, they are still not aware of their own emotions and how they affect themselves and the people around them.
This lack of self-awareness can also lead to emotional outbursts and irrational behavior, as we’ll see.
2) They tend to make rash decisions and do things they will regret later
Act now, think later.
Unfortunately, immature adults have a habit impulsive behavior.
They don’t think things through. They cannot create enough space around their emotional urges to move away from them.
From the outside, it probably looks like they’re making a series of seemingly stupid choices, one after another.
What happens is that they act on their current feelings without considering the long-term consequences.
Teenagers are known for this kind of stupidity, whether it’s going on a fun ride, getting drunk, or putting themselves in some other kind of dangerous situation.
But it should be something we grow out of as we mature.
Adults who haven’t done this yet still make hasty decisions and have a hard time controlling themselves.
They may use excuses like, “I just couldn’t help myself.”
But this only serves to highlight the next point on our list.
3) They hardly take responsibility
One of the best parts of childhood is how unburdened we are by life.
Nothing is up to us yet. We connect with others and don’t need to step out.
Responsibility can feel like both a blessing and a curse.
Of course, this can mean additional stress and pressure in certain situations. But it also makes us masters of our own destiny.
But a hallmark of emotional immaturity is reluctance to accept responsibility.
Instead, emotionally immature adults prefer to look for scapegoats. That way I can blame others for their problems and refuse to take ownership of their actions.
This can be shown in the victim mentality where life is laid out for them.
This may mean that they struggle to see how their own feelings, thoughts and actions contribute significantly to their circumstances.
You may find that some emotionally immature adults find it difficult to apologize.
This is because they struggle to own their flaws and mistakes, as we will see below.
4) I can’t handle the error
None of us particularly enjoy being wrong.
But we who are adults accept that it happens. When it happens, we have to raise our hands.
However, emotionally immature adults will find it very difficult to do this.
They also hate receiving feedback, even when it’s constructive.
They can’t deal with criticism because they didn’t get their childish ego under control.
Therefore, they take every form of suggestion personally, often reacting defensively or becoming overly sensitive.
The tricky part is that constructive criticism is necessary for personal growth and self-improvement.
Without the ability to admit our mistakes and the areas where we have room for improvement, we will not be able to learn from them.
5) They don’t use their words
My friend currently has a toddler who is always frustrated, as typical toddlers are.
When she is on the verge of anger, my patient friend will lovingly tell her:
“Try to use your words”.
Unfortunately, there are many adults who still haven’t made it.
As a result, they cannot communicate effectively.
Instead, they might resort to it passive-aggressive behavioravoidance or aggressive coping.
This makes it really challenging to engage in open dialogues with them.
It can also mean that they have a habit of creating more conflicts, but are not particularly adept at resolving them.
But it’s not just anger or irritation that they find difficult to talk about, but expressing emotions in general.
Therefore, they may find it difficult to articulate whatever they are feeling, preferring to bottle it up – perhaps even resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Only through emotional maturity can we learn to speak vulnerable, assertive and honest.
6) The fuse blows very easily
It’s not that we should hide how we feel. As we have just seen, this does not bring any good either.
But we must know how to keep it under control when it threatens to overwhelm us.
This also applies to the wide range of emotions that we are all prone to.
People who often:
- Scream and shout
- They lose patience all too fast
- Burst into tears over every little thing
- You experience frequent mood swings
- Overreact to minor stressors
…they don’t effectively control their own emotions, so their emotions tend to control them.
Emotional regulation is a fundamental aspect of emotional maturity.
7) No matter how many times you explain, they can’t (or refuse) to see your side
When someone doesn’t seem to be able to understand how you feel, that tells you something:
They most likely lack empathy.
When we are younger, we often focus on how everything affects us — how we feel, what we think.
As we grow in maturity, we learn to factor others into the equation.
Part of that involves trying to understand where people are coming from and putting yourself in their shoes.
But emotionally immature adults often lack of empathy and struggle to consider the perspectives and emotions of those around them.
Therefore, you may find that they dismiss or invalidate the feelings of others. They just can’t seem to figure it out and you wonder if they’re even trying.
It’s easy to see why this can lead to strained relationships and a lack of emotional connection with others.
8) They do not respect boundaries or find it difficult to set their own
Do you know someone who uses bullying tactics to try to get their way?
Most of us do (unfortunately) and it smacks of emotional immaturity.
They may even see it as a strength.
Their ultimate goal is to achieve the outcomes they require. The method by which they achieve this is not important to them.
Therefore, they will be aggressive, step on toes, use manipulative tactics and cross boundaries.
On the other hand, people who are emotionally immature may also struggle to create their own healthy boundaries.
They are uncomfortable navigating tricky situations, so they may allow others to take advantage of them.
They don’t have the emotional tools yet. In these cases, they often are hard to say no or they do not set limits on people’s behavior.
9) They come across as needy or people-pleasing
I mentioned earlier that as children we have no responsibility for ourselves. Well, that’s why we look to others to meet all our needs.
It has to be like this. Babies seek food, care and security exclusively from external sources such as their parents.
But as we age, we learn to be more self-sufficient – both practically and emotionally speaking.
Those who have not learned any emotional independence fall into an all too common trap:
They have a strong need for external validation.
They seek constant reassurance and approval from others to feel validated and valued.
But this is not healthy, and this reliance on other people’s opinion about them leads to low self-esteem and the inability to develop a true sense of self-worth.
10) Getting too close to others makes them tick
Peter Pan syndrome is common in the dating world when you run into an emotionally immature person.
This desire to never grow up seems to mean that they shy away from anything real and avoid commitment at all costs.
There is often a fear of intimacy going on beneath the surface.
Getting close to someone requires vulnerability and trust.
Emotionally immature adults often avoid deep emotional connections and intimacy because they fear being hurt.
Because of this, they always end up in shallow relationships with a sense of emotional detachment.
I’m not sure any of us will just wake up one day and feel like adults.
We could probably all improve our emotional maturity to strengthen ourselves and our relationships with others.
Personal development is a a lifelong journey we commit to.
But with better self-reflection and self-awareness, as well as seeking out people who can support us along the way, we can overcome challenges and embrace greater emotional growth.