Have you ever been dating someone, and how they act or the way they communicate makes you pretty darn confused or upset? Well, it’s not an uncommon experience to encounter by any means. And while baffling or frustrating interactions can often be part of figuring out a relationship and a new person, certain behaviors can also be a sign of emotional immaturity that indicates you might want to back away from the situation to find a person more on your level. (Or, on the other hand, you might recognize some of these behaviors in yourself! But that’s OK because growing is what life is all about.)
“We often expect a person to be mature once they reach a certain age, yet emotional maturity is not guaranteed with any chronological age,” clinical psychologist Dr. Carla Marie Manly, tells us. “Emotional immaturity can be present in any person — regardless of age — if they have not matured psychologically.”
And yes, it can really be hard to discern people’s behavior and what it all means, despite maturity levels. We often make allowances for people if we are really attracted to them or like them a lot. But ultimately it all comes down to what we want and need out of a relationship, and being honest with ourselves about that. Below, take a look at what some of the pros say about behavior and communication styles that could be a sign that a new partner isn’t ready for a relationship.
1. They Demand Too Much Attention From Their Partners Or Potential Partners
“Matured individuals are aware that everybody needs personal space and time for themselves to grow,” dating and relationship expert Celia Schweyer, from DatingScout.com, tells Bustle.
People who do not understand this concept are usually those who make the relationship complicated and tend to get disappointed when their partners prefer to do other things instead of spending time with them.
“This kind of thinking is associated with egocentric behaviors where kids think that the world revolves only around themselves,” Schweyer says. So notice if someone really struggles to allow you to do your own thing.
2. They Badmouth Their Exes
It’s never a good sign when people constantly talk about their exes, and it’s really not a great sign if all they do is badmouth them. It can often indicate a serious lack of perspective.
“It’s already bad that your date or partner keeps talking about their ex,” Schweyer says. “What’s worse is when they can’t stop talking negatively about them whenever you’re together.”
On the one hand, this could mean that they are simply not over their exes. But if they communicate only negative things about their exes, your date might be the problem in the first place.
3. They Blame Other People A Lot
This negative talk about other people might continue into other areas of life as well. If the focus is always on what other people do wrong and how they screw things up, this might be a sign that this person’s ability to see their part in things is a little lackluster.
“Emotionally immature people look for someone to blame when things go south,” Schweyer says. “You can spot this red flag in the way they handle their smallest issues like unpaid bills, missed schedules, or bad restaurant services.”
While it’s one thing to have a moment of anger, Schweyer says, it’s an indication of a deeper behavioral issue if they can’t seem to let go of it after a while.
4. They Don’t Listen Well
Someone being too full of themselves and refusing to listen to what others have to say is a clear sign of emotional immaturity, Schweyer says. You want someone who is able to communicate with you and process what you are saying in a real, respectful way.
“People who are like this often have a mindset that they are always right, so they don’t need your opinion,” Schweyer says. “They wouldn’t be the type of people who would care about your thoughts, and they might even get offended when you try to suggest a different way of doing things.”
Consider friends or family members who make you feel heard and appreciated. Does this person make you feel that way as well? If not, they may not be what you’re looking for.
5. They Overanalyze The Littlest Things
An emotionally immature person may overanalyze and you’ll find yourself fighting over the silliest things, Schweyer says. “Your tone, words, and the appalling lack of an emoji — these can be a few of the petty details you’ll fight on when they nitpick,” she adds.
Since a mature and healthy relationship is built on trust, dating someone who questions your every move can be draining, Schweyer says. It is a surefire sign that your partner isn’t as trusting and ready as they claim to be.
6. Playing Emotional Games And Unpredictable Behavior
Passive-aggressive behaviors and game-playing tactics like not showing up as planned or ghosting-type behaviors are all indicative of immaturity, Manly says. So are other more volatile or unpredictable behaviors, like outbursts of serious jealousy.
Other kinds of emotional instability may include disrespecting boundaries or being possessive or overly suspicious. These are all indicative of sometimes even greater struggles than immaturity, and should not be taken lightly.
You deserve to have a loving relationship with someone based on trust and boundaries you both communicate with one another.
7. They Engage In Many Self-Centered Activities
“Immature people can be tempting to date because often they can be lighthearted, funny, and exciting,” marriage and family therapist Lauren O’Connell, LMFT, with a private practice in Santa Monica, tells us.
There are a lot of behaviors that might indicate someone is not ready to show up fully for another person.
“If they drink or smoke a lot, never offer to pay on dates, encourage you to come over to their house but don’t pay much attention to you, if you never see them without their friends if they never put their phone down,” O’Connell says, these are all warning signs of immaturity.
When you recognize these things, it might be disappointing. But it’s also the knowledge that will help you spot a person who is mature and available for a partnership or reciprocal relationship!
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