Originally posted on Bustle
If you’re in a long-term relationship and you want it to last, there are a few things you’ll need. Trust, communication, and compatibility, are the ones you probably hear of a lot. But one relationship quality that flies under the radar, but is a must if you want a long, stable connection, is emotional maturity. So why’s it so important in a relationship?
“With maturity, you are able to work through conflict together and not let small things affect your relationship,” therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle. “Maturity allows for better communication, as you are not afraid to speak your mind and tackle tough issues.” When there’s immaturity in a relationship, you don’t deal with conflict very well, so it builds up and comes out in really unhealthy ways. Emotionally immaturity can also mean that you take each other for granted or don’t treat each other with the respect you deserve. And the most important thing about maturity in a relationship? It has to come from both of you.
So what happens if you think you might emotionally immature? Well, there are a lot of reasons it can happen — maybe you don’t mean to be immature, maybe you’re just inexperienced, maybe you’re doing it as a form of self-protection. But whatever the case is, don’t worry too much if you think you fit the bill. If you can learn to identify the signs of emotionally immaturity in a relationship, you’ll be more aware of your behavior and can figure out the best way to correct it in the future. Here are the signs of emotional immaturity that experts say you need to look out for.
1. You’re Constantly Impatient
Not being able to wait, for even a few minutes, without being restless, is a sign of emotionally immaturity. “Maybe it’s for lunch, dinner at a restaurant, orbeing put on hold for five minutes,” Bonnie Winston, a celebrity matchmaker and relationship expert, tells Bustle.
If you’re always feeling frustrated with your partner when a waiter is taking too long, when your partner isn’t getting ready as fast as you think they should, or when you’re caught in traffic, check yourself — are you being reasonable? Or are you just treating other people badly for things they can’t control? Take a deep breath, apologize if you have to, and remember that some things take time.
2. You’re All About Your Friends
Having friends is an important part of a relationship — you need some independence. “Healthy, sustainable romantic partnerships most definitely require each partner to invest time in nurturing friendships outside of the relationship,” Erin K. Tierno, LCSW-R, a licensed clinical social worker and relationship expert, tells Bustle. But Tierno also points out that always prioritizing your friends over your partner can be a sign of emotionally immaturity — and your partner will probably get sick of it at some point.
Of course, balancing time can be an adjustment in the beginning of the relationship. But if it’s still an issue down the road, and there’s a noticeable mismatch between how much time your partner makes for you and how much you make for them, it may be time to make sure you’re still on the same page and both getting what you need from the relationship. We make time for the things that are important to us, so if you’re still struggling to find time for your partner when they’re making time for you, it’s worth thinking about whether it’s a relationship you want to be in.
3. You Try To Change Your Partner
If you find yourself trying to make your partner dress a certain way, take on new hobbies, or anything else that changes them as a person, it’s not very mature — or very realistic. “We can improve in the way that we communicatewith each other, how we spend quality time together, or our habits as a couple, but we’re not going to change their personalities, their friendships, or their intrinsic motivation,” licensed therapist Dana Czachorowski, MA, LAC tells Bustle. Instead of trying to change your partner, remember why you’re with them in the first place. If that’s not enough of a reason to be with them, it may not be a relationship you really want to be in.
4. You Always Put Your Needs First
In a strong relationship, you are partners — you’re both on equal footing. “Building and maintaining a healthy relationship requires a team effort,” author and relationship guru Dominique Clark tells Bustle. “It can’t be more about one than the other.”
So if you’re constantly putting your needs before your partner’s, try to put yourself in their shoes every now and then — are their needs being met?
5. You Love To Gossip
Gossiping seems innocent, but if you’re not loyal to your friends, then you may not be very mature in a relationship, either. “If someone is preoccupied with gossiping all the time, it’s going to be difficult to be around and wear on a relationship,” Antonia Hall, MA, psychologist, relationship expert and author ofThe Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life tells Bustle. “It could also leave your partner wondering what you’re saying about them behind their backs, and have them questioning if you’re trustworthy.”
6. You Pout After An Argument
Disagreeing in a relationship is important — and there are ways to do it that are healthy and mature. But there are also lots of ways to handle an argument that are very clearly not mature at all. “You pout or get angry,” clinical psychologist and The Web Radio Show host Dr. Josh Klapow tells Bustle. “Either that, or you make the compromise but your attitude sucks.” If you’re not willing to come to the table and meet your partner in the middle during a disagreement — with an open mind and compassion — that’s a real problem. Of course, you don’t have to agree with each other all the time, but it’s important that you see where they’re coming from (and vice versa). Respect is crucial in a healthy relationship — even when you’re arguing.
7. You Avoid Talking About Big Picture Things
Whether it’s talking about the next step you’re taking in your relationship or how you’re feeling about your life generally, it’s important to be able to communicate with your partner. “If you don’t talk about feelings, the future, or hardships in life, and only keep things light and fun, this is a sign of immaturity,” Hershenson says. And it won’t be a good sign in the long run. If you really don’t want to talk about these things with your partner, try to think about why that is — it might not be the right relationship for you.
Emotional maturity is crucial in a healthy relationship — and we need to be willing to admit when we’re the problem. It’s the first step towards changing out behavior and being more respectful, communicative, and able to compromise in the future.