How to know if you or somebody in your life is emotionally immature

Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to talk to some people?

The dread and the frustration that builds up when you know it is impossible for that person to just LISTEN!

Have you experienced any of the following?
  • You cannot get your point across without them getting defensive or discounting what you are saying
  • They interrupt and think they are always right.
  • They never discuss their emotions or avoid deep conversations
  • Perhaps is you who exhibit these behaviors.

The reason for the above behaviors is EMOTIONAL IMMATURITY.

“Emotional immaturity is a lack of depth and understanding about one’s own emotions, an inability to communicate and process them, as well as lack of empathy and ability to understand others emotional experiences” Gibson

Emotionally immature people can follow a clear path and achieve high levels of success, however when it comes to relationships or emotional decisions, their immaturity becomes evident.

Childhood trauma, inconsistent parenting, parents being overly protective, or lack of emotional connection among other issues can be the root cause of emotional immaturity. Age does not equal emotional maturity. Creating awareness about our behaviors and taking responsibility for our own healing and growth is essential to achieve emotional maturity.

What are the characteristics of emotionally immature people?

They Are Rigid and Single-Minded

They are rigid or impulsive, once they form an opinion, their minds are closed. There is one right answer, and they can become very defensive and humorless when people have other ideas.

They Have Low Stress Tolerance

Their responses to stress are reactive or stereotyped, they restored to denial, distortion, or replace reality. They have trouble admitting mistakes and instead blame others. Regulating emotions is difficult for them and they often overreact.

They Do What Feels Best

Young children are ruled by feelings, whereas adults consider possible consequences. As we mature, we learn that what feels good isn’t always the best thing to do. Emotionally immature people, however, never change the childhood instinct to do what feels good . They make decisions best what feels good in the moment.

They Are Subjective, Not Objective

They do not do much analysis when they are in front of a situation. Whey they interpret a situation, what it is true does not matter nearly as much as what feels true.

They Have Little Respect for Differences

Emotionally immature people are annoyed by other’s people differing thoughts and opinions, believing everyone one should see things their way. They are only comfortable in role-defined relationships where everyone holds the same beliefs.

Everything is About Them

Emotionally immature people are self-preoccupied and self-involved in an obsessed way commanded by anxiety and insecurity. They live in a perpetual state of insecurity, fearing that they will be exposed as bad, inadequate, or unlovable. They can’t stand being criticized, so they minimize their mistakes. They are constantly monitoring whether their needs are being met or whether something has offended them.

They Are Self-Referential, Not Self-Reflective

Emotionally immature people are self-referential, meaning that in all interactions, all the roads lead back to them. They will turn whatever you say back to one of their own experiences. They lack self-reflection, meaning that they do not consider their role in a problem. They do not assess their behavior or questions their motives.

They Like to Be the Center of Attention

Emotionally immature people often dominate the group time and energy. They interrupt during conversations shutting everyone else down and, if people allow it, is hard to redirect the group’s focus.

How to handle emotionally immature people?

First, it is important to understand that emotional immaturity exists in a continuum, from mild to extreme. Most of us exhibit emotional immaturity at some point because no one is perfect. The problem is when you see a pattern either on yourself or someone close to you. Here are some of my recommendations to deal with emotional immature people:

Create Healthy Boundaries

The most important thing to do when dealing with emotionally immature people is to set healthy and firm boundaries. Let them know how you get affected by their behavior and express clearly what you want using “I” statements.

Initiate a Conversation About It

Emotionally immature people close to us can impact our life negatively. Having a straightforward conversation about what you see and why you are concern might be the best way to address it. Just know that not all emotionally immature people are open to hear your feedback. But expressing yourself is the first step towards change.

Limit the time you spend with emotionally immature people

There are times that we can’t avoid interacting with emotionally immature people. They can be our parents, close family, or on our colleagues at work. I suggest that limiting the time you spend with them, can be a good way to protect your emotional health. Listen to your tolerance levels and decide if you are only able to spend 1 hour or 10 minutes in any interaction.

Seek Professional Help

Therapy can help you cope with the emotionally immature people in your life. if you are the one who wants to change, therapy can be a vehicle to help you heal and create self-awareness.

I can help you call me to set a 20-minutes free consultation: 805-430-4277


Lyndsay C. Gibson, (2015): Adut Children of Emotionally Immature Parents. New Harbinger publications

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