Emotional maturity usually comes with time, but personal development and upbringing can make this a more difficult task for some than others. Unfortunately, many people still behave in ways we expect from children, not adults. Behaving selfishly and childishly can cause significant issues in personal relationships, at work, and in other circumstances in one’s life.
Therapy can help, but recognition and awareness are the first steps and keys to overcoming emotional immaturity. Whether you’ve recognized these traits in a family member or loved one or are looking for ways to encourage your own personal development, educating yourself will be a big help.
1. Rapid Emotional Escalation
Learning to control your emotions is a skill that comes with age and practice. Some people still struggle to manage their feelings and to de-escalate rather than have a tantrum when they get upset or are dealing with something challenging.
2. Habitual Lying or Dishonesty
Getting in trouble a lot as a kid can lead to chronic lying. However, this is a behavior that people need to unlearn if they want to have any personal relationships. Most of us will quickly lose trust in others if they are continually dishonest, regardless of the reason.
3. Insults and Name-Calling
Most adults don’t resort to bullying or insults when frustrated or upset. Unfortunately, some still behave like children and resort to unkind tactics when faced with conflict. This often goes hand in hand with emotional volatility or temper tantrums.
4. Lack of Impulse Control
When you’re a child, impulsive behavior is common – you speak out of turn or grab things off a shelf without thinking about whether it’s acceptable. Impulse control is typically learned over time. Unfortunately, many adults who lack maturity have not quite learned how to control their impulses.
5. Making Themselves the Center of Attention
Someone who always wants to be the center of attention may have been deprived of attention as a child or feel that they aren’t crucial unless everyone is paying attention to them. There’s a time and a place for everything, but if you're attending someone else’s birthday party or wedding, you probably shouldn’t make the day about you.
6. Being Overly Defensive
It’s natural to feel bad when you’re in the wrong or to want to defend yourself if you are accused of something you didn’t do. However, being aggressively defensive or lacking the ability to admit when you are wrong is a toxic trait that can damage relationships.
7. Inability To Learn From Their Mistakes
The ability to learn from one’s mistakes and apply the data gathered from experiences does not seem to come naturally to everyone. Suppose someone consistently hurts others or engages in repeated behavior that affects others negatively. In that case, they may need therapy to gain some perspective.
8. Selfishness or Inability To Consider Others
There’s nothing wrong with prioritizing yourself and wanting to make choices that benefit your life. However, if someone always looks out for themselves first and can’t consider others. In that case, their selfishness will begin to erode their relationships.
9. Major Commitment Issues
Whether someone keeps quitting jobs, has trouble maintaining relationships, or can’t even make plans a few weeks into the future, it’s frustrating dealing with commitment issues. People’s choices or inability to commit to plans can affect your relationship negatively, regardless of whether it’s a friend or someone you’re dating.
10. Co-Dependency or Overly Needy Behavior
While humans were not meant to do everything independently, some semblance of self-sufficiency is necessary. Suppose your partner, friend, or family member is overly dependent and cannot be alone. In that case, this can be a sign of emotional immaturity. This is especially true if they depend on you to do everything for them.
11. Making Inappropriate Comments in Public
There may not be one set of rules for how people should behave in public, but most people are aware of some social standards and etiquette. For example, swearing loudly in a public place where children are present is rude. Some people seem completely unaware of these social rules or do not care.
12. Taking Things Too Personally
While it’s normal for people to be sensitive and take some things personally, you shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells or reassure someone that the world doesn’t revolve around them. If you have a loved one who takes everything too personally, it may be time to talk with them.
13. Being Emotionally Withdrawn or Avoidant
Suppose you’re in a romantic or close relationship with someone. In that case, you may notice the person is emotionally withdrawn and tends to avoid intimacy. Even if you’ve been with this person for a long time, they may avoid talking about anything but surface-level topics.
14. Acting Without Considering Repercussions
Many emotionally immature people cannot think about the repercussions or consequences of their behavior. This can be intentionally risk-seeking or lacking the foresight to consider how their actions affect others.
15. Displaying Narcissistic Tendencies
The word “narcissist” is thrown around too much by people who are unqualified to make a diagnosis. However, some people do display behaviors that show an inability to see things from anyone’s perspective but their own. They may also engage in behavior that is harmful to get their way. These tactics can include gaslighting, manipulation, and defensiveness.
16. Inability to Compromise
People should make decisions that align with their desires and values, as time and energy are precious. However, compromise is essential in maintaining personal relationships. If someone cannot compromise whatsoever, it can cause major interpersonal issues.
17. Lack of Accountability/Responsibility
Being able to admit when you’ve made a mistake can be difficult, primarily if repercussions affect others. However, suppose you can never acknowledge your mistakes or take responsibility when your behavior does impact others. In that case, this can be a significant problem.
18. Blaming Others for Their Problems
Accepting that you have created problems in your own life can be challenging. However, suppose someone can’t accept that they’re at fault and is constantly looking for others to blame. In that case, it can be uncomfortable for others to maintain friendships with them.
19. Being Overly Indecisive
Being incredibly indecisive can be a sign that the individual has not been responsible for significant decisions in their life and lacks the maturity needed to do so.
20. Holding Grudges for Long Periods
It is not unusual to hold grudges towards negative people or things that bother you. However, suppose someone holds grudges for long, especially if the offending person has tried to make amends. In that case, this can be a reflection of their character.
21. Bullying Others To Feel Better About Themselves
While outright mocking and bullying seem to happen by adults on the internet more than face to face, it isn’t uncommon to hear people making fun of others or putting them down behind their backs. This behavior is childish and unkind and doesn’t make for healthy friendships or relationships.
22. Lack of Empathy Towards Others
Empathy comes naturally for some, while others learn this over time. In some cases, it can be an intentional disregard towards others. However, often, when people seem unable to empathize with what you are dealing with, it could be a lack of emotional intelligence or maturity.
23. Difficulty Expressing Their Emotions
Children who grow up in a volatile environment often learn that expressing their emotions is unsafe. Unfortunately, if they never learn, they can also become an adult who lacks this ability. Being unable to express feelings can also lead to emotional outbursts and uncomfortable incidents.
24. Inability/Refusal To Change
In addition to struggling with decision-making, people with low emotional maturity often struggle with change. While certain factors can also make change difficult, such as mental illness or trauma, some people simply do not want to change and refuse to do so.