Adults who lack emotional maturity often display these 7 behaviors (without realizing it)

There’s a striking difference between having age and possessing emotional maturity.

Not everyone realizes it, but emotional maturity isn’t a given as you grow older. It’s a bit like learning to cook – some people pick it up naturally, others need a little guidance, and some just never quite get the hang of it.

Adults lacking in emotional maturity often exhibit certain behaviors without even realizing they’re doing it. As the founder of the Love Connection blog, I’ve spent years observing and analyzing these patterns in human behavior.

In this article, I’m going to share with you 7 distinct behaviors that often indicate a lack of emotional maturity in adults. It’s like a roadmap to understanding those around you better… maybe even understanding yourself.

So buckle up, we’re about to dive deep into some fascinating aspects of human behavior.

1) Avoiding responsibility

Life is full of twists and turns, and sometimes things don’t go as planned. For most adults, this is just a part of life – a chance to learn and grow.

However, for those lacking emotional maturity, these situations are often seen differently. Instead of viewing challenges as an opportunity for growth, they tend to avoid responsibility altogether.

It’s a bit like being in a maze and hitting a dead end. Most people would turn around, find another route. But emotionally immature adults? They’d rather blame the maze for being too complicated.

This avoidance of responsibility can manifest in various ways – blaming others for their own mistakes, refusing to acknowledge their part in a conflict, or simply running away from difficult situations.

And the tricky part is, they often don’t realize they’re doing it. It’s an unconscious behavior, rooted in a lack of emotional maturity.

So if you notice someone constantly dodging responsibility, it may be a sign they need some guidance in emotional growth.

2) Overreacting to minor issues

Life is a mix of big and small events – a promotion at work, a spilled cup of coffee, a family wedding, a missed deadline. Most emotionally mature adults have the ability to differentiate between these and respond accordingly.

Interestingly, adults who lack emotional maturity often struggle with this. A minor inconvenience can be blown out of proportion, while significant events may not get the attention they deserve.

Here’s the counterintuitive part: they’re not necessarily drama queens or kings. It’s more about an inability to accurately gauge the significance of different events in their lives.

They might overreact to a minor disagreement with a friend, yet seem indifferent when they lose their job. It’s not that they love drama or crave attention – it’s simply a sign of emotional immaturity.

Next time you see someone overreacting to a small issue, take a step back. It may not be about the issue at all – it could be a sign of underlying emotional immaturity.

3) Struggling with codependency

In my years of studying human behavior, one pattern that consistently stands out among adults lacking emotional maturity is the struggle with codependency.

Codependency is a complex issue, often rooted in childhood experiences and relationships. It’s about relying excessively on another person for validation, emotional needs, and a sense of identity.

Sounds complicated, right? And it certainly can be.

In my book, “Breaking The Attachment: How To Overcome Codependency in Your Relationship”, I delve deeper into this issue, offering insights and solutions.

But back to the topic at hand. Emotionally immature adults often display signs of codependency without realizing it.

They might cling to their partner excessively, or constantly seek approval from friends or colleagues. They may feel incomplete without a significant other, even if that relationship is harmful.

This is not about blaming or shaming. It’s about understanding and recognizing these behaviors in order to grow emotionally. If you spot these signs in someone you know (or even in yourself), it might be worth exploring the topic further, such as by reading my book.

It’s a journey towards emotional maturity, and every step counts.

4) Difficulty expressing emotions

Communicating emotions can be a tough task for anyone, but for adults lacking emotional maturity, it’s particularly challenging.

They may struggle to express their feelings effectively, leading to miscommunication and misunderstandings. It’s a bit like trying to paint a picture with only half the colors – something always seems to be missing.

I remember a quote from the brilliant Maya Angelou that seems fitting here, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

This is especially true when it comes to emotional communication. How we make others feel with our words and actions has a lasting impact.

When an emotionally immature adult struggles to express themselves, it can lead to confusion or even hurt feelings in those around them. They often don’t realize they’re doing it – but that doesn’t make its effects any less significant.

If you notice someone struggling to express their emotions, remember – it’s not about criticism. It’s about understanding and offering patience while they navigate their emotional growth.

5) Difficulty handling criticism

We all know that criticism can be tough to swallow. But for adults who lack emotional maturity, it’s often more than just a bitter pill.

They may react defensively or aggressively to even the most constructive criticism. It’s as if a protective wall shoots up instantly, blocking any chance of understanding or growth.

In my years of studying and understanding human behavior, I’ve seen this often. It’s a defense mechanism, a reflex action that takes over before they even have a chance to process the critique.

It may be difficult, but remember – it’s not about you. It’s about their emotional growth journey. 

6) Difficulty with change

Change is a constant in life. As the great Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only constant in life is change.”

But for adults lacking emotional maturity, adapting to change can be a real struggle. They may resist new situations or become overwhelmed by unfamiliar circumstances. It’s like trying to swim upstream in a powerful river – exhausting and unproductive.

In my experience, this resistance often stems from fear – fear of the unknown, fear of losing control, or even fear of failure. It’s a protective instinct that kicks in when faced with uncertainty.

But, as with most things, they often don’t realize they’re doing it. It’s an unconscious behavior that can hold them back from personal growth and meaningful experiences.

For more insights on emotional maturity and human behavior, I invite you to follow me on Facebook. You’ll find all my latest articles and musings right there in your feed.

7) Blaming others for their feelings

There’s something raw and honest about owning your feelings, accepting them as your own. Emotionally mature adults understand this – they know that their feelings are a response to life’s events, not caused by other people.

However, adults lacking emotional maturity tend to see things differently. They often blame others for their feelings, as if they’re at the mercy of those around them.

It’s a bit like being in a car and blaming the road for where you end up. The truth is, we’re all in the driver’s seat when it comes to our emotions.

They might say things like “You make me so angry” or “You’re the reason I’m upset”. But here’s the raw truth – our feelings are our own. Yes, other people can influence our emotions, but ultimately, we’re the ones in control.

Final thoughts

Understanding emotional maturity is a journey that can be eye-opening and at times, quite challenging. But it’s a journey that’s worth embarking on, as it leads towards self-improvement, better relationships, and a deeper understanding of yourself and others.

Just as the famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung once said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

Recognizing these behaviors in ourselves or others doesn’t mean we need to rush to change. It’s about awareness – acknowledging what’s there, understanding it, and then deciding what we want to do about it.

For those who want to explore this topic further, I recommend watching this insightful video by Justin Brown. He discusses the complexities of finding a life partner, reflecting on his personal experiences and the lessons learned. It ties in beautifully with our discussion on emotional maturity and offers some valuable lessons.

Remember, emotional maturity is not about reaching a destination. It’s about the journey – the growth, the lessons, and the person you become along the way.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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