We all know relationships are complicated. But you probably don’t expect your partner to catch you off guard with unpredictable reactions and confusing behaviors.
This might be a sign of a deeper issue, such as lack of emotional maturity.
Unfortunately, I’ve dated a man who was emotionally immature, and let’s just say it wasn’t a walk in the park.
Of course, this is an issue that many people struggle with and both of you can work on together, so the idea isn’t to write your partner off immediately.
But it’s good to be aware of it so that you know what to work on in the first place.
Here are 8 behaviors that show your partner lacks emotional maturity.
1) Serious conversations usually become fights
Sooner or later in any relationship, there comes a need to have a serious talk. Whether it’s about plans for the future or an important difference of opinions.
To keep the relationship healthy, you need to have the capacity to talk these things through together and reach a resolution.
But sadly, people who lack emotional maturity aren’t able to do that.
With my ex, any kind of attempt at talking about something I didn’t like quickly escalated into a fight. No matter how gently I tried approaching the conversation, he always saw it as an attack and got extremely defensive.
The reason why this happens is they can’t put the relationship’s needs above the discomfort they feel, and tend to react out of pain.
Unfortunately, this behavior makes it very difficult for a relationship to function well. But it’s not the end — encourage openness, express your feelings, and be patient. They can learn, with time and effort, just like my ex eventually did.
2) They make impulsive decisions
If your partner has ever taken you on a spontaneous date, you’ll know how impulsive decisions can be fun at times.
But if it’s a recurring pattern, it might reveal a lack of emotional maturity.
I remember my ex would often make decisions on a whim without thinking things through — even some significant life choices. He would even make some big purchases we hadn’t discussed.
It left me feeling stressed and unsupported.
This kind of behavior shows a lack of foresight, responsibility, and consideration for how their actions affect others, particularly the people close to them.
They’re not able to weigh the consequences, and go after satisfying immediate desires.
What’s the way forward? Share with your partner how their impulsive decisions affect you, and ask them to include you in the decision-making process. Building awareness and understanding can lead to great growth, even in those who seem emotionally immature.
3) They easily get jealous
The next behavior is one that we all recognize, and have surely felt at some point: jealousy.
So when does it signal emotional maturity? When it becomes intense and frequent.
You might see even simple interactions with colleagues or friends sparking jealousy. It was definitely the case for my ex — he would get upset and suspicious anytime he saw me smiling or laughing with another guy.
This kind of jealousy doesn’t stem from love. It’s more about insecurity. They don’t have enough control over their emotions and let them get the better of them.
Excessive jealousy like this can be suffocating because it creates a lack of trust in the relationship, and makes the partner feel restricted.
But there are ways to remedy this. My ex and I were actually able to make a lot of progress in this area through open communication.
We talked about what sparked his jealousy and why it makes him feel this way. I assured him of my commitment to him, but also set boundaries to protect my freedom.
4) They hold grudges
Another behavior that shows a lack of emotional maturity is holding grudges.
In my relationship with my emotionally immature ex, I found that he would often dwell on past mistakes or arguments. Even when we’d resolved an issue, he would bring it up again and again during future disagreements.
This is more than just frustrating — it’s detrimental to the growth and development of a relationship.
Holding onto past hurts prevents forgiveness and keeps the relationship stuck in a cycle of resentment and mistrust.
But it can also be amazing for the relationship, if you can come to see mistakes as opportunities for growth rather than something to be weaponized.
So encourage your partner to express their feelings in the moment, rather than storing them up for later.
You might also consider couples therapy or counseling, which can provide tools and support to help both partners move beyond this destructive pattern.
5) They shift the blame to others
“I wouldn’t have done that if you hadn’t said that…”
This is the kind of excuse that often comes out of the mouths of emotionally immature people.
They find it very difficult to accept responsibility for mistakes and weaknesses, and so they develop the habit of pointing fingers at others.
My ex was able to own up to small mistakes like forgetting to do a chore, but he was never able to own up to more serious issues, like failing to keep a promise.
It’s something we really had to work on to keep the relationship alive.
The core of this problem is usually a fear of failure or a fear of being perceived as inadequate. Your partner just wants to be seen positively in your eyes, and is struggling to keep a great self-image.
So we should approach this behavior with empathy, but also clear boundaries.
6) They struggle to express their emotions
Your partner probably feels they can talk about their emotions — but not every conversation is like the other.
Some people are able to express their emotions in the sense that you can tell when something is off, and they may describe to you what they’re feeling.
But not everyone is able to get to the bottom of what’s making them upset, or consider the issue from different perspectives to avoid blowing minor issues out of proportion.
Why is that? The reason is often rooted in a lack of self-awareness. Your partner may not be used to digging deep into the layers beneath a superficial trigger, or they may be afraid that expressing their true feelings will lead to judgment or rejection.
However, emotional expression is crucial for a healthy and especially a peaceful relationship.
And the good news is, it’s something that can be developed with time and effort. If your partner struggles with this, try to create a safe space where they feel comfortable opening up.
7) They are afraid of commitment
When I first started dating my ex, I noticed he would often avoid discussing long-term plans or future goals. Even making small commitments like buying tickets to a concert a few months in advance seemed to make him uncomfortable.
I later realized that this is something many people who lack emotional maturity struggle with. And it isn’t always as simple as it seems.
It might not be just about the relationship itself. It could stem from previous trauma, anxiety, or a deeply ingrained fear of failure.
In my case, we had to work hard on building trust and safety in the relationship, so not just he but both of us would feel more secure with each other.
The important thing here is that we didn’t push it, and I didn’t pressure him to move faster than he was ready for. Over time, making commitments to each other just became natural.
8) They depend heavily on others
Finally, the last sign your partner is emotionally immature is if they rely too heavily on others.
This isn’t necessarily about physical needs, but rather needing constant reassurance and validation from people.
They may need others to make decisions for them or approve of them in order to feel secure about their choices.
While it’s great to be there for your partner, if they rely on you too heavily it shows a lack of confidence and independence, which puts undue pressure on you to be their constant pillar of support.
The root of this normally comes from deep insecurity, or in my ex’s case a fear of making mistakes.
To help them, communicate openly about your vision for the relationship and how independence will help both of you thrive in it. It’s important to set clear boundaries and help your partner understand where they can find support outside of the relationship.
Helping your relationship thrive with someone who lacks emotional maturity
Are you with someone who lacks emotional maturity? The 8 behaviors above will help you figure out if that’s the case.
And if yes, I have something important to tell you.
You might feel like this is a bad sign for your relationship, or something negative about your partner.
And while it does bring challenges, it doesn’t automatically spell the end.
We each have our own challenges to deal with, and this could be one of your partner’s.
But if the two of you have a growth mindset and want to work on your relationship together, there’s no reason why you can’t still build a beautiful healthy relationship and thrive together.
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