Men who haven’t grown up emotionally usually display these 9 subtle behaviors

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

There’s a distinct difference between being an adult and acting like one. This is especially true when it comes to emotional maturity.

Emotional maturity doesn’t just happen overnight – it’s a process, a journey. For some men, this journey seems to be on pause, or at a standstill.

These ’emotionally stunted’ men often exhibit certain subtle behaviors that can be easily overlooked if you’re not paying attention.

In this article, we’ll explore 9 of these tell-tale signs, so you can better understand what emotional immaturity looks like in men. And remember, it’s not about labeling or judging, it’s about understanding and awareness.

1) They struggle to express emotions

Emotional expression is a fundamental part of being human. It’s a way we communicate our inner state, our joys, our fears, our frustrations and everything in between.

But in men who haven’t fully matured emotionally, there’s often a noticeable difficulty in expressing what they’re feeling.

This could manifest in many ways. Maybe they can’t put their feelings into words, or they resort to anger when they’re really feeling hurt or disappointed. Sometimes, they might even appear indifferent or dismissive of their own emotions or the emotions of others.

This struggle isn’t just about communication, it’s about understanding. Emotionally immature men may have a hard time recognizing their emotions for what they are. And if they don’t understand them, how can they express them?

Being aware of this behavior can help you spot emotional immaturity. But remember, it’s not about assigning blame or pointing fingers. It’s about understanding and empathizing with their emotional journey.

2) They avoid serious conversations

We all know those conversations – the ones that dive deep, that challenge us and push us to grow. These are the discussions that deal with our fears, our dreams, our relationships, and all those other ‘heavy’ topics.

But in my experience with emotionally immature men, I’ve noticed a consistent pattern: they tend to avoid these serious conversations like the plague.

I remember a friend of mine, let’s call him Mark. Whenever we’d start talking about something serious, like his relationship issues or career aspirations, he’d quickly change the subject. Or worse, he’d make a joke out of it and laugh it off.

Mark wasn’t comfortable dealing with these deep issues. He’d rather stay on the surface, where things are light and uncomplicated.

This avoidance is a common sign of emotional immaturity. It points to a fear or discomfort with vulnerability and emotional depth – key aspects of emotional growth.

When you spot someone consistently dodging serious conversations, bear this in mind.

3) They have a hard time taking responsibility

Emotional growth comes hand in hand with personal responsibility. It’s about owning our actions, our decisions, and the consequences that follow.

Men who haven’t matured emotionally often struggle with this concept. Instead of accepting their part in a situation, they might blame others or external circumstances.

Interestingly, a study published in the Journal of Adult Development found a strong correlation between emotional maturity and personal responsibility. It revealed that individuals who demonstrated higher levels of emotional maturity were more likely to take ownership of their actions and decisions.

This finding suggests that an inability to take responsibility isn’t just an annoying trait – it may be a clear indicator of emotional immaturity. So keep an eye out for this behavior, it can be quite telling.

4) They’re impulsive

Impulsivity is another common trait in men who haven’t grown up emotionally. Instead of thinking things through, they often act on their immediate desires or feelings.

This can be seen in a variety of ways. It might be an impulsive purchase, a rash decision, or a sudden outburst of emotion. While we all have our impulsive moments, consistent impulsivity can be a sign of emotional immaturity.

Why? Because emotional growth involves understanding and managing our feelings. It’s about being able to delay gratification and make decisions based on thoughtfulness, not just immediate desires.

If you notice a man regularly acting on impulse, without much thought for the consequences, it might be a sign of emotional immaturity.

5) They’re overly defensive

We all get defensive from time to time, especially when we feel attacked or misunderstood. However, men who haven’t emotionally grown up often display an excessive defensiveness.

This can show up during discussions or disagreements. Instead of listening and trying to understand the other person’s point of view, they immediately jump to their own defense.

This behavior suggests a lack of emotional maturity because it indicates an inability to handle criticism or differing opinions. Emotionally mature individuals are able to take on board feedback without feeling personally attacked, and can engage in a healthy dialogue even when views differ.

Pay attention to how a man reacts to criticism or opposing viewpoints. If he becomes overly defensive, it might be a sign of emotional immaturity.

6) They struggle with empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It’s about putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes, feeling their pain, their joy, their struggles.

Sadly, men who haven’t grown up emotionally often struggle with this.

It’s not that they’re incapable of feeling. It’s more that they have a hard time stepping outside of their own experiences to truly understand what someone else is going through.

This lack of empathy can make relationships challenging. It can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and a lack of emotional connection.

If you notice a man struggling to empathize with others, it may be a sign of emotional immaturity. But remember, this isn’t about blame. It’s an opportunity for understanding and growth. After all, empathy is a skill that can be learned and cultivated with time and effort.

7) They have a fear of commitment

Commitment can be daunting. It’s about making a promise, taking a stand, deciding to stick with something or someone through thick and thin. For men who haven’t matured emotionally, this concept can be particularly scary.

I’ve seen this fear in action. Years ago, I was dating a wonderful man who just couldn’t commit. He was loving, caring, but when it came to taking the next step in our relationship, he would freeze up.

His fear wasn’t about not loving me or not wanting to be with me. It was about the weight of commitment, the responsibility that comes with it, and his own uncertainty about his ability to uphold it.

This fear of commitment can be a clear sign of emotional immaturity. It shows an inability to navigate complex emotions and make emotionally mature decisions. But again, it’s not about judgment. It’s about understanding and patience.

8) They’re stuck in past patterns

We all have patterns, habits, ways of doing things that feel comfortable and familiar. But men who haven’t grown up emotionally often get stuck in these past patterns.

Whether it’s a pattern of avoiding conflict, running away from serious conversations, or not dealing with emotions healthily, these behaviors can signal emotional immaturity.

Emotionally mature individuals are capable of recognizing unhelpful patterns and making efforts to change them. They understand that growth involves learning new ways of behaving and relating to others.

If you notice a man repeatedly falling into the same patterns, especially ones that cause problems or pain, it could be a sign of emotional immaturity.

9) They lack self-awareness

Self-awareness is the cornerstone of emotional maturity. It’s about understanding our emotions, our responses, our patterns. It’s about recognizing when we’ve made a mistake and taking steps to learn from it.

Men who haven’t grown up emotionally often lack this self-awareness. They may not understand why they react the way they do, or they may not even realize that their behavior is causing problems.

This lack of self-awareness is perhaps the most telling sign of emotional immaturity. Because without it, it’s hard to grow and change.

If you notice a man who seems oblivious to his own behavior and its impact on others, it could be a sign of emotional immaturity.

Final thoughts: It’s about growth

Understanding human behavior, especially emotional maturity, is a complex journey. The behaviors listed above are not definitive labels, but rather indicators to better understand emotional growth.

Psychologist and author Daniel Goleman, who popularized the concept of emotional intelligence, once said, “Emotional intelligence begins to develop in the earliest years. All the small exchanges children have with their parents, teachers, and with each other carry emotional messages.”

These messages shape us and influence our emotional development in profound ways. Recognizing patterns of emotional immaturity in men isn’t about assigning blame or labeling someone as ‘less than’. It’s about fostering understanding and encouraging growth.

So as you reflect on these subtle behaviors, remember that emotional maturity is not a destination, but a journey. A journey that can start at any time, and at any age. It begins with awareness, understanding, and a commitment to personal growth. Because at the end of the day, we’re all works in progress.

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

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

8 traits of strong women who don’t need a man to be happy

10 unusual habits of people who naturally attract good luck and positive energy into their lives