8 phrases you should never say to an emotionally immature partner, according to psychology

If you’re dating someone who’s emotionally immature, you’ve probably noticed how difficult your conversations can be.

Having a partner who lacks emotional maturity can be frustrating. There may be times when they react strongly to seemingly small issues or fail to empathize with your experiences.

Handling these situations requires tact, and understanding what not to say could be exactly what you need to deal with them effectively.

This article will guide you through these phrases that you should avoid using with an emotionally immature partner, according to psychology.

1) “You’re being childish.”

Labeling your partner’s behavior as “childish” is a common mistake when dealing with emotional immaturity.

It may feel like a natural reaction to what you perceive as immature behavior, but it’s actually an unhelpful form of criticism.

This phrase can hurt your partner’s feelings and make them defensive.

It also doesn’t offer any constructive feedback or guide them towards improving their behavior. Instead, it might cause them to shut down or respond in an even more immature way.

Rather than labeling their behavior, try expressing your feelings and needs in a respectful way.

For example, instead of saying, “You’re being childish,” a better approach might be, “I feel upset when you don’t take our discussions seriously. Can we try to communicate more effectively?”

By doing so, you’re not only addressing the issue at hand but also teaching them how to handle conflicts maturely.

2) “Why can’t you be more like them?”

It might seem logical to point out the emotional maturity of others as a benchmark for your partner.

However, this is a phrase that can do more harm than good.

Contrary to what you might believe, comparing your partner to others doesn’t inspire growth or change.

Instead, it breeds resentment and insecurity. It sends a message that you’re dissatisfied with who they are and that they don’t measure up to your expectations.

Highlighting others’ strengths without acknowledging your partner’s unique qualities can erode their self-esteem and make them feel undervalued.

Instead of making comparisons, encourage your partner’s growth by acknowledging their strengths and progress.

3) “You never understand my feelings.”

When frustration mounts, it’s tempting to use absolute terms like “never” or “always.” It might feel like your emotionally immature partner fails to understand your feelings all the time. 

But using absolute terms can cause your partner to become defensive and less likely to listen to what you’re saying.

It also paints an unfairly negative picture of them, which can damage their self-esteem and strain your relationship further.

Instead of using absolutes, try expressing your feelings in a more nuanced way.

For instance, you could say, “I sometimes feel unheard when I share my feelings with you.”

This leaves room for discussion and improvement, rather than pushing them away.

4) “Just get over it.”

It’s understandable that you might want your partner to quickly move on from an emotionally charged situation.

However, telling them to “just get over it” can be dismissive and hurtful.

Feelings are not switches that can be turned off and on at will. Your partner needs time to process their feelings, just as you do.

By invalidating their emotions, you could be creating a barrier between you two, causing them to close off and avoid sharing their feelings in the future.

So don’t just urge them to move on hastily; show patience and understanding. Let them know that it’s okay to feel upset and that you’re there to support them through it.

5) “That’s not a big deal.”

It’s easy to say “that’s not a big deal” when the situation doesn’t seem significant from your perspective. But remember, what might seem trivial to you could be a big deal to your partner.

When you dismiss their concerns, you’re essentially telling them that their feelings don’t matter. This can make them feel unheard and unimportant, and they might start bottling up their emotions instead of sharing them with you.

Try to see the situation from their perspective. Even if you don’t fully understand why they’re upset, show empathy and validate their feelings.

Say something like, “I can see that this is really bothering you. Let’s talk about it.”

By saying this, you’re showing them that their feelings are important to you, which can help build trust and encourage emotional growth.

6) “You’re overreacting.”

I recall a situation where a friend of mine was dealing with her emotionally immature partner.

During a disagreement, her partner was becoming increasingly upset over what seemed to her like a minor issue.

In the heat of the moment, she told him, “You’re overreacting.” This immediately escalated the argument and made him feel dismissed and misunderstood.

Why did this happen?

This is because labeling someone’s reaction as an “overreaction” invalidates their feelings and can make them feel foolish for expressing themselves.

Understand why your partner is feeling the way they do. You could say something like, “I can see you’re really upset about this. Let’s try to work through it together.”

This acknowledges their feelings and shows that you’re willing to understand their perspective.

7) “You need to grow up.”

While there may be moments when you desperately want your partner to show more emotional maturity, saying “You need to grow up” won’t help.

In fact, this comment is likely to push them further away.

Personal growth can’t be forced, and it certainly can’t be fast-tracked by harsh words. If anything, this kind of blunt criticism could slow down their progress by making them feel judged and defensive.

Encourage their growth in a more constructive way. Say something like, “I’ve noticed you struggle with handling criticism. How about we work on this together?”

This shows that you care about their growth and are willing to support them in the process, which is far more likely to encourage positive change.

8) “Why can’t you just be normal?”

This phrase, perhaps more than any other, can be deeply hurtful.

Telling your partner to be “normal” suggests that there’s something fundamentally wrong with them. It invalidates their individual journey and can damage their self-esteem.

Everyone’s emotional growth happens at a different pace. Encourage open conversation and mutual understanding instead.

Remember, the goal isn’t to change your partner, but to foster mutual growth and understanding in your relationship.

This is the most important thing you can do to effectively manage a relationship with an emotionally immature partner.

Final thoughts

Being in a relationship with an emotionally immature partner can be challenging, but remember that emotional growth is a personal journey that unfolds at its own pace.

This article has offered some guidance on what phrases to avoid when communicating with your partner.

But ultimately, it’s your understanding, patience, and willingness to foster open communication that can make a world of difference.

With the right approach, you can turn these challenges into opportunities for mutual growth and a deeper connection.

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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