9 signs you’re dealing with a really emotionally immature person, according to psychology

It’s a pain in the ass to be with an immature person.

“But if I cut off every immature person in my life, won’t I end up alone?” you might ask.

While it’s true that we’re all a bit immature, if you really want to live in peace, you need to weed out the ones who are extremely immature.

No worries, we’re here to help you.

Let’s sort out the insufferably immature ones vis-a-vis the friend who is healing and needs a bit of a nudge towards growth. 

With the help of psychology, here are 9 signs you’re dealing with a REALLY emotionally immature person.

1) They react before they think

According to Dr. Tracy Hutchinson, impulsivity is a common trait among immature individuals.

But while a regular immature person would roll their eyes and snap when they get angry with their partner, the extremely immature ones would do more than that!

They’ll cause a scene while you’re dining together in a restaurant and cuss you out while you’re with your colleagues. 

Worse, they might even kiss a random person just because they’re pissed. 

But while the best of us can break on the worst days, it’s usually followed by a terrible feeling of embarrassment, shame or guilt, sometimes just minutes after the meltdown.

But the really emotionally immature has meltdowns over the smallest of things and what’s worse? Instead of apologizing, they just say, “I couldn’t help it” or “Well, you made me do it.”

Their impulsive acts are done without thinking about the consequences because they can’t regulate their emotions. 

So while it may be unintentional, their behavior is still damaging to the people around them (you). 

2) You always have to be the bigger person

Emotional maturity, simply put, is the ability to understand and manage one’s emotions.

One simple way to tell if someone is lacking in it is you feel like you always have to “baby” them.  

Plus points if you feel like you’re roleplaying as a teacher, parent, or therapist when you’re with them.

“Why do I have to be the one who has to understand them all the freaking time?!,” your brain screams. 

And so you know, bingo! You’re likely dealing with a really emotionally immature person.

As Lindsay Gibson says in her book Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents, they may look like grown-up adults…but mentally, they’re still little kids. 

3) Bringing up issues escalates into a fight

You bring up a concern and they take it as an attack and start to attack YOU.

You do your best to explain as calmly as you can but now they’ve declared a war, or worse, they start weeping uncontrollably making you feel like the devil himself.

It’s just impossible to talk to them without them taking things so personally.

And what’s strange is that your conflicts aren’t even about big issues like cheating or money, they’re minor ones like how to peel carrots!

Well, your conflicts likely keep escalating because emotionally immature people lack basic communication skills. 

So once your conversation veers off even just a bit away from the positive, they either feel attacked or backed into a corner. 

What’s worse, they likely keep a collection of these bad habits: 

  • Being passive-aggressive
  • Shutting you down
  • Not listening properly
  • Being overly sensitive to criticism
  • Wanting to be always right
  • Fighting to “win”, not to solve things

If they do most or all of the above, be forewarned: They’re not your average immature person. They’re the extreme kind!  

4) They always take things personally

Psychologists believe that emotional immaturity is a result of insecure attachments during early life experiences.

They’re paranoid that others are just out to hurt them and betray them.

This could be the reason why a simple comment about their work or their looks would hurt them so deeply.

Or that they automatically think you’re deliberately ignoring them because you were in a rush.

And if you forgot to greet them on their birthday? Good luck! 

They’ll ignore you like you carry the plague until you deeply apologize and confess your sin of being the worst friend ever!

5) Your needs are set aside for their wants

Emotionally immature people are often self-absorbed.

If you tell them you can’t go to Bora-Bora for your anniversary because you’re broke, they’ll sulk and make you feel guilty for not finding a way.

Are they simply selfish?!

Probably. But it’s also really because they’re really emotionally immature.

They don’t care about you. Rather, they can’t. 

They care about you serving them and making them feel loved.

If you’re pulling your hair out trying to understand them, according to psychology their behaviors are associated with ego dysfunction.

This is the reason why they also possess a lot of narcissistic traits like:

  • Lack of empathy
  • Sense of entitlement
  • Hunger for attention, success, and power
  • Tendency to manipulate and exploit
  • Need for control

If they do most of these, stay away to be safe and sane. 

6) They see your reasons as excuses

As I’ve mentioned above, the extremely immature ones lack empathy and are self-absorbed.

This combo is deadly because this turns you into their slave!

If you tell them you had a stressful time at work that’s why you’re late, they’d roll their eyes and say “Well, I didn’t have a grand time at work either but here I am.”

If you tell them you can’t attend their birthday because you’re not feeling well, they’d say things like “We make time for the things that are important for us.”

They have a plethora of cliches that work for them.

But if the tables are turned, they expect you not just to understand but to not make them feel bad.

They so love to play the victim, and you’re getting fed up with always having to be either the supporting character, or the villain who’s not doing their best or loving them enough.

7) Their words cut like a knife

While most of us have forgotten our filters a few times when we were pissed, tired, or both, the terribly emotionally immature person has no filter whatsoever, on the daily.

It’s gotten to a point that they believe it’s their ‘personality.’

With far more impulsivity and a lack of self-control than most regular folks, they’ll say hurtful things like:

“I’ll never talk to you again!”

“You’re the worst!”

“I can’t believe I fell in love with your stupid face!”

And then they’ll take it back and say they don’t mean it. They were just too mad at the time. 

8) They can’t be trusted to do the right thing

Because they have poor impulse control, there’s a chance that they’d do whatever FEELS good instead of what’s right.

Dr. Hutchinson said “Since impulsivity is common in emotionally immature individuals, they may chronically lie and cheat because their feelings override reason and morality.”

It’s scary to be with an extremely emotionally immature person because…they can do anything when they experience negative emotions.

They could:

  • Betray you because they think you deserve it
  • Plot revenge against you
  • Engage in risky behavior and blame you for it
  • Punish you
  • Humiliate you
  • Physically and emotionally hurt you

And any of these could be a reason why you have to stay away from them to keep yourself from harm!

Unless they’re consistently going to therapy and have genuinely changed, send your love from a distance.

You could really hurt yourself if you keep them close.

9) They don’t self-reflect

Confession: there are days when I allow myself to just be immature. 

Being the eldest daughter and having to be responsible since I was a kid, as an adult, I find that there are parts of me that were forced to mature before I was  ready. 

The days I let my emotional immaturity win over me though are followed by days of self-reflection. 

Even in the moments I’m being a little immature, I’m very self-aware that I could choose to act and respond better.

Self-awareness and self-reflection though aren’t in the vocabulary of people who are so deeply emotionally immature

How do you differ from them? 

If you’re reflecting and improving yourself after each immature act, you can relax.

Plus points if you take accountability for your actions by owing up to your friends or colleagues and ask for forgiveness. 

But if someone never even pauses to consider, “Hmm, is it me? Could I have done something wrong?”

Let them go.

They’re definitely a hopeless case.

Final thoughts

As much as we want to all embody love and compassion and live like the Dalai Lama, when it comes to a really emotionally immature person, you won’t survive without strong boundaries.

You can offer them support by modeling how you self-regulate your emotions and think over your actions, but remember that unless they want to change, they won’t.

Know your limits, and step back if you’re feeling drained and bitter. 

But if you see nothing but a toxic pattern, consider reevaluating your relationship.

If it’s impossible to love yourself and them at the same time, then you know you have to choose yourself.

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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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