8 things men do in relationships when they’re emotionally immature

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Every relationship has its challenges. That’s to be expected, and you can’t always predict what they are.

But you *can* notice some patterns based on the root of the issues.

Such as things men do in relationships when they’re emotionally immature.

If you date a few guys who lack emotional maturity, you’ll start to notice the same behaviors crop up time and time again.

I know this because I have — and by the last one, I could practically predict all of the issues we were going to have.

What are these behaviors? Let’s have a look at the 8 most common ones. 

1) They get very jealous

This is a normal human emotion we can all relate to, but when it gets out of control, it may point to a deeper issue — such as emotional immaturity. 

Men who are like this tend to let jealousy take over in a relationship, leading to tension, conflict, and lack of trust.

I once dated a guy who got suspicious if I even mentioned another man’s name. I couldn’t talk to a guy friend or male colleague in front of him, because he would assume I’m flirting with him if I even smiled or laughed at a joke.

This points to more than just momentary insecurity. In fact, it shows a need for control, or perhaps a deep lack of self-confidence. 

It can be difficult to know how to set boundaries that both show consideration for his feelings and protect your freedom. However, it will be necessary if you want the relationship to thrive. 

Talk openly with him about what triggers his jealousy and why he’s affected so strongly by it. Also share with him how this affects you. It can take time, but with patience and empathy, you can work through it.

2) They are passive-aggressive

Passive-aggressiveness is another sign of emotional immaturity that can surface in men’s behavior in relationships. It’s a way of expressing discontent or resentment without directly saying what’s wrong.

You might recognize this if you see your guy suddenly shut down. He insists that “everything’s fine”, but little sarcastic comments or eye rolls say otherwise.

I saw this a few weeks into one of my relationships. Whenever something bothered him, he would never tell me outright. Instead, he would act distant or make subtle digs at me.

It was frustrating and confusing, and our connection fizzled out pretty quickly.

Of course, your relationship doesn’t have to end the same way. But you really need to find a more open and respectful way of communicating. 

Encourage your partner to express his feelings in the moment rather than bottling them up. Make it clear that you value honesty and that passive-aggressiveness won’t be tolerated. 

3) They prioritize their needs over the relationship

Prioritizing one’s needs isn’t inherently a bad thing. We all need to take care of ourselves, after all. 

But in a relationship, balance is crucial. If a man consistently puts his needs and desires above those of the relationship or his partner, it could be a sign of emotional immaturity.

Let me share my experience with my ex. Things seemed wonderful at first, but as time went on, I noticed that he always put his needs first. 

Whether it was choosing where to go for dinner, planning weekend activities, or even bigger life decisions, his preferences always trumped mine.

He obviously wasn’t doing this on purpose — he just lacked the emotional maturity to see what was going on. But as a result, I felt neglected, and eventually also resentful. 

If you find yourself in this situation, make sure to assert yourself and stand up for your own needs. Over time, you may help him realize what he needs to do to nurture the relationship. 

4) They avoid serious conversations

How does your guy react when you try to bring up a serious topic? Does he turn his full attention to you to engage in this important conversation?

That would be the best outcome, but unfortunately men who are emotionally immature don’t have the capacity to do that.

What’s more likely is they will divert the conversation or make jokes to lighten the mood, or something to put the conversation off — over and over again. 

I remember a few weeks into seeing one guy, I brought up the topic of commitment, and he changed the subject.

So I let it go, but felt that the relationship was going well, so several weeks later I tried again. And I got the same reaction.

I didn’t feel like he didn’t care about me — but he seemed uncomfortable dealing with such profound emotions. 

Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible for us to continue the relationship without being able to talk to each other about the things that matter. This is one thing that’s crucial to work on if you want to make things work. 

5) They make impulsive decisions

You may have experienced how impulsiveness can be fun and spontaneous in a relationship — like when he surprises you with flowers for no reason, or takes you on an impromptu date.

However, in other contexts it can also affect the relationship negatively, and reveals a lack of emotional maturity.

With my ex, this manifested in the form of spending extra money on our vacations together. It was frustrating because we had created a budget together and I stuck to it, but he let his impulsiveness get the better of him. 

At first it seemed thrilling, but over time, it started to feel disruptive and inconsiderate.

If you want your relationship to flourish, your partner needs to show consideration for you and think about the consequences of his actions. 

Have an open conversation and talk about your expectations for what decisions you make together, and what it’s okay to be impulsive about. 

6) They resist growth and change

This behavior is a little more subtle, but sooner or later, you will notice it in your partner if he lacks emotional maturity.

It’s not that he’s against the idea of personal development — in fact, my ex was very supportive of the idea.

But while it seems like a great idea, in practice emotionally immature men find it very hard to actually implement.

My ex would get especially resistant when it came to me suggesting things both of us could work on in the relationship, such as trying new experiences together, or being more present with each other during the time we spent together. 

He would tell me everything’s fine the way it was, and seemed to take suggestions for improvement as criticism or a personal insult. 

Eventually he opened up more, as he understood that growth and change doesn’t automatically mean you’re unhappy, but that you want to invest in the long-term health of your relationship.

Talk openly with your partner about why you’d like to work on certain areas, and you may bring him around to the idea as well. 

7) They seek constant attention

Does your partner want you to constantly spend time with him, or do things for him?

This reminds me of my partner, and at first I thought it was different expectations for the relationship and how we spend our time.

But in hindsight, I think it’s more about a lack of emotional maturity. He needed constant attention in order to feel loved, and took me wanting to spend time alone or get some work done as me not caring for him.

I tried my best to have compassion for him and spend more time with him, but I realized that what he wanted just wasn’t feasible for me.

I needed a man who was emotionally mature enough to allow me some independence and not rely on me all the time to feel emotionally secure.

This is an issue that can be resolved with c, if your partner can share with you what’s behind the constant attention they want. 

8) They hold grudges

Lastly, emotionally immature men may hold grudges. And unfortunately, there’s no sugarcoating this one — it’s one of the most destructive behaviors in any relationship.

One of my exes that I mentioned above had an uncanny ability to remember every little mistake I made. 

Even months later, he would bring up these incidents in arguments, using them as ammunition to win a point or to make me feel guilty.

Obviously, this behavior made moving past issues incredibly difficult. Instead of resolving conflicts and growing from them, we were stuck in a constant loop of rehashing the past.

Of course, your partner probably doesn’t do this on purpose — they are just so overwhelmed with negative emotions that they don’t know how to deal with, they keep resurfacing. 

So try to address this issue head on and see if you can find a way to put past issues to rest for good. Make it clear that holding onto the past isn’t healthy for the relationship, and encourage forgiveness. 

Making it work with an emotionally immature man

Now you know 8 key things that men do in relationships when they’re emotionally immature.

You may recognize some of these signs in your ex — and in fact, nobody is perfect. So all of us probably do one or more of these behaviors to some degree.

Things start to get difficult if you recognize most of these behaviors, and experience them often.

That’s a sign that your partner has some emotional growth to do. Maybe you came into his life to help him with that, and the two of you can overcome this together.

However, it will only work if he wants to — you can never force someone to change.

So focus first and foremost on being your best self, and hopefully he will want to take that journey together with you. 

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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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