7 typical habits of men who never grow up emotionally, according to psychology

Some men are forty and still scream their heads off when stuck in traffic.

Some men are thirty-five and still fear commitment.

Some men are fifty and still don’t know how to do their laundry.

In such cases, age truly is just a number.

While they’ve garnered experience and knowledge over the years, men who never grow up emotionally still struggle in the one department that matters more than anything: maturity.

And these are their 7 typical habits.

1) They do the bare minimum to get by

The first habit that many emotionally immature men share is the habit of… doing nothing.

Or more specifically, the tendency to always do what is required of you but never go the extra mile.

Here’s why the bare minimum is a sign of emotional immaturity: it signals passivity, a preference for comfort, and a lack of true effort when it comes to one’s close relationships.

More than that, it shows that the man in question takes his blessings in life for granted. In other words, he doesn’t know what he has until it’s ripped away from him.

As social psychologist Theresa E. DiDonato Ph.D. writes for Psychology Today, “Keeping the status quo does not promote healthy relationships. When employees adopt bare minimum Mondays, they do what they must to keep their job, but nothing more.

“This philosophy, in a romantic relationship, would translate to engaging in as little effort as possible to keep up the status quo.”

She adds, “Relationships require pro-relationship behaviors, including social support, responsiveness, positive communication, generosity, and gratitude (Ogolsky et al., 2017).

“These processes are not possible with bare-minimum effort, yet they are crucial to help nourish a relationship, both in normal and stressful times.”

Here are a few telltale signs a man is putting in the bare minimum in a relationship:

  • He rarely initiates plans
  • He displays a lack of interest in your life and hobbies
  • He makes you feel neglected and overlooked
  • He avoids discussing serious topics

This whole bare minimum business ties into something much larger, though: our second habit.

2) They display signs of the Peter Pan syndrome

Coined by Dr Dan Kiley in his 1983 book Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Have Never Grown Up, the Peter Pan syndrome describes a specific pattern of behavior often found in emotionally immature men.

Yes, the bare minimum plays a huge role here. But it’s not the whole picture.

At the core of it all, there’s the unwillingness to take charge of one’s life, carry the burden of true responsibility, and therefore show up as a proper “adult.” In a sense, men with Peter Pan syndrome remain children even at an age when they should really act as grown-ups.

According to Healthline, these are just some of the behaviors woven into the tapestry that is the Peter Pan syndrome:

  • Neglecting house chores and childcare duties
  • Hesitancy to make long-term plans (“Let’s live in the present”)
  • Ineffective communication when it comes to relationship issues
  • Making little effort to find or hold down a job
  • Unreliability and flakiness
  • Little or no interest in personal self-development
  • Expecting to be looked after and not have to make any major decisions
  • Keeping one’s options open instead of making concrete choices

If this sounds like a man you know, it’s another sign you’re dealing with someone who still has a lot of growing up to do.

3) They’re terrified of commitment

It’s a bit ironic that men who expect to be taken care of also fear commitment. After all, you’ve got to commit to someone if you want them to look after you.

But men who never grow up emotionally tend to think they can have their cake and eat it, too.

They can have a partner who makes their life easier but also avoid the whole business of picking a ring, getting on one knee, and organizing a wedding.

They can comfortably coast through life without making any specific decisions they might later regret, always shifting responsibility to someone else’s shoulders.

Commitment, at its essence, is the act of taking accountability. Because if you make the choice to wholly devote yourself to something, you are also deciding to face the consequences of that choice – no matter how uncomfortable, painful, or terrifying.

Naturally, it takes a lot of strength to see this through. And that’s why men who haven’t yet grown up emotionally usually avoid commitment at all costs.

They’re too scared to get behind the steering wheel of their lives and hit the gas.

4) They have frivolous spending habits

I once dated a guy who, among other Peter Pan syndrome-connected signs, kept frivolously spending all his money.

No matter how much he earned, he couldn’t stay on top of his finances. Somehow, it just always fell through his fingers.

One night out would make a huge dent in his savings, and when we went out to eat, he ordered whatever he wanted without looking at the price – even if it meant our bill at the end of the night would be quite astronomical (something we couldn’t really afford).

This kind of financial incompetence is, once again, something that many emotionally immature men have in common. In severe cases, it may even turn into compulsive spending, which can affect one’s quality of life and harm their relationships.

A mature man possesses the necessary amount of self-control to keep his finances in check.

Full stop.

5) They chase after novelty

Novelty is exciting. It’s thrilling. It makes us feel alive.

And unfortunately, it’s what some men prioritize over long-term happiness.

The truth is that you can’t survive on novelty. You can’t feel wholly fulfilled and satisfied because you’ll always keep seeking more. And if you get addicted to the thrill of it all, you might destroy your relationships and your own well-being in the process.

“Novelty-seeking behavior is typically associated with extreme risk, impulsiveness, and extravagance and can lead to addictions and destruction in mental health,” says well-being expert Alane K. Daugherty Ph.D.

This doesn’t mean that novelty’s all bad, of course. In fact, some psychologists say that couples can harness the power of novelty to feel closer to each other and strengthen their friendship, for example by doing new things together.

But if a man can’t go a week without an adrenaline-filled and dangerous sport, a trip to the casino, a gaming marathon, or an affair…

Yep, it’s another sign he has some work cut out for him.

6) They care more about being right than about being kind

Moving on to one of the five pillars of emotional intelligence, aka, empathy.

Here’s how you can tell whether a man is truly emotionally mature: look at how he treats people he doesn’t find sexually attractive.

Moreover, consider his empathy levels in general. Is he open-minded? Does he have an inherent sense of respect for people from different walks of life? Does he always try his best to be kind?

Imagine he’s in the middle of a heated discussion with someone who has a different opinion. Is his main goal winning the argument at whatever cost or is he more interested in getting to know the other person better and reaching some kind of an understanding?

These are some important questions to ask yourself when you’re trying to determine a man’s character.

7) They are far too self-absorbed

Someone who’s highly empathetic possesses the ability to step outside of themselves.

They know the world doesn’t revolve around them.

A lack of empathy, on the other hand, may lead to too much self-absorption, which manifests as:

  • Never making any sacrifices for the well-being of one’s relationships
  • Stubbornly clinging to one’s opinions and beliefs
  • Prioritizing one’s gains and comfort over other people’s dissatisfaction or suffering
  • A lack of interest in others’ lives
  • Taking everything too personally

Self-awareness, empathy, self-love, and humility are at the core of emotional maturity. If a man displays the seven habits described in this article, it means he still has a long way to go.

What it doesn’t mean, though, is that he’s a lost cause. No one ever is. Emotional intelligence can be taught, and the more one reflects and learns, the more likely they are to grow into the highest version of themselves.

It does take effort, however. Growth is not easy. Just like when our bones ache whilst we grow as children, personal development is a painful, messy, and raw process.

But it’s all worth it in the end.

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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