Emotionally immature people can be charming and even fun to be around. Dealing with them long-term, however, can be tricky and demoralising as we slowly realise we are not in a love affair or working relationship with a grown-up person after all.
*“The Book of Life” outlines five examples of themes that often show up in conversations with people who are emotionally immature. Recognising the signs will help you to identify and, if necessary or possible, avoid the person until they become an emotional grown up!
‘I’m not good at spending time on my own.’
An immature person doesn’t seek time on their own, without distractions, to think about who they are or reflect on their experiences. They constantly find someone or something else to prevent them from any risk of understanding their own mind.
A mature person, on the other hand, uses their insight and self-knowledge to examine and “feel” their feelings, even the difficult and unwelcome ones like rage, envy or shame.
‘I don’t remember much about my childhood.’
While we like to say we had a happy childhood, all children experience some degree of difficulty or pain at some time or another. Our emotional maturity enables us to view with calm insight how our childhood actually unfolded, in all its good and bad aspects.
An inability to remember much about the past doesn’t indicate that it was idyllic or just ‘a long time ago…’, rather that it hasn’t begun to be processed.
‘I’ve never really thought about that before.’
Emotionally immature people find it very hard to talk about their own enthusiasms, sorrows, projects and histories. In a conversation about a relationship break-up, for example, or a childhood regret, you will often hear them say that it’s all too new and they haven’t thought about it before. They aren’t being evasive, they simply haven’t recognised and inhabited their life’s authentic pain and intensity.
‘Everything is great, it’s fine, all fine…’
The emotionally immature person is always in a good mood – all the time! In their cheerily one-dimensional life, they declare everything is fine (their parents, job, love affair, sex life, ambitions and so on). This is because they don’t know how to cope with anything that might be more nuanced and more real, that might entail anger, loss, confusion or wayward desires.
‘That’s just psychobabble.’
If a conversation starts to threaten their emotional integrity, the emotionally immature person will dismiss it as over-complicated nonsense. They prefer the idea of “keeping it simple and not over-thinking things”. This is not based on confidence but self-protection and fear. Just as a child covers their ears and eyes and says “no”, this person is denying painful and scary truths.
* ”The Book of Life” is sponsored by The School of Life, a global organisation dedicated to developing emotional intelligence.