Identifying these subtle traits can get tricky. Here’s what to look out for.
By Jaleel & Nicole
It’s shocking how many people were raised by emotionally immature parents. In turn, they grow up to be the same for their own children.
The cycle goes on.
This is what my friend Leanne and I were talking about the other day. She is expecting her first child next year and her greatest fear is becoming an emotionally immature parent.
She grew up with a sensitive and overbearing mother. Her father, on the other hand, was barely at home because of work. But according to her brief interactions with him, he acted the same.
Leanne expressed some concern that she might’ve exhibited the same traits throughout her life. In the process, she’s afraid her daughter is going to end up the same way.
In reality, emotionally immature people are oblivious. They don’t have the emotional capacity to process their feelings, much less, others. Most importantly, it’s difficult for them to know they’re emotionally immature.
Fortunately, it’s easy to spot an emotionally immature parent, partner, friend, or colleague when you know what to look for. That said, here are six of their most toxic traits to get you started.
They Don’t Own Up to Their Mistakes
We hate being wrong.
But being able to verbalize that experience, without getting defensive or angry, shows control over ourselves. Most of all, when we apologize, we convey we’re willing to put aside our ego to make amends.
Emotionally immature people are the opposite.
Instead, they get defensive and will resort to blaming anyone but themselves. That’s because they rarely think anything is their fault. They’re not interested in becoming better people, but only looking like one.
Take for example the coworker I had in my last job. She made my life as an administrative assistant a living hell because she refused to take responsibility for her actions.
She would print out documents in the wrong paper size or commit spelling mistakes. The worst part? She would find a way to blame me in front of our boss whenever she was confronted about it.
I had to pick up her slack and do twice as much of the work just to get the office running smoothly. I liked the job but a big part of the reason I quit was because of people like her.
In the end, I realized the hassle of dealing with her outbursts wasn’t worth it, which brings me to my next point…
They Can’t Handle Their Own Emotions
Like I said, emotionally immature people don’t have the capacity to process their own feelings, much less, others.
With that said, confrontation is their biggest nightmare.
They can’t be vulnerable, not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t know how to. You’ll find them nervously laughing away or bringing up something else altogether.
It’s their way of protecting themselves and their self-image.
If you’re lucky, you’ll witness some of their tantrums. But that’s not because they want to open up to you emotionally. It’s just easier for them to lash out than to make any sense of their feelings.
Leanne’s mother is like that.
She once forgot to pick Leanne up from her play rehearsal in middle school. Leanne waited for hours in the pouring rain with no phone to call her. When she finally remembered, she was furious at her daughter for no reason and yelled at her the whole way home.
This defense tactic is the oldest trick in their book. Speaking of tricks…
They Believe Everything Is About Them
Do you know what the biggest trick emotionally immature people believe in? That they are the center of the universe.
To be fair, it’s normal to have grandiose fantasies sometimes. Who doesn’t want to be handed a silver platter?
But emotionally immature people take it a step further. They actually believe they’re entitled to the world. Therefore, they require constant validation and assurance. Perhaps, even your hard-earned money like Leanne’s parents.
They constantly guilt-trip her into paying for everything. Leanne confessed it wouldn’t be such a big problem have they not made it seem like she owes them so much just because they raised her.
But that’s just textbook emotional immaturity. They’ll recite the times they’ve shown up for you — despite only doing the bare minimum. They’ll make such a big case about why they deserve things. They’ll make sure to tire you down until they eventually win.
In their heads, there’s only one goal: to receive what they’re owed. So, when you finally relent to what they want, they’ll do the next thing on this list.
They Act Selfish
We all have selfish tendencies, but emotionally immature people are on a different level.
That’s because they can get narcissistic. If something is even mildly inconvenient for them, they’ll make sure to resist even doing it. On the flip side, they’ll help out when the situation benefits them.
For example, there was this guy I used to hang out with who only used me for my connections. Whenever he needed me to get him and his friends into a party, he was always eager to take me out on dates or buy me gifts.
But when it was my turn to ask for his help, he would just vanish. He wouldn’t respond to my texts or return my calls. It was like his messed up way of telling me that beyond his need for me, I was nobody to him.
It was such a blow to my ego.
Emotionally immature people have the ability to make you feel that way. They dislike compromise and don’t want to take other people’s ideas into account.
It should always be their way or no way at all.
Unfortunately, their next trait is even more severe.
They Don’t Know How to Be There For You
It wasn’t until I went through therapy this year that I realized I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of narcissistic friends. I’ve always wondered why despite having many of them, I can’t shake off the feeling of being constantly lonely.
That’s because emotionally immature people only care about themselves. They lack the emotional intelligence to handle whatever it is other people are going through.
At first, they may seem like the perfect companions. But you’ll eventually realize it’s only an act to soothe their own egos.
In fact, you’ll find your worries and complaints will not feel valued when you’re around them. Despite being their sounding board, you’ll never get that same energy back.
Suffice to say, their needs and feelings rank higher than anybody else’s. But nothing can compare to this last one.
They Can’t Commit To Anything
Flakey. If there’s a term that accurately describes emotionally immature people, it’s that.
They’re huge commitment-phobes. They’re incapable of thinking ahead and planning for the future because they find taking responsibility for anything in their life is overwhelming.
That’s why emotionally immature people are usually better at going with the flow. They live in the moment because they don’t know how to live life any other way. As a result, they come off as messy and disorganized.
Fair warning, not all people who act this way can be considered emotionally immature. Sometimes, being unable to commit to the future is an obvious sign of anxiety and depression.
But you’ll know they’re emotionally immature when they refuse to be self-sufficient. Instead, they’ll let other people take the responsibility for them.
Exactly like a child would.
To state the obvious, maturity doesn’t come with age. In fact, it seems like the more people are growing into adults, the less emotionally involved they are.
Being an adult doesn’t mean you should have it all figured out already. But knowing that your actions and feelings don’t impact only you but those around you is part of it.
Unfortunately, emotionally immature people lack self-awareness. How do you deal with one?
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that how they act towards you has nothing to do with who you are as a whole. It’s a reflection of where their priorities currently lie.
Therefore, stop picking up their slack or making excuses for their poor life choices. Instead, initiate healthy boundaries with them.
It’s about time you let go of the things that no longer serve you.
At the end of the day, it’s their loss, not yours.