Do you remember the last time your emotions got the best of you? Is it a comparable outburst when you were a child? In Erikson’s explanation, emotional tantrums or outbursts are results of a child’s autonomy vs guilt stage where they start to take control of things. Tantrums happen when they are starting to assert themselves. They eventually reach a point of where they can control themselves. The American Psychological Association defines emotional maturity as an appropriate emotional control and expression level. But, not everyone is able to reach that level. Some are stuck in emotional immaturity.
A kind reminder to all Psych2goers that this video is not intended to discriminate nor label people. It is only to inform and educate. It also intends to help those who could be struggling with it and those who are dealing with a person who struggles with emotional immaturity.
Emotional immaturity refers to the disproportionate expression of emotion (APA, n.d.). It is the incapacity to express the right emotions, especially difficult ones. You might have encountered someone who fits the description but you’re not really sure if they have an under-developed emotional capacity. So, here are five signs you might be dealing with a person who has emotional immaturity.
- They can be highly impulsive.
“I want this”, and “I’ll get this” are common phrases you hear from a child. They act impulsively and do whatever they want. According to Lindsay Gibson (2015), a psychiatrist and author of Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents, people who are emotionally immature are also incapable of thinking deeply and analyzing the situation thoroughly. Hence, their decisions are usually emotionally charged rather than well-thought-out ones.
- Less Self-Reflective.
The thing about people who are emotionally immature is they tend to refer to themselves all the time but are not self-reflective. They want the conversation to revolve around them. They want everything to be about them. However, when it comes to deep reflection about their lives, they will have difficulty with it. They might have never really thought about certain experiences like heartbreak and what went wrong. They might even blame the other person for the breakup but will never see the things they did wrong.
- Avoid Complications.
For an emotionally mature person, dealing with complications is the best approach to solving any situation. But when you are dealing with a person who is emotionally immature, you do not expect that to happen. Because they are not yet capable of self-reflection or analyzing things objectively, the most sensible thing for them to do is to avoid any complications. They resist any complicated explanation and might neglect your concern (Del Pozo, 2021).
When children fight, they usually resort to bullying and name-calling to protect their feelings. People who are emotionally immature might also act the same. According to a study on adolescent bullying, emotional intelligence or maturity helps in dealing with difficult situations (Cerezo, 2021). But because people who are emotionally immature still lack the tools to deal with difficult emotions, they might resort to playground tactics that children make use.
- Emotionally Insensitive.
Notice a person who is unable to apologize when they are in the wrong. Do they walk away or blame you for the situation? This is what is called emotional insensitivity. A person who is unable to empathize or know the proper emotional response might be considered emotionally insensitive. This trait is also seen in people who are emotionally immature. Difficult emotions are never their forte. They might even be unable to empathize. This is not an indication of a mental issue but rather a sign that they still need more time to develop emotionally.
Dealing with these people can be difficult. It might lead to an argument or even a crack in your relationship. But a proper conversation is the only option you have. You need to know that they might not know that they are already hurting you. This might not be entirely their fault as some experiences might create this trait. So, telling them about how you feel could also help them understand themselves and maybe develop the necessary emotional tools needed in their future. They might need your grace and the space and time to develop these skills. And through that breathing space, they may meet you in your emotional maturity.
If you want to learn more about emotional immaturity you can check out these videos explaining more features of this phenomenon:
Del Pozo, J. (2021, March 29). Epidemic Emotional Immaturity. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://psychologytoday.com/us/blog/being-awake-better/202103/epidemic-emotional-immaturity
Gibson, L. (2015). Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Rueda, P., Perez-Romero, N., Cerezo, M. V., & Fernandez-Berrocal, P. (2021, September 22). The role of emotional intelligence in adolescent … – copmadrid.org. Retrieved from https://journals.copmadrid.org/psed/archivos/1135_755X_psed_28_1_0053.pdf