Emotionally Immature: Signs And Ways To Deal With One

Written by Harini Natarajan, Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner

Dealing with an emotionally immature person can be quite frustrating, especially when closely associated with them. Such people are ignorant, lack empathy, exhibit impulsive behavior, and are short-tempered, among other things.

Identifying the condition is the first step towards tackling someone emotionally immature. Then, you have to approach this person with patience and perseverance. Remember, the traits mentioned above can make interactions with emotionally immature people difficult and lead to awkward public situations. In this article, we have listed 10 signs that point towards an emotionally immature adult and how you can deal with them. Continue reading to know more.

What Is Emotional Immaturity?

According to the Australian Institute of Family Counselling (AIFC), “Those who are emotionally immature are unable to get past their negative emotions act and react to their feelings and can’t make sense of situations or defend themselves in an appropriate way.” (1)

The American Psychological Association defines emotional immaturity as “a tendency to express emotions without restraint or disproportionately to the situation.” (2)

The AIFC further elaborates why some people are emotionally immature. Like most psychological disorders, the root cause of emotional immaturity is the person’s childhood. Discouragement to express sadness or anger, lack of guidance to deal with conflicts and stresses of growing up, and inability to seek help and support are a few reasons for getting ignorant, defensive, and impulsive (1).

Emotional immaturity is a complex behavioral and psychological issue faced by many. However, knowing the telltale signs can be an advantage while dealing with an emotionally immature person.

10 Signs Of An Emotionally Immature Person

  1. They Avoid Tough Situations – An emotionally immature person tends to avoid a challenging situation. They are not emotionally capable of thinking critically, laying out their points, or open-mindedness to listen to what others have to say. They either do not acknowledge the situation or remove themselves from the discussion. The issues remain unresolved and lead to a rift in the relationship.
  1. They Do Not Empathize – An emotionally immature person does not empathize with other’s emotions and feelings. It is about fulfilling their needs, and they seldom apologize for hurting people with their actions or words.
  1. They Demand Attention – It is humane to seek attention from people that matter the most. However, when it comes to emotionally immature person, they demand attention from everyone. When their demands are not attended they act negatively.
  1. They Are Narcissists – According to the Americal Psychological Association, narcissistic personality disorder “causes people to have a delusional sense of self-worth and lack of empathy.” (3)

An emotionally immature person thinks that they are the most important person, which prevents them from understanding that both parties have equal importance in a relationship.

  1. They Bully And Spread Rumors – What will an immature person do if they do not get what they want? Exactly opposite of respecting someone’s decision and taking a step back. They resort to bullying – make snide comments and spread rumors to avenge their hurt ego. This toxic behavior can ruin a beautiful friendship or relationship.
  1. They Get Defensive – An emotionally immature person not only owns up to their mistakes but also becomes highly defensive when confronted. They make up unreasonable arguments for their actions and even blame the person who is confronting them. They are often incapable of articulating their feelings, which makes them defensive.
  1. They Act On Impulse – Impulsive behavior such as outbursts of anger, uttering hurtful things, or leaving abruptly whenever the situation gets uncomfortable is a classic trait of emotional immaturity. They do not know how to talk logically without getting emotional.
  1. They Have Commitment Phobia – Be it a romantic relationship or career, an emotionally immature person has difficulty committing to anything. They are always in doubt and fear of the unknown. They often disguise this under the pretense of living a happy life to avoid making an effort to build a strong relationship or future.
  1. They Do Not Talk About Their Feelings – Having deep conversations about their emotions makes an emotionally immature person uncomfortable. Expressing feelings and emotions is a sign of weakness for them. This prevents them from getting the help they need. And, also makes the lives of people stressful who deal with them regularly.
  1. They Do Not Like Compromising – Compromise is also a sign of weakness for an emotionally immature person. It has to be their way or the highway. They do not understand that relationships are a two-way street, and to make relationships work, people need to compromise more than once.

If you identify more than one trait that your husband, wife, parent, or colleague exhibits, you know what’s the source of your frustration and dissatisfaction. But there are ways to deal with an emotionally immature person. Scroll down to find out.

How To Deal With An Emotionally Immature Person

  • Draw Healthy Boundaries

Dealing with an emotionally immature person can eventually become toxic, whether your parent, spouse, friend or colleague. Therefore, it is best to draw healthy boundaries. Stop making excuses for them – defending them or giving in to a heated argument. Give them their due attention and politely take your leave while working, watching a show, or just enjoying your “me time”.

  • Show Your Support

The last thing you want to do while dealing with an emotionally immature person is withdrawing your support. It will only aggravate their emotional behavior. Listen to them when they act impulsively and lay out possible solutions. Show them your support by appreciating their true talents and lend a helping hand even if they don’t ask for it.

  • Have A Heart-To-Heart Conversation

It is high time that you sit down with them and have a heart-to-heart conversation. Tell an emotionally immature person that you do not hold any grudges and are there to make peace. But you are also disturbed by their behavior, and it costs your happiness. Putting out the word there can have two outcomes – either they understand, or they don’t. At least, you will have a definitive answer to move forward.


Growing up in an unsupportive environment can lead to emotional immaturity. A person with this trait might exhibit socially inappropriate behavior that hurts others and themselves. Picking up fights or animosity with them will have no winners. The only win here is identifying the signs and arrive at a mutually respectful ground to dismantle this behavior. However, not at the cost of your mental peace in the long run. If there is no effort from the person to change, better keep your distance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an emotionally immature man change?

Yes, but it will take a lot of time and effort from him and you. The change cannot happen overnight. The key here is to be patient.

How do you live with an emotionally immature spouse?

It can be frustrating and stressful to live with an emotionally immature spouse. You can start doing couple’s activities to build trust and help your spouse remain mentally secured and peaceful.

How do you talk to someone emotionally immature?

The best way to talk to an emotionally immature person is by staying calm, not raising your voice, making valid points, being respectful, and not getting hurt by their comments.


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