One of the essential elements in human relationships involves emotional maturity. Those that attain this maturity can lead happy, productive, and progressive lives as well as relate well with others. What does emotional maturity entail? How can one achieve it, and is there an age where people naturally become emotionally mature?
Contrary to popular belief, the aspect of emotional maturity has little or nothing to do with self-development or self-mastery. While emotionally mature people may pursue these values, they have nothing to do with the former.
Emotional maturity definition
What is emotional maturity? It is a person’s ability to handle situations without unnecessarily escalating them. Instead of seeking to blame someone else for their problems or behaviour, emotionally mature people seek to fix the problem or behaviour and accept accountability for their actions.
What are the signs of emotional immaturity?
What does emotional maturity look like? Here are some of the traits that most emotionally mature adults exhibit.
1. Recognizing and admitting when one is wrong
For most people, it is easy to deny responsibility or become defensive when faced with the consequences of their ignorance, imperfections, or choices. One of the most important steps in figuring out how to develop emotional maturity involves acknowledging when you are wrong.
Admitting that one is wrong takes courage, compassion, and humility. Mature people do not spend time blaming others for their problems. Instead, they take responsibility for their actions and continually become accountable for their lives.
These people view humility as an essential step towards finding solutions for problems. They are aware that they are solely responsible for the outcomes of their decisions, regardless of what such outcomes might be.
2. Being aware of their place in the world
Being aware of your place in the world simply means that you are able to place yourself in the rightful place within your surroundings, understand your personal bias and be fully accountable for how your position influences your decisions.
For example, if you were born into a privileged life, maturity dictates that you acknowledge this fact and understand how it may affect how others perceive you.
3. Exercising delayed gratification and self-control
A mature person can easily recognize urges that build up in their minds and resist the enticement of acting on them. This self-control is, for example, the difference between acting up and remaining calm when someone irritates you.
Mature people often restrain from doing things that might adversely affect their long-term wellbeing. They recognize that anything worth their time calls for effort, persistence, and patience. They are, therefore, able to delay immediate gratification.
In learning how to be emotionally mature, one must figure out how to identify potential pitfalls that come disguised as instant gratifications. Often, the best solutions to most problems require thorough thinking.
4. Showing empathy
Those who are mature often take time to put themselves in other people’s shoes. Such individuals are aware of their privilege in the universe and constantly take steps aimed at improving the lives of those surrounding them.
Instead of always complaining about situations, mature people will instead take an action-oriented approach towards improving situations. Keep in mind that exercising empathy genuinely calls for humility.
5. Asking for help
Asking for help involves recognizing and admitting that you have a situation you cannot handle, and thus, need outside help. For people who can easily admit when they are wrong, asking for help may not be difficult.
However, if you, like many others, view asking for help as a sign of weakness, then it can prove quite challenging. While one may think that not asking for help is a sign of independence and strength, it is often a sign of emotional immaturity.
6. Setting healthy boundaries
This involves having a well-defined set of things that are acceptable to you and those that are not. Additionally, emotional maturity demands that you defend these boundaries since they largely represent who you are.
Do not assume that others will intuitively know your boundaries. It is your duty to communicate this to them regardless of how they may take it.
7. Asking questions and seeking clarification
Emotional maturity requires one to listen and seek clarification before reacting or responding. Emotionally mature people are less prone to poorly-thought outbursts and can easily control their impulses.
8. Remaining positive and optimistic
Optimism and positivity come naturally to those who have matured emotionally. These traits help keep such people in perfect harmony with themselves as well as with others. These people easily create a balance between optimism and reality.
This especially comes into play in romantic relationships. One of the most important factors in having a long-lasting relationship involves seeing the best in your partner. Constant pessimism is often one of the clearest signs of an emotionally immature woman or man.
9. Maintaining integrity and honesty
Mature people are committed to hearing, seeking, and working with the truth regardless of how stressful or hurtful it may be. They are also willing to tell the truth even when it risks humiliating them or someone they love.
These people also have open minds that allow them to listen and respond to counsel.
10. Showing one’s vulnerability
A lot of us struggle to show the world our imperfections, especially when everyone expects us to be perfect. Looking at people’s posts on social media platforms, one cannot help but wonder whether these people’s lives are really that perfect.
This causes people to hide their true selves since exposing such would be an act of showing vulnerability. Unknown to many though, showing vulnerability is one sign of maturity. If a person can be real, honest, and open about who they really are, then they can be easily trusted.
Vulnerability is a key aspect of mental resilience and maturity.
How can one become emotionally mature?
Here are some of the tips to help you attain maturity.
1. Learn how to exercise mindfulness
Mindfulness involves being present in the moment. Those who do not practice mindfulness often find themselves overwhelmed by the drama of pursuing countless paths in life.
If you can be in the moment and analyze your feelings from a non-judgmental perspective, then you will have better control of your reactions. With mindfulness, you create space to think and separate your feelings from your reactions.
2. Do not take things personally
When you are communicating with other people, do not always assume that what they say is a personal attack on you.
Keep in mind that your opinion might be wrong, and the other person could be right.
3. Identify your emotional triggers
Identifying what triggers your emotions can go a long way towards helping you understand why you react or respond the way you do. Such emotions might include embarrassment, anger or sadness.
You can try writing down the times you were irritated by others and try to identify the underlying emotional triggers. Once you have these triggers figured out, you can then work on controlling them and taking a rational approach to issues.
4. Learn how to be curious
Mature people approach life with a sense of wonder and do not assume they know everything there is to know. Remember when you were a teenager and how you thought the world was at your doorstep? Years later, you realized that there is so much more to life than what you see.
Emotionally mature individuals recognize that there is so much more out there waiting to be discovered.
5. Have a role model
Finding a reliable role model can go a long way in helping one develop a greater level of emotional maturity. When we see a person handling a setback smoothly, we are much more likely to model their behaviour.
These role models allow us to see that there is a better way to manage our emotions and how we can respond to distressing events.
Emotional maturity vs emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence involves the understanding of one’s emotions as well as those they relate with. This intelligence is a prerequisite for emotional maturity. Keep in mind that one can possess the former without necessarily having the latter.
Emotional maturity, on the other hand, involves a person’s ability to function in a healthy, effective, and rational way on all matters involving their emotions. This means being able to think clearly, control oneself, and express feelings appropriately in any type of situation.
When do men emotionally mature?
At what age does a man fully emotionally mature? According to research, men attain emotional maturity at around 43 years of age. However, this research is highly dependent on various social constructs.
The surveys involved in the study relied on both genders to determine what was considered as mature behaviour and whether or not each gender felt the other one exhibited maturity at a certain age.
The question of “when does a man emotionally mature?” was, therefore, answered, taking into consideration some of the traits that were considered as signs of an emotionally immature man. These included showing off, laughing at farts, and eating junk food at odd hours.
At what age does a woman fully emotionally mature?
What age does a woman fully emotionally mature? The answer is 32 years. This is a whopping 11 years earlier than the average man. However, there is a notion that the signs of emotional immaturity in a woman fade faster than in men since the former are wired to be social creatures.
Men, on the other hand, are forced by social convention to learn how to suppress their feelings, thus making them seem less emotionally mature.
How can you gauge your emotional maturity?
There are numerous of online quizzes and tests and quizzes that can help you determine your emotional maturity level. However, take these with a pinch of salt since most of them are for entertainment purposes and are not clinically valid or reliable.
To gauge yourself, begin by asking yourself these basic questions to get a sense of where you are.
1. How did you respond to a recent stressful situation?
When you were under an unachievable deadline at work, how did you express your need for a break? Did you snap at a co-worker or blow off steam at the gym later that evening?
Getting upset with others and failing to take responsibility is a sign that you may need to develop your maturity.
2. Are you often fed up with everything and everyone?
When you are less mature, the world is full of minor annoyances, and you are unaware of your own privileges. Think about how often in a day you complain about others or different situations. Do you express gratitude or stay stuck in reliving everything that has gone wrong?
When things go wrong, do you usually pin the blame on yourself or others? While it is more than normal to have a grumpy day now and then, if you are caught up in self-blame so often or finding fault with everyone around you, it is a sign you should work on your feelings.
3. How did you cope with an unexpected change?
When your best friend reported that they had landed a new promotion or that they were engaged, how did you react? Did you wish them well and ask how you could help them celebrate, or did you withdraw and become annoyed at them for sharing details?
Mature people are able to express their joy to others, even in the midst of sudden change. Emotionally immature adults, on the other hand, have a hard time coping with sudden changes in their lives.
Now that you have found out the basics of emotional maturity, you can easily gauge yourself and find out where you stand. What aspect of this maturity did you find most interesting?