Any time you enter into a new relationship, you want there to be at least some level of common ground. While it’s true that opposites attract and that it’s absolutely possible to be in love with someone who shares no hobbies, interests or life experiences with you, there is one element that should be relatively even, and that’s emotional maturity. When one party is left carrying the weight of this responsibility, it’s quickly felt and you’ll know it.
Why is emotional responsibility so important? In short, it’s what enables you to work through issues with calmness, approach difficult subjects with clarity and speak your mind on important topics. If you find it easy to do these things but notice your partner isn’t quite up to speed, it could be that immaturity is at play. When this is the case, resentment builds and conflict is resolved in ways that aren’t healthy. For a relationship to work, emotional maturity has to be coming from both sides. Here are six ways to gauge whether you’re in a one-sided partnership.
1. You’re the only patient one.
When you’re running a little late for a date, does your partner text you incessantly until you arrive? One trademark of maturity is the ability to wait, even if it’s just for a few minutes, without having a total mental breakdown. If you find that you’re constantly being met with criticism for minimal tardiness or for taking a little while longer to perform a task than your partner deems necessary, you could be dealing with major immaturity.
This is especially the case if patience comes more easily for you and you’re more forgiving and flexible with your time. When your dinner takes a while to come out, when you’re stuck in a traffic jam or when a group text member isn’t responding right away, who is the first to bring it up? If it’s always them, it’s time for a talk. Things take time (especially the very best things) and if your partner doesn’t seem to ever have a shortage of it, this could be a sign of a more serious inability to manage both emotions and commitments.
2. Your partner always prioritizes friends or work.
It’s true that a healthy romantic relationship is one that allows each party plenty of space for individual pursuits. You should both be able to hang out with your friends and nurture those connections. You should also be able to pursue career goals and pour yourself into doing the best work you can. Yet, if you find that your partner is constantly and consistently prioritizing his friends or his office over spending time with you, this could be a sign of immaturity.
Keep in mind that if you’re just starting out in your relationship, it might take a little time for your partner to get used to splitting his time and attention. This is especially true if he or she is in a high-tech career that demands a ton of time and commitment. Yet, eventually, the pendulum should at least be balanced. If you’re getting used to feeling left out, it could be that your partner isn’t as invested in the relationship as you are, which could lead to deeper problems down the road.
Take the time to talk openly about the issue, make sure you’re both on the same page commitment-wise and ask for anything that you feel you need but are lacking. Ultimately, people make time for the things and people that are important to them. Is he or she sending you a message?
3. You feel the need to change.
We all want to be the best versions of ourselves that we can possibly be, especially when we’re around our significant other. Yet, are you constantly being asked to change who you are, how you look, what you believe and what you do to fit your partner’s version of perfection? If so, these actions could be rooted in immaturity. A mature person understands that you have your own unique hobbies, interests, talents, and style and will love you even more for that individuality.
Trying to make you fit into a specific mold isn’t just insensitive — it’s also a major waste of time. Researchers show that even if we’re able to temporarily metamorphose into who our partners want us to be, ultimately our personalities, motivations, and visions will win out in the end. Why spin your wheels when you could be with someone who loves you for you?
4. Your needs aren’t being met.
No one is a doormat, and that includes your partner. If you’re constantly spouting out unrealistic demands and requests but are left feeling unsatisfied, it could be that your “needs” are a little excessive. However, if you are asking for basic ideals including connection, time together, attention, romance and kindness and keep on coming up short, there is a problem at hand.
An emotionally mature person can gauge when someone feels unloved, unworthy or unqualified in a relationship and can respond and reciprocate appropriately. If you think your partner senses that you’re always left wanting more and doesn’t respond, speak up. It could be that he or she simply missed the signs (however obvious they seemed to you). In that case, give him a little time to make it right. If the situation continues, however, reevaluate if it’s worth staying in a one-sided relationship at the end of the day.
5. Arguments drag on.
The occasional disagreement is natural in any relationship. Discord breeds conversation and ultimately leads to growth. However, it’s important that both you and your partner are able to use these circumstances to talk about underlying issues, address anything that needs repairing and move forward in a healthy manner. Do you find that your partner cannot do this? Instead, is he or she a pouter who drags every argument into the ground and holds a grudge for weeks on end?
If your partner’s attitude is trash after every argument and you find yourself groveling just to keep the peace, that’s a sure sign of immaturity. You should both be able to eventually put aside differences, meet in the middle and come out of the argument with both an open mind and a greater level of compassion for one another. Don’t settle for anything less.
6. There is no talk of the future.
Maybe you’ve been planning your wedding and future children’s names since you were a tween. Or, maybe you now found someone who has your wheels turning about what life might look like a few years down the road. Regardless, if you’re in a long-term and committed relationship, the future should come up and you should both be working toward it together.
If you find that every time you bring up the next step in your relationship that your partner grabs his or her phone and scrolls aimlessly or avoids talking about it, it’s time to take a step back. A need to keep things light, fun and unattached signals emotional immaturity and an inability or unwillingness to process deep emotions. If you’re just looking for a casual fling, this might not be a red flag for you. On the other hand, if you’re more serious about the union than your partner is, it might be time to consider whether or not your long-term plans need to change.
At the end of the day, a relationship in which one person is more emotionally mature than the next will only work for so long. After that, you’ll be forced to reckon with idea that you might always be taking the high road in arguments, planning, discussions, and decisions. That’s too heavy of a load for anyone to bear, so find someone you can talk openly with, share your feelings with and move forward into the future with confidence.