Emotional Intelligence

Emotional immaturity with reference to emotional intelligence

13 Mins read
emotional immaturity
emotional immaturity

Emotional immaturity is the best description of someone with low emotional intelligence. Emotional immaturity has a way of shitting on your relationship and mental health. In fact, emotional immaturity has been linked to the onset of mental disorders such as depression and generalized anxiety disorder.

When people talk about someone being immature, they mostly mean that that person has low EQ ( emotional intelligence quotient), they basically mean that that person is emotionally immature.

Emotional immaturity is basically saying that you have low emotional intelligence. Its the lack of the key 4 components of emotional intelligence; self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management.

The downside to knowing if you are emotionally mature or not is that people have different ways of describing emotional immaturity. Some may say that overly expressing your emotions and being overly sensitive is a sign of emotional immaturity, and others may argue that the opposite is true. The fact still remains that you can’t depend on your critics to tell you if you are emotionally mature or not.

Very few people know the true essence of emotional maturity because most of us are just joy riding through life, letting life go as our emotions dictate rather than from a strategic and single minded point of view.

More men suffer from emotional immaturity, in my opinion I think its because most of us don’t have that deep connection with our inner feelings as most women do. Moreover, we lack that practice that most women have had with dealing with their emotions. We are more silent and detached when it comes to our emotions, that is why men hide their feelings.

The sad truth about being emotionally immature is that it results from childhood experiences, the way our mothers raised us in such protective and overly considerate homes. Their love and affection for us put us in this form of safety net where they learnt to deal with our shit without letting us deal with it or at least guiding us through it.

Another sad truth about people who are emotionally immature is that they never really know they are immature, and trying to tell them the truth may result in catastrophic reactions and negative comments because they believe that what they are doing is right in their eyes.

It is almost always a futile game trying to change somebody, change always comes from the person himself, I’m sure most of you reading this are either emotionally immature or are looking for ways to cope with someone who is emotionally immature.

To the emotionally mature, changing the immature person takes a lot of work and the main goal is always to make them see the error of their ways and not to force them into maturity submission, show them who they really are and they will change themselves if they want to.

To the emotionally immature, you may feel offended and attacked by those who are mature, you may feel like the world is ganging up against trying to change who you are, but you have to remember that if you are trying to be who you really are and do what is best for you then emotional immaturity is going to mess it all up, being immature doesn’t affect other people as much as it affects you. Therefore, it is in your best interest to want to change, check yourself before you break yourself.

So what is emotional immaturity really?

Emotional immaturity is characterized by people who are terrible at recognizing their emotions and other people’s, who are bad at dealing with their own emotions and being empathetic to others, hence, making them appear selfish, defensive and overly childish.

Like I said before, emotional immaturity can always be confused for other things. Its very relative depending on the person in question. For example a man not expressing his emotions may appear as emotional immaturity, which may be the case if he is not dealing with and addressing his emotions in one way or another. However, in some cases, him not being open about his feelings may be a sign of emotional maturity, in that, he doesn’t let what he is going through affect the people around him but he also addresses those emotions and feelings to a trusted friend, a priest, or his own exercises such as meditation through mindfulness.

Most people who are emotionally immature may also perceive others to be more emotionally immature than them, this is because they are overly defensive and protective of their opinions and personal standpoints, they get agitated the moment you question their decisions and you run the risk of offending them greatly by telling them who they really are.

Like I said before, the trick to helping someone is to help them see the error of their ways, and then they themselves can take the next steps to helping themselves.

dominic nyabuto

What is the root cause of emotional immaturity

Emotional maturity depends on various factors most of which are the causes for emotional immaturity which include age, culture, upbringing, experiences and mental state. A person who is 10 years old is more likely to be immature as compared to a 30 year old, the same way someone who has experienced more hardships and overcame them is more likely to be mature than one who hasn’t gone through a lot of hard times.

Victor Hugo once said that Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters. Which is true to emotional immaturity:

Adversity creates emotional maturity, and prosperity breeds emotional immaturity.

dominic nyabuto

In the same way that intense physical exercises build your muscle strength, so does life’s struggles and problems build your maturity and emotional health in general. This is true if you are able to grow through each hardship and handle your struggles with a high level of emotional intelligence and maturity.

Which goes so far to explain why some trauma make others emotionally intelligent whilst making others suffer from depression and anxiety.1

emotional immaturity

Culture also plays a role in determining if you are mature enough, for example an African who has been groomed by his traditions to take care of the family, act as the man of the house, vend for himself at a young age and be able to protect his family in times of danger, is more likely to be mature as compared to an American who has been raised in a culture that does more to protect the children than prepare them for the hardships of the future.

This doesn’t mean that the American is immature in any way, but it goes ahead to show that the African may be considered more mature.

The biggie of all of these is the upbringing we go through as children. Having overprotective parents has a way of making kids grow up a little bit slower. Having a parent who is always ready to console you rather than correct you is bound to result in some levels of immaturity. Life is all about learning things, always experiencing new things and learning how to cope with the hardships of life and the struggles that come with the emotions involved.

Being mature becomes hard when almost everything is always being done for you, when you are a parent you may see this as a way of protecting your child from the struggles of life, but in reality you are denying them the chance to grow and learn by themselves. Which is why adults who are emotionally immature are mostly so because of having an over protective parent/guardian.

Here are 10 signs of emotionally immature individuals

They have low levels of self awareness

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.

Everything that is going to help you be better and make it in this life comes down to your levels of self awareness. There is nothing more important in this world than knowing who you are. It is very hard to completely 100% know yourself, it takes time and most of us end up confusing who we realy are to who we are trying to be.

Growth in life and career starts with self-knowledge. Socrates was once asked to sump up what all philosophical commandments could be reduced to, he replied: ‘Know yourself.’The phrase, “Know thyself,” is centuries old, but it’s still relevant today. Research from psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of the ground breaking book, emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ’, shows that self-awareness is crucial for all levels of success.How well do you think you know yourself?

Self knowledge, or basically self awareness, is being able to understand yourself truly, your goals, your needs, your dreams, your strengths, your weaknesses, and everything that makes you you and makes you tick. It is extremely hard to be 100% self aware, some people engage the services of therapists to help them understand themselves better because our minds are skilled at hiding the truth about ourselves from our conscious grasp.

Which is why emotionally immature people rarely see the effects of how they handle emotions, because they are not truly self aware. They don’t see how their emotions affect their decisions, their lives and other people’s lives. Moreover, they don’t see how their over protective childhoods may have turned them into emotional dummies.

Emotionally immature individuals may be stuck in a childish mentality where they expect people to agree with them and go along with what they want rather than trying to accommodate other people’s lives and feelings into theirs.

This brings about their tendency to be selfish and self centered.

They are selfish

Emotional immaturity stems from the need to serve yourself and get what you want regardless of what other people may think and want. Failing to see the necessity of compromising, empathy and selfless giving is a sign of emotional immaturity.

If your partner doesn’t pay attention to your concerns or interests, it’s a clear sign they have some emotional growing to do. Emotionally mature people know that when it comes to relationship its not about ‘me’, it is about ‘us’ and ‘you’.

By choosing to share your life with another person, you choose to take them into account when making your decisions and the steps you take, meaning that their emotions, opinions and feedback is crucial to you as is to them.

If your partner constantly complains about you being overly self centered and selfish, then you may have some emotional growing to do.

Emotionally immature people have this egocentric tendency that has made them believe that the world revolves around them and that their is nothing more important to them than their own interests and needs.

They are very defensive

No one hates being criticized than an emotionally immature person. He/she likes to always be right and not be judged for what he/she is doing. Criticism may make him/her very disoriented because in their mind they are always doing the right thing.

Accepting criticism and taking advise from other people is a sign of emotional maturity, it is a sign of self awareness, that you know we as humans are flawed beings and no matter how smart we are, we always need someone to keep us in check c=because we stumble a lot.

Last week I had to retweet one of Mark Manson’s tweets that spoke to me deeply:

Which is exactly true, personally I always thrive to write the type of tips and how tos that I would personally follow and adhere to, some may think because you know a few things about a given topic then they don’t have to tell you their opinion on it, but in reality we need those opinions and criticism more than most to grow.

That is a sign of maturity.

However, emotionally immature individuals hate being called out on their shit, they are the ones who will be quick to jump to defending themselves rather than hearing what has to be said. They always feel attacked when confronted on their behaviors. They rarely want to hear what you have to say unless you are on their side.

To be mature, you need to be able to listen to what others have to say about you, being criticized is sometimes way more important than being praised, being praised just raises your ego, whilst criticism challenges you to do better.

They get stuck in codependent relationships

Codependency is a behavioral trait that is characterized by an individual enabling another individual in terms of their bad habits, poor mental health, gambling addiction, irresponsibility, or mediocrity in general.

An enabler is a person who by their actions makes it easier for a person to continue their self-destructive behavior by not criticizing and rescuing them. In a codependency relationship – one or both parties enable the other to act in certain unhealthy ways.

Emotionally immature individuals would rather be in a relationship with someone who is basically a ‘yes man’, always agreeing with them and rarely disagreeing with what they have say. This type of relationship is selfish on the immature person’s part because it makes their partner have to conform to what they want or else the relationships will be terminated.

If you are in a relationship with an overly emotionally immature person, and the relationship is mostly codependent, then I would recommend you read my article on the root cause of codependency, it has some great insights to the results of codependency and how to stop yourself from being in such a relationship.

They are very impulsive

A major part of being emotionally intelligent is being able to filter out your emotions though self management. Letting you control your own impulses rather than letting them control you.

You become emotionally mature when you are able to escape the trap of making rush decisions and impulsive actions. Emotionally immature people tend to let emotions to get the better of them, letting impulses control them and making them people who are constantly chasing after the wind.

This impulsive tendencies tend to be seen in the way they spend their money, how they react to failures and rejections, how they handle difficulties in relationships.

They make decisions based on emotions

When you are emotionally intelligent, you will see how emotions can sometimes lead you into making terrible decisions. Some people have thrived on relying on their ‘gut feeling’ for success, but this has more to do with their experiences than their emotions.

In reality, overly relying on your emotions for making decisions will almost always fail, this is why companies do business analysis before embarking on any project, because logic and common sense is more important than emotions when it comes to big decisions.

all is fair in love and war
all is fair in love and war

Basing all your decisions on emotions is a sign of emotional immaturity because you fail to see the logistics and sense of a clear line of thought for making any important decisions. As humans, we are bound to choose our careers, jobs, lovers based on how they make us feel, yes, our emotions, but that doesn’t mean we base these decisions only on our emotions. Emotions are the core aspects, but the logic and reasonable practicality of it all is what makes us choose these things.

Always want to be right

No one is always right, not even God, we have seen many followers of God question him countless times in the Bible that He Himself had to change his decisions on killing thousands of people like in the case of Moses where the Israelites built a statue to worship rather than praising God.

Accepting our faults and weaknesses, and being able to take responsibility for your actions is a sign of maturity, a blind eye to that is emotional immaturity.

Solution: Exercise being more susceptible to criticism and ridicule, everyone is always wrong about something.

They can’t let go

Emotionally immature people have a way of clinging to the past. They like arguing all the time about things that are long overdue or to say the least are not important at all to justify arguing about.

They have a hard time letting go of past offenses and are more prone to keep bringing them up because the truth is that they haven’t dealt with it or better yet they don’t want to. Holding on to past transgressions gives them this victim mentality that in turn helps them justify their actions, that they did this because you did this a while back.

Emotionally mature people learn to handle situations head on and be done with it. They are emotionally intelligent. They address the issue as fast as possible and once they move on they move on, doesn’t mean they wont be affected by what happened, no, they will be affected by it, but they won’t bring it up because they already have the answers and closure that they needed, and that what is left is to just give it time so that it passes away, just like everything does.

They are very possessive

Just like a kid in the play ground who doesn’t want to share his toys is, so is an immature adult when it comes to his relationships.

Being possessive in a relationship is a sure fire way to a break up because no one wants to feel like they belong to someone else, and that what they do has to be in accordance to what the possessive person wants.

To be emotionally intelligent, you have to realize that for someone to be their best version for themselves and for you, you need to let them be who they are without having constraints on them and making them feel like you own them by telling them do what you want – that is possessive.

dominic nyabuto

They have commitment issues

This brings me back to the point where I said that more men are emotionally immature than women. Which explains why most men have commitment issues than women. There are obviously more reasons to that but emotional immaturity is one of them.

Being raised by an over protective mother might make you a little bit skeptical of replacing that with a new relationship with another woman. Lots of songs have been written about this, one of which is Wale’s hit song Ambition featuring Meek Mill and Rick Ross in which he says:

Long as your mama love youdon’t ever love a woman.

wale – ambition

This statement is obviously disastrous but it makes the point. Emotional immaturity means that you are less equipped at handling the emotions, feelings and turmoil that comes with being in a relationship, the effort involved and the responsibility needed to make it work.

Having a relationship with someone who hasn’t matured up emotionally may be very draining, and emotionally exhausting. The best way to prevent yourself from having commitment issues is to make sure that you grow up first emotionally before you embark on sharing your life with someone else, save them trouble of having to force you to mature, because we now know that won’t happen.

Signs of emotional immaturitySolutions to emotional immaturity
Low self awarenessPrioritize being self aware by following my steps in my recent article, the emotional intelligence skills you need. Know your strengths and weaknesses deeply and be open and honest about them to yourself and others.
SelfishnessYou can only beat selfishness by being empathetic, put yourself in someone else’s shoes before making any decision, you will be surprised at how many things you will stop yourself from doing.
Defensive tendenciesBeing right isn’t important if your decisions are harmful and wrong, choose to be open to criticism and then you can better yourself and be right all the time after then.
In codependent relationshipsRealize that codependent relationships may be good for you but very harmful to the enabler, your partner. And if you love them you will choose to work on yourself before embarking in commitment.
Very impulsiveThink before you leap, be accountable for your finances and resources.
Make decisions motivated by emotionsKnow that as much as emotions are the core to most decisions, logic and the practicality of it all is the deciding factor in the end.
Always want to be rightExercise being more susceptible to criticism and ridicule.
Can’t let goChoose to focus on the bright side and give yourself time above all else, be patient.
They are possessiveRealize that the harder you try to hold on to something the more you push it away, to have a long lasting relationship is to let the other person be themselves and work on improving the relationship together rather than one handed.
Have commitment issuesFace your childhood upbringing, confront your reasons for being in a relationship and escape from the fear, push yourself to make the mature calls.
Signs and solutions to emotional immaturity


  1. 21 common reactions to trauma. Retrieved from Psychology Today.
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About author
I'm a psychology enthusiast and a fried chicken lover. I write bite sized articles unpacking the complexities of the human mind. The mission is to advocate for what's more important in life - the pursuit of the truth and the highest good one can do with that truth - for themselves, the people around them and the society as a whole.
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