“A busy, vibrant, goal-oriented woman is so much more attractive than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence.”
~ Mandy Hale
Let’s start this conversation by better understanding the word ‘immature.’
We all have our own understanding of the word’s meaning, but for the sake of getting us all on the same page, let’s take a look at Merriam Webster’s definition: 1. Not fully developed. 2. Inexperienced.
What I love about Webster’s definition of immature is that it holds no evaluative qualities to it. The word merely means “I’m not there yet.” It doesn’t mean “I’m doing this to hurt you,” or “You don’t deserve my love.”
What if we could step back from the words like immature we use to outwardly express our disappointment in our partners and instead spent some time looking inward to decode and identify the very real and scary feelings we had to actually reveal our innermost fears, even to ourselves?
I bet with a little honest digging we might just find some lingering insecurities around our own “I’m not there yet” beliefs.
When we lash out with criticisms and project them all over our partner, what we most likely are screaming is “I’m scared,” but perhaps we’ve never been truly heard before so it’s too terrifying to open up and share that. Or something deep inside us feels insecure and maybe too vulnerable, exposed or inadequate to share it. It may mean we don’t have control of something in our world when control in the past has fearlessly protected us from getting hurt.
So let’s look at “I’m not there yet.”
What I love about that sentence is contains hope and direction. “Yet.” It means “I’m working on it,” and “I admit I’m fallible. Imperfect. Uncertain. Down right mortal.” “I make mistakes,” and “I’m learning.” So don’t mistakenly give up on your partner just because he’s stuck right now. We all get stuck. And we all need compassion and space to grow, especially when it isn’t at the same pace as our partner.
So what is the best way to share both your feelings honestly while also sharing relationship concerns?
Shift your language away from evaluative statements, and end using words like always, never, worst, or other descriptive words that come from a place of opinion or perspective. Instead create observational statements that describe specific behavior that happened.
For example, this is an evaluative statement that can lead to disconnect: “You never put the toilet seat down!” The observational statement that would lead to greater intimacy and sharing of our feelings would be something like, “Over the last week, I’ve had to lower the toilet seat six out of seven mornings and each time I didn’t notice it until I sat down on the cold porcelain and got a freezing shock to start my day. I would be in a better morning mood. I know it may sound silly, but I would feel loved and respected by you if you remembered to lower the toilet seat when you are done with it.”
Try it out!
Kate Houston, Love Coach - www.fabulousandfearlessover40.com
Immaturity can be defined in any number of ways, for example it can refer to a person who is childish, babyish, inexperienced, unsophisticated, unworldly or naïve. Or, let’s just say, not grown up or adult.
Of course, what constitutes immaturity is in the eye of the beholder. What you might think is babyish or unsophisticated may not be viewed that way by someone else, especially not by the man in question.
Yes. He might have a completely different view of himself.
Nonetheless, in my experience, people who arguably behave immaturely are people who have not been allowed to assume adult responsibilities. That’s likely because someone in their life takes on those responsibilities for them. That person assumes that the “immature” person can’t or won’t do what’s required and so she thinks it’s her job to fill the void.
As a result, she may feel resentful, frustrated and disillusioned by the “immaturity” of the man in the question. She may also see herself as a victim. “Why do I have to do everything?”, she will say to herself.
Then, there is his perspective on her.
He might see her as bossy, controlling and demanding. He consequently builds up resentments of his own. Not the stuff of a great relationship.
If any of the above apply in your situation, my questions to you are these: Do you wish to be seen as bossy and controlling? Is this how you want to be in this relationship?
Assuming the answer is “no” on both counts, what do you do -- especially if you love this man and want the best for him and yourself?
Task One: Understand that respectful relationships are the key
It’s important that you do your part in establishing a respectful, adult-to-adult relationship with your lover.
Healthy relationships are respectful ones, where each of you assumes that the other is both worthy and competent.
You each have your strengths and qualities to bring to the relationship. His strengths may be different than yours, but they are of equal value. Therefore, each of you makes room for the other to make a contribution to your lives together.
What this means for you is that, if you want your man to demonstrate his maturity, then you need to step back and allow that happen.
Here’s how you might go about it.
Task Two: Do your part in establishing a respectful, adult-to-adult relationship
- Step out of the parenting role. Don’t be either the boss or the subordinate in the relationship. If you want him to grow up, then don’t treat him like a child.
- Don’t fix him or attempt to fix him. It’s not your job. Instead take a good hard look at yourself, seeing where you might make improvements in your own character and behavior.
- Let him assume responsibility for what’s his to do. If you keep taking over his responsibilities, he will not be able to grow or demonstrate his maturity. And leave room for failure. We all live and learn, don’t we?
- See his strengths and begin to appreciate them. Recall what you love about him, what brought you together and place your focus there.
Adjust your view of him. It may not be that he’s immature. Rather, it may be that he just has a different way of being in the world – a way unlike yours, but still valid. You can then modify your expectations of him accordingly.
Mary Rizk, Transformative Coach - www.maryrizk.com
Maturity means different things to different people.
At some point in our lives, we hope to be considered mature and to display certain qualities that exhibit that maturity.
Here are some guidelines:
- You take your commitments seriously and follow through with your decisions.
- You are responsible and people feel they can depend on you.
- Your comments and ideas are respected and considered valuable.
- You know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
- You are sensitive to others and respect their boundaries.
- Your temperament is steady, even in the midst of turmoil.
If you are noticing that your boyfriend lacks some of these qualities, what can you do?
Just remember, that it is impossible to change anyone else, unless they want to change. Your job is not to “fix” him and unless he’s ready or even aware, he will resist your suggestions.
Granted, he must have some wonderful qualities or you wouldn’t be seeing him and if you can overlook his immature behavior, then you can go on with the relationship. Unfortunately, immaturity is hard to ignore so stop making excuses for him. Let him suffer the consequences of his behavior and maybe a light bulb will go off and he’ll change. If not, it may be time to evaluate your relationship to see if this is really what you want.
Another option is to seek professional guidance.
A counselor will help you understand how his behavior is affecting the relationship, give you insights into why he is behaving this way and perhaps how to better deal with the situation. The time you put into the relationship depends on how much you care. If you feel he’s worth the effort, be patient and hopefully, he’ll “get it” and grow up.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
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