Emotional maturity is a talked about concept in psychology because our feelings make us who we are in reality. When we say that a person is emotionally mature, we mean someone who is able to regulate, control, and express his/her feelings in a desirable manner; just as it is acceptable in society.
The concept also symbolizes a person’s innate ways to express emotions as intelligently as possible. It refers to the ability to fine-tune feelings no matter what the circumstance might be.
Let’s learn more about this topic in this detailed write-up.
Emotional Maturity – Definition
Emotional maturity means understanding one’s emotions and expressing them as desired. It also refers to your ability to tolerate stress and regulate your emotions in such a way, so as to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
In simple terms, emotional maturity is your ability to manage and regulate your emotional responses as per the need of the situation.
An important part of this mature behavior is your ability to tolerate stress and withstand anxiety which is very normal in our daily lives. When you are emotionally mature, you will be able to analyze situations rationally and will not decide in haste.
Emotional maturity also helps you to become mindful of your subtle feelings that otherwise get ignored making you more overwhelmed and irritated in trying times.
When we say that someone is emotionally mature, we picture a person who is calm and composed and knows how well he/she should regulate emotions so that they do not overpower them in any way.
Emotional maturity also means growing up with your feelings in your stride. You know how to manage them, control them, and use them in the most appropriate ways in social circumstances.
An emotionally mature person is self-understanding. He/she continues to work together managing their thoughts and emotions so that they can thrive well in challenges and adversities.
Being emotionally mature, you will be able to resolve conflicts and day-to-day issues in a much more healthy way. Your emotional upheavals will not be able to overwhelm you in any way.
It also needs to be understood that emotional maturity is an ongoing process. You will keep working on the basics because each and every situation that you will come across in life will be different.
Thus, your coping style will vary and you need to practice emotional maturity much more than what you have actually thought about.
Emotional maturity is a key construct that enables how well the person can navigate emotions, understands the discomfort within, and later on cope with it effectively without getting hijacked by anger, annoyance, regret, or guilt.
Thus, a large part of being emotionally mature is your ability to adapt and thrive in unpredictable, challenging situations by staying composed. You should take each negative emotional reaction as a waste of resources. Rather, make these reactions an opportunity for growth and self-development.
10 Signs of Emotional Maturity
Here we come up with some of the notable signs of emotional maturity:
One of the primary signs of emotional maturity is staying flexible and open-minded as much as possible. Sometimes, you may assume that things will work out well, or everything will happen as per the plan. But in reality, it doesn’t happen.
An emotionally mature person will remain flexible. They will create backup plans in case the one in action fails by any chance. They will keep calm and will not feel overwhelmed by any chance.
Moreover, they will take things easy and will prefer to walk along the same path with new plans instead of new ones. In no way, they will deter from the goal they have set beforehand.
2. Be responsible
Emotional maturity involves taking responsibility on one’s shoulders rather than blaming others for the mess. The emotionally mature person is humble and grounded.
They never try to find faults in people and circumstances instead try to change their perspectives and behavior which has led to a messy situations. These people never complain about the circumstances but rather find their way out of the clutter.
3. Knowledge is limited
An emotionally mature person will show humility. They will be open to accepting that there are so many things that they do not know. These individuals know their limitations and are eager to learn from others. They are self-aware and know how much they know and how much more learning is needed to thrive in a complex life situation.
Emotionally mature people are self-reliant and honest, and accept the fact that there are other better ways of doing things than those that they know.
They will not argue just for the sake of having an argument. They are modest and own their mistakes. Their openness to new learning makes them flexible and stay in tune with what others have to contribute to the table.
4. Openness to learning
Emotional maturity is your ability to turn weaknesses into strengths, and threats into opportunities by staying calm and poised in trying times. An emotionally mature person is open to new learning. They believe that every situation has some learning to offer to us. They will ask questions like, “How can I turn this situation my way?”; “What can I do to make things a little better?”
5. Seeks out multiple opinions and viewpoints
Emotionally mature people actively seek opinions and information from others so that they can cross-check their own points of view on the basis of varied perspectives.
In the face of disagreement, they do not freak out, but rather try to analyze their opinions thoroughly on the basis of information given by others.
They are well-informed people and can challenge their own convictions if they feel that they might be wrong as well.
An emotionally mature person is open to cross-checking and validating their personal opinions in newer ways. They will not argue but will try to visualize where they might be wrong.
Emotional maturity brings resilience. In trying times, when setbacks hit and disappointments take over, an emotionally mature person will not feel overwhelmed. They will accept their feelings and validate those as genuine. Moreover, they will fight back and stay strong so that they can find other ways to reach the goal and overcome the setback altogether.
7. Calm disposition
An emotionally mature person is calm and peaceful deep inside. Thus, they do not overreact or go bad with the slightest provocation. They have the ability to manage their emotions in such a way that it doesn’t look overwhelming and massive.
Their mind is clear and thinks rationally. They will analyze situations in depth before responding to it. Emotional maturity will never allow emotions to take over rational thinking. Your thinking will never be blurred and hazy.
8. Emotional maturity defines egocentric behavior
If you wish to explore emotional maturity or learn the skills, you need to leave aside your ego-centric self that clouds your thought patterns. An emotionally mature person has a realistic sense of ‘self’. He or she knows where to draw the line and behave as per the needs of others in a social space.
They have optimistic ideas about ‘self’ yet remain open to others’ opinions and needs. Emotionally mature people do not carry false egos. They don’t have pride that makes them think bigger of themselves.
These people are armed with patience and they know they can sail through trying times without getting overwhelmed.
9. Emotional maturity defies critical evaluation
People who are emotionally mature are easygoing, understanding, and considerate. They prefer to talk to people humbly. Others find them approachable and friendly. Since they have an open-minded demeanor, they can feel for others. Empathy is a key trait in their personality.
An emotionally mature person never criticizes others, but rather tries to explain to them clearly what the fact has to say. They prefer to know others’ truth without judging them. As judgments are based on assumptions and preconceived ideas, these people never use them in their daily interactions with others.
10. A good sense of humor
They have the ability to take things easily and nullify moments of stress with smiles and laughter. Their sense of humor is great and they have the ability to see life as an easygoing journey. People who are emotionally mature usually have higher emotional intelligence. They know the art of dealing with tense situations with laughter and enjoyment.
Levels of Emotional Maturity
Emotional maturity follows a step-by-step process of development. You will behave in mature ways slowly and steadily once you learn to deal with diverse experiences in your daily life.
Do you think that age has an important role to play in emotional maturity? The answer is both yes and no. There are several factors that influence emotional maturity. If you are someone who has experienced various situations in life, you will become a mature person from a very young age.
On the flip side, if you have a friend who had a protected lifestyle in childhood and teen years, he/she may grow up as an emotionally immature adult. So, age is not the only determinant of maturity.
A person’s emotional maturity is based on their ability to respond in a healthy way to turmoil situations in life. Thus, emotional maturity operates in six levels. They are as follows:
1. Level 1 – basic emotional responsibility
The start of being mature symbolizes a state where you will no longer see your emotional states as being operated by outside forces. You will learn to take the onus of your feelings onto ‘self’.
At this level, you will not blame others for how you feel and react to emotionally charged situations. At this stage, you will drop expressions from your speech and will stop labeling your feelings as good or bad.
2. Level 2 – Honesty of emotional feelings or emotional honesty
This level of maturity symbolizes your ability to accept your feelings as they are without judging them. You are free to feel the way you want. In this level of maturity, the person is free from his or her fears and insecurities to feel in a certain way.
They no longer hide or suppress negative feelings, but rather accept them as a part of being human. You are honest with your own feelings and do nothing to pretend something else socially.
3. Level 3 – Emotional openness
This level is related to the willingness of the person to embrace others’ feelings in a better way. They will act flexibly and will consider the feelings of others as genuine and authentic for the scenario.
4. Level 4 – Emotional assertiveness
The goal of this level is to ensure that the person is aware of their own emotional needs and can verbalize the feelings openly to others. It symbolizes developing an assertive tone to admit one’s emotional needs and making the same feelings known to others.
5. Level 5 – Emotional understanding
In this level of development, the person actually gets a clear idea of the cause and effect of their emotional responses. After knowing this, they will take the onus of these feelings onto themselves.
6. Level 6 – Emotional detachment
The person develops the maturity to let go of those feelings that are disturbing. They will detach themselves from turmoil and anxious feelings that give stress and robs inner peace.
What Age Does a Man Emotionally Mature?
The term “emotional maturity” refers to the ability of a person to manage their emotions well.
A person with emotional maturity has a good understanding of himself or herself. It also includes their understanding of the surrounding world. The person can regulate his or her emotions in a skillful manner even in times of difficulty.
In short, emotional maturity refers to one’s control of emotional reactions.
Several factors can contribute to the development of emotional maturity. Age is one such factor that has an impact on emotional maturity.
A group of researchers in Britain conducted a study to find out the age of emotional maturity. An average man develops emotional maturity when they are about 43 years of age.
The researchers conducted the study through the form of surveys. The researchers got the following knowledge:
1. How both men and women defined maturity
2. How they themselves felt about their maturity
3. Whether they considered people of the opposite gender to be emotionally mature.
But we must note one thing here. This study did not have a scientific basis. Various social constructs influenced the results. So, societal conditioning plays a huge role in the development of emotional maturity.
What Age Does a Woman Emotionally Mature?
The same study revealed that an average woman develops emotional maturity at 32 years of age.
People often debate over whether a man or a woman has more emotional maturity. This study helped to somewhat resolve this debate. The data collected for this study revealed that men described themselves as immature.
This might be a reason why a romantic relationship between a man and a woman tends to fall apart. The study revealed women become emotionally mature almost 11 years earlier than men. So, building a strong emotional relationship often proves to be difficult. This could also be a reason why women have the readiness to bear a child earlier than men after marriage.
Women also stated that they felt that they are the “grown-ups” in their relationship.
Women usually develop emotional maturity at an early age. This is because they experience more societal pressure than men. In some cultures, men are usually excluded from developing this trait completely because the societal pressure is usually less on men than women.
How to Develop Emotional Maturity?
Emotional maturity does not grow when life is smooth. It does not grow when everything is happening according to one’s will. A person develops emotional maturity when he or she faces difficult situations in life.
A person with emotional maturity is in charge of their life. Such a person accepts the fact that everything in life will not happen according to their wishes.
Now, let us look into the various ways of developing emotional maturity.
1. Embracing Reality
Reality means ‘the way things are’. It is not affected or influenced by what we think about it. So, embracing reality brings peace and harmony. Whereas, resisting it brings turbulence, pain, or frustration. Sometimes, we can change some realities. But in most cases, it is beyond our control. So, a person should take ownership of one’s reality and acknowledge it. This will help one to move forward on the path of emotional maturity.
2. Delaying Gratification
A person who has delayed emotional maturity lacks self-control. They fail to delay their gratification. They are often unable to tolerate feelings of discomfort that arise from such situations.
So, for a person to grow emotional maturity, patience, persistence, and effort are the key things. A person with emotional maturity is one who knows how to come up with the best solution to a problem. They can do this by delaying the need for gratification for a short time.
3. Seeking Self-Mastery
A person with emotional maturity seeks self-mastery and self-development. They keep an open eye on learning things. They also try to apply their previous learning to all aspects of life. This kind of mindset helps in their growth as an individual. It also takes them forward in their journey toward emotional maturity.
They often like to have a team of therapists or coaches around them. They guide and support these individuals in the act of practicing the right attitudes and life principles. This, in turn, helps them to overcome life’s challenges in an easy manner.
4. Exercising Responsibility
Responsibility means taking accountability for one’s own actions. It helps a person to learn and grow as an individual. Accepting one’s own mistake paves the way for the development of emotional maturity.
Any person with emotional maturity is able to understand that their life is woven the way they want it to be. In other words, they have the will to choose their own destiny. So, individuals with emotional maturity are aware of their own decisions. They know that they are the ones responsible for their life choices.
5. Clarifying Life Goals
It is always important for a person to have a clear vision of his or her life goals. A clear vision provides the personal motivation and incentive to make good choices in life. Individuals with emotional maturity must strive to achieve their life goals.
They should continue even after several failures. A clear vision also helps to delay immediate gratification. It helps to make a positive choice. This further helps in attaining the goals. In short, to develop emotional maturity, hard work, patience, and persistence are the key things.
6. Acting from Integrity
Acting from integrity means acting in consistency with one’s visions in life. To do this, a person must commit to his or her goals. They must have perseverance. They should give up short-term payoffs. This helps in achieving something which is beneficial in the long run. In simple words, it requires sacrifice. This, in turn, helps in the attainment of emotional maturity.
Studies on Emotional Maturity
Two studies done on emotional maturity are highlighted below:
Study on men with emotional maturity:
As we discuss the emotional maturity of men, we must remember one thing. People often debate in a furious manner over topics like these. After all, no man wants to be called immature.
Thus, scientists have conducted several research works on men with emotional maturity. The most important one of those studies is a study conducted in the UK in the early 2010s. The famous entertainment group Nickelodeon UK sponsored this study. They did so to promote one of their upcoming shows.
According to this study, men become emotionally mature at the age of 43. In comparison, women reach complete emotional maturity by the age of 32. As per this study, 8 out of 10 women believed that their romantic partner is “too childish” at times.
The women interviewed in this study found certain behaviors expressed by their partners to be signs of immaturity. Some of these behaviors are:
(1) Being amused by their own flatulence
(2) Playing video games
(3) Remaining silent after a fight or argument, and not taking initiative to make it up
(4) Racing with other cars on the roads while driving
(5) Being unable to cook simple meals
(6) Laughing at curse words or expletives
(7) Wearing cartoon-themed clothes or having cartoon-themed bed sheets
The study also found that 25% of women felt that they were the ones taking all of the important decisions in a relationship. Almost 50% of women felt that they often had to act like a mother with their partners.
Study on the impact of emotional maturity on work performance:
Two Indian researchers, Navdeep Kaur and Kawal Nain Singh, conducted this study on a group of bank managers. (Ref.: http://www.ijamtes.org/gallery/34.july%20ijmte%20-%20677.pdf)
As we know, emotional maturity is an important factor when recruiting new workers in an organization. Nowadays, many organizations focus on non-cognitive intelligence.
This study found a relationship between emotional maturity and work performance. Research findings found a positive relationship between emotional maturity and work performance.
It became evident that emotional maturity is required for the resolution of unnecessary conflicts. At times, It helps to take a constructive approach to problem-solving. It leads to increased work productivity.
Delayed Emotional Maturity
According to the American Psychological Association, delayed emotional maturity or emotional immaturity refers to “a tendency to express emotions without restraint or disproportionately to the situation”. In other words, delayed emotional maturity manifests itself through behavior that is inappropriate.
Let us talk about some signs which show delayed emotional maturity.
- Impulsive behavior – This is especially true of children. But we can also observe it in some adults who lack emotional maturity. They find difficulty in controlling their impulses. So, they act in an unpredictable manner.
- Attention seeking – Young children often seek attention. But this is also true for emotionally immature adults. They may butt into conversations. They might crack inappropriate jokes to be the center of attention.
- Bullying – This might also include name-calling. When adults resort to such immature tactics, they display emotionally immature behavior.
- Avoidance – Emotionally immature people are unable to plan ahead. Their avoidance behavior often manifests through their refusal to engage in relationships. Or their refusal to think about their career or investments.
- Narcissism – Emotionally immature people are unable to think about others’ wishes and feelings. All they seem to care about is themselves.
- Reactive – People who are emotionally immature believe that their life is not dependent on the choices they make. Rather, life is what happens to everyone.
- Living in the past/future – Being emotionally mature means being in the present moment. So, an emotionally immature individual often dwells in the past or future.
Emotional Intelligence vs. Emotional Maturity
Often, people use the terms ‘emotional intelligence and ‘emotional maturity’ interchangeably way. Still, some differences exist between the two of them. Below are the points of differences given in tabular form for easier understanding of our readers.
|Emotional Intelligence||Emotional Maturity|
|Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to perceive, understand, interpret, and evaluate one’s emotions in positive ways.||Emotional maturity refers to the application of knowledge gained through emotional intelligence.|
|This refers to the ability to understand how to handle difficult situations without escalating them unnecessarily.||This refers to the ability to manage one’s emotions under any circumstances.|
|Developing emotional intelligence is the first step.||We can consider developing emotional maturity to be the second step. A person cannot attain emotional maturity without developing emotional intelligence first.|
In simple terms, both these terms are like knowledge and wisdom. Some people use these two terms of their own will. But they are not the same. We must also remember that the development of wisdom is dependent on knowledge.
Emotional Maturity in the Workplace
Emotional maturity is important in the workplace as well. It has an impact on the work life of individuals.
Emotional maturity in the workplace involves acting and behaving in a professional manner. It also shows how to control one’s impulses and personal feelings about something related to work. For example, a person might have a disagreement with his or her colleague. But that does not mean that he or she can fight with them.
Another sign of emotional immaturity can manifest itself through twisted relationships in the workplace. This often results in a loss of productivity on the part of the workers.
As already known, emotional maturity is the ability to deal with reality in a constructive way. So, emotional maturity in the workplace also involves the reduction of inappropriate emotional reactions.
Emotional maturity helps in constructive problem-solving. This, in turn, leads to an increase in work performance.
The Emotional Maturity of a Narcissist
We can consider the characteristic of self-centeredness as a sign of emotional immaturity.
Experts often consider narcissism as an extreme form of emotional immaturity. It mainly exists on a spectrum. Narcissists are thus immature beings. This includes both emotional as well as social.
Narcissists lack empathy. They often prefer to be the center of attention.
If we delve deep, we may trace back to how a person became a narcissist in the first place. Research shows that early trauma leads to separation or detachment from reality.
Experts believe that a narcissist is frozen in childhood in terms of emotional maturity.
How Do You Increase Emotional Maturity in a Child?
Children usually grow and develop at their own pace. But sometimes, they feel that they are a step behind their peers in some way. This may be physical, emotional, or social. Then, life becomes difficult for them.
Immaturity in a child can take the form of shyness, tantrums, or trouble at school.
But there are various ways to increase emotional maturity in a child. We will talk about some of them below.
- Emotional regulation – Parents should urge their children to practice skills that encourage self-regulation. A child must have the ability to understand emotions and control impulses.
- Feelings – Parents should guide their children about how to deal with strong emotions. They must develop a good emotional vocabulary. This will help them to express their emotional states in an easy way.
- Self-assertion – This is the middle road between avoidance and aggression. Parents should teach their children to stand up for themselves. Children should learn to voice their opinions and preferences.
- Problem-solving – This is an important skill that every child needs to learn. A child must indulge in flexible thinking. They must also learn to consider all aspects of a situation before reaching for a solution.
- Repair – This involves making the child learn how to rectify or make things better when they don’t go well. This enhances the child’s sense of personal responsibility for choices and behaviors. This, in turn, leads to increased emotional maturity.
Signs of Emotional Maturity in a Woman
Let us now look at some signs which are indicators of emotional maturity in a woman.
- She is vocal about her feelings rather than expressing them non-verbally.
- She prefers to face and deal with the stress rather than run away from it.
- She is ready to make sacrifices and compromises for the greater good.
- She does not prefer to be the center of attention.
- Her self-worth is not dependent on the relationship that she shares with her partner.
- She does not overreact but rather displays appropriate emotional reactions.
- She does not get defensive when confronted.
- She admits her mistakes and apologizes for them.
Dating an Emotionally Mature Man – How Does It Feel Like
If you are dating an emotionally mature man, you will be more than happy to be with a person who is emotionally sound, caring, flexible, and has the genuine ability to understand the finer emotions of their partner.
- A man with emotional maturity is considered a grown man. The man has both physical and mental maturity. He is responsible and has integrity and his actions do not defy his words.
- A man with emotional maturity is good at making sound decisions. It thus helps in alleviating unnecessary confusion in a relationship.
- He feels responsible for his actions. This act of accountability often helps in maintaining a healthy relationship.
- He has a purpose and acts towards it. This adds more meaning to a relationship.
- A man with emotional maturity is open to awkward communication. This often helps in conflict resolution.
- A mature man respects his partner’s opinions and treats her as an equal.
- He respects his partner’s boundaries. This is the key to every healthy relationship.
Books on Emotional Maturity
You can go through some of the well-known books on emotional maturity. The names are as follows.
Summing Up from ‘ThePleasantMind’
This article helped us to know what emotional maturity is and how it looks. It also talks about enhancing emotional maturity in various ways.
Thus, becoming aware of our own worth as well as others’ helps us to lead a happy and fulfilling life. We should always apologize for our mistakes and must admit when we need help. We should not be ashamed to seek support from others. This helps in personal growth.
Emotional maturity is a fundamental development process of one’s emotional intelligence and value system together.
A Psychologist with a master's degree in Psychology, a former school psychologist, and a teacher by profession Chandrani loves to live life simply and happily. She is an avid reader and a keen observer. Writing has always been a passion for her, since her school days. It helps to de-stress and keeps her mentally agile. Pursuing a career in writing was a chance occurrence when she started to pen down her thoughts and experiences for a few childcare and parenting websites. Her lovable niche includes mental health, parenting, childcare, and self-improvement. She is here to share her thoughts and experiences and enrich the lives of few if not many.