15 Signs of Emotional Immaturity in a Woman

Crystal Jackson

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We assign a lot of words to other people, particularly women.

We label them as narcissists. We call them crazy.

We judge their value based on their appearance, sexual behaviors, and dating history.

Misogyny is one reason, but the other is that pop psychology doesn’t always factor in actual psychology or the study of human behavior.

When we better understand why people do what they do, we develop more compassion for them. Perhaps, the behaviors we call selfish or narcissistic are simply signs of emotional immaturity.

What is Emotional Immaturity?

Immaturity can be physical, mental, and even social. There are so many ways we can be underdeveloped and lack maturity. Emotional immaturity is a category all its own.

When we’re emotionally immature, we find it difficult to express and regulate our own emotions. Rather than being in control of our emotions, our emotions are in control of us. They’re the scapegoat for our behaviors and a key sign of emotional immaturity.

While it’s easy to judge, we’ve all been there. We have to be immature before we develop into maturity. Think about that. Consider a time when our lack of knowledge, understanding, or growth impacted the way we behaved.

It’s cringe-worthy, is it not? We all have those moments, and I am no exception.

I think sometimes of being a 30-something-year-old woman dating for the first time after my divorce. I’d met my ex-husband at 19, and I hadn’t dated much before that. Even though I was in my thirties, some of my dating behaviors had the maturity of the 19-year-old.

It’s embarrassing to think of now, but I had a steep learning curve ahead of me. I didn’t know how to be a dating adult. I didn’t know how to handle casual relationships, much less regular ones. But I learned. Through embarrassment. Through experience. Through mistakes and trying again. I learned. If you recognize yourself in these signs, you can, too.

15 Signs of Emotional Immaturity in a Woman

1. She Shows Her Feelings Rather Than Talks About Them

The emotionally immature woman is really good at showing her emotions. She’s not so good at communicating directly about them. Instead, she favors passive-aggressive communication, the silent treatment, slammed doors, and glares from across the room. She’s the woman who sighs heavily instead of simply stating that she’s disappointed and why.

Her behavior is characterized by reacting rather than responding to the world around her. She struggles with articulating her emotions directly — or doesn’t even try.

2. She Prefers to Cut and Run Rather Than Handle Stress

Emotional immaturity can also come in another form — the woman who would rather break up than figure out how to make up. When complications come along, she’s out.

She’d much rather cut and run than figure out how to handle stress another way.

It’s easy to make judgments here, but sometimes, this behavior has more to do with coping skills than anything else — or rather, the lack of coping skills. Often, the woman who cannot handle stress has limited ways of coping with it. She’s not emotionally capable of handling the stressors in her life — although she could develop this capacity. She may be doing the best she can for her level of growth at that moment.

3. She Doesn’t Compromise

Emotionally immature women don’t compromise. They think that sacrifices should be made to accommodate them. They may even have a hard time putting themselves in the other person’s shoes at all.

This “my way or the highway” attitude can damage relationships. It can end romantic relationships and friendships alike. The one-sided nature of a relationship with an emotionally immature woman takes its toll.

4. She Feels Entitled

If you’ve ever met a “Karen”, you likely recognize the signs of emotional immaturity. The set of behaviors our society has named “Karen” include weaponized privilege and a sense of entitlement.

She thinks the world and everyone in it owe her something.

Does that sound familiar? If you’ve ever met a child, you might recognize this attitude. Their perception is that the world revolves around them, and when things don’t go their way, they assume it’s unfair. Their entitlement creeps into all their interactions because they still have the immature mentality of childhood.

5. She Demands Attention

An emotionally immature woman will also demand attention rather than ask for it. She’s the partner who doesn’t want you to spend time with friends or family, the person who expects her friends to drop everything to be there for her at any hour. She doesn’t ask for what she wants. She demands and expects it.

If her verbal demands fail, she’ll switch to other ways of demanding attention with her appearance and behavior.

She will not be ignored. This Petty Betty behavior might seem annoying, but it’s a sign that her emotions are in the driver’s seat and she’s yet to learn how to manage them.

6. She Takes Everything Personally

Another sign of emotional immaturity includes taking other people’s behaviors personally.

The emotionally immature woman assumes every action and reaction is in direct response to her presence.

The bad attitude of the acquaintance she ran into at the store is attributed to a personal dislike rather than the other person being in a bad mood or in a hurry. The romantic relationship that didn’t work out must be due to some deficiency in her character or her inability to choose good partners — not an honest effort that simply ended with the realization they were incompatible.

7. Her Self-Worth is Dependent on the Relationship

A woman who is emotionally immature continues to take the temperature of her relationships — and judges her self-worth accordingly. A partner’s bad mood can wreck her own and make her feel inadequate. A partner who leaves her is evidence of her bad choices and terrible judgment.

It’s not just that she takes it all personally — and she does. It’s that she assumes everything that happens says something about her worth and value as a human being.

Her confidence can be wrecked not just be rejection but by the perception of it.

8. She Overreacts

Emotionally immature people overreact. In emotional situations, they react rather than respond because they are not in control. They haven’t yet learned to regulate their emotions or find healthy outlets. Instead, their feelings build until they break.

The break usually looks more like an explosion. Dating an emotionally immature woman can be exhausting because of the ups and downs of her feelings.

Every little situation isn’t so little when dealing with someone stuck in an immature emotional state.

9. She Gets Defensive When Confronted

Emotional immaturity also comes out when she’s confronted about her behaviors. You’ll recognize her immediate defensiveness. Because she’s uncomfortable, she may try to direct the blame to you or find a way to shift the attention away from her feelings of humiliation, rejection, or disappointment.

Because she hasn’t learned to articulate her feelings, it’s easier to react — badly — to any confrontation, no matter how gentle.

She’s immediately on the defensive and likely hasn’t even heard what’s said before her mind fills in the blanks with her emotions.

10. She’s Critical and Calls Names

The emotionally immature woman also engages in name-calling behavior and can be critical of everyone around her. She expects perfection from others and is often let down. She’s just as hard on herself, even if she doesn’t always show it.

The constant criticism erodes her relationships.

It’s not that she’s a mean person necessarily. She’s just incapable of expressing her feelings and communicating effectively about them. Instead, she resorts to childish behavior.

11. She Has a History of High Drama Relationships

You’ll notice that emotionally immature people don’t just have a history of bad relationships. They have a history of high drama. It’s not just in their romantic relationships either. Their family relationships and friendships are equally filled with conflict.

Every story she recounts of drama shows the evidence of her lack of emotional maturity.

She hasn’t learned to manage conflict, communicate calmly, or address her feelings. She’s just learned to react in the ways that she likely saw modeled growing up.

12. She Can’t Admit to Mistakes and Won’t Apologize for Them

Emotionally immature people have a hard time admitting they made a mistake — and an even harder time apologizing for their behavior. In fact, if you get an apology at all, it will be the kind that avoids responsibility and actually makes their behavior someone else’s fault.

You’ll notice that the emotionally immature woman in your life is never wrong — at least, not according to her.

She’ll shut down or explode before she’ll admit she screwed up. She hasn’t yet learned how to own up to her behavior and make amends for her mistakes.

13. She’s Codependent, Not Interdependent

An emotionally immature woman will also find herself often in codependent rather than interdependent relationships. Because she defines her worth by her relationship, she’s learned to develop unhealthy bonds with little space, communication, or healthy boundaries.

She hasn’t yet learned that interdependent relationships are the goal. She wants to be one half of a couple that does everything together and can’t live without each other.

She doesn’t yet understand that healthy relationships can be secure and still have space, boundaries, separate interests, and the desire for each other without the need of the other person to survive.

14. She Holds a Grudge

It’s unsurprising that a woman who is emotionally immature is a champion grudge holder. She doesn’t yet see the value in forgiving, and she’s never seen the benefit of forgetting either.

A woman who is emotionally immature is likely to bring up past conflict in every single new one.

She just won’t let it go. She may see this quality as realistic or even acknowledge that it’s cynical. She may not be aware that it’s also a sign of emotional immaturity.

15. She Isn’t Self-Aware

Everyone else is always the problem, never her. She’s not self-aware enough to understand her patterns or why other people perceive her the way they do.

She isn’t growing because she hasn’t yet seen that the person who needs to change is herself.

Of course, the same is true of all of us. We cannot control others. The only way to create change is to change ourselves. The emotionally mature person knows this already and has done the work. The emotionally immature person never will — not until they look for their own patterns rather than looking for a scapegoat.

What to Do About Emotional Immaturity in Relationships

Evaluate if the Relationship is a Good Fit

It’s not impossible to have a relationship with a person who is emotionally immature, but it’s important to ask yourself if the relationship is a good fit were it not for that one factor. Sometimes, we’re trying to make a bad fit work rather than acknowledging that we simply aren’t compatible.

Establish Boundaries in the Relationship

Healthy relationships require boundaries. If you’re in a partnership or even friendship with someone who isn’t emotionally mature, you’ll have to be the one to set the boundaries and stick to them. It won’t be easy, but it could initiate positive change in the relationship.

Embrace Open Communication about Individual and Relationship Needs

Sometimes, you’ll need to model emotional maturity by openly communicating about your individual needs as well as your relational ones. If you can’t be vulnerable and emotionally mature, it’s hard to criticize the other person for having the same problem.

Skip the criticism and start talking about what you’d like the relationship to look like and what may need to change for that to happen. Come up with solutions you can work on together, not a list of problems they need to address.

Practice Patience — Change Isn’t Easy

Don’t expect someone who is emotionally immature to grow up overnight. Be kind and patient. It’s hard to change. It’s even harder when it’s embarrassing to admit that you need to do it.

Keep in mind that early childhood factors and even socioeconomic status could play a role in their emotional education. It doesn’t mean they aren’t a good person or good partner. It just means she hasn’t yet learned how to regulate and manage her emotions.

Consider Couples Counseling

Be willing to go to couples’ counseling. I know you think it’s her problem, but it’s not. It’s a relationship problem the moment it starts damaging your connection with one another. Show up ready to do the work because you might learn a thing or two about yourself that needs changing, too.

Emotionally immature women are everywhere.

So are emotionally immature men and emotionally immature non-binary individuals. They are everywhere. Pop culture is permeated with examples of people who built careers off their immaturity — just look at almost every reality star out there.

It’s more entertaining to watch a drama unfold than to see people calmly talking about their feelings and taking responsibility for them. Yet, that’s just what we have to do if we want to become emotionally mature.

We need to nurture the hurt inner child, not lead with their reactions.

First comes awareness. Then, it’s time to do the work to build emotional strength, resilience, and — finally — maturity. It’s easy to recognize the immaturity of others, but can you spot your own in this list? That’s when the real work begins.

Originally published on The Truly Charming

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Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned writer. She is the author of the Heart of Madison series and a volume of poetry entitled My Words Are Whiskey. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, and Elephant Journal. When she's not writing, you can find her traveling, paddle boarding, cycling, throwing axes badly but with terrifying enthusiasm, hiking, or curled up with her nose in a book in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with one puppy and two wild and wonderful children. Crystal writes about relationships, mental health, parenting, social justice, and more. Never miss an update. Subscribe to emails: https://crystaljacksonwriter.substack.com/

Madison, GA
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