How to Create More Mature Relationships

E.B. Johnson

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by: E.B. Johnson (Image via Twenty20.com)

Though we like to think of our romantic relationships as a constant, they are really more akin to variables — ebbing and flowing with the different phases of our lives. The partnerships we build in adolescence look nothing like those partnerships that comfort us into old age, nor should they. Our relationships change as we do, and they shift from immature to mature as we realize more who we are and what we want from life.

Relationships are a changing force in our lives.

Relationships happen in ages and in stages, and it’s not irrational to consider them as events that occur in specific relation to where we’re at in our own inner journeys. As a child, you share childish relationships; which help you both work out what you’re doing and what you want on the most fundamental of levels. Aging, however, should bring with it new perspectives, and with that a new view of both the type of partnership that you want, as well as what type of partner you need.

Just as the seasons change, our relationships change too.

Our partnerships should change and grow as we do. As we move away from this need to chase our skewed ideas of “passion” we should find ourselves chasing grander ideals, and partners who add to our experience rather than detracting from it. If you want to start building more stable, fulfilling and satisfying relationships, you have to start from the inside out and embrace those changes within you as well as the new patterns they indicate. Stop letting your life be ruled by juvenile passion and start building mature partnerships that last.

Signs of an immature relationship.

Immature relationships are fraught with difficulty and hardship, and this is because that is the state we are often in when come to them. These relationships are superficial, shortsighted, and often chocked full of conflict and difficult (yet unexpressed) emotions. Power imbalances are common here, as are partners with zero plans for the future.

No one can express themselves

One of the most common signs of an immature relationship is an inability to express. This happens when neither one of you feels safe or confident enough to express what you want or what you need from yourselves or each other. In an adult relationship, both parties know that the only way to be happy together is to work through uncomfortable topics and difficult feelings, and that takes talking and addressing the tough stuff.

Zero future plans

When we’re in a committed and happy relationship, it’s only natural to make plans. When we’re in a superficial or immature relationship, however, no one is planning for the future or imagining a life with their partner in any real way. In this state, it’s honeymoon only, with zero consideration for hardships or doing difficult things together throughout life. There’s no planning when it comes to a juvenile partnership. It’s all about reacting to the here and now.

Arguments as the norm

While conflict and arguments can provide important points for growth, in the immature relationship conflict is used more as a weapon, and is rarely ever analyzed below surface value. When you’re stuck in a juvenile pattern of bonding, you argue over everything and are constantly wondering what’s in it for you. Arguments, fights and conflict become the norm as you both battle it out to see who can come out on top.

Looking for a parent

Those with pain in their childhoods often go looking to correct those childhoods through their romantic partnerships. Trauma and hardship can cause a state of arrested emotional development, which leads to baggage and a perceived need for a new or better “parent”. As adults, however, we have to come to our partners looking for an equal — who can match us in dreams, ability and ambition, in order to build a stable and fulfilling future together (rather than alone). We can’t expect them to correct the pain of our past, as there’s no going backwards…only forward.

An inability to take responsibility

The immature person is one who refuses to take responsibility, either in a relationship or outside of it. They don’t want to admit when they get things wrong, and they want to blame other people when they mess up or hold themselves back. This behavior is toxic, and limits our partnership in a number of ways — not least of which by increasing conflict in our relationships, and making it impossible to connect on a real level.

Giving up or walking away

It’s not healthy to give up and walk away when things get hard. Relationships aren’t easy, and they encompass a number of ups and downs that require our openness and commitment to overcome. When you give up and walk awayfrom your partner in the middle of an argument or tough moment, you’re indicating an unwillingness to work together; and a juvenile behavioral pattern that will continue to undermine your partnerships time after time.

Masters of punishment

Punishing one another in a relationship isn’t normal, and it’s also indicative of a juvenile or immature perspective. When we punish one another, hold a scorecard, or otherwise look to “get even” with our partners, we erode the bonds we share and likewise the trust that stabilizes our connections with one another. Punishing our partners pushes them away, and further corrupts our ideas on love and building lives together.

Everyone else first

Do you or your partner put everyone else first? Do family commitments, social time with friends, or even your pets come before the other person in your life? It’s good to have a blooming life and blooming support networks, but it’s not fair to put everything and everyone else before the person we’ve promised to build a life with. Adult relationships are those which know how to manage the balance and meet their own personal needs while still meeting the personal and social commitments they’ve made to others.

How to build more lasting and mature relationships.

We can move from immature relationships to those in the more adult realm, by getting real on what we want and focusing on authentic love and trust. Finding the right person isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always easy to fix what’s already gone wrong. By tapping into our understanding and our forgiveness, however, we can often find our way to mature and fulfilling relationships that make it easier to thrive as a couple.

1. Sit down and focus on what you want

The first step in building healthier, more mature relationships is getting clear on what relationships mean to you. Whether you are already in a committed partnership, or you’re reeling from the last mistake, it’s never too late to take a step back and refocus on what you want and what you need. It just requires some brutal honesty from you, and the understanding that you alone are responsible for creating the life that you want.

Redefine your commitment to one another, or to yourself. Stop compromising on the things that are important and ensure that you’re working to build a future with someone who wants the same things. If you want a family and they want to be a globe-trotting playboy — it’s probably safe to say that you aren’t working toward cohesive long-term goals. Get real and spend some time deeply considering what matters to you. Base your relationships in reality, and you’ll find happier results.

2. Address needs — don’t run away

Mature partners address their needs and confront their problems head on rather than running away from them. While this isn’t always comfortable, it does ensure a culture of honesty that bolsters your relationship with trust, and empowers you to bloom. Instead of shutting down and shutting off when something goes wrong, we have to get committed to making it better and talking it through. We can’t always run away from our problems, and we certainly can’t run away from ourselves.

Open up to your partner and let them know where you’re at. If you’re struggling with problems in your partnership, find a safe time and place to talk to them about it. Be candid and share your feelings without using any blaming or victim language. Stick to the facts and don’t sugarcoat things for their needs. The more brutally honest we are about what’s going on in our heads and our hearts, the less room we leave for misunderstandings and miscommunication.

3. Build a base of trust and respect

Trust is pivotal to any partnership we build, but it’s especially critical in a mature relationship that is building a temple against time. When we trust our partner we know, implicitly, that they have our back and will fight our corner or protect us when times get rough. Likewise, they can trust that we will always be there to support them in any way that we can, and safeguard their feelings and concerns as if they were our own.

Look for romantic partners who give you the same, going out of their way to prove to you that their love is one which can be trusted. Don’t assume the worst. Look for the best and don’t throw in the towel on the first misstep. Trust is something that takes time to build; we have to prove that we are worthy of it and we have to prove that we can give trust. Build that base every day for longer lasting, more mature and healthier partnerships you can rely on.

4. Find a new perspective

Perspective is a powerful thing, and it has the ability to dramatically transform the way we lead our lives and build relationships. Our perspectives change, and they change with the experiences and memories that we create. When you shift your perspective, you see things in a whole new light and come to understand them as a part of a different picture. Shifting your perspective when it comes to relationships can lead to some surprising transformations, not least of all stability and compassion.

Consider the reasons you’ve come to see relationships as a struggle, or a challenge that almost always ends in defeat. Rebuild and reshape the way you see your partnerships, by selecting the partners that compliment your vision for the future. If you are down on yourself or down on the person that you’re meant to love, a lot of it can lie simply in the way you’re looking at things. Try a new perspective and force yourself to see your love in a new light.

5. Choose forgiveness more often

Is there any gift in this life so capable of inspiring change than forgiveness? Through forgiveness, we learn to understand ourselves differently, and we learn to understand others differently too. Forgiveness is letting go of what was and embracing what is, while simultaneously agreeing to live in the right here and the right now. When we cultivate forgiveness, we build stronger relationships — but it’s a gift that can only be granted from within.

To forgive is not to forget, and it’s certainly not to condone. When we forgive, what we do is to sever the emotional ties that bind us and say, “I no longer hold on to this pain as my own. I release it back into the universe and to the person it belongs to.” It’s the ultimate release, and one of the ways by which we clear our paths forward as individuals and as couples. You can cling to the darkness, or you can let it go. Choose forgiveness for longer lasting relationships.

Putting it all together…

Our relationships age and change from phase to phase, just as we do. In the beginning, we might find ourselves in a number of immature or juvenile partnerships that detract from our experience more than they add to them. Over time, however, this should change as the things we want to begin to change and we start to look for more adult relationships that can help bolster the transformations we’re seeking in our lives.

Building a relationship that lasts isn’t easy, but it is one of the most rewarding experiences we can give ourselves. Shift your perspective and the way you see partnerships. Choose forgiveness and start forgiving yourself and the lovers of your past for all the mistakes that were made. Relationships can be a boon, or they can be a burden. The choice is ultimately ours and occurs in the way we build our relationships and the partners we pursue. Find a partner that you can live authentically and in truth with, and stop running from the things you need. There’s someone out there for everyone, but you have to embrace both what you really want and what you really need to find them.

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Writer. Host. Certified coach. Host of the Practical Growth Pod. Master Practitioner NLP. Get all my books and resources at the link below.

Pelham, AL
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