"Her rude comment silenced the room, but it wasn't the only time." I had to decide what to do about my friend.

Kelly E.

Are emotionally immature friends worth keeping?

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Friendships are not always easy or solid.

In some, you end up making all the effort.

In some, you change and outgrow people.

In some, you start to see behaviors that disrespect your boundaries.

Here are 5 Signs that Your Friend is Emotionally Immature:

1. They call out people’s quirks as faults

“I have to say this, I find your laugh quite annoying,” my old friend Jess said. A group of us were sitting in a circle on the floor in front of the fire, sharing a cheese board and chocolate. Jess’s comment was out of the blue and directed at another friend, Julie. The room went silent. She seemed to want a response.

“Um, okay. Sorry,” Julie said. The group nervously giggled.

“I don’t find it annoying,” another friend said, trying to diffuse the situation. “I think my laugh is worse! I even snort when I really get going.”

We moved on to another topic, but this was not an isolated incident. Jess was the type who often let us know things she didn’t like. “Why do you call people ‘hun’? I don’t like it.” “I need to tell you, I really don’t enjoy the sound you make when you chew.”

It’s fine to state our boundaries, but not everything that offends or annoys us is a boundary violation. There was nothing Julie could do about the way she laughed, and neither should she. She wasn’t laughing that way to be offensive.

Everyone has little things they do, odd quirks and habits, and we don’t have to like all of them to be friends.

What to look for:

Emotionally mature people assess whether their statements are kind, necessary, and true. It might be true that your friend’s laugh is weird and annoys you, but saying it is unnecessary and unkind. Not everything we think needs to be said. Emotionally mature people know that.

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2. They state that they have no friends, to their friends.

There you are, all sitting around the table eating and drinking together, and your friend can’t stop complaining. “I’m just so lonely. I have no friends here.”

What? Who are you then if you’re not their friend?

I’m not sure what goes through the heads of these people. I’ve had a friend who said a similar phrase almost every time we hung out together. Do they say it so we’ll comfort them? Do they want reassurance that, “Yes, you have friends! We all love you!”

If that’s the case, it’s an immature and offensive way to go about it.

What to look for:

Friendship should be natural and equal. Emotionally mature people don’t need constant reassurance. They see the people in front of them, appreciate their friendship, and feel confident in it.

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3. They’re unaware of conversational balance

Emotionally immature people want the conversation to center around themselves. They crave the attention and their low self-worth is bolstered when everyone is focused on them.

You start off sharing an issue or a big win, and within a few minutes the conversation has somehow circled back to their issues and life.

“Maturity is when your world opens up and you realize that you are not the center of it.”
M.J. Croan, author.

What to look for:

Emotionally mature people know that friendships take turns. Sometimes you need support, other times they do. Today it might be all about celebrating your friend’s success, but there will be time to celebrate yours on another day. Emotionally mature people don’t want the spotlight on them constantly. They don’t need it.

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4. They tell you off for not calling

After university, I let some of my old friendships drift away. It wasn’t intentional. Life got busy. I was moving around and working long hours. One day I was eating lunch at the mall when I heard someone yell my name.

I turned around and there was my old friend, charging towards me with an angry look on her face.

“Why haven’t you called me!” she said, embarrassingly loud. I was too stunned to reply.

“I haven’t heard from you in months. What’s that about?”

I hadn’t heard from her either. She had my number, why was it up to me to call?

What to look for:

Emotionally immature people make a habit of blaming others. They can’t see the part they played or that any fault might lie with them.

When mature people haven’t seen each other for a while, they know it’s no-one fault. That’s just life. Rather than getting mad, emotionally mature people are happy to see old friends and make plans to meet up.

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5. They put up walls and hold people at a distance

Vulnerability is a sign of maturity. People who never show their real selves are emotionally immature. They’re unable to let people see who they are because they’re insecure. It feels safer to keep others at a distance.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.”

Sure, they may have been hurt in the past. They might lack confidence. Perhaps they’re trying to impress you. But it’s almost impossible to be friends with people like this.

Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly, says “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.”

Real friendship requires vulnerability. If they don’t let you in, you’ll never be all that close. You can’t get to know who they really are. Those friends remain acquaintances.

What to look for:

Emotionally mature people accept that not everyone will like them. They’re okay with that and show who they really are anyway. They don’t put on masks or try to impress. They’re confident in themselves.

We only need one or two close friendships. It’s not manageable or realistic to expect to find a huge tribe of people you like. That’s why it’s important that the few people you let into your close circle are ones who can be emotionally mature friends: people who treat you with kindness and respect, walk beside you, help you grow, and grow with you.

You don't have to ditch the emotionally immature ones, but maybe don't make them your closest friend.

Photo by Bence Halmosi on Unsplash

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For your uplifting local news. Bringing positivity back to the media. Viral online and magazine writer, bylines in Apple News Spotlight, Mamamia, Natural Parent, Thought Catalog and more.

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