Boys don’t mature as fast as girls.
Just ask any preschool teacher. While girls are able to play nicely, sit quietly, and talk about their feelings, boys are hurtling around the room bashing each other with blocks. 😉
Fast-forward 20 years, and those impulsive boys have grown into impulsive men who ignore consequences, disregard other people’s feelings, and can’t commit.
You may be dating one of them!
But you’ve probably been told that you’re stuck. He is the way he is. You can wait for him to grow up—in which case you might be waiting forever—or you can move on without him.
You don’t want to pick either of those options. You love being with him!
You don’t want to give up. You want to make this relationship work. Is there hope?
Although some men embrace a playboy lifestyle, other men aren’t emotionally immature by choice. It’s not like they’re refusing to grow up and act like an adult. They’ve simply never learned the skills to be fully present in a relationship.
That’s where you come in.
It Starts with Your Words
Calling someone emotionally immature isn’t a compliment. It’s a criticism.
It implies that you’re more emotionally mature than the person you’re talking about.
If you’re talking about a guy who goofs off, can’t hold down a job, and lives in his parents’ basement playing video games, then you may be right.
But if you’re talking about the man you love—the man you hope to be with forever—then you might want to be cautious flinging those words around.
We all have different skill sets in relationships.
Your guy may be very good at bringing the fun into the relationship, being affectionate, or making you laugh.
Emotional intelligence is important, but it’s only one of the ingredients in a successful relationship.
If you tell your guy, “I’m the emotionally mature one in this relationship, and you’re not,” he doesn’t have much incentive to do anything about it. After all, you’ve got all the emotional intelligence the relationship needs. He doesn’t have to contribute any.
That’s why it’s crucial to see emotional intelligence as something you can work on TOGETHER.
Everyone can learn better emotional skills. None of us ever truly master the emotional work of relationships.
So abandon the label of immaturity and start talking about working together to learn better ways of supporting one another.
Why He’s Not As Good with Emotions
As women, we assume it’s a good thing when people talk about their feelings.
But that’s not the case for men.
Men have a raw deal. Growing up, they’re socialized to hide their emotions. Boys who cry are told to “man up.” Boys learn to police each other, calling overly emotional kids “wusses.”
Yet these boys grow into men who are expected to talk about their feelings with the women they love.
All their lives, these men have been discouraged from showing their feelings. They’ve been rewarded for being rational and analytical. So when women blame them for being emotionally out-of-touch, they don’t react well.
Other men have grown up in families where emotions weren’t talked about. Their parents weren’t comfortable with emotional displays. They never learned the vocabulary to describe how they were feeling. As adults, they feel anxious whenever difficult thoughts and feelings arise.
To add insult to injury, women tend to reward men for appearing dominant, successful, and emotionally controlled. These men get the bulk of female attention and interest. Sensitive guys get dismissed, despite being more in touch with how they feel.
How You Can Help
Once you recognize the barriers preventing him from being the emotionally attuned man of your dreams, you can stop blaming him and start supporting him.
The shift begins with wanting to know more about how he thinks and feels. So ask him! You might need to prompt him with, “It seems to me that you’re feeling X. Is that right?”
Pay attention when he opens up. Ask him additional questions. Reward him by showing him how interested you are in his inner world and how appreciative you are that he shared.
For some men, it’s easier to share when engaged in an activity like driving or exercising. Other men find it easier to open up when talking theoretically about an issue, like the couple in the film you just watched.
Many men have learned to avoid talking about emotional subjects because they feel criticized by their partners. If your guy just doesn’t get it, try not to accuse him of being out-of-touch. Instead, tell him what’s going on for you. You both may have a different understanding of the situation.
If you really need his emotional support and you’re not getting it, take responsibility for letting him know what you need. Don’t expect him to guess. You might even have to tell him point-blank what you want him to say to you.
Part of emotional responsibility is being clear about what we want and expect from one another.
When you make the shift from blaming your guy for being emotionally obtuse to taking responsibility for teaching one another how you need to be loved, it can make all the difference in the world.
One Last Thing….
There is ONE situation in which none of your efforts can change him:
If your guy is a narcissist.
This is not a guy who’s simply out of touch. This is someone who’s acting this way for a reason.
A narcissist doesn’t want to learn how to love and support you in the way you need to be supported. He prefers grand gestures that make him look good over those small reassurances that make you feel supported.
With a narcissist, what you see is what you get. He’s unlikely to change. It’s up to you whether you want to tolerate his behavior.
But bidding him sayonara comes with one big benefit: you’ll know what to avoid with the next guy you meet!