We humans have a long history of jumping into things before we’re ready — often finding out, later on, that waiting would have been better.
Maybe you’re in a relationship with a man you love, but you can’t help asking, sometimes, “When do men emotionally mature?”
Because, as wonderful as he is, he’s not there yet.
It’s not his fault.
But you’re just not in the same place.
And it’s frustrating for you both.
So, what do you do?
What Is Emotional Maturity?
Before we answer the question, “When do guys mature?” let’s clarify the confusion surrounding this topic and get clear on what emotional maturity is?
While we’ll get more specific in the list at the end of this post, the following traits provide a general idea:
- Ability to keep long-term commitments
- Honesty with themselves and others
- Equanimity in the face of both flattery and criticism
- Capacity for acting on character rather than emotions
- Preference for benefits greater than self-gratification
Why Are Some Men Not Emotionally Mature?
Unfortunately, knowing the answer to “When do men mature?” is no guarantee the man in your life will mature with age.
Many men do, but, alas, some men — or, more accurately, some people — choose to remain immature. The reasons vary.
#1 — They don’t know any better. No mature role model has ever shown them what maturity looks like or how immaturity holds them back. And you don’t count.
#2 — They feel looked down upon by you. And they refuse to imitate anyone who treats them like a child (even if they act like one). So, they double down on immaturity.
#3 — They’re used to blaming other people for their problems. Other people have disappointed them, too. They’re not the only ones falling short of someone’s expectations.
#4 — They’re used to blaming circumstances for their failures. In their eyes, when they fail at something, it’s because of things they can’t control, including other people’s perceptions of them.
#5 — They don’t see a problem with their behavior. They seem to do all right just the way they are, so they think, “Why change?” They’re having more fun than their more mature peers (including their partner) seem capable of.
The Most Common Behaviors of Men Who Aren’t Emotionally Mature
Thanks to a study conducted by Nickelodeon UK, we have the following list of the top 30 signs of emotional immaturity, based on the observations of women:
1. Finding farts and belching hilarious
2. Eating junk food at 2 am
3. Playing video games
4. Driving too fast or racing other cars
5. Snickering a little at rude words or profanities
6. Driving with the music turned up too loud
7. Delighting in pranks / practical jokes
8. Trying to beat children at sports and games
9. Clamming up during an argument (keeps emotions close)
10. Being inept at cooking (not universal)
11. Retelling the same tired jokes and stories when hanging out with friends
12. Being averse to talking about themselves (definitely not universal)
13. Rejecting books/reading because “It’s boring” or “I can’t sit still long enough.”
14. Crazy dance moves (which are at least fun to watch)
15. Having their mom (or resident female) do their laundry
16. Having their mom (or resident female) make them breakfast/meals
17. Wearing trainers/workout clothes to a nightclub
18. Owning a skateboard or a BMX
19. Avoiding vegetables
21. Getting overly excited about stag parties
22. Trying to do impressive stunts on their bike (wheelies, jumps, etc.)
23. Driving a moded car or one with a loud exhaust
24. Making sure you know other girls are checking them out (and aren’t you lucky?)
25. Wearing pajamas — especially cartoon jammies (beats a man hammock or Speedos)
26. Using 900 numbers or questionable “chat” lines
27. Showing off their workout routines, protein shakes, muscle gains, etc.
28. Not tidying up after themselves
29. Wearing saggy jeans
30. Using a cartoon bedspread (Seriously?!)
Honestly, we can think of plenty of worse things you could notice in a guy. And, whatever your gender, emotional maturity is no guarantee of character or greatness of mind.
That said, it’s time to finally answer the question: at what age does a man fully emotionally mature?
At What Age Does A Man Emotionally Mature?
According to the new British study we mentioned earlier (the one commissioned by Nickelodeon UK), the average man doesn’t reach full emotional maturity until age 43.
By contrast, the average woman matures at 32 — a full 11 years earlier — not because they put more effort into maturing but simply because… biology.
The maturity gap isn’t always apparent, though. We humans are a mixed bag.
So, what helps when you see the signs of emotional immaturity in your partner?
Self-awareness is a good start. Turns out that men are almost twice as likely as women to describe themselves as immature. And only one in four describe themselves as mature.
Also, to be fair, sometimes a little immaturity makes life more interesting.
It becomes a problem when the female partner feels the need to mother her male partner (which isn’t fun for either one of them) because she sees him as less mature than herself — and doubts he’ll ever grow up.
Now that we’ve covered the textbook signs of emotional immaturity, what does maturity look like?
17 Signs of Maturity in a Man
Now that we’ve covered telltale signs of immaturity, let’s take a moment to appreciate at least these signs of maturity in a man.
1. He thinks before acting.
He’s learned how to use that gap between stimulus and response. And while we’re all more reactive when we’re tired (making better choices takes energy), he’s more likely to consciously choose a response with a better long-term effect.
Maturity gives him an appreciation for the bigger picture, so he’s more likely to take that into account.
2. He’s flexible and open-minded.
He’s open to perspectives and beliefs other than his own, and he’d rather reach a compromise you can both live than stubbornly cling to what he’s always done, whatever it costs anyone else. This is critical to living in peace with other humans.
He’s learned to bend, either the hard way or by observing and learning from others.
3. He’s patient and understanding.
He wants to understand why when things don’t go according to his expectations.
He’d rather look beyond what he’d initially assumed was correct to understand better where you’re coming from.
He may not change his mind, but he won’t assume that any belief contrary to his is wrong.
4. He’s resilient.
He bounces back when life knocks him down. He doesn’t waste time blaming others or complaining about what happened to him, though he may have every right to. He’ll acknowledge where he went wrong, learn from it, and keep going.
Because he knows it’s up to him to create the life he wants.
5. He’s both realistic and optimistic.
Given a choice between seeing what’s good in his life versus seeing what’s wrong with it, he’d rather focus on what’s good — without losing sight of where he could make improvements that would change his life for the better.
His optimism doesn’t blind him to pain and suffering. He’s just less fixated on the negatives he can’t control and more focused on what he can do to help.
6. He’s grateful.
The mature man is grateful for the good in his life. He notices and appreciates the good in other people and is quicker to express gratitude than to complain about his life and the people in it.
Rather than constantly comparing his finances and lifestyle to his peers, he’s thankful for what he has and especially for the people who make his life richer.
7. He understands and practices self-acceptance.
While he knows he’s not perfect, the mature man doesn’t spend his time wringing his hands over his faults, mistakes, and failures. He celebrates his wins and looks for ways to make improvements.
He accepts himself the way he is and encourages others to do the same. He also focuses on building habits that make winning easier.
8. He learns from his mistakes.
The mature man recognizes his mistakes for what they are and, rather than beat himself up for each one, he takes a closer look at where he went wrong to avoid repeating the mistake and do better. He learns, makes amends where he can, and moves forward.
He doesn’t define himself by his mistakes and failures. He knows he’s a work in progress.
9. He spends more time listening than talking.
This guy doesn’t overwhelm others with long-winded, stream-of-consciousness monologues about himself. If invited, he’ll share stories, but he’s conscious of other people’s attention and too respectful of their time to spend it rambling about himself.
Rather than launch into the same old stories about his past, he’d rather ask questions and listen to other people’s stories. Because he might learn something.
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10. He’s compassionate.
The mature man is compassionate toward others. Faced with suffering, he feels a strong impulse to do what he can to alleviate it because he’s suffered himself. And it’s made him kinder and slower to judge (or make uncharitable assumptions).
He cares more about how people are doing than what people might think of him.
11. He’s forgiving.
Mature men are quicker to forgive because they know the cost of holding grudges, and they refuse to allow resentment to hold them back. They choose to forgive and to let go.
Part of it is due to the mature man’s understanding of how he hurt others in the past. He values the forgiveness he’s received and understands its power — for both sides.
12. He’s supportive — not controlling.
The mature man will support you in your efforts to build the life you want, as long as it doesn’t conflict with his most deeply held beliefs. He won’t try to steer you in a direction that makes him feel more in control of your life or how your choices affect him.
He sees self-discipline as something worth cultivating. Controlling others has no appeal.
13. He’s respectful.
Mature people treat others with respect as people of value with their own paths to take.
A mature man doesn’t demand respect regardless of how he treats other people — including children and teens.
He understands that to be respected — and to respect himself — he must first treat others with the same respect he wants to be treated.
14. He’s generous.
Stinginess is a mark of immaturity in a person, whatever their age. A man who has the resources to help someone but would rather spend that money on items that don’t add real value to his life is not mature. He’s chasing the illusion of value.
Mature men see value in helping others when they can, without expecting to be repaid.
15. He can laugh at himself.
The mature man is capable of laughing at himself. He doesn’t take himself or his failures so seriously that he guards his ego against the slightest hint of ridicule. He knows he makes mistakes, and some of them make for great comedy material.
As long as he can learn from those mistakes, he can turn it all into good. And laughing at himself is part of how he practices self-acceptance.
16. He expresses his feelings.
He doesn’t worry about anyone else’s idea of what it means to be a man. He’s human, and humans have feelings, so he’s not afraid to articulate what he’s feeling honestly.
He doesn’t waste headspace on the opinions of anyone immature enough to think he’s lowering himself by being vulnerable.
He knows what real strength is. And he exemplifies it more and more.
17. He knows he still has plenty to learn — and he’s always learning.
The more he learns, the more aware he is of how much he has yet to learn.
He’s far more likely to listen with rapt attention to someone else talk about their experiences or what they’ve learned than to “mansplain” something of which he has limited knowledge to make himself feel better.
He never stops learning.
Now that you know why your guy is less mature and what emotional maturity looks like, we hope this sheds some light on your relationship and how to move forward.
Whether you work together on cultivating the traits of maturity or take separate paths, we’re glad you took the time to learn more about this.
May you and the people you care about find joy in each other.