15 Habits That Scream “I’m Emotionally Stunted”

15 Habits That Scream “I’m Emotionally Stunted”

Humans are emotional creatures—none of us are strangers to anger, sadness, frustration, and happiness. However, this doesn’t create an excuse for grown adults to be emotionally immature. Our teens and twenties serve as a time of learning how to become rational, emotionally sound people, often by trial and error. Nonetheless, once we enter our 30s, 40s, and beyond, we should practice the lessons of our youth, knowing how to conduct ourselves in any situation.

Not sure if you’re emotionally mature? Well, here’s how to know if you’re not.

1. You still start bar fights.

men drinking alcohol at the pub

If you’re a 40-year-old man who still lives the frat life, getting wasted and throwing a few punches at the downtown pub, it’s time to grow up, bud. Women your age no longer find a temper-driven dude in neon print shorts attractive. Nothing about this sort of reckless behavior screams, “I’m mature!”

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2. Your girlfriends still label you “catty.”

If you’re the woman in the group who still likes to relive high school gossip and always wants to talk bad about other people, you’re emotionally stunted, Psychology Today confirms. You’d rather be catty and rude than compassionate and kind. This isn’t a good look for anyone, but it’s certainly unacceptable behavior for an adult who should seek ways to positively connect with coworkers, family, and friends.

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3. You grow jealous too easily.

Your poor self-esteem likely came from people who berated you and stomped all over your worth. That’s gut-wrenching; simultaneously sad and infuriating. However, when you’ve never dealt with a lack of confidence, it will likely turn you into a jealous, controlling adult. If you’re a 35-year-old woman who won’t let her hubby shoot pool with the guys because you can’t monitor him, it’s time to reflect on pent-up insecurities.

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4. You go off on social media.

It’s one thing to stand up for what’s right with facts and respectful conversation. But if you’re a grown human being who can’t think through a ranting comment before pressing “post,” it’s time to do a little reality check on your self-control. Take a few moments to consider how your words might impact someone else by recalling times others have hurt you with things they’ve said.

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5. You start the drama.

You’re a grown woman who still has to gossip about “that tacky dress” so-and-so wore to the fundraising banquet. You can’t help but poke the bear when someone else casually mentions that the PTO president is going through a divorce. No matter who it is or what material is in front of you, you twist it to keep gossip circulating.

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6. You get hyped by the drama.

Not only do you start the drama, but it hypes you up. You can’t live without it. Drama is your morning coffee with three shots of ego. Maybe it makes you the favorite person for everyone to talk to at lunch. Perhaps you simply like discussing other people’s misfortunes so you don’t have to think about your own. No matter what your excuse is, whether it’s a defense mechanism or not, you are too old to be fueled by drama. Just stick with coffee. Or a morning job.

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7. Your emotional breakdowns turn physical.

You get mad? You punch a hole in the wall. You get sad? You eat two cartons of ice cream. The emotional overwhelm leads to unhealthy, over-the-top, irrational physical responses. Sometimes, this is simply unhealthy. Other times, it can be life-or-death dangerous. If you’re an adult in. your 30s, 40s, and older, it’s time to understand that emotional breakdowns don’t require a physical response that could hurt you or someone else. Of course, emotional breakdowns are normal and even healthy—when the emotional release is handled in a responsible, beneficial way.

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8. You can’t handle healthy competition.

Whether it’s a church softball game or a round of cards at the dinner table, you can’t control yourself over a little friendly competition. If you’re losing, you can’t cut up with your teammates or talk respectfully to the opponents. And if you lose, people slowly step away from you, knowing you’re about to start a cussing war, sling the board game off the table, or worse. As Stylist points out, it’s time to stop being a sore loser.

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9. You look for ways to be offended.

You might not want to advertise that you love all the drama, so you fly under the radar, finding ways to be offended. Whether it’s what a person said to you, or if it’s that someone didn’t speak to you at all, you discover ways to be mad and pouty with others. This is often a gimmick centered on craving attention or making someone feel bad, but using your emotional immaturity to manipulate people is never the way to go.

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10. You name-call.

You don’t have to sling around cuss words to name-call people. You can tear others down by labeling them “too much,” “crazy,” “pathetic,” “petty,” “needy,” “clingy,” etc. Whether they “deserve” the awful label, matching its destructive definition perfectly, it’s not your place to talk down to or about others. At this stage in life, you should be better than that.

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11. You insult people who go to therapy.

male and female friend chatting on park bench

Don’t want to face your emotional immaturity? Well, there’s no better way to escape your own problems than to point a finger at other people’s hardships. You can easily play this game of smoke and mirrors by insulting people who go to therapy. Obviously, they have emotional baggage they can’t deal with… right? Actually, wrong! They’re being mature and dealing with it by processing it with a professional who can guide them on the best way to move forward. The people who insult therapy are often the ones who need it most… sorry, but it’s true.

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12. You have no “cool down” methods.

man and woman talking on city street

When someone gets you angry, you have no way to cool down. Instead of walking to another room, you hang around in the tension long enough to pop off at someone. Instead of telling someone that the conversation should just be dropped, you feed its flames. You’ve never taken the time to find ways to let it go, so you keep the anger and tension built.

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13. You can’t take a joke.

Self-confidence comes from establishing your worth aside from what other human beings say. If you haven’t done this by the time you’re in your 30s and 40s, it’s easy to take everything as a personal attack. As a result, you can’t take a joke. You don’t know how to let loose and understand that being the brunt of a joke isn’t always an aggressive move on someone else’s end. Learn to laugh at yourself by understanding that your worth weighs far more than any joke.

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14. You get behind the wheel when you’re emotionally overwhelmed.

Stuck in traffic jam. Stressed driver in his car, view from outside

Whether you’re sobbing or fuming, it’s always a good idea to gain your composure before getting behind the wheel. Sure, you might not be drunk and driving or texting and driving, but your emotions, when out of sorts, can be their own sort of distraction. People who are emotionally stunted don’t pause long enough to gain their composure before getting behind the wheel and potentially hurting themselves or someone else.

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15. You “blow off steam” by getting even.

If you’re emotionally stunted, when you finally do take the time to gain your composure, revenge is all you think about. It consumes you. You find your “healing” by damaging someone else, letting them feel the same level of sadness and disappointment as you. But may I remind you of a simple truth (that most adults should have figured out)? Actions have consequences. It might be harder upfront to do the right thing, to simmer down, do the soul work, and find ways to more healthily manage your emotions, but it saves time, heartache, and friendships along the way.

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Peyton Garland is a boy mama and Tennessee farmer who loves sharing her heart on OCD, postpartum life, and hope in the messy places.