13 Types Of Emotionally Immature People And How To Deal With Each

13 Types Of Emotionally Immature People And How To Deal With Each iStock

You’re a grown adult and you want to have relationships with people who are on the same page, not ones who play childish mind games and don’t know how to act their age. Dealing with emotionally immature people is draining and really annoying, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. Here are some types to look out for and how to cope with their bad behavior without wanting to rip your own hair out. (Spoiler: You’ll probably still want to do that.)

1. The Constant Victim

friends chat on the couch over wine

The world is out to get them, or so they believe. Nothing’s ever their fault and they love to play the victim. Here’s how you deal with it: first, cut the sympathy. They thrive on it. Offer practical solutions instead. When they whine about the same problem for the umpteenth time, remind them gently but firmly about the advice you gave last time. Don’t get sucked into their vortex of self-pity. If they ignore your advice and keep playing the victim, it’s time for some tough love. Tell them straight up: change the situation, or change your attitude. You’re a friend, not a crutch. If they choose to wallow, make it clear you won’t join them.

2. The Drama Queen/King

guy giving girlfriend a piece of his mind

Life’s a stage, and they’re always in the spotlight. Every little thing is a crisis. Your role? Don’t amplify their drama. Keep your responses level and factual. When they go off the deep end over something minor, bring them back to reality. Ask pointed questions: “Is this really as big a deal as you’re making it?” Don’t let their emotional whirlwind sweep you away. Encourage them to put things into perspective and to focus on solutions rather than problems. Remember, your job isn’t to feed their need for drama; it’s to be the anchor that keeps them grounded.

3. The Peter Pan

 

couple playing video games in living room

They never grew up. Life’s all fun, games, and zero responsibility. It’s endearing until it’s not. You need to be direct with them. Tell them it’s time to face the music. Real life isn’t all about partying and avoiding responsibilities. Encourage them to take small steps toward adulthood. Set examples. Talk about your own responsibilities and how you handle them. But, don’t baby them. They need a friend who guides, not a parent who scolds. If they refuse to grow up, decide if you can handle their eternal youthfulness or if it’s time for you to fly away from Neverland. (Do you always end up with people like this in the dating world? Our sister site, Sweetn, has some great advice and tips to avoid them moving forward. Check them out here.)

4. The Jealous Type

frustrated woman with boyfriend in bed

They’re green with envy, constantly comparing themselves to everyone else. It’s draining. First, lay down boundaries. Their jealousy is their issue, not yours. Encourage them to work on self-improvement instead of obsessing over others. Share stories of how you deal with your insecurities, make it relatable. But, if their jealousy turns toxic, be prepared to take a step back. You can’t fix their insecurities, and you shouldn’t have to endure them.

5. The Control Freak

guy freaking out on girlfriend during argument

Their way or the highway, always. With them, it’s all about choosing your battles wisely. Stand your ground on things that really matter. Show them that compromise doesn’t mean losing. In less important situations, sometimes let them have their way to avoid unnecessary conflicts. It’s about maintaining your peace without losing your voice.

6. The Gossip

friends gossiping over coffee at cafe

They love rumors and stirring trouble. Best strategy? Don’t engage. Change the subject when they start their gossip. If they persist, tell them plainly you’re not interested in backbiting. Remind them that talking about others reflects more on them than the people they’re gossiping about. Gossip dies quickly without an audience.

7. The Eternal Pessimist

two friends drinking wine on rooftop

Everything is doom and gloom for these folks. They can suck the joy out of a room faster than a vacuum. Here’s how you deal with them: challenge their negativity. When they start on their ‘everything is terrible’ rant, ask them to name something good that happened. Encourage them to find the silver lining, even in small things. But don’t let their gloom drag you down. Be the beacon of positivity they desperately need, but if they choose to stay in their dark cloud, remember, you don’t have to join them there.

8. The Attention Seeker

guy telling woman boring story on date

They’re always hungry for the spotlight. Every conversation, every situation has to be about them. Handling them requires a balance. Acknowledge their stories and feelings, but don’t let them hijack every conversation. Steer discussions to include others. If they try to monopolize the conversation, gently bring it back to a group level. Show them that real conversations are about give and take, not just take. But if they continue to seek attention at the cost of everyone else, it might be time to rethink your participation in their audience.

9. The Over-Dependent

woman on boyfriend's back outdoors

Emotionally immature people can’t make a decision without consulting everyone. It’s exhausting. Empower them. Encourage them to trust their own judgment. When they come to you for every little decision, start by asking what they think they should do. Nudge them towards independence. But set boundaries; you’re there to guide, not to babysit. If they refuse to take the reins of their own life, make it clear that you can’t and won’t make their decisions for them.

10. The Temper Tantrum Thrower

woman shouting at boyfriend during argument

Adults who throw tantrums like toddlers are infuriating. When they explode, stay calm. Don’t engage with their tantrum. Let them vent, then address the issue rationally once they’ve cooled off. If they refuse to communicate like an adult, step away. Make it clear that you’re willing to talk when they’re ready to have a mature conversation. You’re their friend, not a punching bag.

11. The One-Upman

two friends telling stories at cabin

Whatever you do, they’ve done it better. It’s annoying, yes, but the best response is not to engage in their game. Don’t try to compete. Change the subject, or just smile and nod. If they persist, call them out – politely. Ask them why they feel the need to one-up everything. Sometimes a mirror held up to their behavior is the wake-up call they need. If not, well, at least you tried.

12. The Flake

frustrated woman talking to friend

Emotionally immature people make plans and bail last minute, every time. Reliability isn’t in their vocabulary. With them, it’s simple: stop relying on them. Make plans, but have a backup. If they show up, great. If not, you’re not stranded. And tell them, honestly, how their flakiness affects you and others. Sometimes, they’re not even aware of the impact of their actions. If they don’t change, well, maybe it’s time to find more reliable friends.

13. The Passive Aggressor

two friends at outdoor cafe

Sarcasm, backhanded compliments, and sulking are their weapons of choice. Direct confrontation isn’t their style. With these folks, be direct. Call out their behavior. Ask them what they really mean when they make those snide remarks. Encourage open communication. If they continue to be passive-aggressive, limit your interactions. It’s hard to be friends with someone who won’t say what they mean or mean what they say.

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Sinead Cafferty is a writer who has authored four collections of poetry: "Dust Settling" (2012); "The Space Between" (2014); "Under, Under, Over" (2016); and "What You Can't Have" (2020). She's currently working on her first novel, a dystopian romance set in the 22nd Century, that's due out in 2024.

Sinead has an MFA in creative writing from NYU and has had residencies with the Vermont Studio Center and the National Center for Writing.
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