What All Mature Relationships Have in Common, According to Experts
Many of us have been through the ups and downs of relationships driven by immaturity. Maybe we were too young to differentiate passion from incompatibility, or we were riding the roller coaster of breaking up and getting back together, hanging onto to every bit of drama. We thought it was our main character moment...but, in reality, it was a healthy relationship without the emotional maturity required to be a partner.
Hopefully, as we put in the work on ourselves and our relationships, we realize that stability and security are the hallmarks of a healthy, mature relationship. It's the pursuit of a true partnership, the respect of your partner as an individual and working towards mutual understanding that keep a couple together.
Here's What All Mature Relationships Have in Common
As therapist and writer Sara Kuburic shared with us, all mature relationships are centered around the common theme of acceptance. "Both partners are actively committed to working through problems, communicating and accepting each other for who they are, not for who they want the person to be."
The 7 Signs the Experts Look for in a Mature Relationship
How do you know if you've reached the point of a mature relationship? You'll likely feel solid in where you stand with your partner and you'll understand that even when things are challenging, you're both committed to understanding and supporting each other. But, to get into specific signs, we went to the experts. Here's what relationship therapists look for when they're assessing whether a relationship is built on emotional maturity.
1. Emotional Capacity
Michelle Mouhtis, a Relationship Coach and Licensed Therapist, cuts to the chase. Mouhtis says, "The number-one quality all mature relationships have in common is emotional capacity."
What does that mean? Emotional capacity is your ability to understand and control your emotions, particularly when faced with particularly challenging situations. This is critical to your well-being whether you're a single person or coupled because it comes into play every day in every relationship you have. Can you imagine if you had no control over your emotions and flew into a tantrum at the drop of a hat? That could become exhausting for your loved ones and those around you, particularly for the person closest to you.
When you have a healthy level of emotional capacity, you are able to regulate your emotions and responses to others. You're able to have healthy relationships, to empathize with others and to offer understanding and compassion when times get tough.
2. A Mature Relationship With Oneself
Mouhtis continues with another key element of emotional maturity: maintaining a strong, healthy and mature relationship with yourself. She recommends, "What you can do to work toward a mature relationship is first build one with yourself. Get to know and become aware of your own thoughts, feelings and opinions of how you see yourself and your relationship."
You can better control your emotions and your response to others when you understand yourself. We all know it's important to prioritize mental health, but we have to make sure that actually happens, and that it includes a focus on personal growth, self-esteem and valuing one's own worth first, before that can extend to partnerships and romantic relationships.
3. The Ability to Both Disagree and Understand
In immature relationships, every fight can lead to a break up. Unhealthy relationships and infatuation built on a weak foundation thrive on drama. But, in mature, lasting relationships, both partners are committed to an environment where they can open up, recognize that they may not always see eye-to-eye and, yet, still maintain the care and vulnerability to say, "I love you," at the end of the day.
Mouhtis says, "In a mature relationship, both partners are open to understanding their partner, even if it means they don't necessarily agree with them or are experiencing what they are in the same way."
4. An Understanding of Each Other as Individuals
Mature love also realizes that both partners need to maintain their individuality. Two parts don't necessarily make a whole –– mature couples are whole on their own and have a level of trust that allows them to operate independently. They come together to revel in their true love, but they do not need each other.
5. No Need or Want to Change the Other
Similarly, that individual understanding has to include respecting who your partner is right now, in this moment, and accepting them as they are. An immature love often means holding on to a dream of who your partner could be in the future. You could be hung up on the social media vision of what a relationship should look like or dreaming of a life that isn't realistic with your current partner.
Mature, adult relationships embrace the positive in others and, while everyone should be on their own personal growth path and there is always room for self-improvement, only immature people believe they get to determine that path for their partner.
6. Ownership Over Actions and Impact
You both play a role in the relationship and you have to take ownership over your own actions and how those affect your significant other. Mouhtis says, "If your partner is expressing a concern in the relationship, take what they are saying seriously –– even if you feel your defenses rise. No one is perfect and you have to take ownership for your mistakes and apologize when necessary."
You're both going to mess up on occasion. Perhaps you'll lose your cool over travel plans that aren't going smoothly or take out your work frustrations on your partner, but a mature person can recognize how they've reacted, see how that affects their loved ones, apologize sincerely and move forward. They can also offer that same grace to their partner and they don't harbor resentment toward their significant other.
7. Active Listening Without Judgement
Mouhtis advises, "Listening to your partner without the need to "fix" their problems can help you become a more mature partner. This will give your partner permission to do the same for you, too!" Practice active listening when you're with your partner. Stay engaged as you both share about your day, your goals and your dreams (yes, even if you've been WFH 10-feet away from each other all day!).
Mature people let others speak, but they don't judge. Instead, they focus on offering an empathetic ear and validating their partner's feelings.
How You Can Work Towards a Mature Relationship
If you don't feel like you're scoring 100% while reading through these signs of a mature relationship, don't worry! Part of being in a partnership is recognizing that you need to put in the relationship work. Kuburic advises that it can take continued effort and focus to build a mature relationship. You need to practice strengthening your emotional capacity, spend time working on yourself and your response to others and, when necessary, seek out the professional support of a psychotherapist or counselor to help guide you.