It takes time and practice to become more mature in a relationship. But the fact that you are reading this article means that you are already on the right path!
To become more mature in relationships, you need to learn how to cope with jealousy, communicate with compassion, and stop pretending to be something that you are not. It takes courage to be your authentic self and stop playing mind games with your partner, but it’s something we are all capable of if we make an effort to learn.
Don’t get me wrong; it took me years to get this. I look back on how I treated some of my first boyfriends now and feel ashamed! I didn’t mean any harm, but I was frequently aggressive or manipulative without even realizing it. (I was also a teenager, so I’m not going to be too hard on myself!)
While it’s totally normal to be less mature in relationships when you are young, it’s also easy to go your whole life without ever growing up on the romantic front. This article will give you 10 simple pointers to help you become more mature in a relationship.
10 Ways To Become More Mature In A Relationship
1. Learn To Be Honest
Most human beings find honesty very difficult. We are social creatures, and we want to please our loved ones and fit in with the crowd. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make other people happy, it’s far more important to be honest than to be ‘nice.’
This does not mean you should go around insulting people! It just means that you need to learn to express your authentic feelings, rather than saying ‘that’s cool,’ or ‘I’m fine,’ when you’re actually feeling hurt or angry.
By being honest and transparent, you can nurture healthier relationships because you aren’t building up a secret bank account of anger and resentment that will be cashed in during an argument later down the line.
2. Think Before You Speak
While it’s essential to be honest about your feelings, it’s equally important to think before you speak. It’s pretty tricky to have a respectful and constructive relationship if you’ve got adrenaline coursing through your veins!
So if your loved one says something that annoys you, try to wait a few hours before confronting them.
My husband and I have a mantra in our home: ‘If it’s really important to talk about this, it can wait a few hours.’
Our relationship has become a lot stronger since we started this practice because we can talk about the things that matter without anyone feeling attacked. Trust me; you’re going to open your conversation a lot less aggressively if you take some time to calm down!
3. Practice Non-Violent Communication
I never realized how violent my communication style was when I was younger. I thought violence was just related to dropping bombs or bar fights.
It turns out, the words you use (and how you say them) can be violent too.
Examples of violent communication would be:
- Judging people
- Trying to change people
- Belittling people through mockery or eye-rolling
Dr. Marshall Rosenburg developed Non-violent Communication to help people understand the importance of their words, and communicate with empathy. If you want to be more mature in your relationships, learning more about this communication style is a great place to start.
4. Stop Playing Games
Everyone wears masks and plays games to some extent. (It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s a natural way to cope with the world around you.) With some practice, you can learn to step away from these games, and your relationship can become much healthier.
Game playing involves taking on specific roles.
For example, you might take on the role of ‘the savior,’ when you constantly try to rescue your partner, or ‘the victim,’ when you don’t take responsibility for your contribution to an argument or disagreement.
The problem with playing the savior role is it creates unhealthy dependency, and you end up feeling drained and resentful. Playing the victim game can get in the way of healthy communication and lead to an unfair burden of guilt on your loved ones.
Identifying the games you are subconsciously playing can be extremely powerful. As the light is shined onto your behavior, you can learn how to communicate more authentically and maturely.
5. Don’t Try To Change People
You can’t change anyone apart from yourself.
Trying to change other people is a massive waste of your time and effort. Although self-growth is absolutely possible, it can only come from within.
So if you find yourself trying to change or improve your loved ones, you will only be disappointed. And if you won’t be happy in the relationship unless they change, it’s time to walk away.
Besides, it’s unhealthy to judge a relationship based on how people might change in the future. You’re much more likely to make good romantic choices by reflecting on the past and the present. It takes a great deal of maturity to stop trying to change people and learning to let things go, but it’s such a relief when you finally do.
6. Accept Imperfections
While it’s true that it’s better to walk away than try to change your loved one, we can’t forget that nobody is perfect!
A healthy relationship needs respect and empathy, but it doesn’t have to be easy all the time. In fact, it’s never going to be 100% smooth sailing (sorry, but it’s true!).
Mature relationships include accepting other people in all their flaws. It’s not about saying ‘I’m going to put up with bad treatment,’ but it is about saying, ‘I know you’re not perfect, but nobody is. I can love and accept you all the same.’
7. Adjust Your Expectations
We put so much pressure on our partners these days. We want to find someone who is funny, clever, gorgeous, kind, interesting, adventurous, compassionate… (the list goes on forever!)
It’s true that you deserve to have a relationship with someone wonderful. But it’s OK if your partner doesn’t meet all your needs.
You might have a partner who meets your romantic needs but doesn’t meet your intellectual needs. That’s what friends are for; no one person can be everything!
Before becoming more mature in my relationships, I put an unkind amount of pressure on my partners to be everything to me, and the tension created a distance between us. But I’ve learned to get over this now.
You see, my husband is introverted, and he doesn’t like going to parties or social events. But that’s fine! Instead of bullying him into coming to an event with me, I invite a girlfriend to come along instead. (Or I go by myself!) Different friends and loved ones can fulfill different needs.
8. Practice Deep Listening
It’s easy to go through a whole relationship without ever really listening to what your loved one has to say. Sometimes we think we are listening, but we are just preparing what we will say next or looking for an opportunity to interrupt and give our opinion.
If you want to have more mature relationships, then you can learn ‘Deep Listening.’
Deep Listening is an opportunity to hear what somebody is telling you without giving them any advice or inserting yourself into their narrative.
When they’ve finished sharing, you can try giving a summary of what they just said to you to see whether you have fully understood what they are trying to say, allowing them to clarify or expand.
They say: ‘I can’t stand being at work anymore! It’s like I’m invisible. No one even notices what I’m doing, and I may as well not bother speaking!’
Instead of saying: ‘You need to learn to be more assertive. When this happened to me, I was so mad too. Remember my coworker Sandra who…’
A Deep Listener would say: ‘It sounds like you’re feeling underappreciated and overlooked. Have I got that right?’
And before giving any advice, you could ask permission. For example, you could say: ‘would you like me to offer any of my insight, or do you just need a chance to vent.’
9. Don’t Make Assumptions
Overthinking can kill a relationship.
Someone might say or do something, and then we spend hours trying to analyze what they meant by it. If you’re not careful, you will start giving far too much importance to something that didn’t really mean anything.
Here is an example:
The Trigger: Loved one didn’t reply to my text today
What We Think: Oh no, my boyfriend is mad at me. I must have said something stupid to upset him. Why am I always messing things up? Or maybe he’s bored of me. What if he’s found someone else? I can’t believe this, the cheating £$%!.
What Really Happened: His phone ran out of battery.
Here’s another example:
The Trigger: New girlfriend walked past me in the street with a guy and didn’t wave back.
What We Think: She’s having an affair! I can’t believe she pretended not to know me; that is disgusting behavior. I’m deleting her number now!
What Really Happened: Her brother was in town, and they went to grab some ice cream. She didn’t see you.
While it’s normal to jump to conclusions sometimes, you need to learn how to question our first assumptions if you want to create mature relationships. Instead of getting mad or upset straight away, you can ask for clarification.
If it turns out your gut was right, you can always walk away. But most of the time, the dramas we create in our heads don’t reflect reality. Of course, it takes time to learn healthier responses to things because we have to literally reprogram our minds.
Note: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be helpful if you’re really struggling with negative thought patterns.
10. Get a handle on your jealousy
Jealousy is always going to come up at some point in a relationship. It’s normal! And while it’s essential to find someone that you trust enough to feel secure, you have to realize that the root of jealousy comes from inside yourself and not from external situations.
I used to have a really jealous boyfriend. He would frequently check my phone, and if he saw that another boy had texted me (even about the work schedule) he would convince himself that I was having an affair.
I’m now married, and the same ex-boyfriend started sending me long messages in the middle of the night. But when I told my husband about it, he just smiled and said: ‘poor guy, breakups can be rough for years. I hope you’re feeling ok too.’
You see, the jealousy had nothing to do with the circumstance. It was about each person’s emotional maturity. (I’ve been jealous in my life too, no judgment here!)
If you want to be mature in a relationship, you need to accept that your jealousy isn’t your partner’s fault. Of course, if they behave in a way that causes you pain, you might want to end the relationship. But if you’re constantly feeling jealous when you’re partner talks or hangs out with other people, it could be something that you need to work on in yourself.
At the end of the day, none of us will be mature and loving all the time. It’s normal to have off-days and mood swings due to natural hormonal cycles or stress factors out of our control.
But we have a responsibility to ourselves and to our partner to constantly look for ways to build healthier relationships based on maturity and respect rather than belittling or jealousy.