Rob Pascale and Lou Primavera Ph.D.

So Happy Together

Is Your Partner Emotionally Mature?

Here's why it's important for a long-term relationship.

Posted Nov 21, 2018

Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock
Source: Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

When we think of finding a marriage partner, our first inclination is to rely on our hearts. Certainly, romantic love is important, but it’s of only partial value to a long-term relationship. You have to consider other factors when selecting a mate if you expect the relationship to last and grow into something that’s personally meaningful and satisfying. One such issue is the maturity of a prospective partner.

Some aspects of maturity are age-related. Being older brings the benefit of experience and having learned from past mistakes, which presumably should make you better at whatever you’re doing. For those who marry young, say, in their late teens or early 20s, the odds are they’ll have a harder time keeping a marriage together. These are still the formative years, and very young couples may lack the skills and the know-how to keep a relationship on an even keel. Additionally, it’s questionable whether we could really know at a young age the qualities we want and need from a lifelong partner.

A more important issue is emotional maturity, and that’s not necessarily age-related. We’ve all encountered quite a few childish older adults over the years. Emotionally mature adults exhibit a few characteristics that make them better marriage partners. That’s primarily because emotional maturity lends itself to a more stable relationship, one in which partners feel more secure and connected to each other.

Here are a few of the more important characteristics of emotionally mature partners:

  • They are able to control their impulses, are less prone to emotional outbursts, and aren’t quick to anger. They tend to choose their words carefully and are less prone to using abusive language. That means they’re more effective in dealing with conflict and less prone to causing conflicts to escalate and lead to resentments.
  • They tend to be more secure about who they are and, as such, can allow themselves to be vulnerable. Vulnerability allows partners to communicate more honestly with each other and more clearly express their own needs, and that helps to build trust and bonding.
  • They are more compassionate, and as such are better at empathizing with their partner. Empathy is essential to allowing partners to feel as though they are emotionally supported, and their needs and concerns are understood and appreciated.
  • They “own-up.” When they’re at fault, they are more prone to acknowledge a wrongdoing and less likely to try to switch the blame onto their partners. They’re also less prone to lie in order to stay out of trouble, and they tend to learn from their mistakes.
  • They’re likely to have an effective communication style. During conflicts, they are efficient in finding solutions to their problems. That’s because they don’t seek to escalate arguments or head into reciprocity (“You do this,” “Yeah, well, you do that”), and avoid abusive language, insults, and a denigrating tone. Instead, they tend to focus on the problem at hand and treat it is something you own together. A partner who deals with conflicts in that way is more likely to be regarded as approachable and cares about your issues, and won’t try to avoid conflicts, because they believe they’re constructive. When a disagreement ends, emotions de-escalate, and partners come to an understanding they both can live with. They’re likely to feel they’ve accomplished something together, and that gives them a reason to feel good about their relationship.
  • An emotionally mature partner is personally committed to you and to marriage. Commitment, an unwavering allegiance to a relationship and a partner, is a cornerstone of marriage. Personally committed partners see their relationship as the most important thing in their lives and stay married because they want to, not out of necessity or a sense of responsibility. The emotional aspect of personal commitment enhances our marriage, because it directs how we feel about our partner, and how we feel about them regulates how we treat them. Personally committed partners think of themselves not as individuals, but as a team, sharing aspirations, thoughts, and interests, all of which strengthen their desire to stay together.
  • They are emotionally supportive. In a successful marriage, our partner is the go-to person. When we’re supportive, we take on ownership of our partner’s problem, and that makes us both feel more connected to each other. When we feel supported, we feel more in control of our problems, and we’re better equipped to handle them. Knowing we can rely on our partner for comfort, security, and possibly advice when we’re caught up in difficult situations makes us feel like our partner is facing these issues with us, and that enhances the value of the relationship.
  • They are trustworthy. Trust is one of the keystones of any relationship—trust lets us feel secure, because we believe our partner has our back and is loyal through thick and thin. It also allows us to display our thoughts and feelings openly and honestly, because we regard our partner as supportive and don’t worry that they will judge, ridicule, or reject us. The sense of security and predictability that comes with trust makes us feel good about our partner and believe our relationship has long-term potential. These positive thoughts help to keep our emotions on an even keel. When emotions are under control, they don’t get the better of us. So, we’re able to discuss problems openly and with little or no hostility, and have an easier time coming to solutions.
  • They have a secure attachment style. Our attachment style—how we connect with other people—develops from past relationships and sets the rules for our future ones. Securely attached individuals have no trouble making intimate and close bonds to others. In marriage, they treat their partners well, because they don’t regard their relationship as threatening, and their partners tend to treat them better in return.

We’ve probably missed a few, but it’s a good start. So, when you’re out there looking for a prospective partner, follow your heart, but also your head. Before you make the leap, find out whether your partner has at least some of these traits—you’ll be happy you did as the years go by.