6 Ways to Become More Mature In A Relationship

Exisle author Jenny Brown explains what is required to move beyond childhood and bring the best of your adult self to your relationships. 

1. Have your feelings without letting them dominate; tolerate delayed gratification
Mobilizing our inner adult means learning how to turn down the intensity of emotional reactions. Instead of letting feelings and impulses dominate, as in the childhood tantrum, we use our adult developed brain to turn down exaggerated feelings so that some logical thinking can occur.

You also need to develop the ability to delay gratification and tolerate hard work, discipline and at times unpleasantness, in order to fulfill responsibilities and achieve goals. A mature adult does not expect others to meet their needs and knows that they should not always expect to be gratified.

2. Work on inner guidelines; refrain from blaming
Discovering our inner adult means finding out what our guiding values and principles are in order to stay clear about how to manage ourselves during demanding times.

Look at yourself first to see what part they have played in the difficulty and what’s within their control in order to bring something constructive to the situation. The inner adult refrains from finding fault with another but rather considers how they have contributed to the upset they are in.

3. Accept people with different views; keep connected
Stay connected with people who have disagreed or not cooperated with you. Rather than shut off, retaliate or distance themselves from those who have upset them, the grown-up is able to stay in communication with others in the face of disagreements.

4. Be responsible for solving your own problems
Don’t expect others to solve your problems or step in to take over when tasks are demanding. Similarly don’t jump in to do this for others when we see them struggling. Learning how not to do for others what they can learn to do for themselves is one of the golden rules of adult maturity and to become more mature in a relationship.

5. Hold onto your principles
In relationship to others, you don’t need to be a chameleon who finds comfort by fitting in with the group. Be able to hold your course based on what you believe is right, even becoming a self in our relationships when there’s pressure to change back to old ways of accommodating and maintaining the status quo.

6. See the bigger picture of reactions and counter-reactions
Don’t be ego centric. The adult can learn to see how their point of view might be very different from others who are relating with them. They can look beyond their own upsets to see how they affect others in the flow of impulses that are a part of human relationships.

Rather than shouting ‘What about me!’ the mature adult is thoughtful in reflecting on ‘How are we all impacting each other?’

What do you think of these characteristics of a truly mature person? Does any of this sound easy? Can you think of the last time your reactions to a stressful situation fell short of these standards of maturity? To what extent do you find it possible to maintain the characteristics of the inner adult who:

  • keeps their emotions in line with their values;
  • stays on task even when experiencing discomfort;
  • improves themselves without blaming others;
  • stays in contact with those who are upset with them;
  • doesn’t expect to be rescued by others and refrains from taking over for others;
  • resists the forces to fit in with the group ethos when it contradicts their values;
  • sees beyond self to the patterns of reactions each person is part of?

From “Growing yourself Up By Jenny Brown MSW, Available From Exisle Publishing