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How to tell if your partner is emotionally mature, even if you've just started dating

How to tell if your partner is emotionally mature, even if you've just started dating
A couple laughing together
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  • Emotionally mature partners make it easier for us to open up and be ourselves.

  • A therapist said there's a difference between emotional maturity and just making someone feel good.

  • She shared signs a partner is emotionally mature, from how they listen to how they handle boundaries.

If you were raised by an emotionally immature parent or grew up in a dysfunctional family, it can be hard to truly know if a new partner is actually emotionally mature or just a smooth talker.

"There's a difference between people who are emotionally safe and people who make you feel good," Dr. Lindsay C. Gibson, a clinical psychologist who treats adult children of emotionally immature parents, told Business Insider. "I think people can often mistake one for the other, much to their detriment."

According to Gibson, there are plenty of people who can provide you with lots of attention and care — at least at first. But people with personality traits like narcissism are doing it for personal gain rather than empathy or genuine interest in you.

Instead, an emotionally mature person "makes you feel comfortable in being yourself," Gibson said. "You feel safe around them because you don't have to put on any roles or pretend to be something that you're not."

Gibson shared some ways to tell if a new romantic partner is emotionally mature, for real this time.

1. They show clear signs that they're listening

Anyone can make it look like they're listening to you at the beginning of a conversation, Gibson said. That's why it's important to observe how it unfolds.

She said someone "can be very intrigued with what you're saying for a while, and then suddenly it flips and it's all about them for the next half hour."

But an emotionally mature person isn't just nodding along with you until it's their turn to speak.

"They think of additional questions about what you've just said to them," Gibson said.

2. They want to learn who you really are

Aside from merely asking questions, Gibson said it's what they ask that makes a person emotionally mature.

"They're really trying to understand what you're telling them, not just paying attention to you," she said.

Instead of asking generic, unrelated questions, "they're engaging with you in such a way that they're interested in the next layer down in what you're saying."

3. They express clear empathy for others

While a dark empath can feign empathy for you and your life, Gibson said an emotionally mature person will express empathy for people whom they don't stand to benefit from.

"Maybe you're telling a story about someone who got hurt in some way, and the expression on their face will show that they're feeling compassion," Gibson said. "They may wince because that's a painful story, but they're giving you concrete, emotional signs that they're experiencing empathy for someone else."

She said it's also important to pay attention to how they treat other people, from waiters to their own friends.

For example, while it's normal for everyone to talk about a friend behind their back at some point, emotionally mature people do it in a way where they focus on how someone made them feel. "It doesn't have to be loaded with a bunch of judgment or derogatory comments," Gibson said.

According to Gibson, emotionally mature people will refrain from black-and-white thinking or labeling others in extreme ways.

4. They regulate their emotions

Gibson said one of the quickest ways to tell if someone is emotionally mature is by observing how they respond to frustration and to other people setting boundaries.

Watching how they behave when they're interrupted in a conversation or have something go differently than expected is "a sign of their tolerance for stress," she said.

If they're charming when things are going well but have intense reactions when things don't go as planned, Gibson said it means they struggle with emotional regulation.

Emotionally mature people will "kind of roll with life, take things with a grain of salt, or keep their equanimity when things aren't going the way they want them to," she said.

For example, if you say you don't want to go to a concert with them on a weeknight, they'll listen instead of trying to pressure you into changing your plans.

5. Your interactions feel relaxed and natural

Just as your body can sense an unhealthy relationship, a healthy one with an emotionally mature person feels easy, Gibson said.

"Do you have to work to make yourself understood, or do they seem to get it pretty early?" Gibson said.

It also helps that emotionally mature people look for places to agree with you, Gibson said.

"They're looking to dovetail with you as much as possible because they like harmony," she said. "They like getting along with people, they don't say impulsive or thoughtless things, and they seem to notice how things affect someone."

6. They're reciprocal

While no partnership is perfectly 50/50, Gibson said emotionally mature partners try to keep things as fair and equal as possible.

"They notice who is giving the most at any given point," she said. For example, if you usually do all the cooking, they'll jump in to grab the groceries and do the dishes.

Gibson said that their ability to notice when there's an imbalance can also mean they're more flexible and willing to compromise in arguments.

7. They're consistent

While it would be great if you could tell who's emotionally mature right away, Gibson said you can really tell with time.

Because so many people have decent social skills and know how to project empathy, it's important to give yourself time to get to know potential partners.

The ones who are emotionally mature will stay that way even when you voice a difference of opinion or watch them encounter a challenging situation. Even in tough times, they'll remain grounded and kind, and that is how you'll know you're right at home with them.

Read the original article on Business Insider