Have you ever been with someone who says they want to be in a relationship and then operates at a teenage level? Have you been this person? This person is acting about half their age or less. You are with this person and assume they will act the maturity level of their age. When the person shows you their emotional maturity is actually younger it can be that they have a stunted growth due to substance abuse in the past. While this can happen with people who are not on drugs or alcohol, I want to talk about it.

The age that a person first starts abusing alcohol or drugs and when they get off of them, is the age at which a person picks back up and starts to mature. If your partner started drinking in his/her teens and stopped using in their early or late thirties, you or your partner may have the emotional maturity of that age. If both parties abused these substances early on and quit later on in life, you can have a couple of adult looking teenage acting people. If this is the case, you may want to ask yourself some questions?

  1. Am I dealing with a teenager?
  2. Am I behaving like a teenager?
  3. Am I equipped to deal with this?
  4. Do I want this in a partner for the next 40 years?

I have seen couples where one or both parties are behaving like teenagers. I was that person in past relationships and had a mirror shown to me of my old self in other relationships. Alcoholism runs in my family and I was introduced to it in my teens. I quickly became addicted and abused alcohol well into my thirties. Although I struggled with getting off of it for years, I was finally able to give it up when my body rejected it after I learned Reiki. This has happened with several students as well. It’s like Reiki cleans us up. I never took a sip after my late thirties.

At that point, my emotional maturity at that period of my life was that of a thirteen-year old, the age at which I began abusing alcohol.

I also worked with a woman who was committed to her personal growth and was up to helping others with her healing practice. Her partner was new to health and spiritual practices and had no emotional awareness. He would blow up at the tiniest of things. He would criticize her to no end.  When they butted heads again and again I asked her, “Did your husband ever drink or use drugs?” Her answer was, a matter of, fact yes. He had recently quit using.

I asked her, “Does it feel like you’re dealing with a teenager?” She said, “Oh my gawd, yes. I don’t know what is going on. How did I get myself into this?”

I told her to pay very close attention to what she allows in terms of how he treats her. I also told her it’s really difficult to change ourselves, let alone someone else, and a teenager at that. If she was going to want to remain in this relationship, this treatment of her will need to change. I also told her it takes a long long time from the time the person stops using to reach emotional maturity…many decades. This is where you will hear people say the term, “He’s a man-child.” I haven’t heard of the female equivalent term… maybe a brat? I heard someone say this about a woman who was stunted in her emotional maturity. “She was bat-shit crazy.” Wounding comes along with this and it’s a good thing to look at the person or yourself as needing help with healing, versus labeling them.

If you suspect you may be acting out with your partner based on your wounding, it’s important to take steps to heal. Make amends and let your partner know you are working on it. If your partner may be growing into their maturity, and you’re being emotionally injured on a constant basis, you may want to seek help from a counselor. If you choose to try to deal with this on your own, make sure to ask your spirit team for help and get support from trusted friends or family. Most importantly, check in with yourself about whether you have the capacity and the willingness to wait decades for a sign of emotional growth. There is no reason to waste a lifetime being treated less than in a relationship.

One of the things that could work in terms of setting boundaries, is to say, “Please don’t talk to me that way.” A mature adult would respond in a way that would stop the behavior immediately and maybe even apologize. An adult with the emotional maturity of a teenager might fight the statement with complaining or saying they can’t say anything right or they might say, “Fine. I just won’t talk.” If this happens, it’s important to say again, “Please don’t talk to me that way. You can also bring in that you love the person and want to be together but this dynamic can’t continue. You can let the person know that it creates distance when they talk to you that way and then remove yourself to take care of you and not allow that person to have access to you if they continue to overstep your boundary.

I want to share with you what one man said when I asked him his opinion on this topic. He said, “I think it’s important to have an understanding of others feelings. Something your partner says may hurt to hear because it could bring up painful memories from the past. Know that your partner has a good heart and isn’t trying to hurt you.” While I believe this is important, I also believe there is no excuse for verbally tearing your partner down. They may not even be aware of the harm it’s causing. The rebellious or angry teenager mindset, however, doesn’t see this at all and will feel criticized. They won’t have the self awareness to see that they are doing something hurtful and may blame the other person for being too sensitive. It’s a tricky situation. If the person is unable or unwilling to take steps to be respectful, the best thing to do is to walk away.

When the majority of your interactions in a relationship leave your hurt, off balance, and the person doesn’t apologize or apologizes and does it again, you know it’s toxic. My question would be, “Is your life worth this pain?”

I plead with anyone in this situation to take a good hard look at what this person is showing you about where they are on a consistent basis and make any decisions from there. You know you have a healthy partner when they are willing to own up to their mistakes, work on their part and show you that they are doing what they said they would. When you have proof that they genuinely treat you with care and respect over time, you will know for sure. Some of my clients walk away and some choose to stay. It’s not an easy thing to deal with at all. If it doesn’t feel good to be with this person, maybe they’re not the right person for your beautiful self. Whatever the case, take care of you.