Relationship Tips

Emotional Maturity Is an Attractive Trait—Here Are 6 Signs Someone Has a Lot of It

Photo: The Gender Spectrum Collection
When you start dating someone new, it makes sense to want to feel a butterflies-in-your-stomach sort of spark. And often, folks assume that spark comes from liking what you literally see in a person. But relationship compatibility has to do with so much more than just physical attraction—and that's a reality that daters are wisening up to. According to new research, folks are increasingly on the lookout for signs of emotional maturity—even more so than physical attraction.

Match’s recent 11th annual Singles in America survey of 5,000 people found that 83 percent of respondents said being with someone who is emotionally mature was more important to them in a partner than physical attraction. Furthermore, only 78 percent of respondents specified physical attraction to be important to them, down from 90 percent in 2020. And according to experts, the fact that daters are finding emotional maturity to be so attractive could be a great development for the quality of future relationships.

“Emotional maturity is the ability to feel, regulate, and process your emotions and effectively communicate emotions with an open mind to differing perspectives.” —Chautè Thompson, relationship expert

“Emotional maturity is the ability to feel, regulate, and process your emotions and effectively communicate emotions with an open mind to differing perspectives,” says relationship expert Chautè Thompson. With that in mind, know that there are two important components of emotional maturity. The first is understanding how you’re truly feeling and what’s causing you to feel that way. The second is being able to talk to your partner about what you’re feeling without blaming them for anything or casting judgment. At its core, emotional maturity, then, reflects the ability to thoughtfully introspect and communicate with a partner. And those components are key for relationship success.

That said, it's important that both partners display some signs of emotional maturity “because relationships, especially romantic relationships, are where we're going to do most of our healing, grounding, and growing,” says certified sex therapist Jacqueline Mendez, LMFT. With that in mind, check out signs of emotional maturity to look out for below (and consider whether you, yourself, also display the traits).

6 signs of emotional maturity to look for

1. Takes deep breaths before responding to a touchy topic

Not everything will always be in your control, but the way you respond to situations you face certainly is. As far as signs of emotional maturity go, taking a deep breath before responding to a tense situation is a key indicator.

“If they take a breath, that means they're checking in with themselves,” says Mendez, adding that taking a deep breath often means the person is considering their response and the best way to communicate it honestly and diplomatically. Thompson adds that the "ability to have difficult conversations with a level of calmness, accountability, and respect” is also one of the signs of emotional maturity.

2. Practices honesty

Being honest can be hard if you’re worried about hurting someone else’s feelings. However, honesty is key—even if the truth may, in fact, hurt. Instead of lying out of fear of telling the truth, an emotionally mature person will compassionately express what they’re looking for and what they’re willing to give (or not give).

If you're on the receiving end of hearing a hard truth, an emotionally mature response would be to express gratitude for the person's honesty instead of blaming them for feeling how they do. Coming from a place of understanding will match the emotional maturity someone is displaying when their honesty might not be in line with what you wanted to hear.

3. Empathizes and considers situations through different lenses

Emotionally immature people tend to only see things one way: theirs. Thompson says someone who has a lot of emotional maturity, on the other hand, will be able to see things from other perspectives and use that widened perception as an opportunity for self-improvement.

For example, if you’re having a bad day and you feel in need of some alone time, Thompson says an emotionally mature partner will understand that you need to recharge and won’t make you feel badly for asking for space.

4. Compassionately shares their perspective and feelings

The key to compassionate sharing is to do so without being judgmental in the process, says Thompson. That's because judgment takes away from the compassion necessary to effectively share your emotions with a partner.

“The goal is to connect to the other person and to honor your own experience.” —Jaqueline Mendez, LMFT

According to Mendez, another crucial component of effective compassionate sharing is that the individual is “sharing just to share, not with an outcome in mind.” For instance, if someone is telling you that they feel some type of way about something you did and immediately asks that you do something to right this wrong, it’s likely that they’re not coming from a place of emotional maturity. “The goal is to connect to the other person and to honor your own experience,” Mendez adds, not to blame you for how they’re feeling.

5. Takes responsibility for their feelings

Even in the healthiest of romantic relationships, disagreements can ensue—but that doesn’t mean you should blame the other person for standing by their beliefs. We’re all responsible for how we respond or react to certain situations, which is why Mendez says taking responsibility for your emotions is a good indicator of emotional maturity.

When explaining and asserting how they’re feeling, an emotionally mature person steers clear of accusatory statements, like “You made me feel…,” and instead focuses on what their response was, so as to not make the other person feel responsible for their emotions. It’s about taking responsibility for and then sharing your thoughts, Mendez says.

Thompson adds that an emotionally mature person processes their own emotions without taking it out on their partner.

6. Knows when to have certain conversations (and when to avoid them)

“Learning when you’re calm and open enough to actually have a conversation” definitely falls into the signs of emotional maturity category, because it indicates that you’re “learning to regulate your responses” instead of just reacting to a situation, says Mendez.

If you’ve ever tried to have a conversation with someone who’s not up to it at the moment, you might not have been able to resolve the issue. Knowing when to hit the “pause” button on a particular discussion is a great way to display emotional maturity because it shows that you care enough about the person to ensure that your conversation goes as smoothly as possible—which is probably not the case if you go into the talk angry.

“When having a disagreement, being able to pause if conversations get too sensitive and come back to the topic at a later date [while] still being able to have loving conversations” is definitely a sign of emotional maturity, Thompson adds.

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