The Difference Between Immature and Mature Relationships

I saw Elizabeth Gilbert speak this past winter about the difference between immature love and mature love. It came to mind recently when a woman asked what a guy means when he says “he is not ready for a relationship”. It may just mean he can’t progress beyond immature love. Elizabeth related her belief that immature love is narcissistic love and that is what she experienced in her relationships during her 20s and 30s (I suppose this realization is why some people thought she seemed selfish and narcissistic in Eat Pray Love. But that was her journey to her more mature relationship now.)

She went on to say that being “in love” is often confused with infatuation. Infatuation is really about chemistry and desire and how it makes you feel about yourself and by virtue of this image of this other person. It’s the rush, that feeling that everything is perfect.  The problem is, that then you are dependent on this other person to make you feel good and when they can’t, you often move on to someone else who can give you that feeling. She commented in her book, Committed, that after a while this can get pretty old…and tiring. Instead of constantly looking for what is wrong with the other person there comes a time when you have to take a hard look at yourself.  I think mature love can evolve from infatuation but it relies less on the highs the other person gives you and more on a partnership that is based on seeing each other’s faults, warts and all. This quote from Elizabeth Gilbert tells us that maybe we need to be humbled before we can truly love:

“Everything I have learned about life helps me to do better within this marriage [than in the past]. I think this is part of the reason that marriage is so ill-advised for young people: With rare exception, most twenty-two year olds simply haven’t been sanded down or humbled enough by life’s experiences yet to have acquired the wisdom and perspective that make long-term human intimacy possible.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

For most of us, it takes some time to learn what our faults are and to accept them before we can be ready to share them completely with another person. It is that vulnerability to show your true self that defines intimacy and maturity in a relationship for many women. This 40-something learned it from years of therapy…maybe we can get a head start:

“This I got from just years of therapy. You can’t have real intimacy with someone unless you’re willing to be vulnerable. You can’t be vulnerable to someone if you don’t feel safe. That includes emotional vulnerability but also sexual vulnerability. You can’t really even be yourself during any sort of sexual intimacy if you don’t allow yourself to feel vulnerable.”

One last thought on mature love. It was refreshing to hear that it doesn’t mean boring …you can still be surprised by something a long-term mate does. The truth is we never can truly know another person completely…

“I would say my relationship now is sturdier. We enjoy each other’s company. He knows me better and allows me to be who I need to be at any point in time. We can finish each other’s sentences. It is calmer. But just when you think you know someone better than they know themselves there can be some tremendously thrilling surprise.” – Elizabeth Gilbert



on Twitter

on Facebook

on Google+