Emotional Immaturity: When They're Just Playing with You
If someone is playing with you and giving you “love” that tastes more like selfishness, let them win. Anyone who pretends to love you only to fill a void, let them win, give them the prize: your goodbye. Because he who plays with you doesn’t deserve you. And if there’s anything you should never give up, it’s your dignity.
There’s a very interesting book written by neurologists Amir Levine and Rachel Heller titled, “The New Science of the Adult Brain: How to Find a Mate”. This book has some fascinating things to say on the topic.
Human brains are programmed to seek out and receive support. We need loving security in our relationships, whether family, friends, or a significant other.
“I was scared of losing someone special and ended up losing them. But I survived! And I’m still alive!”
Now, even though it may not sound good to our ears, there is clear evidence that on a neuronal level human beings are “emotional dependent”. However, we shouldn’t see this dependence as total.
We’re talking about our need to know we are loved. Our need to be sure that we’re going to be respected and that we can count on our loved one for anything.
Building a relationship based on power plays where one person always wins, hurts. At the same time, counting on someone who’s “addicted” to making promises they don’t keep, or who only gives self-centered love… it hurts.
The first thing to break down is your brain: stress appears. Stress is a biological instinct which alerts us that something is wrong.
Our worldview has broken. The one where you took it for granted that he who loves you, respects you; he who loves you, gives you support, intimacy, and security.
If that framework is shattered, we will immediately enter a cycle characterized by distrust, vulnerability and anxiety. Let’s dig a bit deeper into emotional immaturity and playing games.
Emotional immaturity, love, and systems theory
We all know that the success of a relationship depends on many factors, but one of them is without a doubt the ability for both parties to give and receive support. If one of the two does not invest in the relationship and support the other, it will slowly deteriorate.
For some reason it’s hard to see this. Sometimes they play with us and we don’t even realize it. They use us as pawns in a terrible game that just ends up devouring all of our hopes and strengths. Systems theory provides some specific reasons for why this happens
When two people unite in a relationship, something bigger than the two people is created. It’s a system, it’s like a sphere full of complex dynamics.
At the same time, we are often too idealistic. We tell ourselves that this relationship is the one. It will be perfect and together we are going to grow as individuals as well as a couple.
Why do we stick around?
We keep up this kind of belief and inner dialogue because our mind needs it. We yearn to feel emotional and psychological security. However, every day this perfect system gets muddied up with small (yet relentless) dynamics. Bigger ones too, though, like contempt, disappointment, and emotional blackmail.
Few people react right away when after the first few blows. The brain is programmed to resist change. It will reason in an unhelpful manner. It might say: “this is temporary”, “it’ll change”, “if he loves me, he’ll notice that he is hurting me”.
However, the system that contains them gets weaker and weaker. Eventually, it crumbles completely like a house of cards. We must walk away in time or we’ll go down with it.
He who loves you, doesn’t play with you: emotional immaturity and treating love like a game
In the book mentioned at the beginning of this article by the neurologists Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, we are told that emotionally immature people are the ones who tend to view love as a game. They react only to the the present. They feed on immediate gratification and the need to satisfy their own needs.
“Sometimes losing is winning and not finding what you’re searching for means finding yourself.”
Don’t be fooled. Love is not a game, and if anyone wants to play with us, just let them win. That’s the best thing we can do. Because at the end of the day, we’ll also end up winning. We will have won in dignity, self-esteem and courage.
We cannot forget that emotional maturity is also defined by our observational skills to see what’s going on and do something about it. Even if it hurts, even if it breaks our heart for a while. The satisfaction of having done the right thing will be carry us through.