Immature and Mature Love: from Needing to Giving

"I love you because I need you." Immature love is a trap that stems from necessity. It's your responsibility to develop mature love that will allow you to build happy relationships. We'll show you how.
Immature and Mature Love: from Needing to Giving
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Immature love and mature love. We’ve all taken (or should take) that emotional journey from one dimension to another. It’s a necessary transition that takes place as a result of learning, self-consciousness, and responsibility. However, this psychological work of art of mature love isn’t easy. Those who stick to necessity and the trap of clinginess abound.

Erich Fromm was the first to speak of these relationship categories. In his celebrated work The Art of Loving, he taught, among other things, that nothing can be more damaging than loving without knowing how to love or without understanding the pillars of this exceptional feeling.

Because of this lack of knowledge, many build damaging relationships, opening wounds for themselves and others, and causing pain that takes time to heal.

Those who show immature love don’t understand the reason for their failures. Why? Because building a healthy, mature, and conscious bond with someone requires courage and a sense of personal responsibility. But those who consider love a necessity and as something to fill their emotional void tend to blame the other person because “No one really loves them as they deserve”.

Let’s take a closer look.

A couple: mature or immature love?

What are the differences?

Despite love being a feeling that everyone can experience, in reality, it isn’t a dimension that’s suitable for all. Why do we say that? Although love is one of the most powerful and beautiful realities you can experience, the wrong kind of love can destroy and annihilate.

We also say that because outdated and wrong ideas continue to abound today, such as the idea of validating romantic love in the midst of the 21st century.

Moreover, many accumulate one failed relationship after another because they still don’t understand that to love, you first have to love yourself. Mature love also requires a great deal of humility, courage, and knowledge. However, the brain naturally tends toward being dominated by attraction, passion, and a longing desire to be with someone.

With that in mind, there isn’t always time to learn the rules of healthy love. The kind of love that doesn’t hurt, the kind where neither person ends up being either the victim or an emotional bully. Here are some of the key differences between immature and mature love.

Immature love: affection that comes from necessity

The main problem of people who are characterized by immature love is that they never feel like they’re loved as they want to be loved. They constantly feel unsatisfied and cheated. Their story is one of continuous failures, where they’re disappointed because no one can recognize or comprehend them

  • In their mind, a constant thought resides: “No one loves me as I want to be loved”. However, they never stop to think that maybe “I don’t even love myself as I should”.
  • Immature love and mature love differ especially in one key area: the first kind stems from necessity. They need to be loved and validated by their partner to feel like they have a place in the world. Their self-esteem and self-awareness are based on this external source, and if that isn’t there, nothing seems right.
  • This kind of person adores the other person disproportionately and will do anything for the other. In this form of love, there are no limits or guidelines. It’s giving everything for nothing, a desperate desire that doesn’t let the other person be themselves.
  • This emotional blindness leads them to live for the other person. They can be like a possessive child who can explode in a fit of jealousy, have tantrums because they’re overwhelmed by the fear of not being loved or of being betrayed at some point.
  • Also, it’s important to note that immature love is another label for romantic love. It’s where both are looking for that better half who, almost like a fairy-tale character, comes to save the other from all problems. The concept of a soul mate. This is an attitude that will bring serious failures, mistakes, and grief.

Mature love: the desire that comes from self-realization

The journey between immature and mature love is a personal one. It’s a path that all must take to become competent in the field of love. It means going from a deficiency to an abundance. From feeling deprived to feeling satisfied. Why? Because the one who loves maturely doesn’t need to find a partner to feel happy, they feel complete on their own.

This kind of person also doesn’t search for or yearn to receive anything from another. This is because everything that immature love expects, the mature person already has and supplies to themselves, such as recognition, security, self-esteem, etc.

Thus, when this kind of person establishes an affectionate relationship, they do it out of desire and never out of necessity. Their goal is to find a significant other they can share a journey with. Both are free and fulfilled people who choose each other to build a relationship based on happiness and working together.

A couple standing together at sunset.

Immature and mature love: how to go from one to the other

No one automatically goes from one to the other as they get older. Emotional maturity doesn’t come with age or with suffering. In addition, some go from disappointment to disappointment without realizing that their problems stem from immature love.

How can you develop good foundations for mature, conscious, and fulfilling love? Here are some key areas to reflect on.

  • Work on the qualities that you expect from your ideal partner. If you want a loving partner, be loving yourself. If you’re looking for someone fun, intelligent, caring, and confident, become that person yourself. Stop needing and transform yourself into what you want others to give you.
  • Be the person you’d like to have by your side.
  • Build your self-esteem. As Erich Fromm said, immature love tells itself that “I love because they love me”. However, mature love understands that “They love me because I know how to love; they love me because I love myself“.

Self-love, self-esteem, and letting go of the fear of being alone are the keys that make up the foundations to build healthy relationships on. The kind of affectionate bonds that last and that make love a journey of growth and discovery. The kind of love that puts aside fears, needs, and voids to create a refuge where pain doesn’t exist.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.