Lessons we’re not teaching — but should be.

Love may not be something we traditionally consider as being “mature” or “immature,” but the truth is that our ability to — and ways of loving will mature (verb) over time just as we do.

We can easily see the evolution in ourselves and our relationships over time (hopefully) if we’ve grown as a person. We learn how to handle conflict, to compromise, to be patient, and to live in harmony with another.

How, then, do mature and immature love differ from each other?

1: Mature love is peaceful, immature love is chaotic.

Think of the turmoil and drama in your earlier relationships — raging hormones, two wild kids trying to figure each other (and themselves) out. Curiosity about the world, other people, how things work…

And, lack of clarity around self and identity.

This recipe creates an environment where peace seems elusive and chaos seems the norm. We are more attached to each other than in love witheach other, and it shows through the emotional eruptions that happen as the tectonic plates of our lives shift underneath us.

However — as we grow and mature, we (hopefully) become more settled and at peace. At peace with our lives, with our routines, and most of all — with ourselves.

You can feel this within, and easily see it in others. Look at the relationships of people in their teenage years, or early 20’s — and then look at the relationships of people who’ve stuck together over decades, who’ve made the lifelong commitment to each other, who truly understand each other. The more “mature” that our love grows, the more peaceful it should become.

2: Mature love fixes problems, immature love ignores them.

It would be dishonest to say that problems are nonexistent in mature love, or any kind of love — problems and challenges never go away, no matter how long two people are together or how well they harmonize.

The difference lies in what is done (and how it’s done) when these challenges do arise.

When we want to ignore issues or pretend they don’t exist, it shows a lack of willingness (or capacity) to address and solve them.

It also paints an inaccurate picture of what a realistic relationship looks like.

I think that now, more than ever, people get shown the highlight reel of everyone’s lives while scrolling through social media. It looks like everyone is happy all the time and never has any fights, arguments, or disagreement.

I mentioned before the how of these problems getting solved — mature love acknowledges the issue as the issue itself and then brings two partners together to fix it as a team.

We are able to say “the problem is the problem and we’ll fix it together” not “you are the problem and it’s us against each other.”

Or, as immature love would say: “I’m going to ignore this, pretend that there is no problem, and hope that it goes away.”

That’s simply like driving with your eyes closed pretending that there are no obstacles in the road. You might make it a little bit, but you’re going to crash eventually.

3: Mature love sets boundaries, immature love accepts poor treatment.

Absorb this — just because you love someone does not mean you are a slave to them.

You, as an individual and autonomous human being, are still required to have physical and emotional boundaries which are drawn around treatment that you will (and won’t) accept.

These boundaries don’t disappear inside of your relationship. They must remain present and mutually understood between you both.

When you sacrifice your boundaries and standards, it shows a lack of self-worth and a willingness to say “I’ll take any treatment you give me as long as you stay with me.”

Mature love has standards because your self loveis at the center of it.

Mature love says: I love you and I will stick by you, but not if you cause me emotional or physical harm.

4: Mature love chooses you, immature love NEEDS you.

I might get some flack for this, especially being the romance and relationship guy, but let’s get one thing clear: You should never be completely reliant upon another person for your happiness or fulfillment.

To go one step further — you can’t. Those are things that must come from within.

But immature love feels as though their entire world and identity will fall apart of they lose this person.

Therefore, they do literally anything it takes to hold on to them.

Including sacrificing their self-worth, and self respect.

Firstly, no healthy relationship or partner would ever put you in a position where you need to sacrifice these things.

Secondly, this signals an unhealthy level of attachment and lack of self-worth, strength and independence.

Should you wholeheartedly want to be with your partner with all of your heart and soul? Of course!

Should their presence in your life be your source of emotional and mental well-being? Well — no.

Your identity is your identity. It’s not your relationship, your job, your income, your car, house — and *gasp*, it’s not your kids.

It’s you, and you mustn’t forget what it’s like to stand on your own two feet, or you’ll find yourself constantly looking for crutches.

5: Mature love is secure, immature love is insecure.

I toyed with the idea of changing the title of this article to read “secure and insecure” love, rather than mature and immature — as I think in most cases here they could be swapped.

However, it’s important to note the correlation between the two.

Mature love is secure in its own existence. It isn’t fraught with doubt. It doesn’t always worry about being left. It doesn’t need to constantly worry about existing because it knows its position and where it stands.

Mature love is secure in itself, in the relationship, and in all of the work it has taken to grow over the years. It’s build atop a strong foundation. It sits with peace at the end of the day and it wakes up without expectation of turmoil, drama, or splintering.

Immature love — though — feels frantic and as if it could fall apart at any moment. It’s always waiting for the other shoe to drop and for a hidden secret to emerge — and as a result, it lives in paranoia and insecurity.

If we ever hope to feel at peace and enjoy the years of effort we have put into building love, we must be confident that all of that effort actually worked. That it paid off. That it led to what we set out to accomplish in the first place:

A solid and secure relationship alongside someone who chooses us every single day, as we do them.

There is no stronger foundation than that.