What’s Your Relationship Maturity Level?


Relationship maturity doesn't just come with age!

In early high school, my crush and I shared a notebook. This notebook traveled from my locker to his and back to mine on a daily basis and contained such moving statements as:

“I’d rather be with you than in math class.”
“I can’t wait for homecoming next week.”
“So, what do you like about me?”

This was all written in gel pen, of course.

Our so-called relationship never made it past his sweet 16, but looking back, our teenage parting was for the best. Our relationship maturity was clearly in the negative zone.

We can all reflect on our early dating history and smile at the cheesy love notes, the first dances and the timid hand-holding. Now in adulthood, our relationships are so much more than attraction and convenience, yet many of our peers haven’t developed the relationship and emotional maturity necessary to maintain a healthy, faith-filled adult partnership.

Over dinner only a few weeks ago, one of my girlfriends raised her eyebrows when she learned that my CatholicMatch boyfriend and I spend most of our weeknights apart. When I confirmed that we also don’t speak on the phone every day, she about fell off her chair.

To me, our willingness to maintain other friendships and pursue other interests is admirable, not concerning. The possessiveness and clinginess that so many couples fall victim to is another sign of relationship immaturity.

Relationships grow as we grow. The relationships that defined my college years, both romantic and platonic, are very different than the relationships I maintain now.  I’ve matured and so have my thoughts, preferences and needs. In high school, I exchanged love notes with a crush and now in my 20s, I’m growing spiritually with someone who understands me down to my very core. Talk about a different rating on the relationship maturity scale!

For any relationship to succeed, couples need to match each other in relationship maturity. By living equally yoked, couples can grow together through the seasons of life to meet each other physically, emotionally and spiritually and bring each other closer to God.

CatholicMatchers, have your relationships changed as you’ve changed and matured?






11 Comments

  1. Stephen-725391 October 12, 2012

    The only comment I can make is – to each his own and whatever makes your boat float!

  2. Mary-668515 October 14, 2012

    Jessica, recently I have discovered this section of our site and have found so much to
    read, relate to and ponder. Thank you for these writings. I also feel the same
    leanings toward how I have matured. I also read your next article….Mary Margaret

  3. Tommy-905087 October 14, 2012

    Jessica – I appreciate your distinction between mature and immature love, but I’m not sure that spending time away from each other as a rule of thumb is an indicator of great romance. It could be. But I just don’t think it’s a significant indicator. You should consult the entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia on the theological virtue of Love. Just search for Love at NewAdvent.org

    Also you should consult Aristotle’s Ethics – the sections on Pleasure & Friendship. Stanford’s online philosophy encyclopedia has a great entry on it.

    I own the copyright on this and I’m definitely not remitting it to CatholicMatch, you, or any other publisher without permission, but if you’d like to use my information or coauthor anything with me, please do, contact me privately. Here’s a very short synopsis:

    What would love be if it develops in a healthy way? I’m realistic about love. I think love can only start with good chemistry and friendship. Something I’ve learned about romantic love – nobody is perfect (I’m definitely not), and to build real love, I have to do the following:

    1) love myself – meaning that my actions show you that I respect myself, take care of myself, take responsibility for my personal welfare, thoughts, and actions

    2) trust – without trust and tolerance for ambiguity, it is impossible to overvalue the object of affection (a partner), because mistrust generates fear

    3) courage – with trust comes courage to do things for each other that are wonderful and to help each other to move forward and grow together and to hold on to each others dreams

    4) satisfaction in the journey – looking for satisfaction in the ‘having’, ‘attaining’, ‘taking’, ‘getting’, or ‘affirmation’ will kill love in time because life is ever changing and complacent stasis never satisfies for long. If two lovers find satisfaction in the battle instead of the victory, and the journey instead of the destination, then they will enjoy every step that they take together.

    5) extrinsic and intrinsic wealth – nobody can ‘have it all’: perfect beauty, endless money, famous reputation, perfect families and social circles, perfect virtue & morality, genius intellect, etc. but love is about ‘give’ and ‘take’, sharing life in common, and moving together, so if you love yourself, have trust, courage, and satisfaction in the journey, you probably have some amount of extrinsic and/or intrinsic wealth that you love to share with people you care about. As anyone who has loved deeply can say – it feels so good to give to each other, the gifts that we have to share. If you don’t nurture and pursue some of those extrinsic and intrinsic values, you might find it hard to express your love through giving and sharing. Also, if you are constantly demanding your partner share more than you do, or overvaluing the wealth that you share while being ungrateful for what they share in their own way, then you might be guilty of greed, vanity, envy, or sloth! This is the constant talk about “give” and “take”. It takes a fair, humble, and prudent mind to show proper gratitude for such actionable demonstrations of love.

    6) adoring the character – if you can do the first five things, then deep true love is at hand. You adore each other’s character and there is simply no replacement for each other, and your interests could change 1,000 times – over time, you might even end up with very few interests in common, but you love each other for who you are, your characters, the experiences you’ve shared, you become one soul sharing two bodies, and this joy is the greatest gift you can receive in life.

  4. My husband has passed away almost three years ago. I have a whole binder full of “immature” love notes and declarations of commitment from our dating years….I would give them up for Fort Knox.

  5. Peter-539354 October 14, 2012

    While I understand your point that relationships which need constant contact in order to survive may indicate a degree of immaturity, that does not mean that relationships where the couple do have more regular contact are immature. Marriage is a relationship where your lives are completely entwined and you do have constant contact. As a relationship progresses, more frequent or extended contact is actually a measure of the progression in the relationship.

    I realize the lives of men and women may be busy because both are maintaining separate lives, from work through liesure. This is a problem, not a sign of immaturity.

    Do you think the men and women, who, in the time of Laura Ingalls Wilder, maintained a farm and household by the time they were just out of their teens were immature, because they never were further than few acres away from each other? No. They showed other qualities, including responsibility and fortitude.

    You are correct that a relationship than can survive a period of separation is more mature in the sense that it involves more than constant contact. I do not believe, however, that a relationship where the people only spend a limited amount of time together is actually well developed.

  6. Dave-146273 October 14, 2012

    In my opinion.. i think the only point the Writer is making is simply saying that… ‘As we age so should how we develop our relationships’, and that my friends is 100% correct. Someone that’s in their 30s hopefully knows more about themselves, lives a different lifestyle, has different expectations and may court differently than someone in their 20, and the same goes for someone in their 40s v. someone in their 30s. Where You are in Your life will play an important role in matching up with the person you are trying to date. Nothing complicated..but those that have enough dating experience know this to be true. =)

  7. Dave-146273 October 14, 2012

    footnote– In case it wasn’t apparent when i referred to courting, I Simply mean as we get older we generally ask more questions, take things a bit slower, as we try to find compatibility, rather than give into impulsive relationships based on a few immediate attractive characteristics, which are common when you’re younger.

  8. Jessica-744973 October 15, 2012

    Thanks for the great comments, everyone! As Dave said, our relationships grow as we grow. I also agree that couples who spend a lot of time together are not immature, rather they choose to grow together in a different way. Thanks for reading!

  9. Mary-732729 October 15, 2012

    Yay to everyone for their good points on the topic. This makes me think about how love does grow and change over time, just like in Persuassion by Austen! The characters Anne and Wentworth continue to change and grow as does their love. Everyone in their own way has immature love before they understand the depth of it ;-)

  10. Mel-607502 September 16, 2013

    Well said Mary… Thank for your article Jessica.

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