Is the man in your life frustrating you? Getting on your last nerve? Do the two of you just never seem to be on the same page about anything? There could be a really simple explanation for that!

There have been dozens, if not hundreds of books written on the subject of the differences between women and men. However most of them dance around a simple truth:

Men develop more slowly than women, emotionally.

There are lots of theories about why this is, but nothing is known for certain. The explanation that makes the most logical sense is that the difference stems, at least in large part, from differences in the way we raise boys versus the way we raise girls.

Girls start out with more emphasis on communication and nurturing than boys do. This plugs them into their emotions at a much earlier age. It’s okay for girls to cry, but a significant percentage of parents discourage their sons from doing the same.

Emotional Maturity

communicationThere is an almost endless list of differences like that. All contribute in some small way to the differences between the level of emotional maturity between men and women in adulthood.

This is not at all scientific. But here’s a good rule of thumb that will serve you well. Whatever age the man in your life is, subtract ten years. That will give you a good approximation of his emotional age. As a woman, your emotional age and your chronological age are about the same.

How this applies in life.

With those two numbers in mind, think about the way you react to a sibling who is significantly younger or older. Remember the tensions that used to cause in your childhood? If you were the younger sibling, you may have tried gamely to fit in with your older brother or sister’s friends, but of course, you were often excluded. You just didn’t “get” many of the things they were talking about.

On the other hand, if you are the older sibling and have a younger brother or sister, then you got to see the flip side of it. Sure, you loved your younger sibling, but honestly, dealing with them can just be so frustrating at times!

That feeling…that exact feeling and mechanism is what you’re experiencing with the person you’re having relationship trouble with, if they’re not near the same emotional age as you.

Dealing with these emotional differences.

emotional-maturityUnderstanding where the core difficulty is coming from is half the battle in terms of finding ways to deal with it. This isn’t (necessarily) an argument that women should gravitate toward older men if they want a better emotional match. (Although that is certainly one solution).

Ultimately, what it comes down to then, is patience and understanding. If you have a partner who isn’t as emotionally mature as you are, you’re going to have to resign yourself to the fact that there will be limits to the depths of your emotional connection. In time, as your relationship grows and flourishes, you can deepen your emotional connection and eventually help your partner to “catch up” with you. Understand though, that this process isn’t quick or easy.

All of this to say, if you find yourself getting exasperated by your partner, and think that he’s often acting like a child, you might be right! If the two of you are fairly close in age, then you’re probably not as close as you realize in emotional age.