A person can be chronologically older or even quite old, and have the maturity of a child.
When someone suffers a trauma, or becomes a member of a cult, or is forced to someone else’s control, their emotional maturity is stunted.
If someone was sexually, physically and/or emotionally abused, the stunting of their emotional growth applies to the age of the onset of abuse.
Even in the case of a trauma such as being a soldier in a war, or a horrible accident, these experiences interrupt healthy emotional growth.
The same applies for people in abusive relationships. When they develop what is called ‘learned helplessness,’ they have stopped functioning at their optimal emotional level.
It is the brains way of protecting you from more trauma.
It’s the brains way of protecting you from going stark raving mad under the control of a person, persons, or a group who attempt to control you.
The highest degree of emotional stunting happens when those who use drugs/alcohol join the 12 step cult religion. If a teenager is coerced into the 12 step cult, they are then required to label themselves in negative terms and live without power for the rest of their lives. The 12 step cult religion will stunt your growth as a human being no matter your age. Stay away from the dangerous dogma forced upon members here. Stay away. Stay far away.
The good news is that once you start to process what has happened and where the emotional stunting started, this is the perfect place to begin healing.
Therefore, do not make assumptions about someone based on their chronological age. They may be 45 years old physically … but they are really 16 years old mentally and emotionally.
Let them catch up before you devote your heart to them. If they already have a place in your heart, have compassion and help them when they ask, but do not allow them the right to abuse you. If you recognize stunted growth in yourself, get help, take responsibility, grow up.
It’s the most loving act you can take … For them …
And for you.