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.
You will see this with people who abuse drugs.
For example, if someone started abusing alcohol at 16 years old, their emotional maturity stays at their 16 year old level due to the effects of the abuse.
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 covering up for the reasons why you are self-medicating with drugs.
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 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.