Dealing with an immature friend can be fun as well as taxing at times.

How to Deal With Immature Adult Friends

by Nina Edwards

It can seem as though some friends have come into your life just to tease you, waste your time and irritate you. When your friends behave childishly, you may be tempted to simply roll your eyes and walk away. However, you can develop better ways to deal with them without resorting to childish tactics.

1. Your Attention is Rewarding

Your friend doesn’t keep engaging in the same immature behaviors with you over and over again without it being rewarding in some way. It may be the case that you put up with her demanding and immature behaviors by giving her attention. Perhaps she huffed like a teenager when you ended your shopping adventure together and you went to a few more stores with her. Or maybe you listened while she whined about not having a job because she stormed out of the last one when she didn’t get the raise she was looking for. Either way, your attention may have inadvertently strengthened this kind of behavior from her.

2. Two Peas in a Pod? Get Out.

Remember, you are a mature adult. So if being around your friend provokes you to react immaturely, try to control your own behavior. When your friend gets angry about you not calling her, and instead of talking to you about it, she gives you the silent treatment, be the adult. Say “I’m sorry you’re angry about me not calling. Do you want to talk about it now or check in with each other about this later?” This way, you demonstrate how to be an adult in your relationship with her.

3. Treat Her How She’s Asking to be Treating

If her behavior suggests that she’s a child, then perhaps you should treat her as one. Answer her loud screams and wild gestures with just a pat on her shoulder. If she asks senseless questions in the middle of a presentation, just ask her to be quiet.

4. Reflect on Your Friendship

You can’t change your friend’s behavior, you can only change yourself. Therefore, you may want to think long and hard about why you continue to be friends with her. Perhaps you grew up in the same neighborhood and you’re still friends because you share similar histories. Maybe you were new to your job or school and befriended her because she was in the same boat. Both of these situations can affect your level of commitment to a friendship, deems the 2009 article "Changes in Friendship Commitment: Comparing Geographically Close and Long-Distance Young-Adult Friendships" by Amy Johnson, et al., in "Communication Quarterly." Either way, you don’t have to remain friends with someone who is immature. It can be liberating and a sign of maturity to end a friendship, suggests Tanya Finchum and Joseph Weber in the 2000 article "Applying Continuity Theory to Older Adult Friendships" in the "Journal of Aging and Identity."

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