Getting Your Partner to Grow Up

by Reid on March 11, 2015

Friends having a great time together two college friends laughinGetting Your Partner to Grow Up

Join Cathy Vartuli from and Reid Mihalko from

Cathy: We’ve a bunch of people writing in and sharing things with us at the bottom of our videos, and one of the questions lately was how do I get my partner to grow up and stop being childish, and I can really use this advice right now.

Reid: Cathy, Cathy, Cathy, Cathy, Cathy, Cathy, Cathy, Cathy …

Cathy: Yes?

Reid: Hi.

Cathy: This is Reid Mihalko from

Reid: This is Cathy Vartuli from

Reid: Gross, cooties.  How to get your partner to grow up my friends?  Well, well, well.  First off is that even your frigging job?

Cathy: Different people have different amount of play that they like to have, and you can definitely talk to your partner.  Maybe your partner’s resorting to playfulness when things are serious or you’d like to have a serious discussion.

Reid: I don’t want to have a serious conversation …

Cathy: Yeah …

Reid: Wah, wah, wah.

Cathy: It’s a way to avoid … and some people, there’s, you can actually do psych tests on people and they’ve some written tests to do.  Some people are more jester than others and some people are more serious.  There’s nothing wrong with that.

Reid: You’re using growing up with being serious versus being playful?

Cathy: Well, there’s that aspect of it and there’s also the responsibility aspect.  If it’s the playfulness versus seriousness that’s something you can talk about and help each other understand what your needs are in different situations.  Like, okay, we’re lost in the inner city.  There’s a man with a gun over there.  I don’t need you to be playful right now.

Reid: Excuse me sir, with the gun, could you tell us how to get out of this neighborhood?

Cathy: Yeah, and if your partner is resorting to playfulness at times like that you can explain that’s not …

Reid: It’s about tone …

Cathy: Yeah, it’s about the tone and the approach.  Then there’s also responsibility.  If they’re not paying bills, if they’re not showing up to work, if there’s not the feeling like you’re not pulling together in the relationship.  That’s a more serious problem in my book.

Reid: Okay.  So, how would you get your partner to grow up then if they were not being responsible?

Cathy: Well, I don’t think it’s my responsibility to help them grow up, but it is my responsibility to know what my needs are, what my bottom lines are, and communicate that clearly and offer support if it feels right to me to help them get that handled.

Reid: Yeah.  A big thing I would advocate for is you can, you can support your partners in getting those needs met for themselves.  I don’t think anybody should intentionally be running their personal life as somebody else’s self-help workshop.  You can try to encourage and support your partner in getting the help that they need and even creating it as a team project, like, honey, let’s go take this workshop together …

Cathy: On finances or whatever …

Reid: Let’s go do this together as partners, but they have to pull their own weight and unfortunately if they don’t want to grow up you need to take care of yourself.  You may need to change the dynamics of the relationship because over time them not being responsible, and you being irresponsible by staying in a relationship with somebody who’s not responsible, that’s not going to end well.

Cathy: No.  There’s is also a layer … I’ve seen this pattern with some of my clients and with some friends where there’s a lot of expectations on one side or the other, and so they’re trying to manage their partner.  They’ve written a script over what has to happen.  They haven’t communicated that necessarily very clearly to their partner, but there’s a feeling of I need to make him act a certain way so that I’ll feel okay about me in our relationship.

Having an actual discussion about agreements versus expectations and letting your partner be self-expressed in the way that’s right for that person, figuring out if it’s a good match for you, that’s a lot more powerful than trying to always manage him or her into being what you think they should be …

Reid: Got it …

Cathy: You may be seeing them as childish when they’re just being acting differently than you would prefer.

Reid: When they’re just really good with kids and should be running a summer camp program.

Cathy: Yeah.  There’s a couple of distinctions in there.  Writing down what your needs are, what is working, what isn’t working, and having a difficult conversation, using the difficult conversation formula that Reid has, it’s listed below, can be a good way to start.

Reid: Cool.  Let us know.  Let us know what you think being a grownup is.  Comments now!  Get like doo-doo-doo.  Bye.

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