A man shows Peter Pan syndrome when he behaves like a child in an adult body. Such men do not take life seriously and prefer living in their own ‘neverland,’ where life is free of stress or responsibilities. They do what they feel like and have no duties to fulfill.
Such men are charming, and it is easy to fall for them. They may have ignited a motherly instinct in you that made you feel caring towards him. However, seeing them depend on you for almost everything, like a child, can be frustrating. Here are some signs of Peter Pan syndrome and ways to deal with it.
What Is Peter Pan Syndrome?
Named after the fictional character Peter Pan, a man who refused to grow up, the syndrome also refers to an adult who grew in age but not in maturity. These people do not want to take on responsibilities like an adult and are still stuck in their childhood even after physical maturing (1).
This syndrome can affect both men and women. However, men are relatively more affected by it than women. Such men who show immature and irresponsible behavior and expect those around them to support them are termed ‘man-child.’
10 Signs Of Peter Pan Syndrome
A man with Peter Pan syndrome exhibits certain behavior that identifies him as a man-child.
1. He lives with his parents
Some men live with their parents even after securing a job as they may be struggling financially, and a little support from parents can help. However, if a man refuses to leave his parents’ home and is dependent on them financially and emotionally, he seems to have Peter Pan syndrome.
2. He is unable to commit
He is hardly concerned about where his life is going and only wants to dwell in his neverland. He cannot commit as he is not concerned with such matters. You may feel that you can talk to him to change his mind, but that hardly ever works.
3. He is addicted to his gaming console
There is nothing unusual about adult men playing video games. However, if a man is glued to his gaming console 24×7, it indicates that he is trying to shirk his responsibilities and live frivolously. He shows interest only in games and hardly ever steps out of his gaming room.
4. He cannot make decisions for himself
An adult man should have no problem making decisions for himself. But a man-child is often dependent on others to make decisions for him. For him, it is not about taking a second opinion. He seeks the final word from his mother or another closed person as his final decision.
5. He avoids his duties and responsibilities
Even after he is married and has children, he does not complete his share of chores around the house. He will procrastinate his daily duties and spend time playing video games or doing something unproductive.
6. He makes you pay whenever you go out
Remember what we said about avoiding responsibilities? He sees nothing wrong in making you pay every time you are out together. He will have new reasons each time for not paying. Also, he feels you are responsible for him, and paying for him is your duty.
7. He cannot hold a job
He may have suitable qualifications for a certain job, but he does not look for opportunities or is often fired from jobs due to his lack of commitment. He slacks at work or remains absent frequently because he feels no sense of responsibility towards it.
8. He is friends with equally irresponsible men
A man-child connects with only those who are immature like him, and hence his friends are similar to him. They too will be slackers avoiding responsibilities and spending time playing games or loitering around.
9. He dresses like a young boy
This man could be over 30 years old, but he still dresses in his teens. People should not be judged by their clothes, but adults should dress like adults for people to take them seriously, at least in professional places and social gatherings. However, a man-child does not understand and wants to go places where his dress sense is frowned upon.
10. He is selfish and unreliable
There is no way you can rely on a man-child as he is only concerned with his needs. He cannot provide support to you when he himself is financially and emotionally dependent on you. He is skilled at making excuses.
What Causes Peter Pan Syndrome?
Peter Pan syndrome does not happen overnight and results from several reasons over years that eventually led to it.
- Overprotective parents: In a bid to protect their children from harm, some parents bring up their children in such a way that they are entirely dependent on them, even for small decisions. This stunts their mental growth and hampers their sense of responsibility.
- Abusive parents: Growing up with abusive parents, they may feel they missed a lot of their childhood, and need to make up for it. And so, they behave like kids and live life frivolously.
- Financial instability: Cutthroat competition and limited opportunities at work can dampen a person’s self-motivation and spirit to work hard to get ahead in life. It can affect a person’s drive to pursue a fulfilling career, be dependent on others, and avoid responsibilities.
- Fear of loneliness: Some people are afraid of being all alone by themselves. They act carelessly and irresponsibly so that people care for them. Even in a romantic relationship, they want their partner to be caring and nurturing of them.
- Commitment phobia: Those with Peter Pan syndrome have unstable relationships because they constantly look for partners like them. They do not like to plan for the future and want someone as irresponsible as them.
How To Deal With A Man Having Peter Pan Syndrome?
If your partner shows signs of Peter Pan syndrome, then you are bound to feel frustrated with them. Here are some ways in which you can deal with it.
1. Create boundaries
It is important to set some boundaries in your relationship with a partner with man-child syndrome for your well-being. Instead of supporting your partner’s behavior, encourage him to change his ways by setting clear boundaries of what you will give to a relationship and what you expect from him. Ensure that he takes his responsibilities seriously and works as expected of him.
2. Avoid being his mother
Your partner may have been dependent on his mother for planning his daily activities and decision-making. Do not replace her by doing all that for him, as you will only make him more dependent on you. You can help him but ensure that he makes his decisions and does small chores all by himself.
3. Be patient with him
Your partner won’t change quickly or easily. You need to be extremely patient with him. Start with making small changes in his life. Assign him small responsibilities and when he is successful, then entrust him with bigger tasks.
4. Do not control him
You can guide and help your partner but cannot force him to change. In the end, it is totally up to him to reform himself or continue living his childish life. Remember, you are not responsible for his decisions.
5. Seek professional help
You may feel that you can manage to change your man-child partner. However, there is no surety of it. So, instead, seek help from a qualified therapist who knows how to address such a case. They will guide you as a couple to take small steps that can make a big difference to your relationship.
Individuals who exhibit Peter Pan syndrome are harmless as they live only to enjoy life. However, their dependency on others and lack of interest in living like a normal adult make their lifestyle problematic. Being with such a partner can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Therefore, it is crucial to seek professional help for your partner and yourself to tackle the situation successfully.
- Cornerstone Family Services; Peter Pan Syndrome and Wendy Syndrome