8 Signs You Are A Woman With 'Peter Pan Syndrome' & Never Want To Grow Up

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women sitting lazy

Adulting can be hard. It’s a job that nobody asked for, but everybody must do. Most of us accept that responsibility willingly but there are some people among us who simply refuse to grow up.

Maybe your overprotective parents shielded you from the reality of the world, leaving you unprepared for adult responsibilities. Or perhaps you had permissive parents who didn’t know how to say no when they should have.

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Having things handed to you can lead to avoiding responsibilities later in life. And people who never reach maturity and have no desire to are usually labeled as lazy or unmotivated.

What is Peter Pan syndrome?

Many of us remember Disney’s "Peter Pan" movie about a boy who just couldn’t grow up. But thanks to psychologist Dan Kiley, a new term was born in his 1983 book, "The Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Have Never Grown Up."

Dan Kiley coined the term "Peter pan syndrome" to describe people with a specific pattern of behavior.

Peter Pan syndrome is a condition where a person refuses to take on adult responsibilities, and remains emotionally immature and dependent on others.

Although the World Health Organization does not recognize it as a psychological or mental health disorder, more and more adults are exhibiting immature behaviors.

Peter Pan syndrome usually effects dependent people who had overprotective parents or families, so they were unable to gain the skills necessary to deal with life.

People with Peter Pan syndrome long for the simplicity of childhood, and find adulting confusing and difficult to confront. They stay in that state of willful ignorance and privilege their entire life.

Like many mental disorders, it can be found in men and women, but it comes up more often in men. This could be due to gender roles and the expectation that men take on financial responsibilities and support families in the long-term.

One of the characteristics of Peter Pan Syndrome is jumping from one mate to another younger one constantly. Once one person begins to expect more, they exit the relationship in favor of one with less strings attached.

People with Peter Pan syndrome tend to be lonely and need to be surrounded by people who are willing to meet their overwhelming needs. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is also closely tied to Peter Pan syndrome, sharing traits such as lack of accountability, deflecting blame, self-absorption, and an inability to take criticism.

Is there a female version of Peter Pan syndrome?

Though Peter Pan syndrome is mostly attributed to males, there are some terms that are only used when describing women with similar attributes.

In 1983, Colette Downing published a book entitled, "The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence." The book discussed a woman’s experience with leaving her husband and going it alone.

Both conditions share the exact same inabilities to cope with adulthood. Women with a Cinderella complex rely on someone to show up, sweep them off their feet, protect them, and take care of them financially.

Another way of thinking that goes hand-in-hand with the mindset of men with Peter Pan syndrome is Wendy syndrome. When the two connect, it’s a match made in dysfunctional heaven.

Women with Wendy syndrome put on their cape and rescue Peter Pans from the things he has no desire to do. She is the woman behind him, a mother figure who takes on his responsibilities, all so he doesn’t have to.

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8 Signs of Peter Pan Syndrome in Women

1. You are unwilling to do hard work.

Dedicating yourself to something you have no desire to do requires discipline and dedication. Being a grown-up means doing things you may not necessarily want to do.

If you have a hard time buckling down and getting things done, you might just be the female version of a Peter Pan.

2. You jump from one passion to the next.

Women showing signs of Peter Pan syndrome can’t focus on one thing long enough to get really good at it. Any time there is a bump in the road, you are quick to move to the next thing.

People with Peter Pan syndrome are indecisive about what they want to do, so they change passions frequently, unable to master any of them. You may have a pattern of getting fired from jobs as well.

3. You hate networking.

The fear of criticism or being looked at in a negative way keeps you from putting yourself out there. Networking is key in becoming successful in most fields. You have no interest in it.

It makes sense that you don’t value connecting with others and sharing information. Why would you? You have no plans of staying in the same job and line of work.

4. You rely on substances to avoid real life.

Many mental health conditions are combined with drug and alcohol abuse. The need to avoid stressful situations or take control of your life shows up as addiction.

Not only do drugs and alcohol absolve you of any accountability (in your head) for what happens in your life, it gives you something new to point to when explaining your lack of success or progress.

5. Your goals and dreams are unrealistic.

It’s okay to dream big. In fact, doing so is what pushes people to strive for and achieve their biggest accomplishments in life. But you have to know when to pivot and rethink those aspirations.

If you dream of being a famous actor but never do anything to build the necessary skills to hone your craft, you want it handed to you and don’t want to work. It’s time to rethink your strategy.

6. You like to play the blame game.

We also know everyone with a problem for a solution. They never look inward and self-analyze to figure out what they should be doing better.

Instead, women with Peter Pan syndrome blame others, play the victim, and look for ways to avoid accountability rather than admitting fault.

7. It’s all about you.

If you are a woman with Peter Pan syndrome, you think the sun rises and sets on your command.

You prioritize what you want and need above all else. You are self-centered and can easily make a scene about the smallest of slights made toward you.

You expect other people to love and support you unconditionally because, in your mind, the world revolves around you.

8. You’re unable to commit.

Not only do you have trouble holding onto employment, but you are also a flight risk in every relationship. When the expectations and pressure are low, you are happy and committed.

Once your mate starts to make demands of you, you can move on in the blink of any eye. Because everything is all about you, leaving a trail of emotional destruction behind doesn’t bother you.

If you happen to meet the criteria for Peter Pan syndrome, all hope is not lost. Consult a therapist who can help you work through your personal issues so you can grow and flourish.

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and the author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment & news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.