He was so much fun when you first met, wasn’t he? You loved his adventuresome nature, his carefree attitude and his ability to make everything interesting. But it feels differently now. Time has passed and naturally, you’ve grown. Except you find that lately he still seems to be buying a little too much into the philosophy of “boys will be boys?”
Let’s talk about him for just a moment. Let’s take just a little bit of time to get some clarity on the things that may be leaving you feeling a bit confused and frustrated lately.
To get stated, here are a few questions to ask yourself… Does he usually handle things like a grownup would, or does he try to avoid his problems like a boy? How often do you find yourself being the adult in the relationship? How much money, how critical a task, how important a project would you genuinely feel comfortable entrusting him with? Try to truthfully answer these questions for yourself. If you can’t, that’s okay. If you don’t want to, that’s okay too. If you’re honestly afraid of what the answer might be, it’s time to take stock of the situation.
When a man is consciously or unconsciously refusing to grow up and take responsibility for his life, it’s quite possible that he might have Peter Pan Syndrome, and equally likely that you might be at the end of your rope when it comes to dealing with his flights of fancy off to Neverland.
Sometimes it can be hard to realize exactly what kind of issues a person you’re dealing with has, especially if each incident that might point to an issue is separated by a decent amount of time or seems self-contained. This list of potential signs that someone in your life has Peter Pan Syndrome is meant to help you think critically about your relationship dynamic.
Here are 10 signs he might have Peter Pan Syndrome.
1. He considers doing adult things to be stressful.
This sign goes unnoticed, primarily because “adulting” can be stressful for a lot of people, even mature people. Expand past what you would assume any adult would get stressed about—like figuring out your taxes on your own, balancing your check book, or dealing with complicated loan applications—to things like paying a recurring bill, taking a car in for maintenance, or even doing the laundry regularly.
Does he complain about stress from things you’d expect a college student to be able to handle? Does he skip doing them entirely? Keep an eye out for these indicators, and pay attention to what he expects you to praise him for. If he’s acts like you ought to be throwing him a victory parade for folding his clothes and putting his socks away, it’s time to find out how willing he is to do chores without a cheer squad.
2. He has a very difficult time with conflict.
Can you actually talk to him about problems that come up, or does he try to avoid any “negativity” or “bad feelings” wherever and whenever possible? If he has trouble dealing with any kind of conflict, it could be another sign. Part of the whole mentality of Peter Pan Syndrome is running away to a place where you’ll never have problems, never have to face any kind of negative feeling, and never have to deal with arguments or disagreements.
3. He loves to escape.
If he’s off playing video games or drinking the moment he gets home from work until the moment he goes to bed, it might be another sign that he’s all about the escape. Does he spend all of his free time out with the boys, or playing or watching sports to the detriment of his life responsiblites?
4. He is irresponsible.
Responsibilities are one of the things that separate children from adults. You wouldn’t ask a toddler to take out the trash, but an older child might be able to help, whereas you’d probably ask a preteen to and make “take out the trash” part of a teenager’s set of chores. Now consider your own relationship with the trash. Is it something you need to assign to yourself, like a chore, or something you do when you know it needs doing? Is your partner the same? Can he handle responsibilities of any magnitude on his own, or do you feel like you have to tell him what to do and then hold his hand to get him through them?
5. He expects you to take care of him, like a mother.
How often does he expect you to be his Wendy? When Peter Pan left Neverland, he was looking for someone to take care of him and all the other Lost Boys, not an equal partner. If your man’s treating you like a mother figure, it’s a definite sign. Your job isn’t to be picking up after him or packing his lunch or even making sure he goes to bed at a reasonable hour, and if you find yourself doing these things, it may be a sign he’s got some growing up to do.
6. He is unreliable.
If you ask him to do something, can you expect it to be done? Forget how likely it is that he’ll do something on his own initiative for a moment and think about how likely he is to do something that you’ve said needs to be done. Reliability is one significant measure of a man, and if you can’t rely on him for the smallest things, it’s hard to trust that you’ll be able to rely on him for the big ones.
7. He jumps from job-to-job.
Maybe he told you he didn’t fit the culture at one, or the boss hated him at another, and maybe that’s even true. If he starts jumping from job to job at a regular rate, or there always seems to be some reason he can’t keep steady employment, do a mental check. Do his reasons sound like excuses? When was the last time he held a job for a decent amount of time? Is his shifting actually providing upward mobility in his field or salary, or does it seem like he’s moving from one dead end to the next? “Boredom” might be the actual answer, or “unwillingness to do any hard work.”
8. He has a hard time with commitment.
He is there, but commitment seems like a lot for him. You deserve someone as invested as you are, so if you’re worried that he’s showing this sign of Peter Pan Syndrome, it may be a sign for you!
9. He blames others for things that go wrong in his life.
When something goes wrong, whose fault is it? Does he blame himself for his part in what happened? If he’s likely to shove things off onto a boss, a coworker, a friend, or claim that the world has it out for him, it’s a bad sign. Shifting the blame to other people means it’s not long before he’s shifting the blame over to you if he hasn’t already, even if you haven’t done anything wrong at all. You don’t really need to be hearing “This is all your fault!” in the same tone a teenager would accuse their parent.
10. He doesn’t think he needs to improve.
Buckle up, this last one’s a doozy. We’ve gone through nine other signs, and it’s possible you’ve confronted him on any one of these previously. How does he take it when you bring his faults or problems up? A Peter Pan man will assume that there’s absolutely no room for improvement because he’s perfect just the way he is. Bringing up legitimate issues with his behavior will be met with handwaving and explanations that are really thinly veiled excuses. After all, if he doesn’t think he should change, why would you?
Remember: You deserve better. We’ve said it before, you’re not here to be his mother. You’re here to be his partner, and even if you are here to help him get past the hard times, that doesn’t mean you need to be carrying all the repsonsiblity for two. He is, after all, a grown man. It’s up to you whether you want to stick around in Neverland or leave.