The world is no Neverland yet many people could be classified as having the Peter Pan or Wendy syndrome. Do you relate to being a forever child or do you see yourself more as a parental figure?
The difference between being a Peter Pan and a Wendy
As the name suggests, the Peter Pan syndrome refers to the patterns of behaviours and traits displayed by an adult who refuses to grow up. A person who fits this description might do the bare minimum to get by. For example, they might have a job but no desire to advance their career or buy their own place to live. In terms of relationships, they often avoid commitment and show little interest in making plans for the future.
On the other hand, being a Wendy is associated with more maturity. A person who has the syndrome often takes on their partner’s responsibilities, such as doing the household chores and making appointments. However, the eagerness to act like a parent comes from a need for approval and fear of abandonment. A Wendy might feel insecure and lost when not in a relationship.
Is falling into one of these categories always a bad thing?
While a Peter Pan acts immature, this tendency comes with positive childlike qualities. For example, they’re more carefree than other people and live in the moment. If you’ve ever dated someone who could be labelled as Peter Pan, you’ve probably appreciated their playful and spontaneous personality.
Similarly, a Wendy’s desire to please makes them good at planning and organisational skills. Such people are deemed to be more dependable than others: if you have a Wendy in your life, you can rely on them to show up on time and trust that they care about your feelings.
What if you’re a Peter Pan?
Unfortunately, we all have to grow up at some point, and being an adult means we have responsibilities. If you identify with the Peter Pan syndrome, you might feel anxious at the thought of working on yourself, and neglect personal growth. In this case, keeping a journal where you write down your thoughts and feelings can be beneficial. Over time, you’ll be able to notice patterns that tell you what kinds of situations you’re likely to avoid, which can give you more self-awareness and help you decide if you want to consider therapy. Therapy for Peter Pan syndrome aims to help you break bad habits and understand why you act a certain way.
What if you’re a Wendy?
When you rely on fulfilling others’ needs to make you feel worthy, it’s a sign that you need to work on your self-esteem and develop a better sense of self. The easiest way to start is to come up with a few positive affirmations. You can repeat them every day in front of the mirror. It’s also helpful to identify your values and learn how to appreciate being on your own by taking time to do things that make you happy every day. Working with a therapist is a good idea too as they can teach you how to change negative beliefs about yourself and place your needs first.