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The Peter Pan Syndrome…Is it Possible to Grow Up?

August 18, 2013

I was crazy about a guy. I thought we had a good thing going. He told me I was special and I was flying a little too high. Of course, there were issues that weren’t quite right, but every relationship has to find compromise. There was a problem concerning emotional maturity and it wasn’t me that was lacking it. One day we were a couple, and the next day he was nowhere to be found.

Life goes on, and after many years, he resurfaced. We found ourselves still drawn to each other and I thought I would be able to put the past behind us. Had he grown up? Was he now ready to be more involved and less apt to run from commitment? In my case, the answer was no.

I once saw a stand-up comic explain the difference between the male and female brain. The female’s brain, he said, was continually busy connecting the dots and going off on tangents, while the man’s brain was composed of boxes with nothing interacting or overlapping. While he was funny, and we had some good laughs, I couldn’t help but think that the comedian wasn’t entirely correct. How else can you explain our ability to perceive what we desire while compartmentalizing the truth? Women have boxes too!

The guy and I both remembered the physical side of our original dating experience, so the sex was front and center. In the beginning, as those pheromones kicked in, everything was fun and I felt cared for and happy.

However, as our relationship progressed (the second time around), I found myself making excuses for his behavior. It seems I was able to let certain circumstances slide when other needs were being met.

There was a definite disconnect that could not be overcome; he kept emotional distance.

My discontent became more apparent (as I was not taking steps to move forward). I lost respect for myself, which made matters worse. Adding to my unhappiness was the realization that he was cultivating a new friendship on the side. This was a man who was unable to stay true to one woman, afraid of commitment and quite obviously, a player

Why is it that some men never grow up? I’m not alone in my thinking since many of my girlfriends have found themselves in the same position. The Peter Pan Syndrome is alive and flourishing in the dating world. Does it have to be a life sentence? Why don’t men realize the potential in sharing their feelings?

No one will deny that relationships work best when both individuals can give unconditionally: physically, emotionally and spiritually. Trusting your partner to understand and be supportive are key elements in finding the closeness and love required for a lasting partnership. We have to take a chance, perhaps a leap of faith, that the person we choose to open up with is, in fact, the right one.

In retrospect, giving my heart and soul to a man who was unable to reciprocate would have been a regressive move that would have stifled my personal growth. As far as I am concerned, any man who enjoys amusing himself by playing games and having superficial relationships has lost out on one of life’s most precious gifts.

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  1. I came across the blog by accident and found the topic very relevant I am one of those “little disconnected box people.” A upper middle age male, divorced and looking for the right woman for the next chapter of my life (if such a thing exists for me).

    I am a lawyer by profession and in my early years ran a general practice and represented men and woman in divorces (dissolution of marriages) in about 100+ cases. It was my observation then, and continues to the present, that about a year after a divorce is finalized the woman generally brush themselves off and proceed with their lives and find a way to thrive. It has been my observation professionally and personally that men are not as resilient as women; why, I suspect it may have to do with the more nurturing qualities of women (I known these are gross generalizations…) but men want the emotional connection, they just do not know how to find their way out of the post marital emotional forest without a native guide (translation… a good therapist or kind woman).

    Just a few thoughts for your consideration.


    • Hi gms,
      I think you are right, if we can generalize these situations. Most women can pick themselves up and move on but men tend to want someone to take care of them. I say this because there are so many women who, after a divorce, proclaim they are done taking care of someone. Sort of a “been there, done that” attitude. Many men still want/need someone to help keep their life in order or perhaps, give order to their lives.

      Also, I believe it is important for anyone who is back out in the dating world to do a little soul searching and decide what it is they truly want. For those who are uncomfortable being on their own, it is important to know you can stand on your own before embarking on a new relationship.

      I moderate a “Midlife Dating Discussion” group in Chicago. It is listed as such on Our next meeting is on November 30. Check us out.


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