Does your man have ‘Peter Pan’ syndrome?

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Coupledom – for us girls, it spells the end of singlehood. While we may shed a fond tear or two for those wild nights out when we stagger home at 7am (and have to start work in an hour!), many of us are secretly glad to have someone warm to cuddle up to at night, share our joys and problems, and just generally do stuff with.

But while you’re buckling down for another night on the couch with DVDs and your man – what’s going through his head? Men suffer from something called the Peter Pan syndrome. You remember the story of Peter Pan, right? He’s the boy who never grew up, so much so that he chose to remain ten years old forever, in a place called Never-Never Land.

At nzgirl, we believe that boys and girls essentially want the same things. They just go about it in different ways. So, if your man is a bit of a Peter Pan, here’s what we suggest you do…

Does this mean I have to give up my boys nights?
Boys are a bit funny and defensive about their male friendships. And their boy mates tend to get a tad protective about their territory too. Boys’nights out or weekends seem to be one of those sacred domains that turn into World War III – tears, arguments and recriminations – as soon as a girlfriend tries to encroach on it. We at nzgirl have a motto: if he’s out with the boys, then the girls come out to play. That means if he’s out doing poker night or whatever with his mates, get the girls to come over for cocktails and a giggle.

Alternatively, if he’s on a fishing trip with the boys, then head over for a girls’ weekend in Sydney with your friends. Relationships would be boring if you didn’t have different stories to swap every now and then – and the best way to have those is to keep developing your separate interests.

If I move in with you, I’ll have to abandon my bachelor pad
OK, a man who doesn’t want to move in with you because he wants the house to be filled only with his stuff has more serious issues than cold feet. But if he’s wary because he’s picturing living with his mother…only worse because he can’t escape from you, then it’s time to address some of his fears. Talk about where you want to live – what sort of house is it? How many rooms? In what suburb? And how will the living space be shared?

If you’re lucky enough to have three rooms, perhaps two of those could be converted into a his n’ hers space. You get your library/walk-in closet, and he gets his pool room complete with fish tank and movie posters. Boys are practical creatures, by giving them something concrete to solve, they’ll feel less threatened and more useful.

If I get married, I’ll have to spend my money on baby nappies and a house
First a little warning: a man who uses age as an excuse not to get married at 23 will still be the same at 43. But if the only reason he’s hesitating is because he’s genuinely fearful that all his money will now go towards cushions and duvets instead of booze and sports gear, then it’s a natural fear. After all, aren’t you afraid that you’ll have less money to spend on shoes, handbags and holidays once you tie the knot? It goes both ways.

The only way to get over it, really, is to suck it up. And if it helps, agree that as well as a joint account for all the serious adult stuff, you’re both allowed to retain personal accounts for “fun” things, where you put say 20% of your pay and can only be touched by you.

I’ll never have sex with anyone else again
It’s shallow, but true. Theoretically, if you commit to one person for life, be it a de facto relationship, civil union or marriage, it means that you’ll never have sex with anyone new again. While this is a huge concept to grasp at first, and more than a little daunting – help him flash his mind back to all the first time sex he’s ever had with anyone. Was it really all that good? No. Sex is always more fun when you’re comfortable with someone, and that’s something only time and a good, understanding partner can give you.
I’m just not ready to get married/move in together/date exclusively
Sometimes the sad fact in life is that some people will never grow up, whether by choice or because they have deep-seated psychological issues that need years of counselling. While standing by your man is a brave sentiment, it can also be the work of a foolish girl if you do so beyond all reason. At the end of the day, someone who is not ready to commit to you may never do – and you have to decide if this is something you can accept and live with, indefinitely. If you hang onto a relationship hoping he’ll grow up and offer the kind of security and love that you crave, then you are just hoping for him to be a different person. We can say, with some authority, that people don’t change. Those that do will only do so if they see something that needs changing, not because they’ve been nagged into it.

Sarah Lane

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