In 1983, pop psychologist Dan Kiley coined the term “Peter Pan Syndrome” in his book, Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Have Never Grown Up. Not only have they never grown up, they have all migrated to Los Angeles – Never Never Land. Kiley was ahead of his time, as the “Peter Pan Syndrome” appears to be on the rise.
A wannabe Hefner, Peter Pan is an aging Playboy in his mid-fifties that throws “lingerie” parties at his Venice beach house. His entire life revolves around training for Ironman competitions, sticking his butt cheek with a daily dose of HGH, and dating women 20-30 years younger than him. He has never been married, or has been married several times without duration, and says he may want to have children in a few years. Despite his desire to remain young forever, in a few years Peter Pan will be a grandpa. While men don’t lose their ability to reproduce the same way women do, there are health concerns (Down Syndrome, for example) that increase drastically when a man reaches the age of 55. The Botox, mini facelift, and celebrity-style hair transplants by the notorious Dr. Walter Unger cannot disguise the fact that he is genetically old. Why is this man even considering having children, to pass on his superior personality traits?
I recently dated a hedge fund manager in his late forties: successful in business, not in relationships. He couldn’t decide on chicken or fish for dinner, let alone whether he wanted to get married and have children. The chicken was boring, but the fish might spike his mercury levels. When I asked if he had a mercury problem, he didn’t even know that he could get his mercury checked in a routine blood test. His OCD analytical mind was constantly running numbers on the odds a marriage would end in divorce and on what age a woman’s fertility hit the high-risk level.
For him, it didn’t make sense to get married if he wasn’t going to have children and he didn’t know if he wanted children. His parents were in their eighties, his sister had a teenage daughter, and he felt obligated to make a decision. His greatest concern: he didn’t know one happily married couple. I reminded him of his parents who had been married over 50 years. “They’re different,” he reasoned. How? They’re his parents, not his peers. This not-so-young finance wizard was trying to analyze relationships the way he would a stock trend. How could he work in a business gambling billions of dollars a day, and be unable to take a risk in his personal life? Like the recent romantic comedy flop, he wondered How Do You Know? Truth is, you don’t know. When it feels right, you take a frickin’ leap of faith and don’t belabor it to death or it will slip through your hands and you will never ever know.
We dated a few times. Despite being a pretty good match – probably the best match he’ll ever find, as I have a high tolerance for the intensely neurotic – he ruled me out because I’m over his very narrow “acceptable age range” for optimum fertility. The way he makes personal decisions, I’d be on my first hip replacement before we even started trying. While Tinkerbell may die single and barren, Peter Pan will have a far worse fate. A lonely, pathetic man/boy, he will die from cancer of the heart – accelerated by his faithful HGH.