Wendy Syndrome: the Need to Satisfy Others

02 September, 2020
The problems with Wendy Syndrome occur when you empty yourself to give everything to someone and get nothing in return. You deserve more.

Wendy Syndrome has its roots in popular psychology. Despite the fact that it’s not a recognized disorder in diagnostic psychology manuals, it’s made up of certain aspects that need to be treated psychologically.

Focusing your entire life on caring for another person causes a slow process of self-destruction. The loss of self-esteem or extreme physical and mental exhaustion can easily lead you into depression.

Wendy Syndrome and progressive self-denial

Woman looking out a window at the rain.

Classical literature has provided several examples that help describe this very real behavior. Wendy Syndrome, also known as “Peter Pan Syndrome,” “Othello Syndrome,” or “Alice in Wonderland Syndrome” all describe disorders, problems, and behaviors where fiction becomes reality.

Cultural influences make it so that woman are more prone to suffer from this problem. Their education, experiences, and the present circumstances in which they find themselves can cause a person to fall into this behavior pattern.

Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the problem in order to begin managing one’s own emotions. Giving yourself up for someone else seems to be an exceptional way to love. Sometimes it’s easy to forget something, however: whoever gives also deserves to receive.

This is where the problems start, with emotional dissonance and sadness. Today we are going to analyze it in the following ways:

The characteristics of Wendy Syndrome

Although this syndrome, as we mentioned, is rooted in popular psychology, the symptoms that it presents can help define the profile of those that suffer from it:

  • For a long time this kind of relationship can feel good. It’s how you understand love.
  • You’re not concerned (at first) that others don’t care for you equally. Just knowing that your partner feels loved by you and is happy is enough. That is what makes you feel good.
  • You feel indispensable and try to assume the responsibilities of the other person.
  • You avoid conflicts so that your partner doesn’t get angry or upset. You fight for someone else’s happiness while forgetting your own.
  • You ask for forgiveness and feel bad when things don’t turn out as you intended, especially when it has to do with your partner.

Gradually, however, you perceive that other people consider everything that you do as “normal.” All of this can lead to them becoming tyrannical and demanding.

If you’re experiencing Wendy Syndrome now, look at these aspects that you should change.

Understand that love isn’t sacrifice: Love is giving and receiving

Many people were brought up with the idea that in order to love you have to give up certain things to cement the relationship. If you want someone, you have to “put up with” many things. You have also been made to believe that you have to say “yes” when you want to say “no.” That love is, above all else, putting everyone else before yourself.

If you have integrated these ideas into your way of thinking, you’ll start to collapse under the weight of new ones:

See also 7 signs you don’t love yourself enough

  • Love doesn’t mean giving everything up. If you do, you’ll only become a victim of yourself.
  • A loving relationship should be mature and aware. Both parties must give, without a doubt, but it’s equally important to receive.
  • Love is about forming a team, coordinating your strengths, interests, and needs.

In the case of Wendy Syndrome, there is always one person giving and the other person is receiving. One wins and the other gradually loses. The real problem, however, is that the other person doesn’t even realize it. At the start of the relationship, you feel happy caring for them, worrying about them, attending to every detail to maximize their well-being.

After months or years, though, you notice that something’s wrong. In the end, you are just taken for granted, not appreciated, and more and more is required of you. You mustn’t let yourself fall into this difficult and unhappy trap.

A woman worrying about her husband.

How to refocus loving relationships

Our first and most essential piece of advice: Never fail to be yourself, no matter how much you love the other person. Otherwise, sooner or later, frustration, discomfort, and unhappiness will appear.

See also: Don’t let love change who you are

Caring, protecting, giving, denying yourself certain things… All of this is OK, but your partner should also take care of you, give you things, and deny themselves things for you.

  • Don’t apologize for something that isn’t your responsibility.
  • The greatest fear that people with Wendy Syndrome have is being abandoned. To prevent this from happening these people are capable of going to any extreme, and this must be avoided.
  • You need to learn to be happy on your own. Enjoy your own company to the point of knowing that if you were suddenly on your own, the world wouldn’t end.
  • Learn to also correct your thought patterns, especially those that bring you suffering. This will help you create new emotions that make you stronger.
  • Stop projecting all of your hopes, desires, and energy on another person. Do so only in a fair way. You deserve my love and I deserve your respect.

Remember that giving all you have in a relationship can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction. It’s important to detect these behaviors in order to overcome them and fight for your self-worth. Because only when you love and respect yourself can you give the same to others.

  • Quadrio, C. (1982). The peter pan and wendy syndrome: A marital dynamic. Australasian Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.3109/00048678209161187

  • Dalla, R. L., Marchetti, A. M., Sechrest, E. A., & White, J. L. (2010). “All the Men Here Have the Peter Pan Syndrome- They Don’t Want to Grow Up”: Navajo Adolescent Mothers’ Intimate Partner Relationships-A 15-Year Perspective. Violence Against Women. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801210374866

  • Monod, E., & Boland, R. J. (2007). Special issue on philosophy and epistemology: A “Peter Pan syndrome”? Information Systems Journal. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2575.2007.00231.x