Failure to Launch Syndrome in Men 10+ Stand-Out Symptoms

Failure to Launch Syndrome in Men 10+ Stand-Out Symptoms

Failure to Launch Syndrome (FTLS) is a scary thing to struggle with as an individual becoming an adult. It has been defined as “the inability to achieve one’s full potential due to an unfulfilled sense of personal mission.” It can make you miss out on opportunities, postpone essential events in your life, and make it feel as if your entire existence was put on hold, leaving you with a discreet underlying feeling of Failure and disappointment.

So, what is Failure to Launch Syndrome in men specifically?

We’ve discussed this topic in another post, Failure to Launch. Although everyone is capable of experiencing difficulty making progress in their lives—it seems that the problem has become more male-oriented over the past years.

In researching the topic, “Failure to Launch Syndrome in Men,” we found that there are over 400,000 people (16 – 24 year-olds) being men in the UK, out of 692,000 people not engaged in any meaningful Education, Employment, or Training (NEET), boys and men accounting for less than one-fourth of standard education in Canada. Also, females have a higher graduation rate than males in public, non-profit Universities in the United States.

A research study headed by Lee MK, and Kim GH, on the Effect of perfectionism and self-efficacy on depression and task performance, found that individuals who had low self-efficacy and high perfectionism had increased depression levels. Research studies also suggest that there is a relationship between self-efficacy, self-esteem, depression and suicide rates. All of which we find that young men who demonstrate FTLS are susceptible to.

We also found that the suicide rate amount young adults in significantly higher in males than it is for their female counterparts. According to Dr. Carl Fleisher, child and adolescent psychiatrist with UCLA Health, People who have “vulnerable self-esteem” are more likely to commit suicide.

There is a direct correlation with men’s mental health, and their performance. It is established that men with a lower self esteem perform at a more mediocre level. It is easy to associate this syndrome with the increase in depression and suicide rates among young men.

It’s become increasingly apparent that men’s mental health is an issue that needs attention more than ever before.

What is Failure to Launch Syndrome in Men?

Failure To Launch Syndrome In Men

Failure to launch Syndrome is a common phenomenon seen in young adults who have trouble transitioning into adulthood. It’s often discussed regarding an individual’s struggle to become self-sufficient and autonomous in society. It’s also known as “Peter Pan Syndrome,” referring to the iconic story of Peter Pan, aka the little boy who never grew up.

Failure to Launch Syndrome (FTLS) is a term used to describe a condition where a man feels inadequate because he has failed or is failing to achieve his goals and meet standards that are expected of him as an adult. He may feel depressed, anxious, and angry at himself for not living up to these expectations (that may come from his family, friends, or himself). FTLS ranges among men in their late teens/early adulthood (18 – 25 year-olds) to late adulthood (26+ year-olds). According to the Mayo Clinic, FTLS affects approximately 25% of American college students.

Click here to learn more about Failure to launch Syndrome.

What Causes Failure to Launch Syndrome?

Failure to Launch refers to the inability of young adults to get started in life. Many people believe this problem affects only women, but research shows that men suffer from this condition too. Studies show that men are twice as likely to fail to launch than women.

It’s often associated with low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. Men need to understand that this is a normal part of growing older and that there are things they can do to improve their situation.

Many factors can play a role in a man’s “failure to launch.” Many believe it could result from poor parenting skills, lack of motivation, or other external factors. However, research has shown that many men suffer from this problem and that one in five men are affected by FTLS.

Whether it’s personal issues and problems, extreme standards and expectations, or struggles between you and your environment, it’s important to note that one’s Failure to launch is only the tip of the iceberg; as many things under the “tip” could be contributing to your situation.

Although it’s impossible to discern precisely one cause of Failure to Launch Syndrome, there are things that you can still take into consideration as being an underlying root of your problem:

Low Confidence & Self-esteem

Men who struggle with confidence and low self-esteem may be more likely to struggle with Failure to launch Syndrome. Low self-esteem and ideation of one’s worth play a huge role when trying to succeed in life. If you feel you can’t do anything or are worthless, it will show in your ability, the way you conduct yourself, and the productivity of your day.

Confusion & Ambiguous Life Purpose

Having severe confusion about one’s identity, morals, standards, values, or purpose can throw any individual off their trajectory to the goals and standards they wish to achieve in life.

Growing confused about what your goals should or shouldn’t be can play a factor in Failure to Launch Syndrome on its own. After all, just like a road trip, goals are destinations meaning that goals give direction. Not knowing what your goals and objectives should be will often leave you with no direction.

Extremely High Expectations & Standards

An individual’s standards that are too high may also be contributing to their perception of success or failure. Whether these standards were imposed on them by other people or themselves, extremely high standards can make it easier for an individual to feel like they’ve lost, failed, unhappy, that their goals are unattainable, or like they should quit what they’re doing.

Standards go in line with values, for instance:

  • If I don’t achieve X, then I’m a failure
  • If I don’t get X, then I’m a loser
  • If X doesn’t happen, then I’m unhappy

It’s important to take after appropriate productive standards that help build us as people and guide us to our goals and fulfill the values we have set with these goals in life. Having extremely high standards can easily disrupt productivity and one’s perception of their self-worth.

Thinking You’re a Failure

As mentioned before, one’s perception of themselves can play a huge role in an individual experiencing failure-to-launch Syndrome. Although this is extremely similar to the low self-esteem & confidence subject we just talked about, it’s more specific.

Actively thinking, actively believing, that you are worthless can trigger Failure to Launch.

Understanding why you might feel unaccomplished or that you’re failing, your values, and once again the standards you hold for yourself help to define your situation as an individual.

Existential Crisis

Inner conflicts with questions we struggle to answer within ourselves about life, its meaning, and the role we play in it can stunt our progress and catch us in our tracks.

With constant swings between something mattering and not mattering, something being valuable and then becoming valueless, something making sense and no then longer making sense, it is only understandable that one struggling through an existential crisis can accidentally find themselves seemingly paralyzed.

Complex questions one has about life and their role in it are a delicate process that all people need proper time and patience to sort through. As people, we are responsible for ourselves always, so if you feel you contracted Failure to launch Syndrome from an existential crisis, then it’s important you do just that: provide time for this delicate process, and use this time wisely to sort through intrusive thoughts and questions about life, find help from those who are willing, and most importantly be patient with yourself always.

More Possible Reasons

  • Depression
  • Childhood trauma
  • Your environment
  • Suppressed feelings
  • Big transitions and changes
  • Loss of something or someone important
  • Laziness
  • Narcissism & entitlement

Do I Have Failure to Launch Syndrome?

Some symptoms include feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, and helpless. And as we just went over in the paragraph above, there are many factors that contribute to Failure to launch Syndrome in men. Take, for instance, poor body image, lack of confidence, negative thoughts, etc.

Men who suffer from Failure to launch Syndrome sometimes tend to be perfectionists who have high standards. They often compare themselves to others and believe that if they were better looking, smarter, richer, or more successful than other people, then they would be happy. These feelings can lead them to avoid social situations and relationships in sacrifice for their expectations or the recluse of them.

So, do I have Failure to Launch Syndrome…?

If you’re wondering if you have Failure to Launch Syndrome or not, take into account that people experiencing Failure to launch Syndrome tend to…

  • Feel like they have no purpose in life
  • Feel like they’re wasting their life
  • Feel as if they’ve become observers of life and the world around them rather than participants
  • Feel like the world is passing them by
  • Feel like they will never accomplish anything
  • Feel like they cannot move forward with their life
  • Feel like they do not have any direction in life
  • Feel like they’ve already wasted their life

Do people who are failing to launch show any symptoms…?

Some common symptoms of Failure to launch Syndrome in Men include:

  • Laziness & sluggishness
  • Low drive & motivation
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Immaturity
  • Refusal to pick up adult duties
  • Low self-autonomy
  • Heavy dependence (on other people, parents, or guardians)
  • Carelessness
  • Disorganization
  • Low activity
  • Irresponsibility
  • Showing signs of being incapable of self-sufficiency

In Conclusion, Why Do Men Fail To Launch?

Failure To Launch Syndrome In Men

Failure to Launch Syndrome in men is a condition where men feel like they have failed their life goals. They feel like they have no purpose or direction in life. It’s a phenomenon that’s becoming more prominent in and apparent in our generation with young men and it’s a struggle that nobody enjoys.

As we’ve seen, there are many reasons why a man can fail to launch. But overall, it’s best to try to decipher your specific reason as to why you’re performing the way you are, feeling the way you are, and are going through what you’re going through. If you want to change, know that it’s possible, (change is always possible) but it needs a starting point.

You cannot fix something until you admit it’s broken. So, with that being said, give yourself and your needs attention and genuine care. Seek help from professionals, loved ones, or those who are a positive and inspiring influence on your life. And above all, be patient with yourself and your problems.

Everybody struggles, everybody starts from somewhere, where we end up is what matters; and that is completely up to you.

Christopher Udeani
Christopher Udeani

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  1. Eileen
    March 3, 2023 / 10:01 pm

    I would like to know if you can give some information on this topic, or refer me to someone who deals with the failure to launch problem mainly for my 21 year old grandson. I live in Indiana, and would be very interested in looking into a facility based program dealing with these issues for him. Anything I have come across are all in different states, not Indiana. Any help you may be able to provide would be appreciated. Thank you.

  2. Hi Eileen,
    Thanks so much for visiting our blog. So sorry to hear that your grandson is struggling with the failure to launch problem. I can make some suggestions, but I am not a healthcare provider and cannot refer you to specific professionals or programs. To find programs in Indiana, I suggest reaching out to local mental health organizations or healthcare providers for referrals. You can also search online for “failure to launch programs in Indiana” to find additional resources and information. It may also be helpful to speak with your grandson’s healthcare provider for guidance on how to proceed.

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