Failure-to-launch is a phrase that’s become increasingly more frequent in modern times. Many people hear about it, I’ve heard of it, and if you’ve found yourself reading this article, you’ve heard about it too. But the question isn’t about whether you’ve heard it or not. It’s “what is failure to launch syndrome?” Most people are aware of it, and at this point, many of us have even observed it. Or are you even experiencing it right now? We must get to the bottom of this ambiguous issue many young adults are struggling with today.
And yes, you heard that right. Many, many, many young adults struggle with this baffling problem.
So, What is Failure To Launch Syndrome?
If you are asking, what is failure-to-launch syndrome? The answer is, failure-to-launch is a phenomenon that refers to young adults and adults having trouble becoming self-sufficient and transitioning into adulthood. It is not an actual syndrome. Young adults subjected to failure to launch syndrome usually find themselves staying at home, relying on parents for support, withdrawing from society, and not looking for a job or anything that can financially contribute to themselves or their loved ones. From this, I believe that you would be able to understand why the term is coined “Failure to Launch syndrome,” which is also known as “Peter Pan syndrome.”
Because Peter Pan is the all-famed story of the little boy who never grew up, it’s from this “What is failure to launch syndrome?” is now answered, and we now have an idea of what the phenomenon is.
What Causes Failure To Launch?
It’s impossible to pinpoint failure to launch syndrome on one distinct cause because humans are too individualistic, and each person has their unique reason. However, It is possible to give out factors that do or can contribute to this phenomenon.
Those factors being…
1) Internet & Technology Addiction
Technology, the internet, video games, and social media heavily influence many individuals of today’s generation. Although fun and entertaining, addiction to technology has become normalized in almost every modern individual’s life. The average person spends 2.5 hours on social media, the average adult spends 4.8 hours on their phone, and chances are someone experiencing failure to launch syndrome is probably spending more. The problem with our high normalized usage of technology has caused more individuals to become observers of life rather than participants.
Today, many young adults struggle with feeling connected to life and feel disconnected from the world in which screen culture potentially plays a vital role. Screen culture can also go hand in hand with screen addiction which can cause an individual to struggle with healthy social and coping skills—resulting in a generation of people with foggy concepts of their interests and passions. These individuals have little to no real-life experience or hands-on interactions and live an observer-type lifestyle. In essence, we are raising young adults that are who are riding in the passenger seat of a car while life flies past them.
2) Parenting Styles
Another potential cause of failure to launch syndrome is the fashion of parenting that an individual was exposed to.
The relationship between an individual and their parent plays a strong role in one’s development, and it’s because of this that, although maybe not intentionally, parenting styles can potentially be a cause of failure to launch syndrome.
Overprotective parents might find themselves with young adults that are struggling with this issue. The reason why is because well-intentioned parents that want the best for their children might accidentally rob them of opportunities that challenge the child at the appropriate stage in life. A life too easy can cause an individual to keep unhealthy habits and remain dependent on their parents for any issues that occur in their life. Challenges serve as an excellent source of development for kids, and people in general, and they help to develop and grow an individual’s sense of autonomy which is detrimental in this life that we live.
What is failure to launch syndrome? To some parents, this issue might sound made up, or just be completely disregarded and thrown out the window. However, this issue is real and should be handled accordingly. Regardless, this may not be the case for all people, and parents in no way, shape, or form, are responsible for an adult. We as young adults have to face our problems and hold ourselves accountable because nobody else will do it for us.
At the end of the day, your problems and issues directly affect you and your life. And it’s with that, we must be responsible for our own actions always.
“With great responsibility comes great power” — Mark Manson
3) Substance Abuse
Although not always noticed, substance abuse and failure to launch syndrome often ride together in the same lane. However, failure to launch syndrome may not always be noted because addiction typically eclipses the underlying issue.
Substance abuse and addiction can play a role in failure-to-launch syndrome because individuals who abuse substances/or are addicted are more likely to experience stability issues financially, emotionality, cognitively, and more. A road of addiction makes it more difficult to establish commitment and live a more efficient life. This, in turn, portrays exactly why substance abuse can play a stark role in failure-to-launch syndrome.
4) Mentality, Personality, & Mental Illness
Now… what is failure to launch syndrome? When it comes to the mind?
Mentality, personality, and mental illness are all huge potential candidates for causes of failure to launch syndrome.
Whether one is suffering from diminished self-esteem, a strong feeling of entitlement, or they are struggling with depression, anxiety, ADHD, or PTSD, your mind in general plays a vital role in whether you may or may not be experiencing failure to launch syndrome.
Transitioning into adulthood can be scary for someone who has a mental illness, and at the same time, it may not be what someone who’s got specific self-growth issues is prepared for. Hence, it can be a difficult, or even horrifying, process for confident young adults to take on.
What are some traits that play a potential role in failure-to-launch syndrome?
- Trust Issues (skepticism)
- Lack of Accountability
- Unrealistic Goal Setting
- Low Self Esteem
What Are The Symptoms of Failure To Launch Syndrome?
There are many indicators for an individual struggling with failure-to-launch syndrome. Although it isn’t always possible to discern whether a person is suffering from this problem or not—here are some symptoms that someone who’s possibly suffering from failure to launch syndrome could be showing.
- Lack of Confidence
- Poor Work Ethic
- Avolition/Lack of Motivation
- Video Game Addiction
- Low Accountability & Disregard for Responsibility
- Mental Paralysis
Why Do Some Men Fail To Launch?
We’ve already answered what is failure to launch syndrome, but what is this syndrome like for men?
It has become increasingly apparent that failure to launch syndrome has become a more male-gendered issue in society, with men becoming more likely to experience it.
With 400,000 people (16 – 24 year-olds) out of 692,000 people in NEET (Not engaged in Education, Employment, or Training) being men in the UK, and males accounting for less than one-fourth of standard education in Canada. Failure to launch syndrome is an issue that is seriously becoming more prominent in men.
Terms such as “loser,” “man-baby,” “basement dweller,” and so on are often used to describe men struggling with these issues, which usually only depletes and further diminishes one’s already low self-confidence. A 2021 study carried out by Exeter, Manchester, and Brunel Universities found that young men living in the U.S. and the U.K. are more likely to feel lonely which, in addition to the male suicide rate being 3.7 times higher than the female suicide rate—it’s no surprise that men may be more likely to experience failure to launch syndrome.
Many men struggle with loneliness and isolation and suffer from an ambiguous life purpose. Although it’s impossible to list the exact reason an individual may be experiencing failure to launch syndrome, it’s clear that mind space, mental health, relationships, and self-relationship play a massive role in one’s performance. These phenomena may be an issue men are currently struggling with in today’s society.
So, what is failure to launch syndrome? I’m sure you can now understand a thing or two about this common phenomenon.
Adulthood can be scary. And for any individual currently struggling with any issue, it can be a daunting task that seems almost impossible to take on.
A genuinely wonderful experience can become almost petrifying for many people and make you recline into an almost infant-like paralysis. However, it’s best to remember always:
You are only human.
These issues you may be facing as a young adult are not only specific to you. People have struggled and are struggling with this issue that you are a loved one may be facing.
The Popular Magazine revealed that 45% of 18-34 year-olds still live at home with their parents!
So, sometimes it takes certain flowers a bit longer than others to sprout, but be sure always at least to give yourself a chance. You will eventually find your spark in the world
not as a child but as a young adult with effort and action.