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Women’s Fear of Independence: Cinderella Syndrome

Cover Photo: @vikyandthekid

Cinderella syndrome (Cindrella complex or Cinderella disorder) refers to a psychological condition in which a woman fears true independence and waits for a knight in shining armor to come and rescue her.

Although the term Cinderella complex was coined by Agatha Christie in a murder mystery novel, the book “The Cinderella Complex” by Colette Dowling brought it to the attention of everyone around the world. Although Cinderella syndrome is not recognized as a diagnosis by the Psychiatric Association; Women who feel overly dependent on others may want to learn more about this condition.

Cinderella syndrome is a concept theorized by Dowling in her 1981 book, “The Cinderella Complex: Women’s Hidden Fear of Independence.” According to Dowling, women are conditioned from birth to be specifically dependent on men for their emotional and physical security. Dowling explains this situation with the story of the fairy-tale character Cinderella. Cinderella cooks and cleans for her evil stepmother, but is eventually rescued and cared for by a prince. Women with the Cinderella complex may also choose to do housework in what they consider to be a safe haven where they are looked after by a man.

Dowling describes her experience of discovering her own Cinderella complex when she decided to live with a man after living independently for a few years: “I stopped progressing when the opportunity to depend on someone arose; in fact, I stopped completely. I was no longer making decisions, going anywhere alone, meeting friends. Six During the month I hadn’t been able to meet the deadline of anything or the friction of signing a contract with a publisher. Escape from stress had become my unconscious goal. I slipped back, actually relaxed because it was easier. Looking at flowers, shopping and being a “good partner”, it was less anxiety-inducing than creating his own life.

Signs of Cinderella Syndrome

Even seemingly independent women can experience symptoms of Cinderella syndrome. Although there is no comprehensive list of symptoms of this syndrome, a woman experiencing this complex may experience:

• Submitting to your partner’s choices and decisions
• Worrying about living alone
• Finding it difficult or impossible to make important life decisions alone
• Having difficulty supporting yourself or holding down a job.
• Preferring the traditional housewife and mother role
• Preferring to be romantically involved with someone who can often be described as “strong”
• Rarely or never going out of your emotional comfort zone
• Secretly or openly asking to be looked after

Some women with Cinderella syndrome may say they have been abused or neglected by their parents; this may cause a deeper comparison with the fairy tale character. These women wish that a savior (a prince) would come and take care of them.

Not every woman who exhibits the symptoms listed here has Cinderella syndrome. While many women take on traditional roles, both parties enjoy a healthy, interdependent relationship. Many women make equal decisions with their partners.

However, if living alone and taking full responsibility for your own life and well-being cause you great anxiety; Then you can seek professional advice. Whether you have Cinderella syndrome or not, a specialist can help you discover how to overcome your fears and improve your emotional quality of life.

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