'Man Child Syndrome' is a real thing. And it has lasting consequences.

Any wives out there feel like their husband is an extra child they have to deal with?

Picture a man sitting on the couch watching TV, on his phone or playing video games. His partner, a woman for the sake of this conversation, has done the majority of the household labour on this day. That includes preparing dinner, clearing the table, sorting the dishwasher, maybe taking the bins out.

This couple have young kids too, with the woman holding the mental load of sorting out the little ones' nighttime routines. She's also sorting out the house admin, and by the end of the night, she is completely burnt out.

The man has barely lifted a finger or shown any initiative. Later that night, the husband is surprised that his wife isn't interested in sex. He shouldn't be surprised.

This is an example of the 'Man Child Syndrome'.

For a long time, it was a heavily under-researched area. That is until recently. 

Watch: relationship red flags. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia. 

Science has now confirmed our gut feelings — Man Child Syndrome severely impacts a woman's sexual desire.

Dr Emily Harris is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Physical Appearance Research Team in the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne.


She and her colleagues conducted two studies into this phenomenon. 

Speaking with more than 1,000 women from around the world who are in relationships with men, all of whom also had children under the age of 12. The women were asked to rate their agreement with statements like, "Sometimes I feel as though my partner is like an extra child I need to look after." The research team also asked them about the division of household labour in their relationship, and their level of sexual desire for their partner.

The results were telling.

What is Man Child Syndrome?

"It's a man who depends on his partner for everyday tasks that he is actually capable of. He isn't contributing equally to the running of the household, he doesn't typically appreciate what is being done for them, nor does he really acknowledge it," explains Dr Harris.

"It's really when we start to see this overlap between the care that we provide for children, and the care we provide for partners. We don't really expect our kids to reciprocate or appreciate the care because their children. But it's very reasonable for a partner to do that."

You may hear women describe their male partners as their 'dependent' or one of their children. As Dr Harris notes, when a partner starts to feel like they have a dependent child, it's not surprising if that affects a woman's sexual desire for him.

How Man Child Syndrome impacts a woman's sexual desire.

When it comes to gender inequalities in household labour and having a 'dependent' partner, it doesn't exactly do wonders for a woman's libido. 

"Labour is something lots of couples have fights about. I think women are becoming more empowered to call it out, but they're still facing a lot of resistance from men. That can then create these kinds of spiralling conflicts and a low level of desire," Dr Harris tells Mamamia


The University of Melbourne research found that inequities across household labour were associated with significantly lower desire, in particular childcare and development, parenting logistics, and life and social planning.

The findings also challenge the archaic idea that low desire in women is a problem in itself. Rather, it's a symptom of a broader problem — heteronormativity and men not stepping up to the equity plate.

"It's not particularly surprising research, but I think it's powerful as it validates a lot of women's experiences. Women shouldn't have to feel solely responsible for their feelings or sexual desires. Relationships are a two-way street, and the partner needs to be equally motivated to see how their behaviour is impacting their loved one."

If this description of a Man Child is sounding eerily familiar, the best things you can do is communicate, speak up, and maybe even seek professional help from a relationship therapist. 

Because no one needs an adult child on their busy hands. 

For more from Dr Emily A Harris you can visit her website here. She is also currently developing workshops for couples in conflict over the division of labour.  

What are your thoughts on Man Child Syndrome? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: Getty.

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