The Cinderella Complex: Fear of Being Independent

October 13, 2015

Some people are scared of being independent. They unconsciously desire to be served, cared for and spoiled by other people.

Described for the first time by Colette Dowling, the “Cinderella complex” is based on the idea of femininity as described in the story. Cinderella is a beautiful, elegant, educated, hard-working woman who is criticized and exploited by her sisters and her stepmother.

However, Cinderella isn’t capable of changing her situation by her own means. She has to be helped by an external force, in this case the prince.

You’re probably thinking that this plot is repeated in the majority of classic fairytales. Especially in the ones by Disney. Unfortunately, you’re right.


“Existence doesn’t allow substitutes.” – Jorge Bucay

Although we’ve overcome many old taboos, many women are still socialized to wait for our prince charming.” It makes women long for someone to watch over us, protect us and make us feel safe. We grow up in societies that approve the submission and dependence of women, in many case to the point of limiting women’s autonomy and capacity of feeling like valid human beings.

We believe we’re living in a world full of dangers that we need to be protected from. This leads many women to limit themselves and wait for something or someone to shake up their lives.

Longing to be rescued

It’s common to fantasize about being rescued, and if your rescuer royal and is coming by horseback, even better.

From a young age, women are often taught that it’s difficult to achieve something for ourselves. However, the Cinderella complex isn’t exclusive to women. As we all know, it’s also very present in men.


There are many men who wait for someone to rescue them. Instead, they should take on the responsibility and do something for their own wellbeing.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what gender we’re referring to. The important thing is that there are many people who fear being independent. And no one is showing us the tools to face this problem.

Independent people aren’t born, they are made.

I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. A brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
– Nelson Mandela – 

The truth is that, frequently and much too quickly, we tend to lose our own identity. In many cases we are independent people with goals and interests, until we begin a relationship.

When we begin a new romance, we tend to leave aside what defines us. We start seeing the world from a different standpoint altogether. This diminishes our individuality. This happens more often to us women. We forget to value ourselves and stop being loyal to ourselves.

Independence allows you to make your own decisions and create your own goals. Who does your happiness and destiny depend on? It’s your responsibility. Every morning, when you open your eyes, think about if you want to live your day in sadness or if you’d like to refresh your emotions and make them your own.