Midlife crisis in men: symptoms when it starts
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A successful financier after 50 turns into an avid biker. At the age of 40, the father of the family leaves his wife and children, takes on a mistress, because “he wants to do everything that he could not do before.” What’s this? A new interest in life or are these people experiencing a midlife crisis in men?
The male crisis is the subject of jokes and ironic ridicule. However, this is a real, psychological phenomenon that can lead to serious consequences and influence life decisions.
So let’s figure out what this crisis is, when does it come and how long does it last? Consider the symptoms and stages that will help to understand the behavior of a man and what he is going through. This is important to know because the crisis of age affects everyone around a man.
What is a midlife crisis
The term midlife crisis, first coined in 1965 by psychologist Elliot Jacques, refers to a person’s life stage of middle age (usually between the ages of 35 and 65).
Here is what Katherine Betts Adams (gerontologist and aging specialist) has to say about this crisis.
This is a period of regret and rethinking. A kind of reassessment of life and past affairs, which is accompanied by a feeling of dissatisfaction. This is the time when a person mourns the past youth that he will never experience again. He comes to terms with his limitations and how he will look in a new way when he gets even older.
According to research , this is a purely psychological disorder. It can lead to radical changes in daily life: work, marriage, relationships, behavior. Everyone reacts differently. For some, it’s a physical change: gray hair, more pronounced wrinkles, extended baldness. For others – medical: arthritis, cholesterol. At what age does it start?
When do men have a midlife crisis?
On average, the key dates of its occurrence are after 35, 40, 50 years, while the peak falls on 44-55 years. For most men, it’s a matter of adjusting the priorities in their lives to better match their emotional needs.
The modern crisis begins for men from about 40 years old, when it seems to them that youth has not brought the expected results, which means that they need to try to catch up. That is why it is also called “forties-fatal”. At the same time, it is not uncommon for fifty-year-old men.
This is undoubtedly a painful period and can be devastating. But it can also serve as a “wake-up call” for a qualitative change in life goals and achieving success .
But what are the causes of the male crisis?
Why is the male age crisis coming?
Every man has his own reasons for the emergence of the crisis. Some common reasons include:
- Changes in the body, such as weight gain, pain, or decreased energy.
- Fear of the very process of aging and death.
- Divorce or other changes in a person’s relationship.
- Changes in a person’s relationship with their children: children have grown up and leave their parental home. Some people go through a midlife crisis due to empty nest syndrome.
- Change of job, career, for example, when the job has become more or less difficult than it used to be.
- Financial problems, especially those related to retirement or debt.
- Dealing with trauma from earlier in life.
- The feeling that life did not turn out the way one could imagine or hope.
- Changes in sexual function that come with age. Suddenly, the realization comes that the erection is no longer the same as in youth, and intimate relationships are devoid of colors. For some, this is the beginning of a downward slide. (I recommend reading an article on how to improve relations with your husband if they have deteriorated for you).
- Lack of goals and direction in which it would be worth moving. Everything that we wanted to achieve has already been achieved, but it is not clear how to proceed further. Relations with a life partner bring disappointment, children have become adults and lead an independent life. no idea what to do next?
How long does a midlife crisis last for men?
To be honest, the crisis of age in men has no time frame. It depends on how prepared a man is to cope with such a difficult task. Unfortunately, many of them know little about this stage of their lives.
- Overcoming this tipping period is considered fast, up to two years, and with expert advice.
- Sometimes it lasts about 5-6 years, and in rare cases up to 10 years, with 1-3 cycles per year. With each cycle, a man will have a new hobby.
- Sometimes men “come to their senses” after 3-4 years of independent struggle.
- When the cause is a reaction to the events that have occurred: job loss, divorce, then the timing depends on the elimination of these causes. For example, a new interesting job, marriage, relationships, will reduce the duration of this critical period.
- If the crisis provoked depression (my life is meaningless …), then the treatment may take more than a year. The more a man resists the fact that he has an age crisis, the longer he will be subject to it.
It is important to remember: the duration of the crisis depends on the age of the man, the support of loved ones and the reason that provoked it.
Some men will not go through the age crisis at all, or it will pass almost imperceptibly for others. For others, it will take several years. And for others, it seems that they will never end at all, which will affect them for the rest of their lives.
Stages and stages of a midlife crisis in men
Here’s what Jim Conway, MD, and author of Men in a Midlife Crisis has to say about it. He argues that this crisis is similar to the stages of grief. He identifies six stages of a midlife crisis in men:
- Negation. This is usually the beginning of a midlife crisis when a man tries to fight or deny that he is getting old.
- Anger. At this stage, men are frustrated with the problems of middle age or their inability to cope with them.
- Repeat. A man may try to reproduce what was most attractive to him in his youth. He does beauty treatments, has an affair, or shirks his duties.
- Depression. When reproduction fails, the man may become depressed and anxious.
- Care. A man distances himself from loved ones to cope with depression.
- Adoption. The man finally accepts that he is getting old and begins to look for meaning in the next phase of life.
How to recognize the symptoms of a midlife crisis in men
The initial signs often start with an increase in spending or a change in appearance. But then they can turn into depressive disorders. What are the consequences of this?
For men, these are new relationships or marriages, divorce, adventures. And for women, these are broken families, tears and suffering. (I advise you to learn about the differences between men and women . You will find out how they differ from each other).
What are the symptoms to look out for?
1. Infidelity of a man, lack of interest in “marital duties”
The husband begins to critically look at the figure of his wife, annoyed by her appearance and weight. He says that he wants to be happy, but from his wife as a woman, there is no sexual satisfaction. Therefore, he is at a crossroads: to divorce or not?
Getting older, a man feels a decrease in his “male power”. Therefore, he wants first of all to himself to “prove” his masculinity. And it seems that the best way to do this is to have an affair with a young mistress or a new secretary.
He often starts to be late from work. Carefully makes sure that his wife does not check the phone numbers of his mobile phone. Spends more time chatting. He has some strange, frequent business trips.
At the same time, he will swear love and fidelity to his wife, promise to save the family. And on his wife’s suspicions of his infidelity, he reacts with accusations. He says that she exaggerates and ascribes to him non-existent connections, does not understand him.
After another pseudo-business trip, he packs his suitcases, slams the door and goes to someone who understands him. A month later, he calls, tearfully asks for forgiveness, asks about the possibility of returning home. Shortly after returning, he slams the door again, leaving for his old or new passion.
2. Doubt about the correctness of marriage
When men have a midlife crisis, they may claim that their marriage was a mistake. And this is after years of a relatively happy marriage. To say that they never loved their wife, but lived out of habit. They can torment their spouse with emotional abuse, forcing her to file for divorce. (We recommend finding out the signs of psychological violence against a woman in the family and how to resist it?)
The wife is labeled as selfish, who always thought only of herself and never took into account his emotional needs. Under the influence of a midlife crisis, a man turns himself into a victim of marriage, and his wife into a tyrant. By this he wants to justify his departure from the family. You can often hear the following excuses:
- I have no more love for you, feelings.
- I love you as a friend, but not as a woman.
- You married me to yourself, I did not even have time to work up.
- We got married too soon.
- If it wasn’t for your pregnancy, I would never have married you.
3. Obsession with your appearance
A man suddenly begins to spend a lot of time in front of a mirror, examining his appearance, “bare torso”. Pulling in his stomach and lifting his chest, he imagines himself in the form of an athletic physique. He wants to be attractive to others again. Not as a middle-aged man, but as a younger, handsome representative of the stronger sex. There is a desire to regain their youth.
A midlife crisis in men can involve sudden changes in different styles of clothing, make-up. They change the style of clothing, prefer youth jeans, shirts. They change their hairstyle or dye their gray hair, become regulars at the gym.
Some have a desire to get a manicure, although they were not interested in it before. Others get rhinoplasty because they are unhappy with their nose, although they used to be proud of it.
It seems that a youthful appearance will help to be more attractive to both the employer and the opposite sex. Such an obsession with one’s appearance is bad for relations with his wife. The husband tries not to notice her, lives his own life, gradually moving away from the relationship. (I advise you to read 12 signs by which you can find out that a girl likes you ).
4. Mood swings from anxiety to aggressiveness
Firstly, a man begins to blame his family for all troubles, especially his wife. There are problems at work, at home everything falls out of hand – the wife is to blame.
The emotional breakdowns of the wife, who cannot stand his mood swings, are regarded as an attempt to denigrate him, harm him or interfere with his career growth (ghostly).
Secondly , – baseless jealousy of the husband . Any colleague of his wife is perceived by his sick imagination as a potential lover of his wife. As soon as a wife smiles at a friend or relative of her husband, his mood instantly changes.
He becomes irritable, speaks to his wife through his teeth, trying to tease with an offensive word, to humiliate in front of others. He does not accept any explanations from his life partner.
Thirdly , a husband suffering from a midlife crisis does not recognize that the cause of his discontent should be sought not in his wife, but in himself.
Unfortunately, in most cases, the wife will have to be the “problem”. All the negativity will fall on her, while her husband has a period of a turning point. Now it’s clear why women’s nerves simply can’t stand it?
5. Nostalgia for past youth and first love
In the middle of life, some men start thinking “what if…?” They question their past decisions. They begin to remember their first love. They imagine how they would have lived together if they had avoided the mistakes that led to a break in relations. (We advise you to read what are the features of first love, what do they remember about it all their lives?)
But a man sees his past through rose-colored glasses, remembering only the good moments of this relationship. This fantasy leads him to seek relationships with women similar to his imagination.
6. Sudden depression
When men have a midlife crisis, they may experience depression that affects their mood. Favorite work or hobby no longer pleases, there is complete apathy for everything. Friends, family, responsibilities are neglected. Some obvious symptoms are listed below:
- Sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, pessimism.
- Loss of interest in previously loved activities.
- Lack of energy.
- Inability to focus and make decisions.
- Bad dream.
- Unusual appetite, weight loss or gain.
- It is difficult to focus on the implementation of simple tasks.
By the way, it is during this period that men especially need support and understanding of their life partner. So read on for some tips on how to help your husband get through a midlife crisis .
7. Passion for alcohol
If your husband suddenly starts drinking more than usual, it could be a symptom of depression. By this, he wants to mask the feelings of regret, depression, which are a consequence of his midlife crisis. He develops an unhealthy craving for alcohol. Any difficulties, problems go through alcoholic beverages.
Therefore, the smell of alcohol on his breath, empty bottles around the house, in the apartment, bloodshot eyes and strange behavior are all signs that a man has a serious problem with alcohol.
8. Return to youthful behavior
Many men suffering from a midlife crisis suddenly quickly master information technologies: email, chats, computer games. Although earlier they could not even master the proper use of a washing machine or microwave.
In conversations, discussions of computer tank battles, passing levels and other such things are often heard. (We recommend reading How can I get rid of gambling addiction on the Internet? )
Men begin to show interest in modern music or their youthful hobbies. They become collectors, pigeon houses, even if the family does not have extra money for this. In their environment, forgotten childhood friends or new friends appear, preferably from young guys. This raises a bewildered question among others: what do they have in common?
They make sudden impulsive decisions. Leaving a job, moving to a new place of residence, selling a house or car, getting a divorce, buying an expensive toy are usually accepted without consulting the wives. All these are signs of how a midlife crisis manifests itself in men.
9. Anxious thoughts about death
Many men going through a crisis are more likely to start thinking about their death. When talking with family members, they often say “that’s when I die …”. They are interested in what diseases or causes people die at their age. These thoughts can lead to a dangerous obsession with death or depression.
These are just some of the symptoms. But these and other signs may indicate that a man is indeed facing a midlife crisis.
Life is precious. The male midlife crisis is a natural process, but not the end. The question arises: what are you going to do while you are alive?
Regardless of your age, every day provides a new opportunity to do something new. Take a moment to understand what is really happening to you? You may find that this is not a crisis at all. Perhaps now is the perfect time to create the life you have always dreamed of. No excuses!