Maybe you thought it was just a silly trope: the balding, middle aged man suddenly spending a ton of money on sports cars, chasing women who are far younger than him, overly confident on the outside and wracked by insecurity on the inside. It always seemed like a ridiculous stereotype, so the whole idea of a “midlife crisis” never seemed like something you’d have to deal with yourself. But, suddenly, the years have vanished into thin air, you’re approaching middle age, and seemingly out of nowhere you’re experiencing a deep sense of anxiety and unease. Now is when you find out that silly stereotype has nothing to do with the cold reality of a midlife crisis: for countless men, it means feeling genuine fear, regret, and hopelessness. Far from being a laughing matter, midlife crises deserve to be taken seriously, simply because of how destructive they can be to your sense of self-worth. More importantly, it’s worth recognizing a midlife crisis for what it is, simply because there is a way to overcome this feeling once you know what you’re dealing with. That’s why, in today’s article, I want to go over some of the most common signs of a midlife crisis in a man.
Several things make up a midlife crisis, but broadly speaking, a midlife crisis is caused by the sudden awareness of your body aging coupled with the perception of time speeding up. These two things together create anxiety over the things you may not have accomplished yet, because you’re feeling like you’re quickly losing the time and means to do them. That type of anxiety is intense: it feels like being stuck inside a ship that’s rapidly taking on water, and you can’t find the exit. To make matters worse, even as time seems to speed up, your life may seem to have done the opposite: slowed down. The excitement and endless new experiences you had when you were young have morphed into boredom and routine. With the clock seemingly ticking, your mind begins to push you to “fix things” and make a change before time runs out.
When you see the problem clearly, it’s relatively easy to make healthy changes and choices that can soothe your concerns about your life and about getting older. After all, of course there is a way to keep living a rich and meaningful life for many years to come. Plenty of people face this same mountain of fear and find a way to get to the other side. The problem is that, for people going through midlife crises, their feelings aren’t always easy to decipher. When you’re adrift in a sea of mixed emotions, you may not even realize you’re in the middle of a midlife crisis at all! In that case, it becomes almost impossible to overcome it. So, with that being said, let’s take a look at some of the most common causes and symptoms of a mid life crisis in men.
Signs of a Mid Life Crisis in Men
Let’s start with one of the purely physical causes of the feelings associated with a midlife crisis: andropause, sometimes called “irritable male syndrome” or “miserable husband syndrome”. This is basically male menopause, and it comes with the same hormonal effects on your emotions as menopause has on many women. It’s caused by a decreased level of testosterone, which is a natural part of the aging process: for men, levels of testosterone begin to slowly decrease starting in their 30s. By the time they reach middle age, the lower levels can sometimes create a hormonal imbalance that leads to irritability, difficulty sleeping, and lethargy. This, in turn, is associated with difficulty losing weight, maintaining an erection, and recovering after exercise.
If you’re stuck in this cycle, it’s no wonder you’re feeling awful about the looming prospect of getting older! You’re only just halfway through life, yet you’re already feeling like an old man. How could things possibly get better from here? Well, don’t panic just yet: andropause can be treated through a number of ways. Talk to your doctor about checking your testosterone levels; they may recommend testosterone therapy to give you back some of the energy and vitality you feel that you’re missing. Forcing yourself into a more active physical routine also helps a lot with the symptoms of andropause.
But, what if you’re sure the problem isn’t just physical? Well, then you’re suffering from more than just andropause: you might be in the midst of a midlife crisis.
Mid Life Crisis Symptoms
For the vast majority of people suffering through a midlife crisis, the root of the problem isn’t physical: it’s psychological. Even if they may be experiencing physical signs that they’re getting older, typically the actual anxiety is stemming from their thoughts and emotions. Let’s take a look at some of the most common feelings that are signs that you’re experiencing a midlife crisis:
Mid Life Depression and Remorse
When you were younger, you might have had an image of your future life that hasn’t materialized quite in the way you pictured it. Often, many men feel a deep sense of remorse over the life goals of their younger selves that were never accomplished. What’s worse, your financial situation, marital circumstances, and adult obligations may leave you feeling trapped and unable to act on those goals any longer. If you’re wondering whether what you’re feeling is the sign of a midlife crisis, ask yourself whether you feel regret or anxiety over the past. Narrowing it down this way can help a lot with making a plan to tackle these feelings, either by making it a priority to tackle those ambitions, or by working on letting them go and making new goals to strive towards.
Shame and Humiliation: The Dangerous Psychology of a Midlife Crisis
Over time, I’ve heard a common theme from many of my clients who are going through midlife crises: a feeling of jealousy and humiliation that comes from comparing themselves to more ‘successful’ peers. Unfortunately, comparing yourself to others is a part of human nature, and when you’re struggling with anxiety about whether you’ve become the person you wanted to be, this little bad habit can become really harmful to your sense of self. But, be aware that there’s a nasty trick your mind is playing on you: Seeing someone more ‘successful’ than you isn’t actually causing you to feel shame. The reality is that your shame and low self-worth is creating a lens through which other people seem better than you. Even as you think of ways to bring excitement and energy back into your life, make sure to draw the line at envying other people or comparing yourself to them: in this state, you’re not going to really see things clearly, and once you’re on the other side of this, you’re not going to care about them at all.
Feeling Bored with Your Life
Often men experiencing a midlife crisis find themselves longing for the feeling of youthfulness. For different people, that means different things: the energy to play sports, the stamina to work all day and go out afterwards, or the vitality of a healthy sexual life. For many men, it’s particularly in their sexuality that this feeling really manifests itself. It may come in the form of missing a youthful body, wanting to have casual sex like they did before their marriage, or longing from the validation they used to feel when they’d flirt with people. Ultimately, if we take a step back, there’s a simple way to look at this: boredom vs. excitement. As life goes on, it’s normal for us to settle into routines that make our day-to-day tasks easier. However, it’s those very same routines that can stop us from having new experiences, and finding ourselves in unexpected situations like we used to. That feeling of boredom and longing for the exciting days of the past can be remedied, but it’s going to mean stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things! Finding excitement elsewhere in your life is a much more permanent solution for these feelings, as opposed to having an affair, which is a relatively common mistake made by people experiencing a midlife crisis. Instead of digging yourself into a deeper hole, breaking out of your routine and searching for new stimuli in your life will eventually have a seriously positive effect on your sexuality as well. If you’re curious about how to do that, check out our course in breaking out of a routine!
How Long Does a Mid Life Crisis Last?
According to most data, a midlife crisis typically lasts between 3-10 years in men. You may not be able to stop a midlife crisis from appearing in your life, simply because the causes can be so complex and the onset of these awful feelings is often so unexpected. However, once it’s there, you do have control over how long it lasts. There’s no reason you should accept these emotions as “the new normal”: at the end of the day, you must push yourself to work through these feelings by treating your midlife crisis as a challenge you’re ready to face.
Here’s the thing: midlife crises can be destructive for men who don’t know how to handle them properly, so you need to be careful. The most obvious answer, like throwing money at the problem or abruptly leaving your wife for someone you barely know, are almost always going to lead to even more pain and regret. You need to approach this problem carefully and thoughtfully. Overcoming this feeling has to do with living a life worth enjoying, and that comes down to the day to day. It’s about breaking out of routine, reengaging with things you like, and accepting that it’s never ever too late to learn new things or have new experiences. Do everything in your power to enrich your life, instead of trying to escape it or ignore it. That can be a daunting task, but it’s worth it. If you need help building a game plan for your next steps, you’re always welcome to reach out to me or any of the other coaches here at Happily Committed, and together we’ll help you get started.
So, with all of that being said, let’s recap the most common signs of a midlife crisis for a man. First we looked at a potential physical root of the problem: andropause. It’s absolutely possible that the unhappiness you’re feeling is simply the result of your body undergoing physical changes, and the good news is that there is plenty you can do to counteract that. Next, we moved onto some of the emotional and psychological signs of a midlife crisis.
- Mid Life Depression and Remorse: a feeling of dreams left unrealized, and goals left unaccomplished.
- Shame and Humiliation: the dangerous psychology of a midlife crisis that has you thinking you’re worthless
- Feeling bored with your life. The feeling that excitement and experience has been replaced with boredom and routine.
The most important thing to remember about all of these feelings is that there’s a way out. With a proactive attitude, you can take steps to get past these feelings and bring youthful energy back into your life for many, many years to come. The fact that you’re reading this is a great sign that you’re actively looking for answers, so I know you already have what it takes to find them.
Your coach when you want to know the signs of a midlife crisis in a man,