19 Facts About Male Midlife Crisis Stages
WhatToGetMy Instructional Article
- This article provides insight into midlife crisis as it affects men, and provides solutions to how a man can overcome their midlife crisis.
In our earlier article on What is a midlife crisis for a woman? We unpacked what a midlife crisis looks and feels like for women, and how it can be handled to come out stronger. If you’re a middle-aged woman, the article is a definite must-read. We guarantee that you will love it.
In this sister article, we unpack the male midlife crisis stages and what midlife crisis looks like for men, and importantly how to overcome the midlife crisis as a man.
What Does A (Male) Midlife Crisis Mean?
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Just as we said in our sister article on this topic, there is no scientific definition or explanation for a midlife crisis and what it means. Scientists are not exactly convinced that there is such a thing as a midlife crisis.
And the scientists are not alone. When it comes especially to men and their midlife crisis, they seem to get a bad rap from society. So bad that according to one survey in 2015, about 60% out of 1,100 American adults surveyed believed that married men just used it as an excuse for all the bad behavior they want to get up to in their middle age.
“Men, No One Is Buying Your ‘Mid-Life Crisis'” (Poll of 1,100 Americans in 2013 by 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair) Source: The Atlantic
And yet, the reality remains that there are men and women (and in the context of this article, men in particular) that go through this experience. In an earlier poll in the year 2000, as much as 25% of men aged 49 – 53 had reported going through or experiencing a midlife crisis.
Age of Americans reporting a midlife crisis according to a year 2000 research paper. Source: Research Gate
Going through a midlife crisis especially for men is not as trivial as some people in society may want to make it. According to its 2020 report on suicide in America, the National Institute of Mental Health reported that there were as high as 7,521 suicides among American adults aged 35 – 44 years and 8,345 suicides for adults aged between 45 – 54 years. And this has led to some speculative conclusions that midlife crisis has a bearing on the high suicide rate among middle-aged men (and women). This is why loved ones who may be going through a midlife crisis needs all the love, support, and understanding they can get.
What then does it mean when it is said that a man is going through a midlife crisis?
Midlife crisis refers to the period in a man or woman’s middle age, usually between the ages of 40 – 60, where they start to feel melancholic about their life and its meaning. Specifically for the man, he starts to feel a sense of fear and insecurity that he may not be good enough and that those masculinity identifiers such as his strength and his looks are starting to deteriorate. For some, they start to feel a sense of lost opportunities and feel like they wasted a good deal of their life doing things that don’t seem to be who they are.
And so, if a man you know or your male loved one tells you he is experiencing a midlife crisis, that is what it means. It means that he is starting to feel a little less confident about himself and his life in general.
Signs The Man (Or Men) In Your Life Or Your Husband Is Having A Midlife Crisis.
Your husband or the man in your life may want to deny it or act like everything is normal and great because society always has this expectation of men that they are to have it together all the time.
And yet your gut feel may tell you that something is wrong and that your husband or loved one may be going through a midlife crisis, but you can’t be too sure. Your gut feel is most probably right.
But to put the matter beyond any doubts for you, if you see your husband or a male friend or loved one exhibiting any of these signs and behavioral patterns, then he is going through a midlife crisis.
1. He may start to lose interest in physical intimacy with his partner/spouse or become more sexually aggressive.
For some men going through a midlife crisis, they may not desire their partners or spouses as much as they used to, sometimes because they may feel their partner does not find them as attractive as before. And so, they may look outside their home for physical intimacy with someone younger who they feel finds and makes them feel more attractive and desired.
On the other end of the spectrum, they may become more sexually hyped up. And this may also be a cover for an extramarital affair they may be having (in the case of married men).
If your husband vacillates between these two spectrums, it is worth paying attention to. He may be going through a midlife crisis.
2. General apathy and disinterest in the things he used to like.
He may suddenly find all the things he enjoyed doing before boring. He may find them too routine and mundane and may start to lose interest in those things you thought he liked before. This is a sign that he is starting to question their importance to his life, a sure sign that he is experiencing a midlife crisis.
3. His behavior and moods change more frequently than normal.
You may find that he is starting to get more irritable than is usually the case with him or he loses his cool too quickly. He may have an outburst over something you may consider a little trivial for an outburst.
His outburst is an expression of something deeper that may not even have anything to do with why he had the outburst. He may be angry about his life in general and how unfulfilled he feels by it, and that is another sign of a midlife crisis.
4. He may start to change his general appearance and style and becomes self-conscious about how he looks.
When a man is going through a midlife crisis, he usually starts to feel like his usual youthfulness and attractive allure is waning. This can make him extra nervous and anxious about how he looks. And to compensate, he may drastically change his wardrobe to reflect a younger-looking man because he wants to hang on to being younger. You may find him spending more time in front of a mirror checking himself out and taking extra time on his grooming and how he looks. That is another sure sign of a midlife crisis.
5. Drastic career changes and taking major life decisions on a whim.
For some men, they may make drastic career decisions such as quitting their jobs. In the case of other men, they may go out and splurge on a very expensive item like an expensive sports car.
6. He may start cheating with a younger woman if he is married. In extreme cases, he may even ask for a divorce.
This one is another common sign of a midlife crisis in a man. In a 2014 survey from England found on Daily Mail UK for example, it was found that the rate of divorce was higher in middle-aged men between the ages of 40 – 49. This led the paper to conclude that midlife crisis must have a contributory role in the spike.
Rise in midlife divorces among men ditching their wives for younger women (England and Wales, 2014). Source: Daily Mail UK
7. He may start to compare himself with other men.
This is another sign that he is starting to question his self-worth and accomplishment, and is an indicator of a midlife crisis.
8. He may not enjoy interacting socially as much as he used to.
If he used to be all about socializing before but now wants to stay indoors rather than go out, he may be going through a midlife crisis. This period is also characterized by withdrawals from other people.
9. He starts taking one bottle too many.
If your husband or male loved one was never into alcohol as much before, but suddenly it seems like he can’t have enough of it. Or maybe he’s taking it but hiding that fact from you and yet you can pick it up from his breath, you should pay closer attention.
10. He may talk too much about the “good old days” and in some cases about a past relationship.
Speaking in this way makes him relive moments he thinks are a better reflection of his life as he would want it to be.
Male (Husband) Midlife Crisis Stages.
There are strictly speaking no stages to a midlife crisis in the sense that stages are to be understood. How men deal with a midlife crisis would vary from one man to another, and would depend a lot on their personality.
Depending on his personality, he may go through the following stages:
1. The stage of denial.
At this stage, he is still trying to “be a man” because of the false societal expectations that he is not supposed to feel sad or down about his life. And so when he is going through this stage, any discussions you may bring up about the issue will be met with vehement denials and defensiveness.
2. The stage of acting out.
At this stage, he has accepted to himself that he is going through this phase. He may not admit it to you, but he has admitted it to himself. And in admitting it to himself, he has also decided that he will act out how he feels and damn the consequences. He would not be bothered at all about how his decisions or actions may affect anyone else because he is only interested in making himself happy as a way of dealing with the feelings of incompleteness he feels.
3. The mellowing down stage and/or depressive stage.
During the acting out stage, without the right support and strategies in dealing with the crisis, he may turn one of two ways. He may get depressed and have to get medical help for depression. Or, he may realize that this is just a phase in his life and does not define who he is. Where this is the stage he is at, he has overcome the crisis and comes out a better person.
Average Length Of Male Midlife Crisis.
There is no set in stone time frame for a male midlife crisis. Just like for women, the length of his crisis will depend to a large extent on his personality and who he is. On average, however, it tends to last anything from as low as 2 years to as high as 6 years.
What To Do During A Male Midlife Crisis And 7 Ways How To Handle And Overcome A Male Midlife Crisis.
If your husband or male loved one or friend is going through a midlife crisis judging by all the signs listed in this article, what you should remember as the most important thing is that they need your love, patience, and support.
Understand that he is going through a phase in life and phases are an important part of the journey called life. Walk that phase with him and in that way you make it a lot easier for him to smoothly transition through the phase.
You will help him by showing them love, patience, and support in the following ways:
1. Don’t treat them any differently or treat them like a patient.
Remember that a midlife crisis is not a disease or ailment that needs a cure. Your man already feels less manly because of the feelings that come with a midlife crisis. And the last thing he wants is to be treated like a patient. Don’t change your temperament or attitude towards him. Turn up your love towards him a notch higher.
2. Boost his confidence by always affirming and complimenting him.
This is another helpful and loving way to help your man. Without giving him any verbal hint that you know what he is going through, always affirm and compliment him. Tell him sweet things as often as possible.
When he changes his wardrobe, gush about how you love his new style and how it suits him so well. When he is standing in front of the mirror and spending extra time, lovingly come around and tell him how handsome he looks and how the new haircut looks great on him.
When you make him feel good in this way, he would know that there is nothing wrong with him and what he is going through. And hey what is wrong with a wardrobe change anyway. Styles come and go and there is no reason why he should not be allowed to try something new and different when it comes to his fashion.
3. Support his decisions as much as possible, even if you may not agree with them.
Understand that fighting him on the drastic decisions he may make on a whim will only push him further away from you. Rather than fight him on it, talk with him about it to understand why he wants to make that purchase for example. Tell him what your thoughts are and make it clear that you support him in whatever decision he takes. Your support would mean a lot to him.
If his crisis period however lasts for a long time and his decisions on the whim are affecting the rest of the family, gently and lovingly let him know that there are responsibilities which his decisions are affecting and let him know that it is not okay. If nothing changes, consider therapy or separation to give him room to sort himself out.
Related article: Signs your separated husband wants you back.
4. Talk with and listen to him.
A time of midlife crisis is a time for couples to grow stronger together. Usually, in this time he may feel like he doesn’t understand his purpose anymore. Use the time to discuss what matters to both of you and what his new interests and ambitions might be. Listen to him patiently and lovingly and ask him which ones you can do together.
5. Take the initiative with being sexually adventurous.
Men during a midlife crisis also feel like their sexual drive and desires are affected. He may not want to have sex. Why not ask him what his deepest fantasies are and be open to helping him explore those fantasies. When you show him that you still find him as desirable in his middle age as you did before, it would give his confidence an extra boost.
6. Buy him gifts that reflect his new persona.
In this way, you tell him that his new personality does not bother you and that you still love him whatever his style may be. If he goes for the motorbiker look, check out our gift article on Motorcycle lover gift ideas for him for a cool motorcycle lover gift for him.
Related articles: Meaningful gifts for him and Adventurous gifts for him.
7. Pursue his new interests and ambitions with him.
To show him that you are with him every step of the way, why not encourage him to try out some of his new desires and interests with you. Show him that you want to navigate and walk every stage of this phase with him.
When you show him your love and support in this way, it would give him the strength he needs to come out of this phase better both for himself and for you and your family.
Related article: Hobbies for couples in their 20s.
Midlife Transition Vs Midlife Crisis.
Midlife transition is usually that period when we move from our late thirties into our middle age. That period is called the transition period. And usually, it is this transition period that brings about the onset of a midlife crisis because in making that transition, one may start to feel like they are aging too quickly and have not achieved a lot with their life.
At the stage of transition, there is no midlife crisis as yet. But if the transition is not handled properly and one does not develop a great mindset about the midlife transition, it would not be too long before they start experiencing a midlife crisis.
Frequently Asked Questions.
1. How to deal with midlife crisis symptoms?
Midlife crisis is not a disease and these signs are not symptoms but rather an external display of an internal emotional and psychological issue the person is dealing with. If the person in question is a male loved one, follow the 7 steps outlined in this article to help them through that period.
2. Midlife crisis in men, how long does it last?
It varies from one man to another but the average period is usually between 2 to 6 years.
3. How to help males with the midlife crisis?
Follow all 7 steps listed in this article and you will help them greatly.
4. When does a midlife crisis happen?
It usually happens in a man or woman’s middle ages. This is the period between 40 and 60 years.
5. What are the potential consequences of a midlife crisis?
Depending on how it is handled, a midlife crisis could potentially spiral into a depression if not handled properly.
6. How to cope with midlife crisis?
Understand that it is not a disease and that it is just another phase and journey in your life. In that way, you don’t have to feel ashamed about how you feel. Own it and find out what your deep desires may be trying to tell you about the direction to take in life.
7. When does the male midlife crisis begin?
There isn’t a set time as it usually varies from one man to another. Generally, it starts from the age of 40 for most men, although there are those rare cases where men in their late thirties start to experience it.
8. What happens at the end of a midlife crisis?
If handled properly, the person could come out more focused, with newer goals and more ambitions and accomplishments.
A midlife crisis is not a death sentence, nor is it a plague or disease to be ashamed of. See it as a time to make some changes in the direction your life is taking. Seen in this way, you won’t feel the need to engage in destructive behavioral patterns that would not help you. You will instead channel those energies to making the best of the midlife period.
And if your husband or a male friend or loved one is going through this period, show them love and support through all the 7 ways listed in this article and your relationship will weather the midlife crisis storm.
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