The classic image of a man going through a midlife crisis is a man around 40 years old, with a young blonde on his arm who he has probably left his wife and family for. This may be just a cliché, but the so-called male midlife crisis does in fact exist. This blog post looks at what exactly it is, what men go through during this period and how men and women can come through the other side unscathed.
The male midlife crisis – what is it?
Between their late thirties and the age of 50, many men start to have doubts about their life up to that point. What meaning does my life have? What have I achieved in my life so far? Is this really all there is? They want to break free from their everyday life, try something new, and often start ticking things off their ‘bucket list’. For those men who have a partner, this can test their relationship to its limits and in some cases can even spell the end. Men also become conscious of their own age during this phase. A young love interest makes them feel young themselves and allows them to be spontaneous and free once more. But why is this the case?
The male midlife crisis – physical and psychological causes
The menopause in women is often compared with the midlife crisis in men. Yet men can go through the menopause, too, as we have discussed previously in an article on the subject ‘The male menopause?’. The male midlife crisis is closely linked to this, however, and—like the menopause—also has physical causes. During this stage of life, there is a drop in testosterone production in men, resulting in a gradual decrease in both virility and libido. Men also undergo a decline in physical fitness and changes in their metabolism, meaning that they also start to gain weight. Many men also start to lose their hair, sometimes even going bald. These are all signs of ageing that impact on a man’s appearance.
In addition to these physical changes, psychological triggers can also be found for the male midlife crisis. The primary psychological trigger is one already mentioned: they have passed the midway point in life, and their focus shifts increasingly to thoughts of mortality. Perhaps their children have grown up already or are becoming more and more independent, and their own parents are not as young as they once were or may have already passed away. Questions about their own life take centre stage in this period. Men want to break free, behaving in a way that is completely out of keeping with their life prior to this point, proving to everyone that they are still young and fit. After all, they’re still part of the young generation and are anything but old.
How to survive a male midlife crisis unscathed
Self-scrutiny is no bad thing in principle and can even bring positive change, so the first step should always be to see this stage of life not as a crisis but as an opportunity. It is also important to realise that these new plans and ideas don’t necessarily need to be implemented straight away or integrated in your everyday life as it stands currently. Men who are in a relationship should talk with their partner, not just to explain why these changes are important to them but also to discuss how they may be able to face them together and cope with them as a couple. If there is something you particularly want to do, it can be comforting to find that your partner wants to share this new experience with you.
We have put together the most important tips for men and women on how to deal with the male midlife crisis – both individually and as a couple:
- Talk to each other: Even though most men find this difficult and prefer to make changes like these on their own, couples should talk to each other. If you want to change anything, it is always a good idea to get your partner on board and make a decision together.
- Women should be on the lookout: If a man starts to change, and in a way that their partner is not really happy with, this usually results in the potential for conflict. In this case, women should talk to their partners about what exactly is wrong. Understanding what is going on in someone else’s mind usually makes it easier to better understand their behaviour. Talking usually enables couples to find a solution—or a compromise, at least—and helps them to appreciate each other more.
- Midlife crisis and sexual experimentation: The male midlife crisis and the issue of sex are closely connected. Men often want to try something new in the bedroom—usually to prove that they are far from old. This is often precisely what causes a relationship to break down, as men simply go elsewhere to find what they aren’t getting from their wife or partner. When it comes to sex, a woman should not simply reject her partner’s suggestions. Instead, she should give it some thought and perhaps try something new with him. It may even be that the thing he wants to try is something she will enjoy, too 😉 On the flip side, of course, men must also understand that their partner may not be prepared to try anything and everything with them.
- Change is always an opportunity, too: It is all too easy to become lost in the daily grind, always doing the same things. Perhaps the male midlife crisis actually comes at the perfect time to allow us to finally make a change in our lives. Men and women alike should take advantage of this time, when there is a strong desire to reinvent yourself. You might even discover new interests that aren’t even on your radar at the moment.
Although the midlife crisis is usually associated with men, many women also experience doubts about their lives in their middle years. The female sex, too, becomes more experimental during this period and goes through changes. And change is no bad thing. On the contrary—a little self-reflection once in a while and a change to your daily routine can even be a good thing.