“The Midlife crisis is a cliché – until you have it”, wrote Sue Shellenbarger, reputed Wall Street Journal contributor. The quote aptly condenses the myth, anxiety and confusion surrounding the phenomenon of midlife crisis. And when it applies to men, the stage can go well beyond acceptable levels and become grossly funny or improper. So if you fear that your man too is fast approaching a midlife crisis of his own, here are a few symptoms to watch out for.
He is bored with his work
If your man suddenly begins to complain that he is bored with his job, watch out! Even though he may have been a workaholic in the past, he may begin to express apathy in his work and become restless to try out something else. This generally happens due to either of two reasons. As your man approaches midlife may eventually realize that many of his life goals or professional aspirations are still unfulfilled and may remain so. On the other hand, if he has been successful in his career, he may find that there is no more to accomplish in a realistic scheme of things. At the same time he may no longer be interested in his hobbies and pursuits which he enthusiastically followed in the past. Whatever be the reason, if your man is bored with his work and life, he will want to shake up the routine and this can mean anything from quitting his job to heading out for the Himalayas.
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He may be thinking or having an affair
Or he may be already doing so. The restlessness which makes men want to do something new with their life mostly extends to their relationships as well. So, if your guy has been a longtime faithful partner, but of late you notice that his attention is wandering and seeking out younger women, it is a sign that he is struggling with a midlife crisis. Psychologists believe that as a man enters midlife, he begins to be aware of his mortality and the fact that his youth has gone forever. Entering into an affair, generally with a much younger woman is his way of denying the passing away of youth and assuring himself that he still has what it takes to attract women.
He may be spending too much money
A man in midlife crisis may want to splurge on things that he had always dreamed of possessing but was unable to do so due to limited resources in the past. So if you find your husband drive in with a red Ferrari or go for an impossibly expensive set of golf clubs, even though there is a mortgage to pay, you know what to blame. Men at this stage are keen to live life to the fullest, as though making up for lost time and determined to enjoy what is left of it.
He is obsessed with his looks
Yet another sure sign of male midlife crisis is an obsessive engagement with appearance. Your man may be spending an inordinate time in front of the mirror, trying out different hairstyles and even going to the extent of buying a new hairpiece. Or you may return home one day to find your partner having undergone a dramatic makeover. If you man used to look forward to shower-free weekends in the past, now he may be going for regular facials at an upscale salon. This is again a middle-aged man’s way of reclaiming his lost youth and trying to turn back the clock.
Changes in your sex life
If you find your partner suddenly losing interest in you or withdrawing from intimacy, it is something which should put you on your guard. However if your sex life was lukewarm even in the past, fewer episodes after 50 need not necessarily mean that your man is in crisis. Again if you find him getting friskier than before, watch out for other symptoms of a midlife crisis. Either way, drastic changes in sexual behavior and routine should tell you if something is wrong somewhere. This can even mean that your partner is in an affair in which case, you both are dealing with far more serious issues.
He is overly nostalgic
As a man enters middle age, often he finds himself drawn back to memories of his youth. He may get excessively nostalgic about the past and even want to look up friends, teachers and girlfriends from high school. The downside of this phenomenon is that he begins to question his choices. Also it gives rise to many “what if” questions since everything about the past appears lovely when seen through rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia. Your partner may reminisce about his childhood sweetheart and ask himself what if he had married her or what if he had stuck to his rock band and made a career out of it. By themselves, these thoughts may be harmless and may pass after a while. However things might get dangerous if your man actually attempts to strike up a relationship with his high-school ex or attempts to pull a wild stunt with the old boys from school.
Signs of depression
Sometimes a midlife crisis can spiral out of control and come close to depression when accompanied by a tragic event like the death of a parent or loss of a longtime job. If you find your man displaying any of the above signs coupled with drastic changes in appetite or sleeping patterns, then it may be time to seek help. Other signs of depressive behavior are alcohol or substance abuse which may give him the illusion of a momentary reprieve from the realities of middle age. These are much more serious issues than a midlife crisis and require professional help to resolve them. The key to recognizing and understanding a midlife crisis is not to focus on any one of the symptoms but to look out for an overall pattern of behavior. This is because a midlife crisis incorporates a whole range of thoughts and actions which leads a man to question past decisions and make impetuous changes.