As men age, they often look back on the earlier years of their lives. Some feel a sense of fulfillment and relief. Some, however, feel some sort of wistfulness or even regret. Some feel lost, while some think they are missing out in life, and that they could be happier if they make drastic changes. These are the exact sentiments that often trigger a midlife crisis in men, and affairs often follow.
A midlife crisis is described as a psychological crisis which is often caused by events that highlight aging, the possible lack of accomplishment, and the consequent reckoning of our own mortality. Often among 45 to 65-year-olds, these intense feelings often results in remorse, anxiety, and depression.
People going through midlife crisis have a variety of symptoms, and oftentimes they show a contrasting range of behaviors. Many want to get back their youthfulness, some wish to change past events and decisions, others make drastic changes in their lifestyle. Some question their life choices and if it is too late to salvage their legacy. Some will become more vain and change their styles to keep up with the current trend. Some men stray away from their marriage and end up cheating on their spouses, also known as midlife crisis affairs.
Signs Men Are Having a Midlife Crisis
Though many men end up getting a new sports car or a new haircut to feel youthful again, it is not always the case. For most cases, it is an existential crisis that causes men to question their life choices. While it is easy to assume that this psychological crisis is caused by the fear of getting older, it may be triggered by major life events such as a medical diagnosis, death of a loved one (friends or parents in particular), birthday milestones, kids moving out of the house, divorce, etc.
Whichever the case, the signs can be tricky to notice. Here are the common signs of midlife crises in men.
Thinking life is a bore
If a man suddenly expresses apathy and restlessness in his job he used to love, he may be headed for a midlife crisis. Some men hit middle age and notice their ambitions and dreams are unfulfilled. Thus, they feel unsatisfied and want to shake up their routine. Some end up quitting their job and spending more time with their buddies.
When middle-aged men feel unfulfilled in their marriage, it can take a toll on the relationship.
Increased need for adventure
Another common sign of a midlife crisis in men is an increased need for adventure and change. Making a big ticket purchase (sports car, big bike, etc.) is a tell-tale sign. Unfortunately, some end up having an affair to get that feeling of excitement.
Showing classic signs of depression
There are many signs to look out for; extreme sadness, pessimism, helplessness, hopelessness, loss of interest in things that were once enjoyable to them, inability to focus or make decisions, lack of energy, unusual sleep patterns, and sudden weight loss or gain. For middle aged men, these could be signs of a midlife crisis.
Sudden need for a change in appearance or style
They say if you look good, you feel good. This is why men suffering from a midlife crisis will attempt to change the way they look. They start getting facials, hair plugs, and some may completely revamp their wardrobe for a new style.
Little to no interest in bed
Men with problems with their self-esteem generally struggle with intimacy and are unhappy with their sex life. They see sex with their spouse as an additional burden.
Is There a Connection Between Midlife Crises in Men and Affairs?
Yes, there is definitely a connection between midlife crisis and affairs. However, this happens in both men and women (though more common in men), as both are similarly burdened by the fear of aging and their mortality.
The saying “if you are not moving forward, you are falling behind” is a common belief among men. Since midlife crises often trigger the need for sudden change, men sometimes assume that nothing changes their lives more dramatically than changing their intimate partners.
Some turn to pornography, others fall into destructive behaviors like alcoholism and gambling. Some even experiment on their sexuality, but in many cases they seek new partners.
How to Cope with Midlife Crises in Men and Affairs
A 2009 study from the University of Zurich recommends people going through a midlife crisis to brainstorm key areas in their lives, such as:
Evaluate the present
Set new goals in life
Reframe the next part of life as open-ended
Psychologist Dr. Erin Miers from Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth, New Hampshire, suggests men should heed their body’s intuitive brain, consider their thoughts and emotions.
Are you dissatisfied with where your life is heading? If yes, why? Do you wish to make up for lost time?
After answering those questions, the next step is to consider what is truly more important, and how can you move closer to it.
If you think your loved one is going through a midlife crisis, then the best course of action is to speak to a mental health professional.
Mindfulness training also helps, especially in dealing with daily pressure. So do regular exercise and getting a new hobby that builds confidence and helps attain a better sense of well-being.
Partners should go to personal counseling and couples therapy. Sometimes, couples therapy can push one person too hard and cause them to give up and run away. Getting personal counseling helps each party identify that disconnect within their relationship and establish a strong starting point to help their response to the problem.
Here are some benefits of personal counseling and couples therapy:
Counseling and therapy will help midlife crisis patients understand that their feelings are simply feelings and not facts. Being unhappy does not give anyone a free pass to do something they will regret later in life.
It will teach the patient to be grateful and notice what is working and what is not in their lives and in their relationship.
Express appreciation, encourage support for growth, and affirm success.
A midlife affair is a delicate case to handle, and in most cases, it will not be resolved smoothly without outside help. An affair breaks up the most fundamental element of marriage – trust. Thus, a whole new tact is needed to salvage or build a new trust. This is where the benefits of counseling and therapy excel – helping couples start anew.
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