Midlife Crisis In Men: 16 Causes, Stages and 29 Signs & Ways to Cope with It

You have hit a milestone birthday and now you’re re-evaluating everything about your life. This is common for men who are experiencing a midlife crisis. 

midlife crisis in a man

They say a man’s life begins at forty. After all, it is a time when most men are settled down with a family, an established career, and have a blissful retirement to look forward to. But there are a lot of men who go through a midlife crisis.

Middle-age life may not be as idyllic as most would imagine because, for some men, it is a time when the signs of a midlife crisis start knocking on their door.

A midlife crisis is an unpleasant phase in a man’s life. For most, it is a point where they feel they’ve spent all their youthful energy. They are on their way to the downward entropic spiral of old age. [Read: How to find yourself again after a low point in life]

What is a midlife crisis?

A midlife crisis is characterized by a shift in identity that affects middle-aged men. They perceive that they’re at the “halfway point” in life, and so they begin to reevaluate their lives and start to realize that they’re not immortal.

A midlife crisis can even become a significant issue in their lives and affect their relationships with other people and even their careers. It can also affect their self-confidence and self-concept, which can lead to changes in moods, emotions, and behaviors.

Aging can sometimes lead to feelings of remorse, depression, or anxiety for a man. So, this midlife crisis is a stage that helps him feel young again. [Read: Dating a younger woman – 28 truths, attraction secrets, and signs for older men]

However, the emotional experiences that a man experiences during his midlife don’t necessarily always lead to major lifestyle changes or the desire to be young again. It can be either positive or negative, depending on the man.

What ages do men go through a midlife crisis?

Midlife crisis usually happens to a man in his forties. But current studies show that it strikes as early as thirty-five or even creeping into his fifties.

The age at which a midlife crisis can hit a man varies quite a bit. And it also depends on how long they are expected to live as to what is defined as “midlife.”

However, age doesn’t really matter as much as what is happening in his life when it happens. It can be any life transition from the youngest child leaving home to having what he considers to be a milestone birthday.

What brings about a midlife crisis for men?

Midlife crisis is brought on by a lot of factors. Initially thought to be brought on by aging. 

While age is a factor in experiencing a midlife crisis, it is actually caused by a combination of changes in a man’s physical state, career, relationship with his partner, and past experiences. [Read: 30 secrets to start over a new life and leave your past for a new adventure]

1. The physical signs of aging

One day, he’ll notice that he catches his breath after going up a short flight of stairs. He’ll also notice the “dad bod,” greying hair, and receding hairline, along with decreasing stamina during sex. 

All these physical signs tell one story: he’s passed the prime of youth and is on his way toward physical deterioration. [Read: Lazy things you do that are going to give you the perfect dad bod]

2. Thoughts about his own mortality

Perhaps brought on by the death of a parent or the sudden passing of a friend. Other times he experiences a close brush with death by suffering a mild stroke or being diagnosed with something ominous. 

These alarm bells tell him that death comes sooner or later. Time is running out for him to do the things that he wants. [Read: Exercise benefits for your mind, body, and libido]

3. Regrets about unfulfilled life goals

It is a fact that being an adult can be difficult. And it mostly takes its toll on a person’s dreams and goals. When dealing with responsibilities overtakes a man’s life, he has no choice but to put these plans and dreams aside.

The problems start when these unfulfilled dreams and goals haunt him. He thinks that he’s already too old, and it’s too late to be pursuing his goals.

4. Feelings of inadequacy or uselessness brought by his age

At work, they pass promotions off to the younger guys because he’s not as tech-savvy or energetic. [Read: Low self-worth – steps to see yourself in a better light]

At home, his kids spend less time with him because his taste for recreational activities is kind of “boring.” These kinds of experiences make a man feel left behind.

5. Divorce

No one gets married thinking they’re going to get a divorce. Most people – even men – think that it will last forever. But many times, it doesn’t.

So, if a man is going through a divorce, or recently divorced, that can take a toll on him in many ways. From losing part of his finances to not seeing the kids as much, and even starting to date again, this can be quite traumatic for a man. [Read: Stages of grief in divorce, ways to read them, and the right steps to cope]

6. Kids getting older

When kids are young, they have a lot of activity going on. There is always something to take care of when you’re raising children. Your time gets occupied pretty easily.

But when they grow up and are more independent or even have left home, there leaves a void in a man’s life that he needs to fill up with other things.

On top of that, the fact that his children are getting older just reminds him that he is too. [Read: Empty nest syndrome – 17 signs and ways to cope with an empty nest]

7. Job change or plateau

When men are young, they have goals, dreams, and ambitions. They might want to make their first million before they are 30. But many times, that doesn’t happen. 

Even if he has reached a high level of career success, he might have plateaued and isn’t going as far as fast. [Read: How to balance your career, social life, and dating life]

Or perhaps he changed a job or company and it’s not familiar to him anymore and is having a hard time adjusting.

8. Parents getting older

As kids, we think that our dad is Superman and our mom is Wonder Woman. They are young, healthy, and can conquer the world. It never dawns on us that they’re going to get old and frail.

But when a man hits midlife, seeing his parents age and perhaps even get unhealthy, can be a traumatic experience for him too. Maybe he has to take care of them, which puts added pressure on his life in general. [Read: Old soul – what it means and 39 traits and signs you’re wise beyond your years]

9. Health scares

As the saying goes, you never know what you have until it’s gone. And one of the things that we take for granted is our health. When you’re young, you just think that you’ll always feel good and be healthy.

But as a man ages and gets closer to midlife, his body starts to ache and things start to feel different. [Read: 26 secrets to get motivated to work out and exercise your way to a better life]

So, he might have had a health scare of some sort that made him put his life into perspective and made him realize that he’s not immortal.

10. Loved one’s death

The death of a loved one is never easy on anyone. It can cause deep grief and depression that can last a long time. This can trigger a midlife crisis in men too.

Whether it’s his parents, a sibling, friends, or even younger people he knows, experiencing this can really be devastating to experience a loss like this. He might want to make some serious changes in his life after an event like this. [Read: Emotional baggage – what it is, types, causes, 27 signs & steps to put it down]

11. Others’ successes

As we said earlier, most men had a dream of what their life will turn out like. The big houses, the fancy cars, the big bank accounts, and traveling the world. And having a career that makes them important and powerful.

But if he hasn’t hit his goals but he sees other people hitting theirs, that can unleash some feelings of failure and insecurity. [Read: Jealousy vs. envy – 22 signs to tell them apart when they feel the same]

He might want to prove to himself and the world that he’s just as good as anyone else.

Stages in male midlife crises

There are some clear stages that a man goes through on his way through a midlife crisis. While it can look different for each individual man, these are the basics.

1. The starting point

During this stage, the man is at his normal baseline before the crisis. [Read: Is it normal to talk to yourself? 16 must-knows and the good & bad of self-talk]

2. The slide into the crisis

The descent into the crisis may be sudden, sharp, or slow and progressive.

3. The bottom

The bottom of the crisis is a period of heightened symptoms, low mood, and ultimate discomfort.

4. The climb

After some time, the man will begin to climb out of the crisis, either by their own action or the passing of time. [Read: Midlife crisis in women – 27 signs, how it hits you and what you feel inside]

5. The new normal

With the crisis passed, the man will restabilize at his new normal.

Signs of a midlife crisis for a man

And like a disease, a midlife crisis has symptoms that can be noticed through obvious changes in a man’s behavior, emotions, and interaction with his loved ones.

1. Getting self-conscious about their appearance

They buy lots of “rejuvenating” products for their skin, get their hair dyed regularly, and consciousness about the way they dress are all signs of a midlife crisis for a man, and a very clear sign he may be dealing with the reality of having passed his prime. 

They do all of these to fight back the obvious signs of aging and revert back to the “best look” of their prime. [Read: These are the steps to being attractive to women]

When a man notices the physical signs of aging, he may become insecure and make efforts to try to slow down its effects.

2. Obsession with physical fitness

Normally, he just sits on the couch all day, but suddenly, he develops a fitness routine. Becoming obsessed with physical activity is also one of the big signs of a midlife crisis for a man. 

It makes a statement to others that he can still do physical activities despite his age or working to preserve his health and body. [Read: Benefits of exercise on your mind, body, and libido]

3. Bouts of nostalgia in conversations

He always brings up the “good old days.” He frequently goes out on nostalgic pilgrimages to memorable places in order to reminisce about the past. 

For men experiencing a midlife crisis, the future is bleak and not worth looking forward to. Instead, they look back and savor the memories of the best years of their life.

4. Depressive episodes

During a midlife crisis, a man’s emotional state is the most vulnerable. The feelings of inadequacy and regret towards his age make him prone to depressive episodes. [Read: How to deal with a depressed person in an honorable way]

He may have moments where he suddenly loses motivation to do the things he enjoys and disconnects from his social circle and family.

5. Desire to take up a new hobby

He suddenly decides to take up leather crafting. Then he gets tired of it and starts to build a craft brewery. After that, he joins ten other workshops for different types of hobbies.

Maybe he’s just bored, but this type of behavior could signal a midlife crisis. A sudden desire to take up new hobbies may be interpreted as a distraction from his current life and responsibilities.

6. Impulsive behavior

Without consulting his partner or family, he suddenly decides to move to another state, spend life savings to buy a boat or a vintage car, or suddenly quit his job to start a business. When a man displays such impulsive behavior, he is undergoing a midlife crisis.

Such decisions usually come from extreme dissatisfaction or boredom with their current life. [Read: Things men would end up doing in a midlife crisis]

He thinks that with these impulsive decisions, he still maintains control over his life. He’s not stuck waiting for retirement.

7. Loss of interest in the family

Initially, he’s a family man who spends time with his wife and kids. Nowadays his time is squeezed between work, his newfound hobbies, hanging out with old buddies, and a new fitness regime. 

He even barely sleeps with his wife anymore. When a man experiences a midlife crisis, he feels it less by distraction. [Read: The simple traits that make you an awesome dad]

8. Grumpiness and hostility toward the family

During a midlife crisis, a man blows up and vents his frustration towards his family. This may be seen as grumpiness or bouts of anger over little things. 

A man undergoing a midlife crisis may blame his family as a reason for getting stuck with unfulfilled dreams. [Read: 18 ways to help someone feel awesome again]

9. He wants change, and he wants it fast

Some men are looking for a change. They’ll buy a motorcycle or car, and maybe install a swimming pool in their backyard. They just want to go back to feeling young again. 

The things that they regret not doing in their past, well, they’re making up for it now. Skydiving may be extreme for you, but for them, it’s a chance to feel adventure and thrill. [Read: 31 simple pleasures and moments of bliss most of us overlook]

10. What was important doesn’t matter anymore

Perhaps he used to love reading or going on fishing trips, but now, he doesn’t care about those activities. 

You may even notice him questioning his beliefs and values, changing his opinions on topics in which he was a firm believer.

11. He’s angry

If you are arguing with him, you’ll notice that he’s angry at everything. [Read: Secrets of self-worth and self-belief]

He may try to blame his past on you, saying that you’re the cause of his unhappiness. If your partner is unhappy, they’re not going to self-reflect on the choices they made. 

Instead, they’re going to point the finger at you. It’s always easier to point the finger at someone else when you’re unhappy with your life.

12. He uses abusive substances

Now, everyone likes to have a couple of beers or a glass of wine every now and then. However, you’ve noticed that your partner is drinking more often than usual. [Read: 22 secret rules of life to ensure you’ll never be unhappy again]

This sign doesn’t necessarily mean he’s experiencing a midlife crisis, but he is going through some personal issues.

13. He doesn’t spend time with you

He may be pushing himself away, trying to fulfill the fantasy that’s on his mind right now. You may be having less sex than normal because he’s experiencing a midlife crisis.

He’s unhappy, he’s depressed, thus, your sex life is going to take a toll. Though, if you’re having more sex, you want to make sure he’s staying loyal to you.  [Read: Is he cheating? 21 unintentional behaviors he just can’t hide]

14. He wants to change his career

This usually isn’t something people just decide on overnight. When you’re going to quit your job, you take a lot of time to think about it and try to find a replacement job in the process. 

However, for him, he simply woke up one morning and decided that he didn’t want to work and wanted to sail to Europe instead. [Read: Am I a narcissist? 17 narcissistic personality disorder signs to test it]

15. He has a complete makeover

This is one of those classic male midlife crisis symptoms that’s easy to see. He didn’t just buy new shoes. He’s now getting himself a new wardrobe, going to the gym, and shaving his beard off. 

Now, this could be a sign that he’s trying to boost his ego. In this case, you need to help mend it by complimenting him. However, it could also mean he’s having an affair as well.

16. He wants to or has had an affair

You may have caught him having a wandering eye or seen some suspicious texts on his phone. Well, your partner may be cheating on you. [Read: Why do men cheat? The biggest reasons and 27 excuses they use]

Affairs commonly happen during midlife crises, of course, for different reasons. This is where communication and empathy towards your partner are essential.

17. He thinks his life is boring

And he’s openly told you that he thinks it’s boring. At one point, he was happy with his life and the way it turned out but now, he’s bored. 

Most likely he’s noticed that he hasn’t completed many of his dreams and now feels unfulfilled. Expressing his boredom shows that he’s in need of spicing up his routine.

18. He lets himself go

You have some men that will do a complete makeover with themselves, while others will simply give up. They stop dressing nicely, gain weight, and lack their basic hygiene skills. [Read: What men would love to hear more often]

This is also a sign of depression. This weight gain will usually happen suddenly, so you will notice the change quickly.

19. Don’t ignore these signs

These signs are not to be ignored. It’s common for spouses to ignore these signs and wait for them to pass. 

However, that’s the wrong thing to do. Instead, communicate with your partner and express your support for him. You want to encourage him to make positive changes in his life but feel that he’s not doing it alone. [Read: 70 true secrets to happiness to have a happy life and enjoy everything you do]

How to cope with a midlife crisis

It is not necessary that a man take action when he’s experiencing a midlife crisis, there are some things he can do to cope and reduce the negative symptoms and consequences of it. Some men can make some simple changes, while others might need professional help.

1. Recognize your feelings

Some men aren’t very self-aware, so they have to feel a certain way, but they don’t know why they are feeling that. And they can’t identify or articulate what they are or where they are coming from.

But the first step is to try to recognize all the thoughts and feelings that you are experiencing – both good and bad. [Read: 45 secrets to be more positive and fill your mind with positive emotions 24/7]

Make sure you look at them very deeply and carefully. You absolutely need to pay attention to how you’re feeling and avoid ignoring or denying that they’re important.

2. Share your feelings

Many men are taught to ignore their feelings. But even if they acknowledge them, then they think they should keep them to themselves. Sharing them with other people is seen by a lot of men as scary because they have to be vulnerable.

But once you sort out your feelings, it’s beneficial to share them with others. [Read: How to be vulnerable in a relationship, open up, & 28 secrets to grow closer]

Let your loved ones know about your thoughts and emotions, why you’re feeling this way, and what they can do to help you. You could even try group therapy to do this if you want.

3. Normalize your feelings

You might feel awkward or ashamed for having negative feelings during your midlife crisis. But don’t feel that way. You shouldn’t beat yourself up because you can’t control how you feel.

Just normalize it and accept that you are going through a phase. Reassure yourself that it’s perfectly okay to go through a midlife crisis – many men have done it too. [Read: 52 happy habits and ways to find happiness within yourself and feel better]

If you reject or deny the situation, then you reject yourself. You might not be enjoying it, but it’s normal.

4. Gather a team

You probably are used to dealing with your problems and feelings all by yourself, because that’s what a lot of men do. If that’s how you normally deal with life issues, then you’re going to have to change that.

So, don’t take on your midlife crisis alone. Gather a team of people to help you through it. [Read: 17 signs of a supportive partner who encourages you and your goals]

It’s not a weakness to admit that you need help – it’s a strength. Getting through it will be more successful as a team. So, recruit friends, family members, coworkers, and your partner.

5. Reconsider aging

Unfortunately, most people think that getting old is a bad thing. Sure, you lose your youthful looks, but you really need to shift your perspective and how you think about aging. 

There is a very true saying that goes, “Don’t ever regret growing old because it’s a privilege denied to many.” In other words, you are lucky that you are getting older! Many people die way too young. [Read: 45 secrets to be more positive and fill your mind with positive emotions 24/7]

So, you should be grateful that you are blessed to live as long as you have. Plus, you have a lot of life ahead of you. Age is what you make of it. Just because you’re a certain age doesn’t make you old – your attitude does.

6. Avoid the temptations

There are going to be a lot of different temptations when you’re going through your midlife crisis. This could be anything from a hot young woman who is flirting with you to your urge to quit your job and go travel the world.

But try to avoid these temptations. You don’t want to make any impulsive decisions during this time that you will regret later. Don’t choose things based on emotion. [Read: 29 truths to stop cheating and resist the temptation to be unfaithful]

Use logic and reasoning and take your time. Slow down and think about the long-term consequences of your actions and not just the instant gratification you’ll receive in the moment.

7. Re-establish your purpose

Much of the negativity associated with a midlife crisis comes from the uncertainty surrounding your future and how your roles are changing in life. You may have lost sight of what you thought your life purpose was, so you will have to re-establish a new one.

Talk to your support team about it. Are you going to continue going down the same path? Or do you want to change gears and do something different? [Read: What is my purpose in life? 33 secrets to find meaning when you feel lost]

How will it affect your loved ones’ lives if you do make a change? 

8. Keep up with your physical health

Everyone knows that as you age, your health is going to decline – at least a little. Even if it’s just gaining weight because you’re older. It happens to almost everyone. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay on top of your physical health.

You need to prioritize getting enough sleep, exercise, and a well-balanced diet. [Read: 25 must-know secrets to be successful in life and transform your future today]

It’s hard to face a crisis when you’re not in tip-top physical condition. Pay attention to your mental health too and get evaluated by a physician if needed.

9. Appreciate the change

Many people don’t like change, and so they go out of their way to do everything they can to avoid it. But one thing to remember is the only thing constant in life is change

It’s true. You can’t stop time – it just keeps flowing by and making changes in everyone’s life. So don’t try to avoid change because no one on earth possibly can. [Read: 45 positive and negative personality traits that can change your life forever!]

Instead, just embrace the change. Learn to appreciate the new challenges that your future holds and be excited about them.

10. Accept the journey

Sure, you can spend a lot of time fighting the fact that you are aging and are having a midlife crisis. But why? What good will it do for you to fight against something that you can’t change? It does no good at all.

So, just accept your journey. It’s really the best way to manage your midlife crisis, and it’s uniquely yours. [Read: How to broaden your horizons and get out of your comfort zone for good]

When to get professional help

A midlife crisis can be just that – a crisis. But it doesn’t have to be. The turmoil you’re feeling can actually bring positive changes into your life if you let it. 

For example, you might become more spiritual or decide that you should give back more to the world by volunteering. You can find a lot of ways to give your life more meaning. [Read: Relationship therapy – 25 clues to know if it’ll help your romance]

However, it can also damage your sense of well-being. So, if you find that you are experiencing a psychological crisis during this time too, you shouldn’t treat it any differently than any other crisis. 

If you are having distressing symptoms that are inhibiting your ability to have a normal life, then you should seek some professional help.

Here are some times when you should talk to your doctor or a therapist to help you through your midlife crisis. [Read: 17 life secrets to smile more often, feel great, and laugh your stress away]

a. Your stress or mood is taking a toll on your relationships, such as increased fighting with a partner or sibling

b. Your emotional distress impairs your ability to sleep or it affects your appetite

c. You’ve lost interest in leisure activities and hobbies

d. You can’t concentrate at work or you’ve had to call in sick due to your distress

If you’re thinking that you want to make some major life changes like getting a divorce, finding another career, or moving across the country, you should really talk to a mental health professional before you make any life-altering decisions. 

[Read: The traits of an insecure man that make people run from you]

A midlife crisis for a man is characterized by regrets, nostalgia, and fear of inevitable physical degradation and mortality. If you’re seeing any of this in your life, have an internal dialogue and fix it, before you make your life feel worse.

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...