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strange1's avatar

What IS a mid-life crisis?

Asked by strange1 (1203points) December 21st, 2009

Did you ever go/or are you going through through a midlife crisis? were you/are you insecure?how long does it last? what odd symptoms are displayed? Its just that as i reach my mid 40s i find myself buying a metal detector??? i am collecting single malt scotch and various other habbits are forming, new anxieties rear thier head . is this it?

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15 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

I think the midlife crisis is a bunch of hype. People want change at different times in their lives. Sometimes the change we contemplate is more significant than at other times.

Perhaps there is something to the idea that when you reach a certain age, you start to become more aware of your pending mortality, and you realize that if you are going to make a mark on the world, you better get cracking, because soon it will be too late. I suppose for those who are not very self-aware, this could be the case. It should be no surprise to most people that they are going to die, and that they have been getting a little closer to death every day they have lived.

Another cliche is that men want to separate themselves from their wives and find someone younger—a trophy wife. Eye candy. Status symbol. Sign of wealth and vitality. I’m not sure that this urge is any different at the middle of your life than it is at any other time. It’s a thing that many men feel at many different times of their lives.

In my case (I’m in my early 50s), I started doing some of these classic things. I had an affair or two, for example. Actually, calling them affairs is giving them too much. Perhaps they could be called liaisons. Turned out there were underlying problems both in my marriage and in me. So I can’t blame that on being in the middle of my life.

Now, as to existential angst—I do find myself these days wishing I could get away. I just want to run away to some beautiful place with some beautiful woman and just not have to think about any of my responsibilities ever again.It’s a beautiful fantasy. Fulfills all my wishes. I’m sure many guys have these fantasies. Some even take them seriously and do run away. But, as I learned in one of my questions, your problems always follow you, and you are always you. You don’t get a personality transplant when you run away. The bottom line is that you can’t run away from yourself.

I love my children and I love my wife, and I have a very comfortable life, and savings for retirement, and we own our house completely. We’ve worked very hard, and I have many responsibilities that I very much want to fulfill. Yet, I’m tired, tired of it all. I want a vacation. I want a fantasy. I would like to get away from my super-organized wife who watches over me like a hawk so that I can have just a little time to myself, to exercise my id, which I haven’t seen in about thirty years.

However, you mentioned insecurity in your question. Part of my problem is insecurity. I just didn’t feel loved, despite the fact that my wife and children love me. I did not feel fulfilled by my work—both professional and personal. I wanted to see if I was still able to be attractive. I wanted to feel loved. I’m a person who has a problem believing in himself, and so I sometimes seek outside reinforcement. It’s a chimera, but I still can’t stay away from it.

I probably fit some of the cliches. But I don’t know. In many ways, this crisis has been going on for years. It’s complicated by my mental problems. And I resist the notion of something as inspecific as “midlife” crises.

There’s a possibility that I could do something really risky and end up destroying myself along with my life. There’s a possibility that what looks risky actually will renew me. There’s a possibility that I might just step out of the frying pan and fall straight into the fire. I don’t know. There’s a possibility that this will all go away, and I’ll fall into a torpor for the rest of my life.

You tell me. Is that a mid-life crisis?

strange1's avatar

@daloon wow! what a great answer!!!!! i can relate to that, thank you for the insight and the good advice :)

Darwin's avatar

What @daloon said: You get to an age when you suddenly realize that you won’t live forever, so you better do those things now or you will never get to do them and you will die still wondering what it would have been like.

It isn’t the same as a bucket list because those are the things you want to do before you die, and you have an idea that death is looking in your direction.

Merriment's avatar

Why yes, I believe I am midway through a midlife “crisis”. Although it’s pretty dramatic to call it a crisis. It’s really more of a midlife evaluation.

Now is the time for me to look at where I started, compare it to where I am currently and to decide where I would like to be in the future.

I haven’t had too many classic symptoms. No sports car, no boy toy and no plastic surgery. Rather it’s just a quiet and contemplative time where I realize my life is about me and I’m the driver. So where is this bus going?

Yes, it does make me feel somewhat insecure. Although I have done a fair job of getting from there to here I still have the uncertainty of how well I will steer the course in the future. My thoughts in the past were mostly about my passengers and the quality of their ride, now I am finally checking out the scenery for myself.

Added to all of this is the diminished capacity that comes with age and the realization that while I feel emotionally stronger than ever, physically it just ain’t so.

All in all I find it an exciting time. And the overriding feeling is one of curiosity. What happens if I push that button? What happens if I don’t?

nope's avatar

@daloon Yes, I think that’s a midlife crisis. I agree, to a certain point, that men, and women, have some of these feelings, at many ages. But at the same time, your response was so well written, with so many of these feelings obviously coming together into a big coherent thought, at a certain age…I can’t help but think there’s a correlation to your age.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m close to you in age, and I myself find myself in my own crisis of sorts. Me, I don’t have a wife anymore, and I’m not sure I want one anyway, at least right now. But I wonder, in the long run, does anyone want me? My kids do, and that’s great, but…that’s not forever (at least, not in the way they want you when they’re young), and it’s never the same as an adult relationship. I wonder all the time who will take care of me when I’m sick, who will go with me on that great vacation to keep me company, who will hold my hand when I’m 10 or 20 years older than I am now. And I wonder, still, what my mark on the world will be. This all, despite the fact that I know I’ve had a positive effect on numerous young people in my life, through big brothers, through coaching & teaching, and through my own kids. Yet still I wonder, is it enough? What about my career, or what the world thinks about me? Am I doing enough to keep the world a healthy place for my kids and the rest of the next generation? I just don’t know, and many days, it makes me sad.

EgaoNoGenki's avatar

Something I won’t see until at least 2025.

Silhouette's avatar

Midlife crisis is too dramatic for what I had, I had more of a midlife pickle. I looked up one day and realized that “one day” had slipped through my fingers. One day I’m going to do….Well, I’m not. For the briefest of moments I felt cheated, unsatisfied and wistful, then it dawned on me, I have done exactly what I wanted to do with my life, I am where I want to be and I am with those I want to be with. The getting old part only sucks buttage because I’m too young for polyester and I’m too old for midriffs.

robaccus's avatar

Recognition that something has been missing. Your self. See C G Jung.

flameboi's avatar

something got lost along the way and you start thinking in going back to recover it… usually is they joy of life

SirGoofy's avatar

Turn to your left and look from where you’ve just come (your youth) and say, “DAMN!”....okay, now turn to your right and see where you’re going (what’s left) and say, “OH, SHIT!”. You’re standing at the mid-point of your life.

strange1's avatar

@SirGoofy thank you excellent

mattbrowne's avatar

Sometimes it’s a (mild) form of a depression.

talljasperman's avatar

its when you start to realize how much of your life you have wasted towards fruitless endevors and to try to catch up to what you should have been

EgaoNoGenki's avatar

@talljasperman Well-said! I should join the Air Force. I have a couple years to do so though.

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