Does EVERY man go through a midlife crisis?

by bw
(alabama)

The Question


Does every man go through a mid-life crisis? my boyfriend is about to turn 41 and I've noticed A LOT of changes in him. We've only been together a year and a half, so we're still getting to know each other I guess, but I've still noticed little things in just his everyday activities. Just wondering... thanks, BW

Noel's response

Not every man goes through a midlife crisis, although most men (and I suspect women) go through a transition sometime between ages 35-45 that I call the 'right livelihood transition', where often we ask ourselves 'what am I supposed to be when I grow up'? As Joseph Campbell said, we have climbed the executive ladder, only to find it is leaning against the wrong wall.

For some men, this is a time of pondering, and sometimes a time of changing occupations, and for other men it turns into a crisis when they discover what they used to be passionate about doesn't interest them any more, and they don't know what DOES interest them.

Around age 50 - 55, there is another transition, which I call the 'existential transition' or in some cases 'existential crisis', where we ask ourselves 'who am I and what is the meaning of my life'? Again, this is a simple time of pondering for some, and a time of crisis for others, where they don't know what they want, but it doesn't seem as though it is what they have.

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