I was hoping someone could answer a question for me… My boyfriend is 44 and is going through what some people call a male midlife crisis. He doesn’t know what he wants. One minute he wants a relationship, the next minute he doesn’t. He’s always sending mixed signals… Is there something we can do to help him through whatever this is he’s going through?
A “midlife crisis” is actually a type of depression in which the individual does a mental and emotional review of their history and life. Their behavior may change and they may try to recover fantasies from their younger years — buying a sports car, that kind of thing. They may behave in a way that is unexpected for their history and personality. In a true midlife crisis, almost all aspects of his life will be affected and he will question his job/career, family, direction in life, his health, his accomplishments, and a variety of others concerns. If his only issue is the relationship, it’s not a midlife crisis — it’s a relationship crisis!
If it’s a relationship crisis, you should review his history on your own. Does he have a history of stable romantic relationships or has he jumped from one partner to another? Has he been recently divorced or been in a situation that would place him in the “still recovering stage”? Has your relationship with him reached a point where he’s actually hesitant to continue? Does he have a history of relationships that don’t get beyond a certain stage such as long-term planning or commitment? Has this relationship been at a stand-still for a long time?
If it’s a true midlife crisis, look for signs of depression (sleep problems, no energy, poor concentration, social withdrawal, etc.). If he’s depressed, recommend seeing a physician as a starter. If it’s a relationship crisis, ask him to consider counseling as a couple or individually. If he’s resistive to all attempts to help him, then it’s likely he is slowly fading out of the relationship and using a “midlife crisis” as the reason.
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All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. Originally published by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .on and last reviewed or updated by