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The Male Midlife Crisis

Here is an example of “unfinished business.” A man who felt unloved or unworthy as a child pushes aside these feelings. He successfully compensates for them by trying very hard to be a loving husband, father and provider — and does a good job. However, his earlier feelings of being unlovable or unworthy emerge and undermine his present sense of security.

One theory suggests that these feelings of inadequacy ironically surface at a time when the man has finally reached a point in his life when he is strong enough to “come to grips” with and work through these emotions. These men may benefit from transitional counseling.

Unrealistic Expectations

Some men may have been operating on dreams, illusions or unrealistic expectations that were set in motion before they entered adulthood. Over the course of their lives, these dreams have been shattered or discarded.

The death of a dream can result in unrecognized grief and discouragement. Old illusions die hard. Viewing life as a challenging, evolving reality that requires parallel personal growth is a perspective that is at odds with many of our simplistic and immature fantasies. Yet it is a useful perspective on the midlife period.

The Need to Move On

When a man is faced with the need to leave his family or job, he may avoid the confrontation, thinking that the situation somehow will get better. Following through with such major life changes often is avoided because of insecurity, complacency, fear of hurting others, lack of courage or fear of being alone. Such feelings often delay decisions to take action. An honest and frank appraisal may be useful in assessing a possible course of action.

Thus, whether psychological or biological in origin, many men do experience age related concerns that feel like personal crises. These crises often denote the onset of a transition and the need for a man to reinvent or redefine himself. However, the prospect for men undergoing midstream appraisals is encouraging. With patience, help and perseverance, most men regain their sense of purpose, meaning and satisfaction.

The Male Midlife Crisis

Harold Cohen, Ph.D.

APA Reference
Cohen, H. (2020). The Male Midlife Crisis. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 30 Jul 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 30 Jul 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.