10 signs your partner’s having a midlife crisis (and what to do about it)

Have you noticed something odd about your partner lately? They don’t seem sick or stressed, their birthday isn’t around the corner, but things just aren’t the same.

Could they be going through a midlife crisis?

A midlife crisis usually happens when people are between 45 and 65. It’s a time when folks start to question their identity and their self-confidence might take a hit. They start to think about their life choices and sometimes make drastic changes.

The first step is to understand what a midlife crisis looks like. Once you know what signs to look for, you can help your partner through this confusing time.

So let’s go through the top 10 signs that your partner might be having a midlife crisis, and talk about what you can do to help.

1. They’re Unhappy with Life or Feeling Depressed

One of the most common signs of a midlife crisis is a general feeling of unhappiness or dissatisfaction with life. If your partner seems to be feeling down more often than not, it could be a sign that they’re going through a midlife crisis. They might express feelings of emptiness, sadness or regret, and they may start questioning decisions they’ve made in their life so far.

And it’s more than just having a bad day or being in a sour mood; we’re talking about a deep, lingering unhappiness. You might hear them say things like, “Is this all there is?” or “I thought I’d have accomplished more by now.”

The most important thing you can do in this situation is to listen. Be there for them and let them express their feelings without judgement. Sometimes, feeling heard and understood can make all the difference. 

2. They’re Making Radical Changes

Another common sign of a midlife crisis involves making sudden, drastic changes. This might include changing careers, buying a flashy new car, or adopting a completely new lifestyle. If your partner, who has always been a homebody, suddenly wants to travel the world on a motorcycle, it could indicate they are going through a midlife crisis.

It’s as if they’re trying to reinvent themselves or chase after a younger and more carefree version of themselves. And while change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, when it’s sudden and impulsive, it can cause stress and confusion.

The key here is communication. Have an open and honest conversation about these sudden changes. Try to understand their perspective and what’s driving these decisions.

3. They’ve Developed New, Often Expensive Hobbies

You’ve probably heard tales of midlife crisis sufferers suddenly splurging on big-ticket items like sports cars or luxury watches. But it can also manifest in the sudden development of costly new hobbies.

For example, your partner might suddenly take up golfing, sailing, or even skydiving.

Here’s a personal example: My partner, who had never shown any interest in photography before, suddenly decided to become a professional photographer. He bought all the expensive gear—camera, lenses, tripods—you name it. It was quite a surprise, to say the least.

While it’s important to support your partner’s interests, it’s also okay to discuss any financial concerns you might have. Suggest alternatives that are less costly or find ways to enjoy these hobbies in a more budget-friendly way. It could be as simple as renting equipment instead of buying or choosing local adventures instead of traveling far and wide.

4. They’re Experiencing Changes in Sleep Patterns

If your partner is suddenly having trouble sleeping, or if they’re sleeping more than usual, it could be a sign of a midlife crisis. Changes in sleep patterns can be a result of stress, anxiety, or depression, all of which can accompany this period of life transition.

Interesting fact: According to the National Sleep Foundation, changes in sleep patterns are common in midlife due to hormonal shifts and lifestyle changes. However, when it’s combined with other signs on this list, it might indicate a deeper issue related to a midlife crisis.

What to do about it: Encourage your partner to maintain good sleep hygiene. This includes keeping a regular sleep schedule, creating a calm and quiet sleep environment, and avoiding caffeine and electronics before bed. If their sleep problems persist, it might be helpful to consult with a healthcare professional or sleep specialist.

5. They’re More Focused on Appearance

If your partner is suddenly more focused on their appearance, it might be another sign of a midlife crisis.

This is one of the signs shared below by Justin Brown where he talks about his experience having a midlife crisis.

Maybe they’ve started a rigorous exercise regime, bought a new wardrobe, or are considering cosmetic procedures. It’s as if they’re trying to halt the aging process, recapture their youth, or boost their self-esteem.

This can be a sensitive topic, as we all want to feel good about the way we look. But when the focus on appearance becomes obsessive or is accompanied by feelings of self-doubt or dissatisfaction, it can indicate something deeper.

6. They’re Feeling Restless or Impatient

Ever heard of the saying, “Patience is a virtue”? Well, during a midlife crisis, that virtue can go out the window.

If your partner is suddenly restless and has a hard time waiting for things, they might be going through a midlife crisis. It’s as if they feel like time is running out and they need to accomplish everything now.

Here’s a little story from my own experience: My partner, who had always been the most patient person I knew, suddenly became highly irritable. Simple things like waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting in traffic would set them off. It was as if they were in a hurry all the time, like they were racing against some invisible clock.

7. They’re More Withdrawn or Secretive

If your partner is suddenly keeping things from you or withdrawing from you emotionally, it can be downright scary. You might find them spending more time alone or being secretive about their activities.

This isn’t about them needing a little “me” time; we’re talking about a significant change in their behavior.

This emotional distance can cause a lot of worry and confusion. You might start wondering if they’re hiding something or if they’re unhappy in the relationship. But often, this withdrawal is more about them trying to figure out their own feelings and less about their feelings toward you.

8. They’re Feeling Nostalgic or Longing for Their Youth

If your partner is suddenly reminiscing a lot about their younger days or expressing regret over missed opportunities, they might be going through a midlife crisis. It’s as if they’re longing for a simpler time or wishing they could go back and make different choices.

Interesting fact: According to psychologists, nostalgia can be both a symptom of and a coping mechanism for midlife crisis. It’s a way for individuals to reflect on their past and deal with feelings of regret or dissatisfaction.

Try to allow them the space to reflect on their past, but also help them see the positive aspects of their life now. Encourage them to focus on the present and the future, and remind them of all the great things they have accomplished so far.

It might also be helpful to plan new experiences or adventures together to create fresh memories.

9. They’re Questioning Their Purpose or Accomplishments

During a midlife crisis, people often start to question their purpose in life. They might feel like they haven’t achieved what they’d hoped to by this point in their lives. I can tell you from personal experience, it can be quite disheartening to see your partner go through this.

My partner, for example, began questioning whether he had made the right career choices. Despite having a successful career, he suddenly felt unaccomplished and started doubting his professional path, often saying things like: “I’ve wasted my life,” or “I could’ve done so much more.”

It’s important to remind them of their achievements and the value they bring to their work and personal life. Help them recognize their worth and remind them that success is subjective and it’s never too late to explore new opportunities. 

10. They’re Making Impulsive Decisions

Impulsivity can become a prominent trait during a midlife crisis. If your partner is suddenly making rash decisions without considering the consequences, it’s a sign to pay attention to. Whether it’s quitting their job without having another one lined up, or making large purchases without discussion, these impulsive actions are often attempts to break free from routine and seek excitement.

Let’s cut to the chase: This can be a really tough sign to handle. It can cause financial stress, impact your relationship and lead to a lot of uncertainty about the future.

It’s important to have open, honest conversations about these decisions. Encourage your partner to take some time before acting on these impulses and to consider the possible outcomes.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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