We like to make fun of the mid-life crisis as that cringey time when men buy up sports cars and women go around strutting fashion from decades ago.
But there’s actually a lot more going on in a mid-life crisis.
They happen when we’re forced to confront and reflect on the life we’ve lived so far and examine whether we still want the same things for the years ahead.
If you’re wondering whether you (or someone you know) is going through a mid-life crisis, here are some behaviors that you should pay attention to.
1) Being bored with everything
There’s a certain lifelessness to them, almost as if all the joy had been sapped from their life by some thirsty energy vampire.
It’s not like they’re “not in the mood” for the movies for a month now even if they’ve always been a cinephile.
I’m talking about not being in the mood for basically ALL of the things—including those that used to give them joy.
This is actually why so many people in a mid-life crisis act so “strange.”
They’re trying to find new things that can excite them because their old hobbies have stopped making them feel things.
2) Feeling generally unaccomplished in life
One of the things we are forced to confront in a mid-life crisis is the realization that we don’t live forever.
Time is suddenly even more precious than it has ever been. And we can’t help but look back to how we’ve lived our lives until that point… and then, of course, feel like we haven’t accomplished enough.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that someone who’s deep in a mid-life crisis will know exactly where they’ve actually failed.
Is it perhaps their relationships they’re unsatisfied with? Their career? Or maybe their own self-growth? Perhaps even a little bit of all of these and more!
The only thing they’re sure of is that they feel like they should have done better.
3) Suddenly feeling dreadfully old and ugly
We all worry about growing old. But to someone who’s going through a mid-life crisis, “worry” is perhaps a bit too tame—for them it’s a fixation and an obsession.
They’re suddenly hyper-aware of every wrinkle on their faces, every strand of white hair on their heads, and every single pound they’ve lost or gained in recent times.
And of course, they’ll try to act accordingly— from buying up all the anti-aging creams they can get their hands on to micromanaging their diet like their life depends on it.
They’re aware more than ever that their youth is on its way out. And while they’re still in crisis, they’ll do whatever they can to hold on to it.
4) Constantly changing one’s mind
Even the most stubborn and consistent person will find themselves being inconsistent if they’re going through a mid-life crisis.
They’d say they want something only to change their mind in a day or two.
They’d go hot and cold in a relationship, or stuff the entire store into their carts only to put everything back on the shelves.
We have to understand that they’re acting this way because they’re very confused.
They’re questioning everything they’ve known in life, so it’s only natural that they don’t know what they want or don’t want anymore.
As a consequence, they’ll try to do something new, only to regret it. Then they’ll try doing the same thing they’ve always done, only to ask themselves “Hey, is that really what you still want?”
5) Wondering what’s the meaning of it all
Someone who’s going through a mid-life crisis would lament about how everything was so simple and predictable until one day, it simply wasn’t.
They have walked in a straight line since they’re young.
They had a regular life—went to school, found a job, got married, and had kids. So now, they look back and think “Is this all there is to life?”
They didn’t even bother to ask themselves about their life purpose before this. But now, that question just doesn’t stop looping in their heads over and over, almost like a broken record.
Worse yet is that it gets louder and louder every time it hits them. There’s a compulsion for them to do something… but what?
6) Having a strong desire to escape
For perhaps the last decade or two, they’ve lived the same kind of life and lived with the same kind of people. It was easy, safe, and predictable.
It was perhaps once something they once desired. But now it does not give them comfort, but a feeling of being trapped.
They want to expand and have a different life—any life as long as it’s not the same as what they have right now.
There’s a compulsion to flee, to end everything and have a fresh start, become a different person.
They might as well rot where they stand if they were to stay as they are. And while we don’t necessarily look up to the people going through a mid-life crisis, it’s actually a wonderful time of discovery and transformation.
7) Taking self-love to the extreme
The ones hit hardest by mid-life crises are those who have been deprived of love and joy.
They’re those women who have spent every waking hour until that point always putting their husbands and children above themselves.
And they’re those men who have been so busy working their asses off to provide for their family that they don’t have time for their hobbies.
The mid-life crisis is when they stop, take a breather, and think “that’s enough, what about me?”
And so they’ll book a one-way ticket to Timbuktu, get massages they can’t afford, and yes—buy an expensive car.
In many ways, it’s almost like one big burnout but one that’s long overdue. And if you know what a burnout feels like, you really can’t blame them.
8) Acting like they’re running out of time
Life’s just barely getting started at thirty. But for some reason, it feels like there’s more life behind you than ahead.
So of course you’d panic—you’d feel like time is running out.
This is why people in the middle of a mid-life crisis will make a bucket list and try to do all of it as quickly as they can.
They always think “What if this is my last day on earth?”. And while it might seem like a bad thing, it has plenty of upsides, too.
They’d contact their past loves and finally find closure.
They’ll go on a vacation with their parents and hug them tight—something they’d never imagined doing before.
And they’d pursue their passions with the level of enthusiasm that could make Death tremble.
9) Breaking the rules they created
If they made a rule not to eat in front of the TV, guess what? They now eat in front of the TV—and they’re eating junk food, too. They won’t even clear up after.
If they’ve made it their rule not to swear to anyone no matter how angry they get, well…guess what? They’ll go swearin’ and boy, it does make them feel good.
Why is it like this?
By the time we hit 40, we’re already so tired of the many limitations we set for ourselves and others. So we go “Eff it! I’m done!”
We just want to revert to being the carefree child we once were because —let’s face it—being an adult 24/7 is exhausting.
10) Suddenly getting spiritual
When we’re going through any crisis—but especially existential crisis such as the mid-life crisis—we desperately need something to hold on to.
We want answers to our questions. Heck, if possible, we want someone to just lead us the way.
Because of this, we latch on to anything that tries to offer us some wisdom—religion, self-help books, astrology, tarot, gurus.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be dangerous. If you or someone you know is going through a mid-life crisis right now, try to remain smart in your decisions.
Don’t be deceived by fake gurus that will just take your money and leave you even more confused about your existence.
11) Doing things that make them seem “bad”
If they’ve always been a good child, good friend, good boss, good parent…they’d suddenly want to do something “bad”.
If they haven’t smoked a cigarette in their life, they’d try to light one for kicks.
If they have always been generous, they’d start turning down someone in need.
During a mid-life crisis, we want to challenge people’s expectations of us.
It’s probably because we’re so sick of people-pleasing, or being seen as someone good, kind, and dependable all the time.
We rebel from this image that people have of us. We want to shatter it, burn it down, then bury it on the ground.
12) Wanting to be held
As if all the listlessness and paranoia wasn’t bad enough, people going through a mid-life crisis are also often burdened by a deep, cloying loneliness.
That’s why people who are normally aloof would suddenly start being clingy. People who are already clingy to start with get much worse.
Yes, they want to break free, but at the same time they want to continue holding on to the familiar.
They want to change everything, yet they also want the good bits to stay.
It’s not an easy time, so if you or someone you know acts “foolishly” because of their mid-life crisis, don’t push them away. Instead, hold them close and keep loving them.
All of the seemingly “dumb” things that people in mid-life crisis do aren’t as dumb or random as they might seem at first.
The mid-life crisis is, after all, simply people having lost their footing as they approach middle age. They’ll be flailing a fair bit as they try to get back on their feet.
And in that state of being lost and confused, they’re forced to answer some hard questions.
These questions can raise them to ever greater heights and enjoy life more freely once they’ve found their answers.
If you want to explore the mid-life crisis in more depth, I recommend checking out Justin Brown’s video below where he shares his experience.