At some point in life, nearly everyone experiences what is commonly known as “mid-life” or a period of stagnancy and uncertainty. What brings about this phenomenon and how does it affect relationships? While the exact cause of mid-life languishing for every individual will depend on their own set of circumstances, there are certain key factors that everyone should consider when it comes to dealing with the challenges of this life stage.
One of the most common reasons for feeling confusing or lost during the mid-life years is due to conflicting or changing expectations of life. People often enter adulthood with certain expectations and ideals, but these may slowly change along with time. As their hopes and goals come into conflict with reality, many will struggle to adjust and create new plans while managing feelings of disappointment. This shift in attitude can have a significant impact on how they interact with their partner and friends, resulting in stagnant relationships.
Another major factor that can contribute to mid-life languishing is a lack of personal fulfillment. When people move away from their passions, either due to external circumstances or shifting internal desire, they often experience a sense of unhappiness and lack of purpose. Work, relationships, and other aspects of life can all lack excitement and become meaningless to them. If a person feels dissatisfied with who they are and where they are in life, it is difficult to pour energy into any relationship and this can lead to stagnation in mid-life.
The weight of past failures or regrets can also add to the malaise of mid-life. Feeling like you have wasted your time and not achieved everything you wanted to can be a deep source of shame or dissatisfaction. This, coupled with a lack of long-term plans or goals can create a feeling of being stuck in limbo in both life and relationships. Even if someone is able to change gears and attempt to rework their goals or choices, the cycle of regret and lingering doubts can create an unending loop of negative emotions.
A disconnect between society's expectations and a person's individual circumstances can be especially damaging in mid-life. If a person doesn't follow a "normal" pattern of accomplishments, such as getting married, having children, and starting a fulfilling career, they may feel pressure to conform. On the other hand, they may also resist external pressure and struggle to reconcile the mismatch between what they want and what is considered conventional. This tension can create feelings of discontent and lead to a huge lack of direction during the mid-life years.
Mid-life can be a rewarding and challenging part of life, and those entering into this period should strive to understand the potential causes of their own languishing. Identifying key contributors and developing plans to combat unsustainable habits and outlooks will help to ensure a more satisfying life and healthier relationships. Taking the time to understand yourself, exploring new interests, and embracing positive changes can all be effective in navigating the challenges of mid-life.