This article was published on March 4th, 2015
Leading up to the 40’s milestone, many men describe their 30s as giving it all up to be successful, including working long hours, focusing of getting ahead, and can easily loose themselves in the journey. In other words, they don’t spend the time recalibrating their values around who or what is important. It ends up being about the next selfie at the dinner party, who we are seen with, and what material images we can flaunt to look successful. It starts to feel unfulfilling and we begin to suffer in silence.
Many cultural images of successful men are dominated in magazines such as Gentlemen’s Quarterly (GQ) magazine, Mens Fitness and many more where success is about image. Physical looks trump the feeling of success. Many male images in advertising are increasingly portraying the middle-aged man with silver or salt and pepper hair. These images are rooted in unchallenged assumptions that if you work hard, you will be successful, and therefore happy. There is nothing sexier than a silver haired Adonis, with a Louis Vuitton bag stepping out of a helicopter. Some men even suggest that finding a partner can happen once they are successful. Sounds pretty straightforward. The cruel irony is that most men are caught in the same trap. And then you turn 40.
Male suicide over the age of 38 is the second leading cause of death for men. There is something occurring that is alarming. It may be that there was no one to mentor men for the onset of adult life, or learning to have safe conversations including fear of failure, inability to express emotions, vulnerability and loneliness. On the most part, fathers were absent from many of men’s lives and complicated further with gay men. Men in their 40’s find themselves questioning what is important and realize the material success doesn’t offer happiness or fulfillment. In addition, the perfect mate illusion starts to crumble and they start worrying if it’s too late. Then the big question; now what? Here are 7 lifesaving things to consider doing. Treat it as your survival guide for gay men turning 40.
- Connect with a gay men over 40 you trust and ask to have a life conversation
- Develop a one-on-one relationship with a gay mentor
- Write a list of experiences you want to have that involve relationships (friends or lovers)
- Write down a list of 5 characteristics you value and make sure you choose friends who align with those values
- Spend time where you are celebrated, not tolerated
- Know that many men over 40 are feeling similar and are willing to be honest if you ask them
- Consider volunteering as it makes you feel good and may help get you clear on what is important
We need to care about each other. The next time you think about posting “no one over 35” on your Grindr or Scruff profile, know that it can have a heavy impact on men struggling with getting older and you will be there soon enough.