Brene Brown (and Evan Marc Katz) on Having a Midlife Crisis

Next confession: I’ve never read a Brene Brown book. I might have seen her original TED Talk, but it was a few years ago, so I’m not sure. I know she’s a big deal and that’s why I’m sharing this poignant article called “The Midlife Unraveling.”

It’s really insightful and speaks directly to my work as a dating and relationship coach.

All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go. Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy and lovable, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever. Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through your veins. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.

I just turned 47. My wife will be 50 in a few months. Like everyone our age, it’s hard to see yourself on the other side of midlife – especially when it seems like yesterday that I was 33 and single. But, well, here I am, married over a decade, a third-grader and first-grader in my house, supporting my entire family financially, and fifteen pounds heavier than I was when I was 33.

Ready for Lasting Love?
Ready for Lasting Love?

There’s no hiding from middle-age. Only hiding from the emotional problems it presents.

There’s no hiding from middle-age. Only hiding from the emotional problems it presents.

Brown: “It’s a painful irony that the very things that may have kept us safe growing up ultimately get in the way of our becoming the parents, partners, and/or people that we want to be.

Maybe, like me, you are the perfect pleaser and performer, and now all of that perfection and rule following is suffocating. Or maybe you work hard to keep people at a safe distance and now the distance has turned into intolerable loneliness. There are also the folks who grew up taking care of everyone else because they had no choice. Their death is having to let go of the caretaking, and their rebirth is learning how to take care of themselves (and work through the pushback that always comes with setting new boundaries).

Whatever the issue, it seems as if we spend the first half of our lives shutting down feelings to stop the hurt, and the second half trying to open everything back up to heal the hurt.”

Brown often refers to The Universe in her writing – let’s put aside whether The Universe has a Plan for you and agree that life is going to throw a lot your way – much of it unexpected, much of it unpleasant, much of it undeserved. The only question is how you’re going to react to it: is it by continuing to hide and deny and ignore?

“After the ear-plugging and humming, the only way to maintain your denial of the midlife unraveling is to become even more perfect, more certain, and more judgmental. For these folks, allowing just one ounce of uncertainty or doubt or questioning to bubble up could cause rapid, involuntary unraveling. They can’t be wrong – their lives could spin out of control.  They march through life, teeth and butt cheeks clenched, without flinching and, often, without feeling.”

We see a lot of this in the comments section – people so committed to the worldview that has led them to being single and unhappy – that when this blog challenges them, the only thing they can do is lash out at a guy who gives free dating advice on the internet.


It’s much easier than admitting that your choices and beliefs aren’t working for you.

Continues Brown: “Unfortunately, what makes midlife different from the other stages that we’ve managed to survive, is that the symptoms don’t improve over time. Choosing to numb the midlife unraveling is choosing to numb for the rest of your life.”

Women who choose to face the midlife unraveling head-on are my favorite clients – my success stories – the women who I write about in the PS of every email I send out.

If you are not content with the life you’re living and want more love in it, click here.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.