Which Romance Will Be the Last


Men Don't Mature - So You Might As Well Marry a Younger One

Men always want to be a woman's first love - women like to be a man's last romance.

- Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Boys will be boys, and so will a lot of middle-aged men.

- Kin Hubbard

Hitting the Midlife Wall

Bucking the Trend - Michael Douglas and his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Dr Thomas Stittaford puts the record straight on the crises that some men find themselves facing in their middle age (which for some can begin at 35)

A claim that middle-aged men are falling foul of a new condition called cyberphobia is simply dressing up an already-acknowledged male condition in techno-speak.  George Lotter, the director of a pastoral counselling centre near Johannesburg, told a conference on marriage that cyberphobia is an all-consuming jealousy of an aggressive, successful young man whose success may induce a midlife crisis in older colleagues.  This crisis may destroy a man's marriage, his job and his happiness.  Professor Lotter uses the word to describe the jealousy, and all that stems from it, of a middle-aged man when a younger "star" threatens to upset the established hierarchy.  The whizkid, with all the advantages of having testosterone surging around his virile body, further undermines the older man's confidence by actually understanding how computers work and the intricacies of the Internet.

Professor Lotter's theory is not new, though.

In my youth this "cyberphobia" syndrome was known as the old stag complex - the constant battle of an old warrior to maintain his power and position, and one which he is bound to lose: age erodes even the toughest old stag.  According to Professor Lotter, a man knows when he is entering the male menopause, or developing a midlife crisis, because he develops cyberphobia.  But the terms "male menopause" and "midlife crisis" are not synonymous.  Even the description male menopause is misleading.  It is more accurately known as the andropause, and describes the decline in masculinity following a middle-aged slump in male hormone levels that characteristically becomes apparent between 45 and 55.

The physical symptoms experienced as testosterone levels slowly fall are not akin to those of the female menopause, which is a faster process.  Middle-aged men also experience sexual changes stemming from their lower hormone levels, but very gradually.  The change of life, or midlife crisis, is a psychological state that may or may not coincide with the physical andropause but usually starts about 10 years earlier, between the ages of 35 and 45.  The andropause, though it usually strikes in middle age, can start at any age between 35 and 80.  Professor Lotter has not made this distinction between the physical symptoms of the andropause and the psychological symptoms of the male midlife crisis, though his "cyberphobia" seems to refer more to the latter.

Malcolm Carruthers, a chemical pathologist and expert on the midlife crisis and the andropause, has a checklist for midlife crisis symptoms: a lack of confidence and apprehension about domestic arid professional futures may lead to physical symptoms including loss of sexual drive, lack of energy and shriveling creativity.  They may take to the levels bottle or become reliant on sleeping pills, and escape reality through grandiose daydreams and disturbing nocturnal ones.

Doctors usually explain that the seeds of lack of self-esteem and insecurity in early middle age may well have been laid down earlier, perhaps from a childhood blighted by a lack of accepting love, an absentee parent, a distant father or a too-dominant mother.  At the age of 40, sound foundations are needed to accept the advance of younger rivals.  Those who are not feeling secure may suddenly become aware that business life, like life itself, is finite - and then realise for the first time that they are as expendable as they are mortal.

The actual crisis may be precipitated by job loss, or the death of a parent, dissatisfaction with home life, diminishing career opportunities and a realisation that he will be passed over for top jobs.  It is too easy to blame the midlife crisis on marital disharmony and its usual consequence of the wandering eye.  The charming little children, cuddly and adoring, have become rebellious adolescents - probably equally loving but well able to disguise this.

The precipitating factors that can precede both the andropause and the midlife crisis are psychosocial stress, excessive alcohol, injuries or operations (including vasectomy), medication, smoking and obesity.  Any introspective, depressive feelings will not be helped by diminishing sexual attractiveness.

As the midlife crisis usually precedes the andropause, these unhappy men may still have plenty of testosterone but not always the opportunity to profit from it.  Their drying skin and thinning hair may belie their sexual needs.  Kindly wives or partners can help by understanding the difference between the midlife crisis and the andropause.  The midlife crisis can be helped by making it clear that their man will be just as lovable if he never becomes chairman and if he doesn't have the sexual prowess of Michael Douglas or the looks of Hugh Grant.

Understanding the andropause - the male menopause, as opposed to the midlife crisis - is more straightforward, as changes affecting the physique can be measured.  Doctors can determine how much testosterone the testes are producing and how hard the pituitary gland is having to work to keep testosterone flowing.  It is a grave mistake to assume that the only evidence of testosterone failure is increasing evidence of "brewer's droop".  Low testosterone levels are often an important part of advancing impotence, but the are many more direct physical cause for it which are of greater importance.

The andropause and failing hormone levels can affect every aspect of life and may account, usually at a rather late age, for many of the symptoms of the midlife crisis that Lotter calls cyberphobia.  The symptoms, when part of the andropause, have a physical cause and can be treated by physical means - men, too, can have HRT - but even greater care has to be taken when prescribing it.

The classic symptoms of the andropause are lack of drive, loss of enthusiasm, diminishing energy and increasing tiredness.  The andropausal patient may be feeling inexplicably depressed; his once enthusiastic, hopeful self smothered by feelings of hopelessness.  His powers of concentration may be affected.  A formerly amiable soul may become bad-tempered.  Most mammals are more easily driven to anger as they grow older.  Bulls of a certain age become unreliable; so do men, and this may partly be related to falling testosterone levels.

There is also a lack of stamina, the hair begins to fallout even quicker and the skin wrinkles faster.  Changes in muscle power alter body shape: powerful legs become thin chicken legs, abdomens become paunchy.  Hours of weightlifting will do nothing to change this redistribution.  Ageing, depressed, andropausal men can help themselves by dieting but they will never regain their youthful figure, or vigour, without recourse to hormone therapy - which in some cases could be risky.

Much is made of the decline in male sexual prowess in middle age.  As part of the normal pattern of ageing, men between the ages of 45 and 55 sometimes cease to be the sexual instigators in an established partnership.  This was very unfortunate in the Victorian era and continued to be so till the 1970s as women were taught that they were emotionally the passive partners.

I only stopped working in genito-urlnary medicine four years ago, but even then it was still common to have to teach middle-aged women their role if their partners were to overcome normal potency problems.  At a certain age it is no longer good enough for couples to have a romantic dinner and hope for the best as they lie back and think of past times.  In a regular partnership, physical stimulation is needed to prime the male.  This has to be carefully judged: too much enthusiasm and the man feels that he will be a disappointment and nothing happens.  Too little enthusiasm and the same result is achieved.

Impotence should never be attributed to ageing, or to low testosterone levels until other causes such as diabetes, arterial disease, hypertension, heart and renal disease have been excluded. - The Times

Source: The Dominion Wednesday 12 July 2000

Sorry, guys, but you can't turn back the clock.  You can only cover up its hands temporarily.

See also:

bulletBiological Clock Strikes for Men, Too (earlier in this section) - American scientists have discovered that genetic damage to sperm routinely starts to cause infertility in men as young as 35...

Male Lust Is blind, Research Suggests

by Roger Dobson

Men have long been accused of judging women on looks alone, but even the plainest Jane can get their hormones raging, a study has found.  Research involving a group of male students found that their levels of the hormone testosterone increased to the same extent whether they were talking to a young woman they found attractive – or to one they didn't fancy much at all.  After 5 minutes alone in the same room as a woman they had never met before, and in some cases did not find particularly attractive, the men's testosterone levels of the hormone had shot up by an average of around 8%.

The study's authors believe the rise in testosterone may be an automatic and unconscious reaction that has evolved in man when faced with a woman, to prepare him for possible mating opportunities.  The rising levels may then fuel more visible changes in male behaviour that occur in the presence of a woman, including a squaring of shoulders, an upright posture, and greater use of hands - and even, it is suggested, a flaring of the nostrils.  The rise in the male hormone may also be the reason why men are more likely to tell women exaggerated stories about their job, career, education and earnings, the researchers believe.

The study, published in the journal Hormones and Behaviour, involved 63 male students aged 21 to 25 who were not aware of the purpose of the study.  Their testosterone levels were measured with saliva samples and they were then taken to another room by a researcher under the guise of being there to solve a sudoku puzzle. In the same room another man or a woman appeared to be solving a similar puzzle, but he or she was in fact acting as the so-called stimulus.  The women were chosen on the basis of being moderately attractive for the student population.  The researcher then made the excuse that he did not have the correct puzzle for the participant and left the room to get it.  The two were then left alone to wait together for 5 minutes.  The stimulus people were told to engage in friendly conversation in a natural manner, or allow long pauses if the man elected not to talk.  After 5 minutes, the experimenter returned with the correct puzzle, and then left the room with the stimulus person; 15 minutes later, the experimenter returned to collect the puzzle from the man, and to take a second saliva sample.  Comparison of the saliva tests showed that testosterone levels rapidly increased after contact with a woman.  Men who were rated as more aggressive or dominant types had gone up even higher.  The results also show that testosterone levels did not change when they were in the room with another man.

The men were also asked to rate the attractiveness of the woman in the room; results show that the testosterone increase was not influenced by their perceived attractiveness.  Leander van der Meij, who led the study at the University of Groningen in Holland, said: "Our results suggest that the increase in testosterone levels that we found may be an automatic male response that activates receptors in organs and the nervous system to prepare the human body for mate attraction."  The results suggest that one of the ultimate functions of testosterone may be to attract mates.  One way it may do that is by orchestrating changes in appearance and behaviour that may increase their attractiveness.  This idea is supported by evidence that dominance behaviours of men increases their desirability as a date and by research showing that men who exhibit more dominant-like behaviour make more frequent successful contact with women.

Mr van der Meij added: "The rise in levels of the hormone bring about changes in way men display themselves.  Once levels have risen, they can display more dominant behaviour - they talk more with their hands, there is more eye contact, their posture is more upright, and they are more likely to tell stories designed to impress the woman.  Women can be attracted by these kinds of things."

Source: telegraph.co.uk 20 July 2008

Men "tell women exaggerated stories about their job, career, education and earnings" and the women find this attractive?  Very young or very lonely women perhaps.

For more articles related to Men including sperm donations on the net, the effects of testosterone, condom sizes, buddies, smells, nagging, gynæcologists, mid-life crises, fathers and more click the "Up" button below to take you to the Table of Contents page for this section.

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