What Men Do When They Panic About Their Careers
A man’s identity is typically very deeply wrapped up in his career. Being a provider is something that run’s in a man’s DNA. It may sound antiquated, but I don’t think we get very far by denying realities and just acting as if things are how we want them to be. No matter how much your partner says he’ll be happy no matter what happens with his career and that his relationship and family are what matter most, almost any man will start to break a little if things don’t go his way in his career, by a certain age. That doesn’t mean that his family, relationship, friendships, and other more meaningful things like that don’t bring him lots of joy. But, men just kind of need to feel like they plant their flag in their careers to feel fulfilled. It’s one very big piece of the pie of feeling satisfied in this life. And that is why, when a man reaches, say, his late thirties through late forties—somewhere in that range—and he doesn’t feel he’s made the career strides he’s hoped for, he may start to behave a little wonky.
If you’re with this man when this happens, you’re going to need to prepare yourself for a bit of a bumpy ride. Don’t leave him, even if he’s grumpy, unpredictable, and temperamental. I promise you that you won’t find a man on this planet who wouldn’t behave a bit nuts if he felt he was getting older, and hadn’t made good enough strides in his career. It’s just in their nature. But, you will need to do some damage control. Behind every great man is a great woman, as they say (though I think the saying should be beside every great man is a great woman, because we are equals). Here’s what men might do when they panic about their careers.
Rid themselves of certain friends
Your man may decide that it’s his friend group that is holding him back. Maybe he has some friends who are settled in their careers—they make decent money at jobs they don’t love but don’t hate, and are just enjoying a calm, simple life. But your man may decide he needs only and exclusively super-ambitious people around him, and start making some friendship cuts.
Check his ego
You will have to remind your partner that many of those friends have been there for him for years, through thick and thin, and it’s a cop out to blame them—their lifestyle—for where he’s at in his career. He can have friends who are content to live less-ambitious lives without it affecting his ambition.
Cut back on date nights
Your partner might become very precious about his time, insisting he doesn’t have time for anything outside of pursuing his career. That might mean that he starts bailing on date nights, or turning date nights into nights he just drags you to a networking thing.
Give him some perspective
Men often make the mistake of thinking that the path to success includes no personal life. They stop making time for their love life or friendships and only realize—too late—that that makes for a bitter, uninspired, depressed individual who isn’t that productive. Having a full life feeds into having the energy to pursue one’s dreams.
Get very sensitive about it
If your partner is already feeling anxious about how quickly his career is—or isn’t—moving, he’ll be especially sensitive to any comments or jokes about it. Even the tiniest thing, like you joking that he can skip the morning meeting and nobody will notice, could send him into a rant about how every single meeting counts now and that’s not funny.
You have to be sensitive, too
Look, we all know that people are most sensitive about the things that are true, or that they believe to be true. So, for now, you may just have to limit any jokes that could in any way suggest that his career isn’t going smoothly or that he isn’t getting results. You just need to be positive and supportive.
Choose questionable contacts
When he feels really desperate, he may start reaching out to people you’re not quite sure he should work with. Maybe an old contact who you both know just doesn’t share the same values as he does, but managed to become pretty successful. He might just grasp at whatever or whomever he can to get ahead.
Remind him of his values
Remind your partner that he won’t enjoy his success if he had to get it by working with people who don’t share his values. And, any success he earns through working with slimy individuals will curtail any future success. People judge you based on the company you keep, and others may not want to work with him.
Misuse of funds
Your partner may feel that he needs to throw money at this problem. He might start looking into total scams—people who say they’ll boost his website traffic for a mere $5,000 or will teach him the secret to success for a simple $8,000 workshop. Maybe he feels he should just get into day trading, knowing nothing about it, to make quick cash.
Draw strict lines
If you see this type of behavior happening, you need to create some tough rules around money spending. He shouldn’t be able to spend any large sum without talking to you first. And if he is getting fooled by some scam artist promising to make him “huge,” you need to snap him out of it.
Develop some jealousy
Your partner may start to develop some jealousy and resentment. When people aren’t getting what they want in their career, they can start to look around at others who are succeeding and criticize. He may have one person to whom he compares himself—someone he sees as a peer—who he fixates on.
Agree, but change the subject
Honestly, if you try to tell your partner he’s being nasty when he criticizes his competition—or you defend said competition—your partner will just feel like you don’t have his back. Just agree and say that, he’s right, that person doesn’t deserve all he has. But also remind your partner that that still doesn’t change where he’s at, and he needs to focus on his own efforts, rather than tear somebody else’s down.
Display mid-life crisis symptoms
A man of any age who feels panicked about his career might display some mid-life crisis-type symptoms. This could include quitting his job to pursue his dream to be a musician. This could mean signing up for 100 intense fitness classes that he isn’t prepared for. He might feel that if he isn’t proving himself in his career, he has to prove himself elsewhere.
Just let it happen
Don’t make fun of him. Don’t tell him it’s a phase. He’ll know it was a phase when he’s done with it, and later he’ll laugh at this. But today, if you tell him it’s a phase, he’ll probably accuse you of not supporting him or taking him seriously. So just get ready for him to lug a bunch of equipment into the house pertaining to his new “passion.”
Don’t try to change him
You want to convince your partner that he’ll be happy, no matter what happens in his career and that his career doesn’t define him. He’ll just hear that as, “You’re going to fail.” You can’t change the way a man is hard-wired. He needs to know that he tried as hard as he could in his career. That’s just a restlessness you need to accept in men.