Do you feel the need? The need for speed? And are you between the age of 35 and 59? If the answer to those questions is yes, yes, and yes, that flashy red sports car you’ve been eyeing could be a natural expression of your love of all things with four wheels. Or it could be a cry for help, a sad attempt at staying hip and groovy. You know, a midlife crisis.
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How do you tell the difference? And is a midlife crisis-fueled Porsche in your garage really a bad thing? We attempt to get to the answers before your relevance to the world is Gone in 60 Seconds.
If you have a penis dangling between your legs, you’ve probably been dreaming of driving a sports car since before you knew about the birds and the bees. “Car” is one of the first words children say, and it’s our first object of desire.
Then you grow up. You get married, have kids. You pay the bills, bring home the bacon. And the cruel truth is that, unless you’re born rich or strike it rich early, you won’t be able to afford that Ferrari until you’re well into middle age. Oftentimes, not even then.
One day—if you’re lucky—the day arrives. The mortgage is paid for. The kids will be alright. Your future is set. And you somehow find yourself in a Lamborghini showroom with means, opportunity, and motive.
Halfway through the race
Enter the midlife crisis. First observed by Canadian psychoanalyst Elliott Jacques, this phenomenon was described as a depressive period lasting several years, usually in the mid 30s though this has moved to the 40s in recent times.
During this period, men’s (and women’s) behavior undergoes significant changes. Men become obsessed with health and appearance (we’re looking at you, Middle-Aged Men In Lycra). Some engage in promiscuity, while others engage in “compulsive attempts” to stay young. Some buy sports cars.
Sound familiar? It all has to do with death. One of Jacques’ patients described the crux of middle age this way:
“Up till now, life has seemed an endless upward slope, with nothing but the distant horizon in view. Now suddenly I seem to have reached the crest of the hill, and there stretching ahead is the downward slope with the end of the road in sight—far enough away, it’s true—but there is death observably present at the end.”
If you imagined that scene from behind the wheel of a white Toyota Supra, driving toward the finish line as the sun sets behind the hills, doing your best impression of Paul Walker in Furious 7, we like the way you think. Maybe you do deserve that sports car.
So how do you know if it’s the right time to buy a sports car or not? How can you tell if you’re going through a midlife crisis? Take our short, unscientific quiz…
Question #1: Are you going through a major life change?
It’s no coincidence that people going through a midlife crisis are also going through massive change in their life. Research has found that loss, usually of one’s parents, often triggers a crisis in midlife. Career change, or empty nest syndrome can also play a role.
If you answered yes, think again before you buy that BMW M3.
Question #2: Is your sports car dream fueled by nostalgia?
Beware of the words, “When I was young…” It’s a common experience of those going through a midlife crisis to ruminate on the past. Maybe you’re looking for your “Eleanor”—Nicolas Cage’s dream car in Gone in 60 Seconds—the one that got away, to bring you back to a glorious past that is no more.
If you answered yes, maybe it’s just your midlife crisis talking.
Question #3: Have you ever been on a racing track?
In the movie Ford v Ferrari, Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) takes Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) for a spin around the track in an effort to help him realize that racing is about more than just building a fast car. After being thrown around the track at life-threatening speeds, Henry Ford II is driven to tears. “I had no idea…” he says, which is something he shares in common with most 40-somethings buying a “track proven" Toyota 86.
If your answer is no, it’s time your sports car fantasies met reality. Get some track time under your belt before you buy that super car.
Question #4: Do you really care what others think?
At the end of the day, it’s your money, midlife crisis or no midlife crisis. And no one can tell you what to do. The best part of being a middle-aged man is that you get to do whatever the hell you want. You’ve earned it. You’ve worked hard to get to this stage in your life. It’s time you enjoyed it.