This is sincerely just for fun. Every now and then I realize I went through a developmental stage as an adult. And I wish I had written it down, and I didn’t. And then I find myself 3 years later not remembering what it was I wanted to write down. Then I have something else I want to write down that I am going through currently. And I don’t, because I am too stuck on what I forgot to write down. And then 3 years later ….
I document the age-related stages children go through. You can see it at the main site of this website. The works is used by tens of thousands all over the world. It is times when children fall apart, they “misbehave,” but then after this state of disarray, they grow in some way. I do think this process happens throughout all of life, with some ages being more rocky than others. During these stages that children go through, they tend to want more connection. They want to sit on your lap, spend time with you, etc. So now that we are at the ADULT level, I also focus on this “misbehavior” and “connection.” Except we are talking about adults now and this misbehavior and need for connection takes on different forms. I don’t shy away from controversial topics, such as marital infidelity. I think it’s important to know what’s going on underneath the surface of us–so that we might deal with it better.
I am going to split this up into 5 year blocks of time. There is no doubt more nuance than this. But in throwing down a few blocks of time, as more information comes in, I can round them out better. I am sure there is more variability than this lends itself too, etc etc. I assume a mostly healthy person here, though I make a few notes of how mental illness or personality disorder might affect these stages. Again this is really just for fun.
The early 20s are a time of romance and adventure. You think big things. You dream of ideal love. You want a lustrous career. And this has a purpose. You are likely choosing your mate and your career right now. It is right to dream of what is best and what works for you. You have little fear in life (unless afflicted by anxiety, etc.) A person in their early 20s truly isn’t designed for typical 9 to 5 adult living. Some time in the mid 20s, it’s as if a switch is flipped, and all of a sudden you have no issue handling a work environment, learning about retirement plans, etc. It’s not that a person in their early 20s absolutely can’t do this. It’s that it just comes so easy and effortless around 24 or 25.
People in their late 20s can be hot heads. They are hard workers in the traditional sense, have some experience under their belt, and they feel they know what is right. This has a purpose! They are willing to take the reins to a project and steer it. They are bold, confident, and take calculated, deliberate risks. They work and refine their process of doing things, whatever it is. They, however, might be negligent of how their own behavior is affecting others.
There is a major development, of which I’ve read from other authors as well, in the early 30s. It centers around empathy. I would describe it as someone takes a giant mirror and puts it in front of you. You realize your own behavior and some of it isn’t savory. Perhaps someone just like you happens to show up in your life and shows you what you really act like sometimes. You realize how you speak and act has a major impact on those around you. You sincerely start to care. You might become hesitant now. Where do you draw the line between advancing what you know is right versus being kind to others?
Note: I surmise some people with deep personality disorders do not go through this stage. Or maybe they do, in their own way, who knows? I also suspect this may affect parents moreso than non-parents.
There is a deep longing for connection in the late 30s. A song that describes it well is the theme song to the old hit TV show Cheers, “you want to go where everyone knows your name.” You are sincerely open to other’s point of view. I surmise the majority of a person’s spiritual growth happens at this age. You are very likely to pick up books or perhaps talk to others about how to be: how to handle your emotions, different ideas to health, how to grow in your marriage. A word of the wise: this can cause problems. You might get overly wrapped up in other’s views that you lose yourself for a bit.
In all this questioning and growth, you start thinking about deep societal issues. Before, you didn’t. This served as self-protection for you. The naivety in youth serves a purpose. No one would succeed if they felt systemic oppression was bound to limit their success. But now you realize: it’s there. It’s truly there. Who has power, who is maligned, how and what form we are even allowed to speak all matter.
Given this questioning about societal norms, your life situation, and the desire for connection, the risk for marital infidelity increases. Rates of infidelity are highest for people in their late 30s and early 40s. My loose is experience is that this is a risky age for divorce as well. I think the age-related development plays a role.
My advice: if you and your spouse can be truly honest about what you want, it helps. Like. Really honest. About sex, hobbies, everything. You don’t have to follow cultural norms. Life has a way of uprooting the truth of things. You either deal with them head on or you get slammed, head first, into them. The likely path for most will be the latter. If you can bring a little of the former into it, however, it helps.
There is again a settling in at 40. You realize you’re a swan, not a duck, and swans are amazing. Yeah you used to be a bit of a hot head, but it had its purpose in life, and its OK to bring a little of that back. You might swear a little more. Because. You might have a really steady, joyful center about you. It’s well earned. Enjoy it.
One thing that surprised me when I turned 40 is that I stopped listening to music when I worked. I used to always love to listen to upbeat dance music when I worked. But almost to the day, one day, I just stopped. I needed quiet to work. Music distracted me greatly. And I think anyone can recognize this annoyance by music as an age-related thing.
Women Who Run with the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Dr. Estes, at the very end of the book, describes how women go through a change about every 7 years.