Psychological Development Across the Lifespan

Middle Adulthood (40–60)

How does the view of one’s options in life change during this period?

In early adulthood, we have a sense of open horizons. Regardless of what is happening in the present, goals and ideals can still be reached in the future. There will always be time to get married, have children, or start a career. In midlife, the adult confronts the narrowing of options. Time is limited. Life’s possibilities are finite. Even though it may be possible to change tracks, it may not be worth the cost in time, money, or sheer energy. And some opportunities are simply closed. A woman cannot give birth after menopause. For some people, there might be feelings of being trapped. For others, there may be anger and disappointment at lost opportunities. Optimally, the confrontation with limitations in one’s life promotes greater psychological maturity. Difficult decisions must be made, disappointments must be accepted, and priorities must be realigned to make the best of life as it is, not as we think it should be.


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