In the absence of Escape & Avoid, MLCers in Rejection & Refusal may effectively hide their fears from everyone, including themselves. Behaviors may be changing, but in the beginning the changes may be dismissed amidst preoccupations with everyday life or as moodiness, stress or irritability--particularly if the MLC catalyst was a significant life changing event. Cracks in the persona began to form prior to Escape & Avoid which expands the cracks, eventually causing the facade to crumble and a previously stable person suddenly seems crazy. The way is open and temptation beckons with promises of escape.
Escape & Avoid separates midlife crisis from midlife transition. Rejection & Refusal and Resentment set it apart as well, but Escape & Avoid confirms the crisis is something much more serious. Bomb drop initiates or comes near the beginning of Escape & Avoid, and thus it's the start of crisis for the left behind spouse. Before this stage, MLC was undetectable, but Escape & Avoid single-handedly meets the MLC stereotype of an older man who leaves his wife, cashes out his retirement for a fancy red Porsche, starts working out and dressing like he's 20+ years younger and finds a girlfriend half his age. The stereotype describes the High-Energy Replayer, but some MLCers are Low-Energy Wallowers. There are may be vast differences in duration of the crisis, living arrangements and marital changes, infidelity. What is consistent is the urge to escape, whether physically, emotionally or both.