What is the life expectancy for lupus patients? I was recently diagnosed with lupus. Does this mean I will die much earlier, or are there ways to live longer?

Everyone differs. Just because you have lupus does note mean a death sentence. Each person is different. It depends on your lupus and your treatment and how you respond. We will not live forever but how you do will help decide if you die from lupus or just die with lupus. Lupus alone is not a killer, but like any health problems some do better than others.
As. As of today the life expectancy of a properly managed lupus patient is about the same as any other person of same age gender and race. Of course there are individual cases where long term severe disease with for example kidney damage or heart disease can modify life expectancy due to those organs being affected, but even in those cases with adequate medical care life can be prolonged. Before the discovery of steroids the life expectancy of severe lupus was quite low, with the development of new treatments and increased medical knowledge, with early diagnosis and treatment as well as managment of associated diseases such as osteoporosis, diabetes, atherosclerosis etc 95 % of lupus patients will live a normal life span.