Middle age gets a bum rap. Sure, when you get older your testosterone slips, your hangovers sting a little more, and you have to really start listening to your doctor during your yearly check-ups. But you know what? Putting your youth in the rearview also means you’re wealthier, you let less stuff upset you, and you’re probably in a better place where you can have a lot of fun. And one of the best perks of getting older? Gaining wisdom. You know how to treat a woman, you know that “new” doesn’t always mean “better,” and you can take bad news better than any-damn-body.
Here are more of the things you can only know by reaching your fourth decade. And if you have, reached your 40s, be sure to read our list of the things you need to unlearn immediately.
“There really is a fine line between confidence and arrogance,” says Jim White, founder of dating site Singles Over Forty. And it’s 40-somethings who have had the life and dating experience who appreciated the difference between the two. “While it's great to sound confident and to even show a little ego while on a date,” White says guys in their 40s have matured beyond youthful bluster and know the value of taking “a second to listen to yourself and observe your own posture and mannerisms.” See here for The Best Dating Apps if You’re Over 40.
Another distinction that older guys come to appreciate: lessons from books versus lessons from life. “Wisdom is education plus experience,” says David Bennett, a relationship expert and author of numerous books including Be Popular Now: How Any Man Can Become Confident, Attractive, and Successful (and Have Fun Doing It). “Younger guys often have the education part down, but lack experience. Experience provides needed perspective and complements education, creating more relationship success.”
It’s the older guys who have wisdom in spades. They also know the 40 Unhealthiest Foods they need to be avoiding at all times.
A 40-something has come to appreciate that he needs to keep acquiring education, whether that’s updating his skills for work or simply boosting his dinner-party skills (a recent Pew study found that the older people get, the more they read). A guy in his 40s has seen firsthand that learning is not something that’s only done in class—it’s a lifelong essential for success. For more great advice, check out Dr. Oz’s 15 Best Life Tips.
“Younger guys often get worked up over little things, like a girl rejecting them, a job not working out, or not getting a high enough GPA in college,” says Bennett. “Forty-something guys know that in the long run, most things are little things, and getting worked up over them is a waste of mental energy.” That’s also one of the 40 Best Things about Being In Your 40s.
Even those who have high-pressure jobs have learned to recognize what is truly worth getting stressed about. White says those in their 40s have learned “to take the weight of the world off of their shoulders and have some fun with those you love.” If you’re finding yourself worrying too much, here are 10 Ways Successful Men Cut Stress.
A focus on what’s important extends to personal relationships as well. “Life in your 40s can throw big changes your way without warning,” says White. “These changes can come in many forms, from career upsets to relationships turning themselves upside down. And when these changes knock you off of our feet, it's usually family who catch us.”
Millennials and even those in their 30s might still find themselves seeking approval from new friends or trying to constantly expand their group of acquaintances. Once you’ve hit 40, you’ve usually figured out the people you can really rely on.
A guy in his 40s has had enough friends come and go to understand why the good ones stick around. Just having common interests or a similar sense of humor isn’t going to create a lifelong friendship—it takes continual interest in the other person, their life, and family, as well as regular demonstrations of trustworthiness and reliability. Remember: keeping close to your best buddies is an essential for maintaining great health.
As guys age they become more established, both in terms of material wealth and greater level of influence—all of which can be brought into one’s dating life and relationships.
“Many 40-something guys have ‘arrived’ in life, and have good careers, maturity, life experience, and more confidence and charm than they had in any other decade,” says Bennett. “This makes them highly attractive to women and successful in relationships.”
Here are 15 Reasons Why Women Love Older Men.
Whether pens, luggage, or appliances, a guy in his 40s has gone through his share of sub-par products and learned to appreciate a truly quality product. He’s willing to spend a bit more on the good headphones, knowing one of the ears won’t stop working a few weeks later, and that a jacket he’s going to wear more than one season is worth splurging on. Here are 75 Amazing Luxury Items to Buy Right Now.
Likewise, he’s seen plenty of trends come and go (and jumped onto them himself, with less than great results) and has come to appreciate that things that have been around for a while—whether a bottle of 18-year-old whisky or a 19th-century novel—are likely to yield more enjoyment than the latest thing getting all the buzz.
“Forty-somethings have learned not to dismiss early warning signs about relationship partners,” says Rosalind Sedacca, midlife dating and relationship coach. “When they get a red-flag warning that something is wrong, off, or just not right—they listen and move on.” She’s adds that those in their 40s have learned that “second chances just get you more deeply entrenched in a toxic situation” and when those red flags pop up, it’s better to head the other direction.
A guy in his 40s has been on enough dates to know that the cookie-cutter dinner and a movie can be a nice evening, but it’s not particularly memorable—and doesn’t create chemistry and emotional connections as quickly as something more unusual. Whether going ice skating, taking a cooking class together, or some other outing that’s a bit different than you’d do on a typical day, an older guy has figured out that a memorable date is more likely to create a connection—and lead to a great night.
Forty-somethings have also had their share of one-night stands. They’ve also seen that when there’s something more than a physical connection, sometimes holding off on sex can pay off—both in a deeper connection, and better sex.
“Too many relationships go bad too quickly because sexual intimacy takes place before personal intimacy,” says Sedacca. “40-Somethings know that lust and a hot body doesn't compensate for integrity, empathy and decency.”
He also probably knows the Yoga Moves That Will Transform Your Sex Life.
Whether a one-night stand or a marriage, a 40-something knows that setting expectations is essential to a great relationship. He’s learned from experience that when he doesn’t express what he’s looking for, the woman will fill that vacuum, either believing the relationship is more serious than it is, or that he’s just not that into her. An older guy knows that it will save heartbreak on both sides if everyone’s clear about what they want from each other.
A 40-something has learned that he must take his health seriously—that what he eats, how much he exercises, and what he does with his day has a direct impact on how he feels the next day, and the next. Unlike younger guys who can seemingly get away with doing whatever they like to their body and rarely pay for it, and older guy has gone through those all-day hangovers that start to hit him in his 30s and knows they’re best avoided. He also knows the 7 Best Foods for Your Heart (and Your Lifespan).
Whether it’s a weird rash on his leg or an uncomfortable silence between him and his partner, a guy in his 40s knows that when something seems off, he needs to do something about it. He’s seen how ignoring something can backfire, big time.
As in relationships, a guy in his 40s has had his share of jobs, both good and bad, and has learned when a gig or a boss is just not the right fit. Rather than struggle to make a good impression on someone who has the knives out, or stick with a dead-end job for another year because it’s less effort than updating his resume, a 40-something knows he never regrets leaving a bad job.
All the wisdom in the world won’t ensure a guy complete-and-total success. A 40-something will face disappointments just like every man does—but he knows not to take it personally and instead puts it in perspective and gets on with his life.
“By age 40, every man should know that we can't protect ourselves or prevent life's disappointments,” says Fran Walfish, a family and relationship psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent. “The best we can do is equip ourselves with coping skills to deal with inevitable letdowns without raging into a furious tantrum or collapsing into depression.”
A 40-something guy has learned not to measure success based on what people think—whether a “congrats” from a boss or hundreds of Facebook Likes. Whether it’s a professional accomplishment or personal achievement, he’s learned that the things that have really mattered over the long-run were the ones he worked for and knew in his gut were important, regardless of what others said about it at the time.
Guys in their 40s have a pretty good sense of who they are, what they like and don’t. But they also know that they don’t know everything.
“By age 40, every man should be well practiced in open, honest self-evaluation and introspection. He should be comfortable examining his feelings so as not to automatically repeat mistakes of his past,” says Walfish. “Self-awareness is comforting and leads to a calm state of mind.”
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