Skip to content

The 40 Best Compliments to Give People Over 40

These sincere and thoughtful compliments will make 40-somethings feel seen and appreciated.

If you think "40 is the new 20" is merely a cliché or a platitude, think again. At 40, life feels like it's truly just beginning for many people who spent their 20s and 30s mired in relationship and career quagmires. It may be that 40-somethings find themselves in their sexual and fitness primes. And they may love themselves—and know themselves—better than they ever did before. Since hitting 40 looks good on people, it's easy to give out sincere compliments that nod to the ways in which they're really living their best lives. Here are 40 totally spot-on things you can say to make someone over 40 feel good.

"You always know the right thing to say."

middle aged women talking over a laptop in a coffee shop

Being a great communicator requires nuance, finesse, and a gift for connecting with people. You can pay someone a meaningful compliment by telling them that they're great at it—that their words serve as a comfort to you and to others. "If someone gives you advice, the best compliment that you can give them back is that their advice has been heard," says Caleb Backe, certified life coach and trainer for Maple Holistics. "Saying the right thing, that speaks to people at the right time, is not to be taken for granted, so let that person know!"

"Your perspective is refreshing."

Black father and son talking

Let someone know that their individual viewpoint at 40-plus helps you see the world in a new and productive way. "It's a well-known adage that great minds discuss ideas instead of people, so when you're able to have a stimulating conversation with someone, let them know," Backe says. "It's a wonderful thing to open your mind to new ideas, and when someone helps you do that, you should thank them for it. Let them know that their knowledge, life experience, and perspective is valuable to you."

"You're fun to be around."

Middle aged friends being silly having fun taking selfies with phone

Just because someone hits 40 hardly means they're no fun anymore—though popular narratives would sometimes have you believe that. So pay them a compliment that shows them you know just how lively and magnetic they really are. "Nobody wants to be perceived as the bore of the group. With this in mind, let people know that you enjoy their company," says Backe. "This is a great compliment for all ages because people like to know that their presence is valued and valid."

"You have great energy."

Asian family having a water fight

When you tell someone that their spirit is palpable when they walk into a room, you're letting them know they have a powerful impact on everyone in it. "Everyone has energy associated with them," says Randi Levin, transitional life strategist at Randi Levin Coaching. And there's a bonus in it for you, too: "Complimenting someone on being positive and uplifting has a ripple effect, elevating your own mojo."

"I appreciate you."

Boss thanking congratulating employee shaking hands multicultural

When you tell a friend or a loved one how much you appreciate them, it can mean more than any material gift. "Nothing is more heartfelt and genuine [than this] compliment that can be given in business or in your personal life," says Levin.

"I am grateful for how you show up."

Adult daughter hugging mother smiling

Expressing sincere gratitude for someone in your life is powerful at any age. Make your expression of gratitude even more meaningful with this phrasing, suggests Omar Brownson, co-founder of gratitude app Gthx. "The reason I like this compliment is because it is more humanizing than saying, 'I appreciate it,' which just acknowledges a person's actions," he says. "Seeing people's intrinsic value is seeing who they are, not just what they do."

"You're a great friend."

Adult multicultural friends laughing

By 40, people know that friendship is not just a happy accident. Meaningful friendships endure as a result of nourishing generosity, attention, compassion, and mutual love. So telling someone they're a good friend is an acknowledgement not just that you had the good fortune to meet them, but that you know they've worked hard to maintain and nurture an important and long-standing role in your life.

"You're kind."

Son giving father a cup of coffee kindly

Even a small dose of kindness can revolutionize someone's whole world. When many people are (or act) too busy to respond to others with active kindness instead of terseness, let those who are the exception know how much it means to you that they stand out on that front—and that you've always noticed.

"You're authentic."

Multicultural friends sitting outside bohemian

After 40, many people have finally liberated themselves from the pressures to conform to other people's expectations. Pay someone a compliment that acknowledges just how good they are at being true to themselves. When you do this, you're saying, "You hold no pretenses and I know what I see is what I get with you," says speaker and transformation consultant Malena Crawford. "This compliment is great because it celebrates and honors them being exactly who they are. In a glittery social media world, everyone at their core wants to know that they shine at simply being themselves."

"You're the whole package."

Middle aged couple laughing

Give someone a compliment that acknowledges their beauty, brains, and life experience all at once! "This is a great compliment because it honors not just the physical beauty, but the intelligence and wisdom that have come with maturation," Crawford says. "The whole package is complete and they'll be pleasantly reminded that they can only get better with time."

"You're a great parent."

Middle aged dad laughing playing with kids while camping

Parenting is one of life's greatest rewards and challenges. Complimenting someone on their accomplishments with their children or their efforts to raise other members of their family cuts to the core of some of their hardest and most important work in life. "For people 40 and over, the love and energy we put into others can be thankless and taken for granted over the years," Crawford says. "By witnessing how much we actually do, and its significant impact on others—like young humans—you can really help us to feel visible, valued, and boost our sense of efficacy."

"I feel so good when I'm with you."

Multicultural women talking and laughing

If a visit to someone's home or their mere presence in a room makes you feel comforted and lighter, let them know. "This is one of my favorite compliments to receive," says Crawford. "People may not remember the way you looked, maybe not even what you said, but they will always remember the way that you made them feel. This compliment will go right to their heart and remind them they're doing pretty good at this thing called life."

"Your home is so comfortable."

Middle aged friends talking sitting on couch

With this compliment, you're hardly just referring to someone's square footage or marble kitchen island: You're letting them know that they've created a sanctuary with their home, a place where people can gather that makes them feel welcome, safe, and comfortable. And that means a lot.

"You're looking stronger than ever."

Multicultural men lifting weights in gym helping

Physical fitness is hardly just the domain of the under-40 set. In fact, people over 40 might find themselves stronger than ever, after moving past some of the demands of recovering from pregnancy or wrangling younger children. Pay an empowering compliment by letting someone know they look strong and fit.

"You've taken such good care of yourself."

Older man complimenting woman on romantic date

When you give someone a compliment like this, you're telling them that their love and respect for themselves shows. "This compliment is such a sweet boost because it reminds us that self-care really is a non-negotiable," Crawford says. "And more than that, it's a gift that keeps on giving throughout our lives."

"You are brave."


Tell someone their boldness inspires you to get out in the world and try something new. "People 40 and over want to know, like everyone else, that our lives matter, and we are purposeful and inspiring," Crawford says. "Hearing this compliment is thrilling because we get to bask in the glow of all the times we've said yes to ourselves despite our fear. We're reminded that even when we think no one is looking, our courage inspires others to be courageous."

"I would have never guessed your age."

Woman laughing in a man's arms

This compliment can refer to anything from physical appearance to energy and ebullience, and the magic lies in that open interpretation. "Let's be honest, when we hit 40 and over, it's a thrill to defy our age and even better, other's expectations of our age—40 and over is as sexy and vibrant as we make it," says Crawford. "Getting this compliment just proves to us that no one can put us in a box."

"You've still got it!"

Older black couple dancing in backyard

Sure, "it" might mean flawless skin and a tight body by some interpretations. But it could also mean a fearless personal style, an intense charisma, or an effervescent personality. "People over 40 often want to know that they've still got 'it,' the energy and vibrancy of youth," Crawford says. "Affirming that their inner light is still evident on [the outside] is a huge boost."

"You radiate confidence."

Confident Asian woman smiling

No matter how taut the skin or toned the muscles, the hottest thing people can wear is confidence—something often hard won by the time they reach 40. So tell a person they look confident and you're really celebrating both their spirit and also complimenting them on how good it makes them look. "The reason I like this compliment is that many times what makes people beautiful in middle age is the confidence they exude," says Andrea Syrtash, relationship expert and author of Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband). "There's nothing sexier!"

"You know exactly what you want."

Woman doing work on laptop sitting in deep thought looking out the window

If your 20s and 30s meant painful searches for clarity, reaching 40 can bring a sense of peace that your values and goals have all finally clicked into place. "One gift of getting older is gaining confidence in who we truly are," Crawford says. "This compliment is great because we're reminded of how far we've come to earn this confidence, and how much more attractive we are as we mature."

Try telling someone, "Your confidence is so electrifying, attractive, magnetic. It's sexy that you know exactly what you want and won't compromise on yourself," she suggests.

"I love your style."

Sylish bearded man standing in front of large wooden door

When you compliment someone's physical appearance, make their day by celebrating not just their favorable genetics but also the choices surrounding their personal expression, whether that's their accessories, their threads, or their glasses. "This is focusing on the physical and acknowledging their good eye and special touch," Syrtash says.

"You're a fearless dresser."

Middle aged woman in big colorful sun hat

Let someone know that you admire their personal style over 40—however they choose to express it. "It affirms that we don't have to dress like a 20-year-old to turn heads and make a statement in the world," Crawford says. "We make style our own at any age, and 40 and over is a great time to experiment with fashion."

"You're so dependable."

Family parents helping young daughter move Asian

Everyone knows the feeling of being let down by someone they thought they could depend on. So if there's someone in your life who would never let you down, someone always true to their word, let them know. Paying them this compliment shows you both acknowledge their character and that you appreciate it.

"You're excellent in a crisis."

Mom caring for her upset daughter

Life happens. And if you know someone who handles curveballs with aplomb, let them know you're impressed. Whether you've witnessed them turn their personal crises into opportunities, or they've helped you manage yours when you were feeling low, it will mean a lot to someone over 40 who has honed the craft through experience.

"I can learn a lot from you."

middle aged white man and middle aged white woman talking over a laptop in an office

When you say this to someone, you're acknowledging how far they've come in the world at this stage, and recognizing all the trials and accomplishments that brought them to this point. You're validating the significance of their life experience. "I love focusing on this because the truth is, we can learn something from everyone if we take time to acknowledge their unique contributions to the world," Syrtash says.

"You have made a great impact."

Male teacher helping multicultural students

Telling someone that they've had an effect on the community or on the earth is a profound way to validate them after 40. "At this phase in your life, you want to know what you've done so far has meaning and that you are leaving an impact," says Judith Rapley, LCSW, life coach at JMR Coaching & Consulting Services.

"You have made a great impact on my life."

Daughter embracing mother smiling

It can be especially meaningful when you personalize this type of validation, complimenting someone on the ways in which their life has changed not just the larger community, but also your own life for the better. "When you add 'to my life,' it is very personal and can help someone recognize what is their contribution not only to society but to that person's specific life," Rapley says.

"You've taught me so much."

Father teaching his son to ride a bike

When you tell someone how much they've taught you, you're telling them that their life experience has inspired your own positive and productive choices as you move through the world in their footsteps—and that's deeply flattering. It "speaks to [their] significance," Rapley says. "As you get older, you want to know that you can share lessons learned with others to avoid them making all the same mistakes."

"You're glowing."

Middle age woman glowing smiling

When you're complimenting someone on their appearance, look for a turn of phrase that nods at something deeper. This one "refers to your beauty, but one that comes from inside and exudes from within," Rapley says. "It's certainly more than just your skin regime!"

"You look so well-rested."

Men talking and laughing

First, let's be clear: You should never, ever tell people they look tired. Not anyone, but certainly not someone over 40 who may be a busy, working parent with plenty of valid reasons to actually be exhausted. Instead, make a point to tell someone if you notice that they are looking particularly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

"You make 40 look good."

Confident older woman taking a selfie

Flip the script on the clichéd compliment of "you look great for 40," which comes off as backhanded (because it is). This wording gives it a more positive twist. "As you get older, and no matter how solid your self-esteem is, you know and experience a world that is increasingly focused on external beauty and ageism," Rapley says. This compliment "does stroke the ego and confidence."

"I want to be like you."

Mother and daughter taking a selfie with flowers

Is there anything more powerful than acknowledging someone over 40 by telling them you'd be happy to see your own life turn out just like theirs has? It's an all-encompassing compliment that speaks to their accomplishments (career, relationships, and more) in addition to the love, esteem, and respect they command in their community.

"Your imperfections are perfect to me."

Multicultural gay couple laying in grass kiss on check

Everyone's merely human, flawed and imperfect. Show them how much you care in spite of—or even because of—their imperfections by accepting and embracing them. "I love this compliment as it allows us to appreciate the gifts we have with the understanding that we don't need to be perfect to be loved accepted and appreciated," says Asher Gottesman, host of the podcast Showing Up.

"Your vulnerability shines."

Couple talking sitting on floor man being vulnerable woman being supportive

In a world of social media filters and highlight reels, there's no better feeling than connecting with someone on a deep level because they're willing to be vulnerable with you. Let them know how much that means to you by complimenting their willingness to be vulnerable. "I love vulnerability as it gives me a chance to see the real you, the entire you," says Gottesman. "It gives others the confidence to share what they are afraid of."

"You're a great listener."

Mother daughter talking being supportive listening laughing

Telling someone they're a good listener acknowledges them for encouraging others to share their vulnerabilities, sans judgement. This compliment shows someone that you really notice when they prioritize your and other people's needs.

"I'll never forget the time we…"

Tourist couple reading book on London sights before sightseeing

You can pay someone a truly profound compliment by letting them know you'll never forget a particular time—or times—you spent together. At 40-plus, they've built a lifetime of memories, and it will mean a lot to know that time you spent with them is on your list of most cherished experiences ever.

"Your hard work paid off."

Multicultural coworkers excited about achievement celebrating

Whether you're referring to someone's career, child-rearing, creative pursuits, or any other kind of accomplishment, acknowledging someone's hard work validates all the effort they put in behind the scenes to make it happen. It says, "I see you."

"You have it all together."

Black couple smiling in embrace on front lawn in sunshine

No matter how much we have going for us, we always seem to be our own harshest critics. If you see something about someone that they don't see about themselves, let them know: From where you sit, the life they built at 40-plus looks whole, fulfilling, and well-deserved, too.

"Your younger self would be so proud."

Female chef

At 40, many people have truly established so many of the goals they might have dreamed of when they were younger, even far exceeding them. By holding up the mirror to show someone just how awesome and accomplished they would look to a younger version of themselves, you help give them meaningful perspective on their own success.

"…And I mean that sincerely."

Middle age black men talking smiling

Your compliment will be most meaningful if the recipient knows you're fully sincere. And there's no reason you wouldn't be, since life over 40 looks pretty great on so many people. "Compliments should always be specific and genuine so people know you're being sincere," Syrtash says.

"Any and all of these compliments should only be offered authentically and genuinely, and not for gains or for manipulations," Rapley adds. "The reality is, the older you get and the longer you live, the more you are able to see through [falseness] and no one likes to be flattered disingenuously."

Alesandra Dubin
Alesandra Dubin is a lifestyle editor and writer based in Los Angeles. Read more