45 Lies Everyone Over 40 Tells
"Sorry I'm late. I was partying so hard last night."
Fact: We’re all liars. It’s true. As human beings we lie so routinely that we often don’t even realize we’re lying—whether it’s embellishing a story, delivering a false compliment with a straight face, or texting someone that you’re “five minutes away” when the reality is you’re not even in the same zip code. (Who hasn’t?) According to one study, 60 percent of human beings can’t make it a full ten minutes in conversation without blurting out at least one lie.
But when you turn 40, you find that your lies start to evolve and take on new meaning. After all, every lie, deep down, has a purpose—whether it’s to influence someone else’s opinion or help you get out of a jam. And once you’ve crossed the threshold into your fifth decade, your priorities change—and so do the lies. To learn more, read on, and try to catch yourself in the act!
“I’m getting too old for this.”
It’s one thing to say this with a healthy helping of irony. It’s something else altogether to say it and use it as an excuse to avoid new adventures, have fun, or push you out of your comfort zone. Remember: you’re not too old! The only thing worse than lying about how young you are is lying about how “old” you are.
“I didn’t expect the traffic to be so crazy.”
C’mon: If there’s one thing traffic always is, it’s crazy. You’re saying you’ve lived on this big blue Earth for four decades and still haven’t learned this lesson? No one’s buying that. Far better to fall back on the truth: “I’m, like, five or so minutes away.” (Just remember, the “or so” is essential.)
“My kid came down with something.”
Calling out of work sick is one thing. In fact, according to one poll, 40 percent of workers do so at least once a year—even when they’re feeling totally fine. Once you pass 40, however, you might have a huge asset in your corner: your kid. Just pin the “sickness” on them! Who’s going to insist that, no, actually, little Jimmy doesn’t have a tummy ache?
“Sorry I’m late. We were partying so hard last night.”
When you’re in your 20s, it’s the thing that really happened—but you’re more likely to cover it up with a casual, “Man, I was up so late studying/working.” When you’re in your 40s, however, the reverse is true: You’re up late working, or taking care of the kids, or just couldn’t tear yourself away from a third viewing of Avengers: Infinity War, and you fire off a phrase like this because you still want to sound cool.
“I’m actually busy that night.”
Greasy takeout and Game of Thrones reruns counts as “busy,” right?
“Aw, your kid is adorable!”
It’s simple math: not every child can be the cutest kid ever. Of course, you’d never admit that to a parent, so you fall back on the world’s whitest lie. Hey, if Jerry and Elaine can pull it off, you can, too.
“I’m almost done.”
When you’re pushing up against a deadline, and your boss is hounding you, just say the three little words. No, not those three! These three: “I’m almost done.” Even if you’re nowhere close, you’ll have, at the very least, bought yourself some extra time. Better to turn in perfection a little bit late than to hand in sloppiness on time, right?
“It wasn’t that expensive.”
You’ll like only hear this among couples who share finances. But, if you’ve ever found yourself spending perhaps a little too much on a luxury good—say, some designer digs, or a sweet new high-tech gizmo—you’ve also found yourself falling back on this lie. Be sure to hide the receipt!
“I’ve been meaning to watch that!”
According to research cobbled together by FX, the cable network, in 2018, there were nearly 500 (!!) scripted television shows on the air. Who can possibly keep up with all that? (Spoiler alert: no one.) You don’t have to express interest in every single show on every single streaming service to be in the know. Just pick a few that you really, really like, and go from there.
“It’s been too long.”
Yes, it’s a nice sentiment, but if this statement were true, you would have found the time to meet up. Don’t worry: it’s not all your fault! Relationships, of all kinds, are a two-way street.
“I love what you’ve done with the place.”
The fun part about turning 40 is that, suddenly, a lot of your friends vault the gap between renting a place and owning one. The less fun part is suddenly discovering that a lot of your friends don’t moonlight as interior decorators. Still, unless they’ve hung unframed, reprinted Nirvana posters everywhere, there’s no need to air your thoughts.
“I’ve got a couple little ones at home.”
Sure, you’re not lying about having kids. They just might no longer be “little.” Of course, there’s no scientifically agreed-upon definition of what age range “little one” covers, but we’ll conservatively suggest 5 years old as a good cut-off.
“My phone died.”
It’s the “I’ll be there in five minutes” of phone calls. We all know it’s not true, but we’ve also all used it—and want you to readily believe it when we use it again in the future.
“I’d love to go to your show.”
If it starts after 10:00 p.m., has a two-drink minimum, or requires a cab ride to a neighborhood so far away you might as well break out your passport, you can bet that that, when the time comes, you’re not making it.
“I’m allergic to [food you’re not actually allergic to but just dislike.]”
As one server revealed in an interview, “If you have a serious dislike of some particular food, that’s fine—tell us, and we’ll recommend something that doesn’t contain that ingredient, or we may even be able to alter a menu item for you. But if you lie and say it’s an allergy, it’s a huge deal for the kitchen.”
“Oh, it must have gone straight to spam.”
Maybe you innocently deleted the email without noticing, or maybe you just didn’t really feel like answering at that very minute—and then forgot to double back. (Hey, we’ve all done it!) Regardless, the hypersensitivity of the email spam filters is quite a convenient scapegoat.
“It’s almost done, but I’m having computer issues…”
If there’s one major benefit about being over 40, it’s that everyone will find it easy to believe that you don’t know your way around a MacBook. (Pro tip: this lie is best deployed when you’re about to blow past a deadline.)
“I can’t make it—I’m still recovering from the flu.”
According to Harvard Medical School, the flu lasts about five to seven days. Even if you do come down with the sickness (which is more common than you’d think, by the way), you only have two weeks, max, to use this line.
“You haven’t aged a day.”
Your over-40 peers may look terrific, but you know as well as anyone that nobody’s mistaking them for 19-year-olds. And that line about how you still always get carded at bars? Yeah, nobody’s buying that, either.
“I’m not dozing… I’m awake!”
Frustrating though it may be, it’s practically unheard of to have more energy over 40 than you did in your 20s. And yes, people do notice when you nod off during movies or start to look sleepy when dinner runs past 9:00 p.m.
“I have read the terms and conditions.”
Scroll through 10,000 words of legalese that almost certainly doesn’t mean anything at all? No, thanks!
“My job is my passion.”
You’ve been at the gig for the better part of your adult life, and it certainly feels a little weird to admit now that you could genuinely take it or leave it. So, you do what any sane person would: You reframe the situation and tell everyone that, truly, data entry has always been your life’s passion.
“I’ve just been really busy…”
Maybe this really is the truth, but it certainly doesn’t work for any and every situation. For instance: text messages. You’re never too busy to power down whatever app you’re on and fire off a long-awaited response. (P.s., Mom wants to hear from you!)
“I’m going to work out more…. Starting next week!”
If it’s not already a habit by now, it’s not going to magically become one overnight. But hey, with hard work, it can! Just cop these 11 Ways Smart People Motivate Themselves to Go to the Gym.
“Honey, you look great.”
Every husband has said this to his partner at least once in his lifetime. Feelings are spared, and it avoids a night spent sleeping on the uncomfortable pull-out. Everyone wins!
“Yeah, yeah, things are getting serious… Yeah.”
So, most of your friends are in committed relationships or married, and it feels a little weird to be the one still swiping with abandon on dating apps. There’s no reason to be embarrassed about still having more flings than serious relationships—marriage isn’t just the inevitable next step in life because you’re getting older.
“Wow, I haven’t read that since high school.”
Catcher in the Rye. Of Mice and Men. The Great Gatsby. Fahrenheit 451. They’re all classic books, and we’re all supposed to know the plot beats in and out. When they pop up in conversation (which, frankly, happens more often than it should), it’s more than natural to nod along like you totally understand. But, admit it: Did you really do the reading? Or did you do what all the other smart kids did and fake your way through the quizzes and reading groups?
“Mmm, this is delicious!”
Once you pass 40, “party” more frequently starts to turn into “dinner party.” Oftentimes, the food really is quite good! Every now and then, though, it’s, um… Well, we’d never admit that out loud. And neither would you.
“I’m trying to watch less TV and read more books.”
“The reception is atrocious near my house.”
Hey, sometimes you just don’t feel like answering a call. No shame!
Here’s a rude move: Blank-faced staring someone in the eyes, right after they tell a joke, and saying, “I don’t get it” (or, worse, “That wasn’t funny”). Here’s a polite move: Laughing along anyway.
“I’m trying to spend less money.”
Keeping expenses down is a noble goal. But, once you pass 40, it becomes considerably more difficult. According to research out of George Washington University, health care costs only go up with age (not that you needed science to tell you that). And if you throw a kid or two into the mix, there’s no way life gets cheaper.
“I’ve gotta go pick up the kids.”
It only works for parents, of course, but if you’re ever in need (or want) of a quick exit, this is the perfect line. The fact that band practice isn’t over for another hour can be your little secret.
“I’ll be right there!”
We’ve all sent this text. Here’s the translation: “I’m hopping in the shower right now.”
“Sure, send me your résumé. I’ll pass it on.”
When you’re fresh out of school, step number one is: Mine every last personal connection you have, send out a copies of your résumé to each of them, and hope to all that is holy that it lands on the desk of someone important. When you pass 40, you’re on the flip side—and you get a first-hand look that, years ago, your mom’s friend’s brother might not have been as diligent in pushing your paperwork as you imagined.
“I’m training for a marathon.”
You can technically still say you are training for a marathon even if you don’t ever actually run it, right?
“Right, yes, we met at…”
Their face looks familiar, but you can’t quite put a name to it—or a memory about when you met. Hey, that’s totally fine. And don’t just take it from us: take it from science. As one study in Nature Communications revealed, it’s far more difficult to recall faces out of context. So, if you’ve met a guy at a work function or two, then bumped into at a coffee shop and are totally blanking, don’t beat yourself up.
“Sorry, officer, I don’t know how fast I was going.
Each year, according to a National Motorists Association estimate, more than 25 million speeding tickets are issued. By the time you pass 40 (in years, not MPH), there’s a good bet you’ve been one of those 25 million—and there’s an equally good bet you’ve dropped this line in an attempt to weasel your way out of a fee.
[Lists Microsoft Excel on a résumé.]
Sure, maybe you’ve handed in projects complete with thorough, complicated, Turing-tier spreadsheets. But let’s be real: the junior staffers input all that data. It’s not anything to be ashamed of, though! According to one recent poll, nearly half of all workers admit to lying on their résumés.
“The Porsche? I just bought it because I like it. No mid-life crisis here!”
It happens to the best of us.
“Music was objectively better when I was a kid.”
Maybe you like the music from your youth more, but that doesn’t mean it’s ipso facto better. If the names Juice WRLD, Ava Max, and Kodak Black don’t ring a bell—and in fact sound like shopping mall chains—the only thing that means is that you’ve lost touch with the music scene. (As of this writing, all three artists are on the Billboard 100.)
“I don’t want to go full gray yet—it looks bad.”
Maybe you believe this in your heart of hearts, but it’s still a lie. Gray hair looks amazing! Exhibit A: John Slattery. Exhibit B: Helen Mirren. Exhibit C: Steve Carell. Exhibit D… Okay, y0u get the point.
“When I was your age, I was scouted.”
No one’s doubting your athletic prowess, but varsity captain does not a pro athlete make. It’s the “I have a girlfriend…she just goes to another school!” of former athletes looking to relive some long-lost glory. Our recommendation? No need to puff yourself up. Play a new position: mentor. Pass on your skills.
“Teens these days have it way too easy.”
In a lot of ways, yes, life is easier for kids today. But that says nothing about the stratospheric levels of pressure they’re facing: rising school costs, countless extracurriculars, and the M.O. to bring home a 4.0 GPA. (Oh, and then there’s all the social messiness of teenage life.) As a result, according to research out of the American Psychological Association, teens today report the same level of stress as adults. So, sure, life might have been less cushy when you were a teen. You just need to ask yourself one question: were you as high-strung as Mom and Dad?
C’mon: just own it! Start by running down The 40 Best Ways to Conquer Your 40s.
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