40 Things People Say That Will Offend You If You're Over 40

Calling a woman a cougar? Not a compliment.

People assume a lot about people in their 40s, often believing that this decade is the beginning of a slow decline, when life inevitably stops being as fun or interesting as it was in the decades that preceded it. In fact, even the most well-intentioned people will say some truly ignorant things about people in their 40s, often causing unintentional offense in the process.

If you're over 40, these all-too-common statements and questions are bound to make you feel a little offended when you hear them. So read on, and utter them at your own risk! And luckily, when you want to clean up your own act verbally, you can start by cutting these 40 Phrases No Man Over 40 Should Ever Say from your vocabulary.

"You Still Seem Young"

sexting over 40

Why is it that, when people hit 40, everyone wants to tell them that they still seem young? With people living longer and longer, being in your 40s is still pretty young. And when you want to feel more youthful in no time, start by adding the 25 Foods That'll Keep You Young Forever to your menu!

"You're Middle-Aged"

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Those two dreaded words: middle aged. If you identify as such in your 40s, go for it, but it's not exactly welcome when someone else tells you that's how you'll be classified for the foreseeable future. And when you want to clean up your vocabulary, start by ditching the 40 Things No One Should Ever Say at Work.

"You Don't Look Your Age"

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While it's nice to feel like you have nice skin or a youthful energy, being told that you don't look your age, as though looking over 40 is somehow horrible, is no compliment. Luckily, when you do want to shave a few years off your age, the 15 Best Men's Haircuts for Looking Instantly Younger are a good place to start.

"You Look Good For Your Age"

40 compliments

Similar, but offensive in a different way, "you look good for your age" basically means that someone thinks that people automatically stop being attractive at 40. Hint: it's not true. And when you want to turn back the clock, discover the 20 Secrets of Ageless Celebrities!

"You're So Tech-Savvy"

habits after 40
nito / Shutterstock

While not every 40-something is as tech-savvy as your average teen, it's not exactly complimentary to hear that it's amazing that you own a smartphone. Most 40-somethings grew up in the age of technology, too. Want to up your own tech game? Start with these 10 Tech Items You Never Knew You Needed.

"I Love That You're Aging Gracefully"

older woman smiling

If you want to offend someone over 40, we have two words for you: aging gracefully. While it's great to let nature take its course, it's also not anyone else's business if you feel inclined to get a nip here or a tuck there. And when you want to look even better, check out the 40 Ways to Look Younger After 40.

"You Need to Lower Your Standards"

50 compliments

Along with plenty of other ageist things that people insist upon saying to people over 40, people are eager to offend by offering up this unhelpful piece of advice. The good news? High standards have no expiration date. Ready to improve your dating game? Start with the 40 Best Dating Tips for Men Over 40.

"Older Women Are Sexy"

50 compliments

While, of course, it's flattering to feel like you're in the same group as the Salma Hayeks and the Julianne Moores of the world, hearing a blanket "older women are sexy" isn't exactly a compliment. Women over 40 aren't a monolith, and while yes, plenty of them are attractive, it starts to feel a little creepy if someone only likes you because of your age. And when you want to regain that youthful vibrancy, start with the 40 Ways to Have More Energy After 40.

"Do Younger Women Intimidate You?"

confused woman

Would it be nice to have the metabolism we had at 18? Sure. Do we sometimes long for the days when we could go out all night and make it to work bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on four hours of sleep? Of course. Does that mean people over 40 are actually intimidated by those things? No way. This phrase may be a no-go but you can still wow her with your words with the 20 Compliments Women Can't Resist.

"You Can't Wear That"

New dresses

Whether it's a miniskirt, a pair of sky-high heels, or a bright new hair color, anyone who says that being over 40 means you have to abide by a bunch of new, boring wardrobe rules, is narrow-minded and rude. And when you want to refresh your wardrobe, start with the 40 Tips For Dressing Well in Your 40s.

"Is it Depressing to Get Older?"

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Of course, there are things that are things that aren't great about getting older. However, it's hard not to be offended when people assume that everything about being over 40 is a major bummer. In fact, for many people, being 40-plus means increased confidence, stronger social connections, and increased responsibility—and the paycheck to go along with it—at work.

"You're Too Old to Have Kids"

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While it may be true that conceiving naturally gets more difficult, it's pretty silly—and offensive—to hear that just because you haven't found the right person a decade or two earlier, you should never have kids.

"You're Over the Hill"

happy over 40 woman dating

The three words that will incite ire in anyone over 40? Over the hill. The idea that you're somehow past your prime the second the clock strikes midnight on your 40th birthday is as silly as it is rude.

"Aren't You Afraid of Dying Alone?"

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It's safe to assume that most people don't relish the thought of shuffling off this mortal coil. However, that doesn't mean it's okay to ask someone who's single or childless in their 40s if the idea of leaving this world alone keeps them up at night.

"Act Your Age"

40 compliments

So what if someone still loves reading comic books or staying out all night over 40? The idea that hitting 40 means you need to suddenly become a very serious adult is patently silly. And besides, here are 40 Reasons Being in Your 40s Is the Best Thing Ever!

"You're Still Cool"

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While it's not that bad to hear that you're cool, the idea that you're doing something groundbreaking by still having fun over 40 is pretty offensive.

"Do You Regret Not Having Kids?"

jumping on bed Travel with Children

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, you're over 40 and haven't had kids, or are single, you'll probably get asked this offensive question with surprising frequency.

"You Should Try Online Dating"

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Considering that 95 percent of Americans have a cell phone, odds are your average single 40-something knows that you can meet people online. However, this question for the over-40 single set is offensive in two ways: it presumes that you don't already know how to download dating apps, and that meeting someone in person is suddenly off-limits because you hit 40.

"Are You Worried About Menopause?"

habits after 40

While menopause is a reality for a significant portion of the over-40 population, much like any other bodily change, getting a barrage of questions about it from well-meaning friends—or worse yet, strangers—is pretty obviously offensive.

"You Seem Overqualified"

Interview, Job Application

Ageism is a real thing in the workplace and can make it daunting, if not terrifying, to change careers over 40. Unfortunately, regardless of what your résumé says, "overqualified" is often coded language for "we're afraid we'd have to pay you too much" or "we'd rather hire a 20-something."

"You're Such a Cougar"

Women Typing Life Easier

That some women date younger men is just a fact of life. However, hearing that you're a cougar for not exclusively dating people your own age is anything but complimentary.

"Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride"

bride and groom hanging out with friends Never do at a Wedding

Some adages are folksy and quaint. This one, which is often used to take digs at women who aren't married by a certain age, is just rude.

"You Seem Tired"

hilarious words

It should come as no surprise that most people don't look the same at 40 as they do at 20. However, having to hear that you "look tired" all the time because you're aging like a human being is among the more annoying statements you'll be subject to at this age.

"Wrinkles Show Character"

shirtless man in mirror

A character-free face doesn't seem like something anyone should aspire to. However, being told that the lines on your face are what's giving it character is not a compliment by anyone's standards.

"Life Begins at 40"

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While it's great to know that there are still so many opportunities available to you in your 40s, the idea that life begins at 40 is equally silly and offensive. What about, you know, all those decades you spent getting to where you are now?

"You're So Confident for Someone Your Age"

Procrastination, productivity

Confidence has no age limit, but this offensive phrase sure makes it seem as though being over 40 means your baseline should be bummed out.

"I Bet You Regret Not Getting Married"

Bride and groom at wedding

Although you'll probably have plenty of friends who are married by the time they hit 40, relationships aren't one-size-fits-all. Unfortunately, that won't stop people from assuming that being single over 40 isn't your choice, but some sad state you've found yourself in.

"You Should Start Dyeing Your Hair"

hair dye Never Buy

A few gray or white hairs never hurt anyone, despite what your friends or family members might tell you. Sadly, that probably won't stop people from occasionally suggesting that you do everything in your power to return your hair to its former color.

"You're So Brave to Put Yourself Out There"

essential dating tips for men over 40

Being a firefighter is brave. Battling a serious illness is brave. Going for drinks with someone you find cute when you're over 40? Just kind of what people do.

"You're Like My Mom/Dad"

Middle Age mom and daughter , worst dating phrases

By the time you hit 40, it's not unlikely that you may be a parent. However, whether you are or not, nobody wants to hear that they're like their 20- or 30-something co-worker's mom or dad.

"You're Like My Grandma/Grandpa"

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Worse yet, if you're over 40, you might get slapped with the occasional grandma or grandpa comparison. Take note: it's well within your rights to shut down anyone who says this to you.

"My Friend Got Married at Your Age"

Marriage Proposal by Water

Many people seem to have it stuck in their heads that nobody over 40 could possibly start a new relationship. Case in point: how many people will eagerly tell you about their inspirational friend who still managed to snag a partner over 40.

"You're Too Old For That"

words and phrases no man over 40 should ever say

Whether it's skateboarding, Pilates, a new career, or that outfit you were about to wear out, people love to tell members of the over-40 crowd all the things they've apparently aged out of.

"It Will Happen When You Aren't Expecting It"

40 compliments

While many people do find that wonderful things happen in their life when they're not anticipating them, this offensive statement makes it seem as though people over 40 who haven't achieved certain arbitrary milestones are just waiting for them to happen. Or worse, that being over 40 means you can hope for good things, but shouldn't expect them.

"Are You Going to Start Lying About Your Age?"

40 compliments

Turning 40 doesn't have to be some big secret. The bad news? That probably won't keep people from suggesting you play the "I'm turning 35 again!" card.

"You Should Get Back Out There"

Couple Having Picnic Valentine's Day simple pleasures

So, your relationship ended and now you've found yourself single in your 40s. While this may not have been part of your original plan, the idea that you'll lose your shot at happiness if you don't start dating again immediately is pretty silly.

"Your Good Birthdays Are Behind You"

birthday cupcake

Was turning 21 a more exciting birthday than turning 43? Sure. Does that mean you've got nothing to look forward to on your birthday from here on out? Of course not! You don't stop getting cake and presents just because you turned 40.

"Better Late Than Never"

man with a rubber watch

While yes, it may be better to get the things you want in your life at 40-something than it is to never have them at all, who says that achieving a goal at 40 isn't right on schedule?

"Don't You Want Grandkids?"

compliments women can't resist

Many people look forward to a future with grandkids in it. However, just because someone doesn't have kids by the time they're 40-something doesn't exactly mean they've missed out, either.

"You Missed Your Chance"

couple outdoors by house laughing

Turning 40 is far from the end of the world. If someone tells you that you missed your chance to do something just because you've hit 40, tell them this: "I'm just getting started." And when you're ready to make the most of this amazing decade, the 40 Ways to Conquer Your 40s are a great place to start.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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