40 Things No One Over 40 Should Have to Put Up With
If you're in your 40s or beyond, you have no time for these things.
At 17 years old, you're legally allowed to drive in most states. At 18, you can vote. At 21, you're old enough to drink. But what special privileges do you get when you reach 40? Not a whole lot, it turns out. You'd think after four decades on the planet, a person would be deserving of some perks, but that's not the way the cookie crumbles. And to be clear, there's nothing in particular we want in our 40s; it's more that there are certain things we'd like to experience less. After all, at this age, we deserve to be spared some of life's most annoying inconveniences. So it's high time we put our feet down. Here, we present you with the 40 things that nobody in their 40s or older should have to put up with anymore.
Sleeping on the couch
In our 20s, any flat and mildly soft surface is enough to get us a good night's sleep. But after 40, don't even think about asking us to sleep on a couch. Frankly, even a futon seems unreasonable. It's a mattress with just the right amount of lumbar support or nothing. We're not kidding about this. We value a comfortable mattress more than food or clothing. It's that essential to our physical and emotional wellbeing.
Going out on the weekend just because you feel obligated to
There is no more FOMO (fear of missing out) when you reach 40 years old. What we fear most is being talked into going out on a Friday night rather than sticking hard to our first choice: staying in our pajamas, wrapped in a blanket, munching on a bowl of popcorn while binge-watching our favorite TV shows. Always trust your instincts in your 40s. Your gut will lead you back to the pajamas every time.
Hearing your favorite hit songs and shows described as "retro" or "nostalgic"
Yes, we 40-somethings are well aware that the movies, TV shows, and music that we grew up loving aren't considered contemporary anymore. But do we really need to be reminded that it's been 25 years since Friends premiered, or that all the music that once made us feel alive and understood is now considered "classic rock"? Go ahead and call it nostalgia, but for us, it still feels as relevant and timely as ever.
A career that's going nowhere
It's amazing what a 20-something will put up with in the spirit of paying their dues. At 40, our dues have already been paid—with interest. If we're not finally on a career trajectory that's heading somewhere promising, with salary bumps and promotions a foregone conclusion, then it might be time to consider a change. Sure, it can be scary to start over at mid-life, but not nearly as scary as being 40 and realizing that you're stuck in a dead-end job.
Every moment of life is precious, and that includes the minutes (and sometimes hours) stuck behind the wheel during rush hour traffic. Nobody likes an endless commute, but those of us 40 and older are acutely aware that our lives would be better spent literally anywhere else. It's like we can hear the clock of mortality ticking as we let precious life slip away listening to talk radio while honking at the car ahead of us to "just move already!"
Adult kids who won't move out
A 2019 study published in the journal PLOS One found that having children really does bring happiness and emotional wellbeing… after they move out of the house. The only problem is, adult kids are waiting longer and longer to take the hint and find a place of their own. You love your kids—of course you do. But wouldn't you be much happier if you saw them on weekends and holidays, with some time to yourself in between?
People in their 20s who say "I'm too tired"
When you reach 40, you realize what true bone-tired exhaustion actually feels like. Yes, we remember what it was like to be 20—and in hindsight, we weren't actually tired then. We were just lazy! You're not there yet, kids, so quit the pretendin'!
Being asked to be something you're not
Compromise is a part of life, sure. But by 40, we should be comfortable enough in our own skin not to play those games of trying to fit in anymore. To paraphrase Popeye, at this stage of life, we am what we am and that's all that we am.
Being scared of making mistakes
Here's a little something you learn after being on the planet for 40 years: Mistakes are going to happen. In fact, you're going to make lots and lots of mistakes. That's just part of being human. Being afraid of making a mistake is like trembling in fear that you're going to have to take a shower eventually. We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but it's kind of unavoidable.
Or beating yourself up for past mistakes
Forgiveness in general is something we could all practice a little more often, but the one person we almost always forget to forgive is the one staring back at us in the mirror. At 40, you shouldn't still be wallowing in your mistakes, beating yourself up for every bad decision or error in judgment. If you don't let yourself off the hook occasionally, you're going to spend more time criticizing yourself rather than correcting course.
Being in relationships for the wrong reasons
Whether it's with a spouse, a close friend, or even a colleague at work, you start to hold your relationships to a higher standard when you're over 40, because you realize it's quality, not quantity, that counts. It's not worth the emotional effort required to sustain a relationship if you're not getting anything positive out of it. Of course, you've always deserved better than negative relationships. But by 40, you should finally believe it.
Being called "sir" or "ma'am"
In 2010, The New York Times conducted an informal poll of women between the ages of 20 and 65 and found that just over 7 percent of respondents liked being called "ma'am." If even women in their 20s dislike the word, you can only imagine what those who are 40 or older think!
Not spending time with family
It's so easy when you're in your 20s to think that you'll always have your parents around. But that's not how life works, and that becomes increasingly apparent in your 40s and older. Not that we spend every day worrying about our loved ones disappearing; we just realize that every phone call we blow off or holiday we skip is something we're going to regret someday.
We could waste our time trying to figure out what millennials mean by "salty," or why everyone is so "thirsty" and worried about getting "shade" from their "bae" because it's "turnt" or whatever, but honestly it's just not all that interesting to us. At 40, not being able to decipher modern slang is hardly upsetting.
People who ask about your medical history who aren't your doctor
It's very peculiar that, when you reach a certain age, suddenly everybody feels like it's okay to weigh in on your health. Nobody asks somebody in their 20s if they have a history of heart disease, or how many times a week they engage in aerobic activity. We're perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves, and, though we appreciate your concern, we also really wish you'd keep it to yourself.
Being judged about dessert
As 40-somethings, we're not fans of people who give us the side-eye when we order dessert, or say things like, "Are you sure you want to eat that?" Of course we're sure! It's dessert! There are so few things in life that bring pure bliss, so surely we can be forgiven for enjoying the occasional slice of pie. And if we can't be forgiven? Tough beans, we're eating it anyway!
Bucket lists are something that people make when they realize the end is near. As far as we're concerned, we still have many years ahead of us, and we certainly don't need a checklist of places to see before we leave this mortal coil. How about instead of a "bucket list," which has such a finality to it, we just call it "next summer's vacation plans"?
Every little slight against you and every moment you're certain you've been wronged might feel like the end of the world when you're younger. But after 40, we start to realize how petty it is to walk around with permanent chips on our shoulders. The truth is, being angry at somebody forever doesn't actually accomplish anything.
Being able to forgive, or even muster the courage to say you're sorry, on the other hand, is a sign of maturity. And more than that, it's about the realization that life is finite, and the people in your world are more important than a silly grudge.
How many days and weeks did we waste in our 20s worrying that we weren't good enough or smart enough or funny enough? Too many. Self-doubt is a minefield of our own creation. And when you're 40 and beyond, you realize that.
Social media squabbles
Most battles on Facebook and Twitter happen between people who don't actually know each other in real life. They're strangers trying to fill the void in their soul by punching down at someone they'll likely never meet in person who just so happens to disagree with them. It is a completely pointless way to expend your energy and most over-40-somethings know this to be true.
What's "trending" online
The last time we cared about what was trending, it was when the TV show M*A*S*H was having its series finale. These days, it seems like everybody cares too much about things that matter too little. By the time you actually find out what's been trending on Twitter, everybody else has already moved on to something else and you've just wasted half your day. It's just not worth it.
We shouldn't have to jump through hoops to make someone love us. And when you're 40 or older, you're officially done with auditioning for affection. If someone doesn't like you exactly as you are, flaws and all, then it's officially time to move on to greener pastures.
Trying to buy happiness
We're not saying a fancy new sports car won't make you happy for a little bit—there's a reason it's the most clichéd purchase for people struggling with a mid-life crisis—but it's a fleeting happiness, the kind that doesn't stick to your ribs or have any meaningful impact on your emotional health. You want happiness? Put down the credit card and dig a little deeper inside your heart.
Worrying over things you can't control
In other words, worrying about 99.9 percent of life. You can't control other people's happiness, what they think, what they do, the past, the future, or how you're going to be remembered. Just do your best and keep a positive attitude. The rest will take care of itself.
Avoiding the doctor
Excuses like "I'm sure it's nothing" or "I'm too busy to make an appointment" just don't cut it when you're 40. Not seeing the doctor when you're feeling sick or have strange symptoms is maybe something a 20-year-old could get away with, but you're not at an age anymore when you can hedge your bets and just hope that everything is fine. You simply have to get checked out.
Living up to your parents' expectations
Look, we all still care what our parents think sometimes, but after 40, you shouldn't be looking to them for approval constantly. If they like the decisions you've made with your life, that's great. But if they don't, that's fine too, as long as you're confident in your life choices and they're making you happy.
The occasional maxed-out credit card is one thing, but if you have a financial debt with more zeros than your savings account, you need to seriously reprioritize where you're putting your paycheck.
Hangovers at any age are the worst, but nothing comes with quite as much existential regret as a hangover when you're over 40. Because, c'mon, shouldn't you know better by now? When you're in your 20s, you're still figuring out your body and how alcohol affects it. But at 40, you should know your limits, and be well aware that putting that much booze in your system only leads to one possible scenario, and it's not a good one.
Searching for missing socks
It's a dilemma so old, it's become a stand-up comedy cliché. Why does one sock in a pair invariably disappear during a laundry cycle? Where did it go? Where is it hiding? It's a fascinating enigma when we're younger. But at 40, we've long since stopped caring about solving that particular mystery. The sock is gone. Put the other one in the trash and move on.
Being asked to help someone move
Even if there's going to be pizza and beer, at 40, we're not helping anyone carry a couch up three flights of stairs. We're all old enough to hire pros (and our backs aren't what they used to be).
Hair dyes that look ridiculous
It's not about vanity, it's just that sometimes we get freaked out by a touch of grey in our beards or a smattering of white near our temples. So we go out and buy one of those home hair coloring kits, because how hard can it be? Well, have you ever seen one of those 40-something guys whose beard is about five shades darker than the hair on his head? Trust us, he knows how absurd he looks. Just do him a favor and avert your gaze.
Where are these things even coming from? One day, you can walk out of the house wearing a pair of shorts and it's no big deal, and the next thing you know, you have these bulging lines on your legs. Not cool, whoever's responsible for this! Not cool!
Unsolicited AARP invitations
Listen, we appreciate all the discounts that come with being an AARP member, but we don't recall ever asking to be put on their mailing list.
Yeah, sure, everybody hates winter. But when you're in your 20s and 30s, it's just a minor inconvenience. When you're 40 or older, you feel cold all the time. Winter becomes an endless cycle of clothes layering and constantly checking the thermostat. Winter is why people start thinking, "Hmm, maybe moving to Florida is a good idea after all."
Losing friends over politics
We're all for voting and feeling passionate about democracy, but we're not about to alienate our friends or family or anybody else who truly matters to us because of something as silly as different political beliefs. We may think that someone else's choice in a candidate is off-the-walls bonkers, but we value personal relationships over trying to convince someone that their every political belief is wrong.
Jealousy is a perfectly acceptable emotion… if you're 13 and worried that the love of your life might be spending too much time making doe eyes with that cutie in math class. But it's not something that a person with a job and a 401(k) should have vested any time or interest in. In your 40s and beyond, you're too confident in what you have and who you are for that.
Clothing that's fashionable and/or trendy
Are skinny jeans back in style? Oh, cool. People over 40 will be thrilled to hear this news, so they can continue to not wear them and feel perfectly fine with that decision! There comes a point in life when you care less about how you look and more about how you feel. Clothing that binds, pinches, or exposes way too much skin does not feel especially good to us anymore.
Reading the comments
If you're looking for a great way to raise your blood pressure, then sure, go ahead and read the comments. But if you want to avoid reading some of the most hateful, passive aggressive, grammatically-challenged arguments between strangers, then go ahead and skip the comment section altogether. It's the lesson of online survival that every person over 40 has learned.
A slow metabolism
Every decade, your metabolism gets slower and slower. So, by the time we're 40, we're just not burning calories at the same rate we did as college students—which is, to say the least, annoying.
Criticism for being "old-fashioned"
If it means that you're old-fashioned if you hold the door for somebody, or prefer a paper newspaper to a digital one, or think you should be respectful of your elders, then fine, call us old-fashioned. We take it as a compliment, not an insult. And for more about life in your fifth decade, You Know You're Over 40 If You Own These Things.
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