20 Teenage Bad Habits Older People Still Have

The Pavlovian imprint is strong for many of us.

There are plenty of things we do as teens that most of us grow out of by adulthood: copying every fashion fad, decorating our walls with posters, or voluntarily spending our precious free time wandering through malls numbering among them. However, for many of us, we don't simply outgrow those less-than-stellar teenage habits just because we're a few years older and wiser.

In fact, countless adults still have the same fashion, food, and friendship habits they did as teens—only now, they're getting in the way of better relationships, careers, and the seemingly never-ending quest to shed those last 10 pounds. If you're guilty of these holdover teenage habits, you might be holding yourself back. And when you want to improve your adult life, ditch the 30 Worst Habits for People Over 30.

Eating All Day

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The world may have felt like one all-day buffet to you as a teen. The problem? For many of us, that's true well into adulthood. However, for those watching their weight, it may not be a bad idea to close the kitchen: intermittent fasting, where you only eat during a specific period each day, has been linked to significant weight loss. And when you want to jumpstart your own slimdown, make sure you forget the 40 Weight Loss "Secrets" That Don't Work.

Biting Your Nails

nail art, what not to wear, women

Your hands are one of the dirtiest parts of your body, your nails being even more bacteria-ridden yet. However, that doesn't stop plenty of adults from continuing to bite their nails: in fact, research suggests that as much as 30 percent of the population engages in this icky behavior. Want to change those bad behaviors for good? Start with the 40 Ways to Develop New Habits After 40.

Not Flossing

things women over 40 need to know

Flossing probably wasn't something you gave too much mind to in your teenage years, and unfortunately, for many adults, the same is true. According to the American Dental Association, up to 20 percent of adults say they never floss. And for a healthier, more beautiful smile, discover the 20 Secrets for Whiter Teeth After 40.

Procrastinating at Work

being naturally messy says a lot about a cluttered personality

Putting off that 10-page paper until the night before it's due didn't work for you as a teenager, and putting off work until the very last minute isn't going to do much for your career, either. Procrastination is one of those habits that's as deeply-ingrained as it is hard to break, but that feeling of freedom when you meet your deadlines just can't be beat.

Washing "Dry Clean Only" Clothes

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Dry cleaning seems like a pretty big expense as a teenager, leading many a cashmere sweater to get thrown into the machine when you're younger. Unfortunately, many adults don't think twice about reading the labels on their garments either, inadvertently ruining their clothes along the way.

Not Packing a Lunch

Paper bag on counter

A packed lunch from mom was probably about the most embarrassing thing you could think of as a teen. Unfortunately, feeling the same way as an adults be having disastrous effects on both our waistlines and our wallets, with the average American spending more than $3,000 each year on dining out, and research suggesting that our home-cooked meals tend to be less caloric and more nutritious than those we buy.


commonly misspelled words

There's no denying that gossiping can be fun when you're a teenager. Unfortunately, too many adults still gossip behind the backs of their loved ones, ruling them out as a trusted confidante for members of their social circle. And when you're ready to improve your life, break the 40 Worst Habits for People Over 40.

Not Thanking People

hobbies for your 40s

As teens, many people don't give much thought to thanking the people helping them out, from teachers to parents. Unfortunately, getting rusty in the "please and thanks" department often carries over into adulthood as well. But thank people anyway: research suggests it can boost their self-esteem. Want more reasons to say thanks? Discover the 5 Ways Being Thankful Will Change Your Life.

Shopping Hungry

couple in a grocery store shopping aisle

As teens, many of us simply headed to the store for a snack whenever the mood struck. Sadly, doing the same as an adult can have disastrous consequences, like a fridge filled with cookie dough and entirely devoid of veggies.

Not Tipping Enough

Woman and money, Bad Dating Marriage Tips

Most teens don't have a ton of disposable income, meaning they're probably not the best tippers in any given restaurant. However, being a stingy tipper as an adult is even less charming, and for many people, a pretty tough habit to break. And worse yet, research suggests that a shocking number of adults tip well below the commonly-accepted 20 percent threshold.

Not Saving

Budgeting money

That paltry paycheck you earned as a teen probably didn't allow you to put much away for a rainy day. Sadly, many adults aren't doing much better. In fact, a study from Bankrate reveals that nearly a quarter of adults say they don't have any money saved for an unexpected expense.

Wasting Time Online

save money on clothes

Those hours you spent chatting with your friends and downloading music may have given way to your time-wasting habits online as an adult. In fact, research reveals that the average adult spends a shocking 10 hours in front of a screen every day.

Dressing Sloppily

ripped denim jeans

Those flip flops and ripped jeans that were your uniform as a teenager have an unfortunate habit of following us into adulthood. While it may be tempting to keep those comfy clothes around as an adult, a wardrobe that wouldn't be out of place at Burning Man probably won't do much good when you're looking to land that promotion.


Everyday Energy Killers

Those TV binges that you enjoyed as a teen really don't need to follow you into adulthood. In fact, one study suggests that binge-watching may actually make it harder to get a good night's sleep, setting us up for fatigue, irritability, and weight gain.

Ghosting People

checking emails Life Easier

Leaving a relationship by simply abandoning it is a go-to move for countless teenagers too shy to break someone's heart in person. Unfortunately, plenty of adults do it, too: research from Plenty of Fish reveals that 80 percent of Millennials admitted they'd received the same treatment in the past.

Leaving Dishes in the Sink

Husband doing dishes

As a teenager, leaving your dishes in the sink quickly became your parents' problem. As an adult, you've got nobody but yourself to blame for this gross habit that many of us still participate in. And considering that your sink could be harboring everything from E.coli to drug-resistant bacteria, it's probably a good idea to not add any more ickiness in the form of moldy food to the mix.

Telling White Lies

Couple Talking Over Coffee Romance

So, you said you turned in that term paper when you didn't, the world didn't end. Unfortunately, that habit, which many of us are still guilty of as adults, can lead to much bigger problems in the long run. In fact, research suggests that telling small lies can make us feel less guilty about the big ones, contributing to serious dishonesty over time.

Not Planning Ahead

bad puns

Flying by the seat of your pants as a teen makes a lot of sense. However, this is a hard habit to break as an adult, and one many of us continue participating in, to our detriment, and to the detriment of our relationships, too.


habits after 40

If money was always burning a hole in your pocket as a teenager, odds are the same is true in your adult life. In fact, according to one survey, 49 percent of Americans polled admitted to emotionally overspending.

Using Your Phone in Bed

habits after 40

If you grew up in the age of smartphones, odds are you lost more than a few hours of sleep texting your friends or watching YouTube videos in bed as a teen. Unfortunately, many of us haven't grown out of that habit as adults: research suggests we spend more than four hours on our phone each day, with three percent of people admitting to actually sleeping with their phone in hand. And when you want to break up with your digital device, discover the 11 Easy Ways to Conquer Your Smartphone Addiction!

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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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