Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

What is Age Appropriate?

So, a few weeks ago I was out with friends, at a , and I overheard a women (who was a good 10-15 years my junior) say that she didn’t think it was appropriate for older women to be out drinking in bars, acting like they were still in their 20s.

She was a stranger, talking to her friends, and happened to be sitting on the barstool next to me. I don’t know if she was talking about me (as people are always telling me I look younger than 40 – my actual age) but maybe she was. And maybe she was one of those super-rude people who says things like that in the hopes that she’ll be overheard by the person she was insulting.

Whatever. Whether she was talking about me and my friends (who were in my age group) and/or wanted us to hear… completely irrelevant.  Life is too short to worry about nonsense like that.

I was more interested in the idea. Is it somehow NOT appropriate to go out and drink with your friends after 40 (or 35, or 45 or some other random number)?

Really, what I find interesting is the concept of age-appropriate behavior. I hear the phrase (age-appropriate) tossed around a lot. And it frequently baffles me.

I’ve had people tell me that my lifestyle is not age-appropriate. Because, I guess, I’m still and am not rushing to settle down (and am comfortable with the idea that I may never settle down). And I go out with my friends for or dinner or and still occasionally go out to parties and don’t have anything or anyone tying me down.

Like, I guess, I’m still in my 20s.

Except, what difference does my age make? I do these things because I enjoy them. And because I CAN.

Sure, lots of people my age have spouses and/or kids and responsibilities that preclude weekly brunches and frequents nights out.

But I refuse to buy into the narrative that those other people have made appropriate choices and I am, somehow, living an inappropriate life.

Sorry, no.

Different, yes.  Nontraditional, absolutely.  Inappropriate – bite me.

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21 to “What is Age Appropriate?”

  1. “A woman has the age she deserves.”
    — Coco Chanel (19 August 1883 – 10 January 1971) Pioneering French fashion designer.


  2. sandyvs says:

    I hope that dumb bitch remembers that comment when she’s 40 and sitting at a bar with her friends. Better yet, someone says that to her. People are always telling me I don’t look or act 54. I use the Gloria Steinam reply, “This is what 54 looks and acts like”.

  3. I know people in their 40s who act and look like they are in their 60s. I consider THAT age inappropriate :-)

    What that idiot doesn’t get — and won’t until she is 40+ — is that you don’t really age in your mind. It is one of the unexpected things you discover as you get older. Your face changes, you become more serene, you look at the long view more readily, your body aches in odd places but while you may acknowledge your age on an intellectual level, you don’t “think” old.

    The benefit of age is the ability to calmly hear dumb stuff from young people, knowing how wrong the speaker is and knowing only the cruel experience of their own aging will convince them otherwise. By then, it will be too late.

  4. Dennis Hong says:

    I think it depends on where you are.

    I finally came to the realization last summer that I’m probably too old to be drinking at Chuck E. Cheese’s.


  5. NotYetCrazyCatLady says:

    Oh hell no! If I acted as old as I looked, I’d be living in a retirement village in Florida. And I’d still go out drinking with my girlfriends! Did she mean a ‘group’ or did she mean one ‘old’ lady sitting on a barstool throwing back shots and hitting on the bartender who is probably 1/3 her age? Cuz I think I would look sideways at that and hope like hell that isn’t me when I’m ‘that age’. I’ve had a friend who is just a year older than me make comments like “we are too old for that” and it seriously pisses me off. Do what you like and what feels good; who cares what others think…their opinions really don’t matter. Don’t ever ‘not’ do something because you’re ‘too old’. Really, whose definition of ‘too old’ wins?

    • Simone Grant says:

      One of the great things about being adult, IMO, is realizing that you really can live by your own rules. I stopped paying much attention to what other people want me to do ages ago:-)

  6. GT says:

    I’m 40. I avoid bars at all costs. Intimate lounges are fine. I stay away from the twentysomething haunts. Lots of young girls being loud and young guys getting too drunk.

    The only things people our age “should” be is financially responsible. The rest is subjective.

  7. Ah, youth. Those perfectly unlined lips often utter the stupidest things. Some day she will be sitting at a bar on her 50 year old ass and never remember what she said. In the meantime, her ignorance may keep her from ever having a real relationship. Methinks she has other prejudices that will rear their ugly heads along the way.

  8. pups4me says:

    I’m over 40 and my similar-age friends go out at least once a month. I’ve known these women for over 20 years….we partied in plenty of bars in our 20’s, went to bars with husbands/boyfriends/friends in our 30’s for a few drinks and to socialize, and now we’re in our 40’s and we go to restaurants that also have bars and we have dinner and/or drinks and catch each other up on what’s going on in our lives. I can’t imagine what life would be like without being able to go out with my friends for a few drinks.
    Give the girl 20 years…maybe she’ll change her tune…but until then, who cares?

    • Simone Grant says:

      As usual, I don’t really care what she (or most people think). Just a jumping off point for a post. And a random thought.
      I’m sure I said some equally stupid things in my 20s.

  9. Liz says:

    I’m pretty sure in most European countries that it is common for people of all ages to go to bars. One of the problems with life in the U.S., I think, is that we seem to think nightlife is only appropriate for those under 30, and those over 30 should all be tucked away in the suburbs within the bosom of a nuclear family. It’s just another way that our country has not caught up with the fact that single adults are an ever-increasing population.

    I think this is an interesting topic, though. One of the challenges of being a long-term single is aging without the reliable stepping stones of “maturity”– getting married, buying a home, having children, etc. I do think single people can get “stuck” in certain activities they enjoyed in their twenties because there aren’t alternatives for older singles, or they are difficult to find. I don’t want to be one of those people, so I am constantly evaluating whether I have aged out of certain activities, not only in the sense that I’m the oldest person in the room, but in the sense of whether mentally I’ve moved on without realizing it and am no longer finding the same satisfaction I once did in something. That can be painful if there’s not a replacement at hand.

    I always thought it was funny that some people were so critical of the “Sex and the City” lifestyle, decrying the materialism and shallowness of women who shopped and brunched and drank martinis. The reality is, that lifestyle is far less expensive than having children, so some of us are simply making rational economic decisions.

    By the way, I was on a treadmill at a gym in Hollywood once and the twentysomething next to me was telling her friend, “There has to be something wrong with anyone who hasn’t married by 40. Well, maybe not women, but definitely men.” I have to forgive these comments as I’m sure I thought the same thing at her age.

    • Simone Grant says:

      Indeed, one of my favorite things about spending time in the UK is pub culture. People of all ages see nothing wrong with meeting their friends out for a drink. It’s a social thing.

      Which is what it is for me. I’m a social person. I like to see my friends, to talk with them, in person. A bar is a great place to do that.

      And I love your point about being single as being less expensive than having a family. It’s so very true and so seldom acknowledged.

  10. Joe Amoia says:

    I have one philosophy I live my life by: “when someone pays my bills then they can tell me what to do & how I should live my life.” Until then opinions are like buttholes..everyone has one. Are you living the life you want and having fun in the process…that’s all that matters. Too many people (it looks like you’re not one of them…good for you!) spend their lives worrying about others and what they think. There is only one person I try to please…me. As long as I can look myself in the mirror at night and like the person looking back at me I know I’m doing ok.
    As you know the world looks a lot different to a 20 year old than it does to a 40 year old (I’m 44) so just sit back & laugh b/c you know that this young girl will learn her lesson somewhere down the line.

    • Simone Grant says:

      Thank you Joe. You are indeed correct! It’s so much easier to believe you have all the answers when you’re 20, than when you’re 40. At 40, you know better (I HOPE).

  11. AP says:

    Not only in other countries, but I’ve noticed that in other parts of the U.S. that are not NYC and L.A (I live in NYC) that it just doesn’t seem to be such a big deal for different age groups to drink at the same watering hole. I had a grand time in the honkytonks in Nashville, for instance, a few years back (I was 45 or so). Same recently for New Orleans. Sure there were bunches of young people hanging together, but it was all pretty relaxed and nobody was looking askance.