Two years ago when my fabulous friend was in her late 40s, she received a call from her supervisor, on her way to work, asking her to head straight to her office on arrival. My friend called me because she feared bad news and anticipated that she may be let go. She was right. She was made redundant, and the reason they gave did not make sense to her – her role was pretty unique to the team, and she was always very busy. However a junior, almost half her age had started recently. This younger employee was very good at sucking up and soon became very likeable to those to whom it mattered. My friend suspected she had been forced out, to make way for the younger woman. She was right.
This is not an unfamiliar story, and at the time, I wondered if it had more to do with the company’s finances i.e. younger = cheaper (which is still ageist by the way) than it had to do with direct ageism. Even though this happened only 2 years ago, at the time, it didn’t occur to me that ageism, in your 40s was happening. Why would it? We are still young, 25 years or so away from retirement age with still a lot to offer.
It’s easy to see how this may happen at the recruitment stage, but more difficult to fathom when you have been in a role for many years have been doing well.
In your 40s, you are likely to have gained considerable experience not just from the job you are doing but experiences gained outside the workplace. You bring maturity, reliability, as often, (though not always), any childcare issues are under control or no longer exist, and a work ethic beyond that possessed by any 20 year old . What’s not to love about these credentials?
Few, if any employees in their 40s, feel they are over the hill, and if they do feel this way, there is a question as to whether they are in the right job. Certainly for me, I still feel energised, ambitious and have a lot to give. At 40 you are not old, far from it, and it’s an age when you can fit in easily with those both older and younger than you, probably more so than any other age bracket.
I was happy to reassure my friend that with all the experience she had gained over the years, it would only be a matter of weeks before she found something. I was wrong. In the 9 or so years that she had been working, the world as she knew it had changed, all job opportunities were targeted towards young graduates, even those jobs which previously did not require a degree.
My friend had started off her working life as a legal secretary and had gained her experience training under a youth training scheme (remember those?) and then on the job. Over the years, she worked her way up become PA/paralegal to CEOs of multi national companies. Now it seems that organising and managing diaries require not only a degree, but expect that you should now be PA/secretary to at least 4 people and all for £25k.
This may be achievable if you are in your 20s living at home, or flat sharing, but not so easily achieved if you are in your 40s with a family, especially if you are a single parent. That was the salary my friend was earning when she was just starting out and working for no more than 2 people.
The world had become one where employers want a great deal for very little and where mature experienced women were being forced out. Perhaps that had always been the case and I was lucky enough not to have noticed.
This is quite scary. If it’s so difficult to find a role when you’re in your 40s, what on earth is going to happen if we have need to look for a job in our 50s?
My friend’s experience has been a wake up call for me not to be complacent, and to be alert to changes in the workplace e.g. if there is a whiff of potential job losses, give yourself time to look around for another job and be ahead of the competition.
This is a situation I have found myself in recently. Next year, my firm is likely to lose one of its biggest clients, and although my firm is working hard to restructure things to deal with this eventuality, to my mind, redundancies at some point, are an inevitability. With good old fashion ageism at play, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that I, as one of the oldest and more expensive in the team, will be the one to be given her P45.
Other firms that share the same client will be in the same boat, so my tactic has been to start my job search ahead of time and ahead of the competition. The experience has been daunting – its awful having to sell yourself to an employer and I am now 7 years older than I was when I last had to do this.
It’s been a while now since an employer has been prohibited from asking a candidate to put their date of birth on their CV. However it is possible to glean someone’s age from other information such as the dates you attended school/college/university so I left all of these dates out and focused on my experience.
I had one recruitment agent (he seemed to me to be about 12 years old – therein lies another problem as to who we rely on to help us get a job ) asking me to put these dates in my CV. I refused and he didn’t put me forward for the roles. However, my only what you need to know CV, has got me a number of interviews, and this week a job offer (yaaaay), and it’s taken 5 months. Sometimes it just takes getting a foot in the door to give you the opportunity to wow an employer with your fabulous self.
You are 40s and fabulous, a rejection is their loss – never give up hope x
Dating in your 40s is a nightmare for soooo many reasons, one of which is because……. you’re in your 40s.
I mentioned in a previous blog, that the woman in her 40s today, is not the same woman our mothers were. We are modern, exciting, we love fashion/make up and we like the same music as our kids (not all of it- but you get the point). Yet it is still the case that the media doesn’t get us and we are still portrayed as old.
It’s lost on me why more of us aren’t being used to advertise sexy make up and clothes, aren’t we the ones who can afford to buy it? Our collective buying power must be massive. In the eyes of advertisers, being in your 40s, isn’t mainstream, the ads targeted at us are those special clothes lines, modelled by the likes of Lorraine Kelly. These people who work in advertising must surely know women in their 40s and must know that their representation of us is out of date.
Yes women in their 40s can be sensible and practical, but we are also fabulously sexy and modern. We are more than mothers and wives. It is no wonder then that the way we are depicted in the media has a knock on effect of men’s perception of us in the dating world. Some men, (many) in their 40s, would prefer to date a woman in her 30s rather than a woman his own age because (in their eyes) she is prettier, more exciting, more fun, more likely to be impressed by him and much better for his ego. That’s what they think anyway but the reality is less true as in my experience, there is not a great deal to separate a woman in her 40s and a woman in her 30s. A woman in her 30s may well have the same baggage as a woman in her 40s, in some case she may have more. She may well have young children and therefore not have the energy to thrill and excite a man.
The reality is, that women in their 40s are the real catch. Our children are older (in many cases), so we have more independence, we have more time and if you’re lucky, more disposable income. I know I am generalising. The point is, faulty perception.
A male friend of mine, in his early 50s, admitted that he and his friends agree that there are more advantages to dating a woman in her 30s.
It pissed me off at the time as I’ve seen his friends who in the main are fat, ugly and broke. Not even i’m that desperate to date them let alone a woman in her 30s. Relationships are a trade off, and a fat unattractive, broke ass man, will need to have something to trade for the youth of a 30 year old. I have met some pretty feisty women in their 30s, so if these men truly believe that they’ll have an easier time with a 30 year old, good luck with that.
Let’s not get it twisted, we can be real picky and choosy when it comes to dating. I have friends who have an entire list of must haves, but they tend to be the ones who have been single for a decade or more. Of course you can and should have a list of must haves, but they should be realistic, so if your arse is chunky because you are too lazy or not motivated enough to go to the gym, then it’s not realistic to expect a fine specimen of a man, who looks after himself, to be attracted to you.
When it comes to dating, we women don’t look at things in the same way as men, we have no issue dating a man our own age, if we date a man younger, it’s usually just for fun unless he is mentally mature, in which case we’ll date him because he is mature not because he inflates our egos. We will also date a man older than us, if we get along. But what I have found is that with age, wisdom and experience, fewer of us are prepared to settle for someone just for the sake of having a partner.
I know that in the past I would have given the time of day to someone I wasn’t attracted to on the basis that they were nice, it would almost seem rude to brush them off without getting to know them first. Whereas now, I just cannot be arsed to go there if i’m not interested. I’m not saying you have to be rude, but just don’t waste your precious time.
It can be really difficult to meet people now. Nightclubs are a thing of the past, and if you are having an evening out with your girlfriends, you don’t really want to be interrupted by a male admirer. So how do you meet men? Online dating in theory seems the sensible answer to that. What is better than being in the comfort of your own home, with a glass of merlot in hand and scanning through an array of men? The problem is, there isn’t an array of men to chose from.
Online dating can be depressing as there are so few attractive men to choose from. Even though online dating has been a thing for years now, there are certain men ( the type I would be interested in dating), who would never go on there. They think its lame and desperate and the only men who are on there are those who can’t get a woman the normal way. This isn’t true of course; it may be an age thing as younger men are more open to. However if you are an attractive middle aged woman, looking for an attractive middle aged man, you are going to struggle meeting someone online.
I’ve dabbled and have had one partial success story. I went on Plenty of Fish (POF), which I now know was possibly the worst site I could have chosen. Apparently it’s the site of choice if you want a one night stand. Anyway I got lucky my first time on the site. I met a local guy and we dated for 2 years and although it didn’t work out, we have remained good friends and we meet up regularly.
More recently I went on Match.com and the choice of men was woeful. About 2 days in, a guy sent me a message, his profile looked good and he was 6ft + so he gained several brownie points for that alone. Within days we arranged to meet and I took all the usual safety precautions i.e. letting friends know where I was going, with whom etc. I got to the pub first and ordered a drink. When he walked in, I didn’t fancy him at all, but was prepared to make the most of the evening. He ordered a glass of wine and joked about what a lightweight he was when it came to alcohol and I thought that explained why he then went on to order water.
We left the pub to go for a stroll, when he suggested that we stop for a cocktail. I asked him what the point was if he wasn’t drinking but he said he’d have one. Well, one was all it took for him to get lively and a bit shouty. To this day I’m not clear how a person can get so drunk on one brandy alexander. Clearly there was an issue there, I’m guessing the alcohol clashed with his meds. Anyway I left and when I got home I found that he had the audacity to block me on WhatsApp before I could block him.
A couple of weeks later I was messaged by someone who again looked ok, his profile read well. The down side was that he was only 5ft 7. When we spoke on the phone we got on brilliantly it was like we’d known each other for ages and I was really excited about meeting him. When he showed up, there was no chemistry. He looked older than his photos and I just didn’t fancy him. He bought me a bunch of flowers, which was sweet, and also a teddy bear with the word love written on it, which was not so sweet and a tad creepy. I could see that he was trying to hold my hand throughout the date so I kept it occupied with the flowers. At the end of the date I told him that I wasn’t feeling it. We talked about how weird it was that you could have a rapport with someone over the phone but when you meet them in person it could be so different. It got me thinking whether I was being too superficial placing too much emphasis on chemistry, whatever that is, and I decided to give it another go. Trust your gut ladies. If you didn’t fancy him yesterday, you ain’t gonna fancy him today or tomorrow. I allowed myself to date this incredibly nice man for 2 months despite the fact that I did not fancy him. I wasted his time and mine and built his hopes up.
Part of the problem was, I didn’t want the reason for me not giving it a go , to be because he was too nice. When you say that out load, it sounds ridiculous, how can a man be too nice for me. But he was! Every morning I would wake up to you tube videos of love songs he had sent, it was nauseating, plus he would call me way too often (once a day is fine, allow me to miss you a little bit). This nice, albeit weird guy, had no life besides work and me, and he was too needy.
No more online dating for me. Without being a narcissist, i’d just like a male version of me!
Being single has its advantages. It’s a Saturday, 4pm in the afternoon, and I have not yet showered, or done anything much. Can you get away with that if there’s a man around?
Ladies, if we are destined to meet someone, it will happen in its own time but until then, don’t settle for less than you deserve.
Never be afraid of being single, it’s in your hands to make your own life interesting. Even if your pool of friends is small, make new one. Join a meet up group (https://www.meetup.com/) and meet like minded people.
You are 40s and fabulous. I’m off to take a shower x
The thing that strikes me the most about being in my 40s, is how unlike my mother I am when she was my age. She was sensible, practical, frugal and frumpy. The generation gap between her and her kids seemed huge – I think it fair to say she did not connect with her children, which probably explains why 2 ½ out of 4 of her kids don’t speak to her (2 outright have no relationship with her, 1 does but she is a carbon copy of our mother and out of touch with her own kids, and I represent the ½, as I’m barely talking to her- more on that in future blogs).
We forty somethings have a lot more in common with our kids. That’s not to say we want to be like them (hell no) but our fashion is not altogether dissimilar ( Zara, Mango and Asos still work for me) nor our taste in music and social media helps to bridge the gap. Whereas my parents lived to work, I absolutely work to live. My mother would be mortified if she knew how much I spend on my hair, nails and waxing and how little I have set aside for a rainy day (I just about have enough should it drizzle). As long as my bills are paid and there’s enough money for groceries throughout the month, the rest of my salary is well…..for me.
The time I have wasted fretting about being middle aged, what a waste – it seriously is no big deal, nothing has changed, I am still very much the person I was when I was in my 30s, 40 is definitely the new 30! The one area where perhaps I have fallen behind is my relationship with social media . I was in my mid 30s when FB came on the scene, and I remember being added by my friend. Far from thinking how great it is to “connect”, I thought it was a load of old shit. I didn’t need to connect with my friends as we were, wait for it…… already friends and I sure as hell wasn’t interested in connecting with those who weren’t my friends. At that time (I’m not sure if it is the case now), people used to post how they were feeling- fucking ridiculous.
Having said that, it was only up until about 2 years ago, that I came off FB, I had finally had enough of people posting pics of their damn dinner. I didn’t feel that I was missing out by not having a “social media presence”, until quite recently when I’ve heard it said how weird people are if they haven’t got one- really??!! I certainly don’t feel weird – If anything I feel free that I don’t have to confirm, it’s ok for me to photographed more than once, wearing the same dress. I get that there is a generation which has grown up with social media so it’s their normality, however if anything, I find it a little weird when my peers, have no life outside social media- weirdos.
I have a friend who keeps sending me random videos from whichever site and its annoying- even as I am typing this blog, she has sent me vid of a man holding a dildo and ready to do whatever with it (I stopped watching). Yes it can be funny but it can make grown folk juvenile as fuck (she barely knows what Brexit is – she should and she’s nearly 50 godammit). However as a result of this blog, I’ve had to get up to speed with Instagram and twitter, so bear with me.
Apart from this decidedly middle aged rant, I don’t identify with the term middle aged, everything associated with it is old and it’s not clear to me why some parts of the media, and advertisers, have not caught up with the generational shift (if I can call it that) especially when you have the likes of Gabrielle Union, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jennifer Lopez and Jennifer Aniston, to name but a few, who are still rocking it in their 40s. Yet advertisers are still assuming that we have more in common with Lorraine Kelly.
The reality is that this is the time of our lives (I get that there will be those who don’t agree) but for many of us, we have grown up kids who although may still be living at home, we now have our freedom- the days of asking folk to babysit for us, are a thing of the past, for some of us, we are a lot better off than we were when we were in our 30s. Some of us will have gone through divorce and are much better for it.
This does not mean that all is rosy- being 40 and fabulous has its drawbacks e.g. whilst we are busy being fabulous, getting our hair done, shellac-ing the hell out of our nails, threading, waxing etc, etc, our 40 something male counterparts are doing fuck all except for growing, bald and fat, not making half the effort we do. Often this means we are not attracted to men our own age and men younger than us may find us too fabulous to handle. The pool for us is small indeed and often despite our better judgement, we entertain the lowest form of pond life (broke, mean, liars, intellectually challenged- I could go on- see future blogs ).
Believe it or not, we are still growing.
I’m here to tell you that life in the 40s is more than alright.
see future blogs for being 40 and our relationships with friends, family, men, work and more.