Isn’t it weird that so many of us grew up knowing it’s impolite to ask a woman her age, but no one really knows why?
Keep reading to see 9 potential and understandable reasons the women in your life do not want to hear you ask, “how old are you?”
Why Is It Rude To Ask A Woman Her Age?
1. Age-Related Expectations
“At your age, it’s time to start thinking about these things.” How young or how old you will naturally come with certain perceptions about that age.
For example, a 60-year-old woman may be hesitant to give away her age because others may start talking about retirement homes, her will, etc.
Relationship expert Susan Winter explains what a woman can expect throughout her 30s, 40s, and so on, pointing out that a big concern is being economically stable.
A woman’s friends and family may talk more about settling down with a husband and having children, or finally deciding on a career.
Being reminded of these expectations on a regular basis with an innocent question can be hard.
2. Perceptions Of Competence
Do you remember when you were a teenager and no one wanted to ask for your opinion in your workplace even though you had been working there for 2 years or more?
For most, it was because your age made you look like you didn’t have the experience. The same problem can happen when you get older.
How many times have you lovingly offered to do every task for your older parents or grandparents to make sure they didn’t accidentally hurt themselves, like they were 2 years old?
It’s definitely true that generally, younger men and women need to learn from the expertise of the older generation, and the older generation shouldn’t try to do everything themselves.
However, the innocent question of “how old are you,” may remind a woman of her progressing frailty.
3. Perceptions Of Health
It’s a known fact that we develop health problems the older we get.
What a lot of women don’t need, is a reminder that they’re at an age where they’re more vulnerable to various illnesses and other health problems.
However, an interesting way you might improve the same lady’s health is by making them feel good about their age, such as through an indirect question.
Why? Well, according to the Association for Psychological Science, your health can be affected by your self-perception – How you feel about yourself.
4. Youth Is Preferred Over Experience
There is a professional reason a woman might not want to give away her age. In the work force, young workers are often preferred over experienced ones.
One reason is for usually being more active, and new people are usually more excited about their work.
Older women want to demonstrate their value in the workforce without their age being a factor.
5. The “Shame” Of Old Age
The most common reason you’ll hear women say they hate to be asked their age, is that there is a big negative filter over getting older.
Women are the main demographic for anti-aging products and makeup.
The push to stay young can make a woman feel insecure about reaching an age where their options for staying young are expensive, unnecessary, and even dangerous treatments.
6. The Fear Of Being Judged
Based on what we’ve talked about so far, you can probably get a good idea of how a woman might perceive that she’s being judged if you ask her for her age.
Age is often related to beauty, fertility, and how desirable they are to men.
In some ways, this is undeniable, such as the fact that women in their 30s and older are going to have a harder time getting pregnant than women in their 20s.
However, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” especially if the beholder is the woman herself.
It’s her own judgment of herself, based on perceptions formed by popular culture and media that can make a woman very insecure.
7. The Fear Of Getting Older
In case you’re not catching on, the main problem with the question “how old are you” is that it can remind the lady about something she’s afraid of.
Getting older is scary. The major fear is the idea that we’ll become vegetables, and no one wants to feel like a burden.
Of course, this isn’t just an American problem.
It’s considered rude to ask this question in many cultures, due to age being connected to how much they can contribute to society, known as ageism.
You can see how this relates to our competency section earlier.
8. Fear Of Sexual Harassment
You don’t want to ask in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bars, workplaces, and schools are good places to give the wrong impression.
The last two are pretty straight-forward, they’re professional settings so don’t try to be too familiar.
The first one isn’t as clear. Many men will ask a girl’s age in order to avoid getting into legal trouble with a minor who snuck into a bar.
This seems reasonable until a man asks the same question to a young girl in a shopping mall for the same purpose. Not as good.
9. You’re The Wrong Person Asking
You can understand that it can be uncomfortable or even insulting if a complete stranger walks up and asks for your age.
It can make someone feel like you might have been laughing at them or making bets to see whose guess is closer, like you’re a circus exhibit.
Or, if you are an employer asking an employee, or vice-versa, that can be another uncomfortable (or even illegal) situation.
It gives the impression of discrimination if an employer has a bias toward younger women employees, which can be possible grounds for a lawsuit.
In these cases, a woman might defensively ask what business it is of yours?
Did any of these reasons surprise you?
It may still be confusing to you if your a boy or man reading this, but imagine if I asked you how much money you make or how tall you are.
It’s that kind of feeling and fear of inadequacy.