Hi! I'm an MBA grad, business expert, avid reader/writer/podcaster and journalist. Here are tips on how to ask a woman her age, if you dare.
Age From A Man's Perspective
Let's start our discussion on how to ask a woman her age from a male's perspective. Why? Because it appears to me that men are not sensitive regarding their age or how their looks change sometimes for the worse as they grow older. Many men age well while others show that they may have had a hard time at life.
On the flip side, even when they are not aging well, most men take the aging process in stride. Take the case of either Paul Rudd or Keanu Reeves. When faced with the question of why they do not seem to age, both seem to view this question as if it did not deserve an answer. They simply smile, remain quiet or change the subject.
Pose this same question to women, and I'm sure you will get not only a classroom lecture on how they spend hours taking care of their skin, the importance of diet, exercise etc. Additionally, they probably share lots of self-help beauty guides and make-up youtube videos to boot. It's plain to see that women value how they look and age to a much greater extent than most men.
Terms Used For Aging Women
When you see an elderly woman, what words come to mind? Let's try a few -- "tired," "angry," "old," "dried up", "looks like she needs to rest," "not getting enough sleep," etc. Sometimes these descriptions depend on if you look favorable upon the woman. For example if you have negative feelings towards her, you may call her an "old hag," "a witch," "old lady," and a myriad of other negative terms -- some which I cannot publish here.
On the other hand, if you like an older woman and what she stands for, you may describe her as a "matron," "wise," "knowledgeable," etc. You will notice the descriptions focus more on her maturity level rather than her physical looks.
The above being said, since most people are visual beings, one would probably describe a woman in terms of her physical looks instead of other attributes.
It is no wonder that most women will use whatever means they have to stay as young looking as possible, for as long as they can. Don't believe me? Just look at the beauty and cosmetic industry. These type businesses are booming with all types of creams, mosturizers and other products that claim will lead women to the fountain of youth.
Culture influences on Age
Some countries value their elders and look upon them with great respect, while others seem to view them as invisible, a burden or those whose heydays have come and gone. This is especially true for western countries.
As demonstrated in our culture and as shown by pictures of males in magazines and other media, men tend to embrace the process of aging. Most men do not seem to be preoccupied with age probably because of the perception that they tend to become mature and look more distinguished, the older they get. Of course, this may be true for some men, but not for all.
An example of such a man who aged well is actor George Clooney, who looks even more handsome nowadays than when he was much younger. Sure, he now has greying, almost white hair, wrinkles on his face, smile lines, etc. But these aging imperfections enhance his physical appearance instead of take away from it. It helps that he seems to have stayed in shape.
On the flip side is John Travalto, who was quite a handsome guy when he was younger. However, unlike George Clooney, he lost his looks as he got older. He succumbed to the wrinkles, loss of hair, and weight gain that sometimes come with aging. That being said, did his diminishing looks hurt his acting career? Not in the least. He simply was offered and took roles that reflected his age range and moved on with his life.
However, for women, the perception of aging, growing older and looking older is quite different. Wrinkle lines are seen as "worry," or "aging" lines. Some try to fight against aging to the point of having extensive plastic surgery. Many women in the public eye stay there mainly because they resemble their younger self -- even though this is done by going under the knife.
An Age-Related Real Lfe Conversation Exchange
Awhile back, in a public place, I overheard a male yell to his friend, "I just had a birthday!" The male friend yelled back loudly, "Really? How old are you?"
Now this is what surprised me. He answered back really loud and crystal clear "I just turned 57."
Then even more alarming to me was the friend's response. "I got 7 years on you... I'm 64!"
It was astonishing to me that they boasted about their advanced age publicly amid lots of other people. They actally revealed their ages, which I consider sensitive and private information.
On the other hand, some women, of course, do not mind telling their age. That being said, no one should ask a woman her age, unless she says it's fine to do so. This rule, apparently, does not apply to men.
Men grow cold as girls grow old, and we all lose our charms in the end...
— From song sung By Marilyn Monroe in the movie "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"
The Alternate to Aging
Statistically speaking, we all grow old unless beset by some tragedy, illness, etc. Do you recall the words of the Marilyn Monroe song -- Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend? The verse that stood out to me was "Men grow cold as girls grow old, and we all lose our charms in the end..." The key phrase is "Men grow cold as girls grow old," which of course refers to women aging. Even back in the day, women fought aging probably to bolster her self-esteem or simply to get and keep a man's affection. My point is the subject of age is not a new topic.
We all know what the alternate to not aging is; which is definitely not a good choice. With that in mind, women continue and will probaby continue long in the future to fight against aging, not only for health reasons, but for how they may be perceived by both by men and other women.
Age Question Poll
Your Age is Private Or Should Be
In these days where you literally do not have any privacy to speak of, it would be nice to know that there is one thing about yourself that will remain private -- your age. In fact, age should be divulged only on a need to know basis, for example, for medical reasons, etc. With few exceptions, how old you old should be your own business and no one elses. That being said, in today's internet world, you can just "Google" someone's nasme and find out how old they are. In fact keeping your age somewhat private may be next to impossible if you have an online presence on social media.
Refrain from Asking a Woman's Age If Possible
Prior to the emergence of the COVID-19 virus when parties and get-togethers were prevalent, you may have met an interesting woman and was curious as to how old she was. If you are male, or even female and wanted to know this information, it's important to know how to ask a woman her age -- if you must.
Regardless of how curious you are about a woman's age, show your maturity by not asking her, especially if you do not know how she feels about inquiring about your inquiry. This is especially true for older women.
Remember, you can always make a mental note of her name, and "Google" her later on to find out her age without asking directly.
You may think that if you phrase your age question politely as in "May I ask how old you are?" -- that you will not offend her or invade her privacy. Regardless of how you ask, interrogating an older woman about her age is not a polite thing to do,
Maybe you decide she will not get offended if you make your age question into a guessing game. For example, you may say something to the effect, "You look to be about the same age as my sister, who is fifty-four. Am I right?" First, you are not sure if the woman is older or younger than fifty-four. Either way, how old she is should not be a concern to you. My recommendation is to simply not ask her, period.
Who Is Revealing Their Age?
If there is a dire need for someone to know your age my mantra is -- "It's for me to know, and for you to find out."
However, that being said, I'm discovering that more women do not seem to mind telling their age -- even older women.
For example, the late Debbie Reynolds proudly volunteered to everyone during a television show that she was 80. A few days later, on another television show, Jane Fonda revealed that she was 74. Currently she is 82.
And the age reveals continue. Mary Lou Henner of Taxi fame recently told everyone on a talk show that she was 60. Currently she is 68. Surprisingly since he is obviously a man, William Shatner muffled and put his fingers in front of his mouth when he muttered in a low voice that he was 81 on the same show. William Shatner's personna was unlike Ryan O'Neal who matter of factly stated that he was 71. They are currently both 89 and 79 respectively.
It appears to vary among celebrities as to who will publicly reveal their age. However, since they are in the public eye, they probably know due to Google and other search engines, all it take is the click of a button to find out this information.
If You Must - Here's How To Ask a Woman Her Age
Of course, whether or not you divulge your own age is an individual decision.
Personally, I place asking how old you are in the same category as asking how much money you make. Interesting enough, it seems as if the salary question is remaining for the most part a private topic, unless you are a well-known person, a celibrity or hold public office, etc. I think the way people ask your age should be handled the same way as if they asked how much money you make. Just do not ask.
I will go even further to say that I think it's rude to ask a woman her age -- even if she does not mind telling you. Her age is none of your business.
However, suppose you feel that you absolutely must know a woman's age and would like to know how to ask it without offending her The polite way to ask is to inquire if she would mind telling you her age. You may sandwich your question with a compliment before hand such as, "You look beautiful today. Would you mind if I ask how old you are? In response -- she may or may not respond in kind. But believe me, she will appreciate the compliment.
You may be curious as to how to ask a man his age. There is really no protocol -- just ask away!
Courtlney Davis (author) on March 05, 2014:
Hi thommie eric,
Thank you. I believe everyone has their preference. I personally prefer not to be asked my age and do think that it is rude -- in my opinion. I believe some people think that it is rude also, because some ask you before they ask your age, "May I ask how old you are?" Sometimes people may ask how old your children are -- as a sly way, in my opinion, to find out your age. Or sometimes they may volunteer the age of their children, thinking that you may reciprocate in kind.
I stand by my age being my personal information. If they want to find out, they can always look it up, google it, etc. But I will never tell. In other words as these sayings (paraphrased) goes -- "This [information] is for me to know and for them to find out." and "A lady never tells."
I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and comment.
thommie eric on February 28, 2014:
i loved the topic but, i think telling someone your age does not matter unless you think something bad from tha person asking
Courtlney Davis (author) on May 29, 2012:
Thanks for your comments. I guess it depends on the person divulging the age information. As for me, telling my age is a definite "no no." Let them look it up online if they want to know! LOL.
Debbie Dallas on May 28, 2012:
C I didn't think telling your age mattered! If your confident why not? What do u have to lose?
Pretty much a lot of personal information can NOW be found on line! ;) hey!! I'm turning 36 soon- I one month! Lol oops! ;;)
Courtlney Davis (author) on December 08, 2011:
I agree. Your lead in statement would be a good title for my hub.
Regarding relationships -- On an interview type TV show, one woman said she did not divulge her age to her fiancé until they were married. All along she said he thought she was 10 years younger! So it looks like even telling your age to your fiancé can be individual decision as well.
Thanks for your comments!
C E Clark from North Texas on December 07, 2011:
A lady never tells her age and a gentleman never asks!
Generally you need to know someone very well to ask them their age. IMHO the only people who really need to know my age are my doctor and my lawyer. It's irrelevant to all other relationships. You might choose to share it with a spouse or fiancé if you have one . . .
Courtlney Davis (author) on December 07, 2011:
I'm happy you enjoyed reading my hub. I laughed out loud about your statement to buy him a beer and ask again. Very funny.
Thanks for your comments!
Dedmoroz on December 07, 2011:
I really enjoyed reading your hub. I think how well you know the person, would determine how confident you are when asking someone their age.
Although on general, I would feel more comfortable asking a guy their age, rather than a woman.
Just want to add something to your hub - "How to ask a man his age: There is really no protocol -- just ask away!" But if he says no... - buy him a beer and ask again ;)