"Why are old men so grumpy?"

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denismurf
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"Why are old men so grumpy?"

Post by denismurf » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:40 pm

This question came up last week when our 2 grown children and their spouses/fiances got together for beers. They were talking primarily about their own fathers, including me. A couple of days later, our son told me about this chat, said they could not figure out an answer and asked me if I could provide one.

I said, "Well, I don't know why other guys are grumpy, but here's why I am."

He smiled and interrupted, "No, Dad. We really aren't interested in your political opinions; only in why you guys get so cranked up about them and never seem to give it a rest."

I couldn't come up with an answer and still can't, except that I felt the same way about old men when I was in my 30's and 40's. Maybe it's inevitable.

I do know for sure that I always come away from my frequent contacts with my kids' generation feeling refreshed and optimistic.

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Ozonewanderer
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Post by Ozonewanderer » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:57 pm

Who the hell says that I'm grumpy! :evil:

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Post by Harold » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:09 pm

I wouldn't call my father grumpy, but his political views enter into virtually everything he says. It's really quite odd, -- even if the topic has seemingly nothing to do with politics, the axe comes out and the grinding starts. Frankly it stifles and ruins a lot of interesting conversation.

If that's something common among old men, I'd like to understand why.

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Post by rustymutt » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:13 pm

Harold wrote:I wouldn't call my father grumpy, but his political views enter into virtually everything he says. It's really quite odd, -- even if the topic has seemingly nothing to do with politics, the axe comes out and the grinding starts. Frankly it stifles and ruins a lot of interesting conversation.

If that's something common among old men, I'd like to understand why.
Your father cares about his country and the way it's going. We should be passionate about our politics. Only not on Bogleheads. lol
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Post by bottlecap » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:18 pm

I think it's because you start seeing the same things over an over again and you start to realize that almost everything you hear purports to have a higher purpose, but really is misinformation based on politics. Repeated exposure to what you immediately recognize as BS leaves you feeling helpless and, well, grumpy.

That's my guess anyway.

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Post by fishndoc » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:21 pm

It comes from hearing too much BS for too long. :evil:


Not that I'm grumpy about it... :)
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Post by retcaveman » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:22 pm

Interesting. While I suspect there are many reasons and specific to many individuals, I'll offer up two.

I think some men get bitter as they begin to realize their dreams aren't going to be fulfilled, whether that be riches, fame, power, good health/longevity, etc. IMO, that's just life.

The other is somewhat the same but more specifically centers on frustration/anger over our failure to resolve some of our long standing problems. For example, back in the late 60's and early 70's we (as a society) financed the Great Society, fought the Viet Nam War, got ecological (Earth Day, Zero Population Growth, pollution...) dealt with gas shortages (were going to be independent of foreign oil), argued about tax cuts, fought against discrimination in all forms, argued for and against abortion, etc, etc. And despite all those good intentions and best efforts and acknowledging there have been some improvement in some things, many of those problems continue and in many cases are worse.

After a lifetime of caring, paying taxes, voting, many of these problems continue. The optimism and energy of youth leaves you. You realize that there is little to no resolution/closure. You just run out of time or maybe the goal is just unrealistic.
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Post by GammaPoint » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:34 pm

Harold wrote:I wouldn't call my father grumpy, but his political views enter into virtually everything he says. It's really quite odd, -- even if the topic has seemingly nothing to do with politics, the axe comes out and the grinding starts. Frankly it stifles and ruins a lot of interesting conversation.
Hmm, that's interesting. My father in law is about 70 and is the same way. He can't even really talk about anything without trying to get in some political jab. Unfortunately he actually DOESN'T want to discuss it, as he lets me know when he says "doesn't matter what you say, you'll never change my mind". Nonetheless, he likes to talk AT me about it nonstop.

My guess is that dissatisfaction to some extent with one's own life (health problems, loss of friends as one ages, feelings of unimportance without a career, etc.) makes one search for self-worth in other ways, and "being right" via politics is the easiest way to go. Of course, this doesn't happen to everyone as it ages, but it's probably reasonable that many feel some of these emotions.

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Post by NAVigator » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:38 pm

It seems to me that it is a natural result of the varying roles we play.

In youth, we must learn and listen.

As we age, start a family, become role models at work, we become teachers. As such, I think we spend more time instructing than learning. In this process, I think we become convinced of how the world should work.

Some people become frustrated when their model of understanding is different from the real world and "how things should be".

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Post by SP-diceman » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:44 pm

Because you remember what your body was like when you were 20.




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Post by MarcVH » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:49 pm

I guess I always assumed old men did that on purpose, because they want everyone to go away and leave them alone.

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Munir
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Post by Munir » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:56 pm

retcaveman wrote:Interesting. While I suspect there are many reasons and specific to many individuals, I'll offer up two.

I think some men get bitter as they begin to realize their dreams aren't going to be fulfilled, whether that be riches, fame, power, good health/longevity, etc. IMO, that's just life.

The other is somewhat the same but more specifically centers on frustration/anger over our failure to resolve some of our long standing problems. For example, back in the late 60's and early 70's we (as a society) financed the Great Society, fought the Viet Nam War, got ecological (Earth Day, Zero Population Growth, pollution...) dealt with gas shortages (were going to be independent of foreign oil), argued about tax cuts, fought against discrimination in all forms, argued for and against abortion, etc, etc. And despite all those good intentions and best efforts and acknowledging there have been some improvement in some things, many of those problems continue and in many cases are worse.

After a lifetime of caring, paying taxes, voting, many of these problems continue. The optimism and energy of youth leaves you. You realize that there is little to no resolution/closure. You just run out of time or maybe the goal is just unrealistic.
Well-said. Another feeling I get (at 73) is "have been there, done that, and then what?"

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Post by Sheepdog » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:07 am

I know my sons and daughter in law think I'm grumpy. I am!! I have been leading up to this all of my life. I can't go back to being the sweet husband and father. That wasn't fun! Now it's time to get back to that little kid teasing me "Daddy's getting ballllddd....Daddy's gettin ballllddd. Ha Ha Ha". Now, I am getting happy that they are getting bald. ha ha ha. Now they call me grumpy.
Jim
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zaplunken
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Post by zaplunken » Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:06 am

I have a better question - why are all women of any age so bitchy? Maybe this is why by the time you get to be an old man you are grumpy? :lol:

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Post by downshiftme » Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:14 am

Men lose brain tissue as they age at almost three times the rate women do, which could reduce their memory, concentration and reasoning power -- and perhaps turn them into "grumpy old men" -- a researcher said Wednesday.

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-781735.html

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Post by drewmo » Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:02 am

zaplunken wrote:I have a better question - why are all women of any age so bitchy? Maybe this is why by the time you get to be an old man you are grumpy? :lol:
downshiftme wrote:Men lose brain tissue as they age at almost three times the rate women do, which could reduce their memory, concentration and reasoning power -- and perhaps turn them into "grumpy old men" -- a researcher said Wednesday.

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-781735.html
Maybe women are bitchy because they have to deal with grumpy gentlemen who call them bitchy :roll:

Jest aside I have noticed this trend towards grumpiness - keep the comments coming forth - i'd be fascinated to know the reasons why.

Bitchiness aside, older women do not seem affected quite the same way, maybe because many of them re-invest themselves with their grandchildren (if they can), try to make new friends or make an effort in keeping in touch with the old ones. I suppose most women are afraid of being lonely in old age so we do make more of an effort to be involved with the world.
My observation is grumpy old men tend to retreat into their world - at the risk of becoming lonely grumpy old men...

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Imperabo
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Post by Imperabo » Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:18 am

From Harvey:

Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be," — she always called me Elwood — "In this world, you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.


So, what happens to the people who went through life being "oh so smart", and then start loosing their smarts? It's too late to learn to be pleasant.

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Post by Stevewc » Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:41 am

Its because we find things less humorous.
According to some researchers.

http://topnews.net.nz/content/28796-men ... esearchers
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Pres
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Post by Pres » Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:04 am

I can imagine they could be grumpy because of:

- Negative feelings about the past: regrets and guilt.

- Negative feelings about the present: health not getting any better, friends and family dying off, feeling less attractive, being stuck with a spouse that is unpleasant or that one isn't attracted to anymore

- Negative feelings about the future: running out of time, fear of death, when you're young possilities can seem infinite but advancing age increasingly reduces those possibilities

To help you cultivate a positive attitude, watch the little preview video on this page :-)
http://www.employeeuniversity.com/video ... Zander.htm
(it's actually the complete DVD, just at very low resolution)

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Post by likegarden » Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:17 am

Very simple, the end date is approaching. Plus there was a lot more 'fun' with wife in past.

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Post by gd » Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:31 am

GammaPoint wrote: My guess is that dissatisfaction to some extent with one's own life (health problems, loss of friends as one ages, feelings of unimportance without a career, etc.) makes one search for self-worth in other ways, and "being right" via politics is the easiest way to go. Of course, this doesn't happen to everyone as it ages, but it's probably reasonable that many feel some of these emotions.
I'd say that "search for self-worth by being right" applies to all ages, particularly nowadays. Just more so with older people, because they've got more experiences to be dissatisfied about. And maybe teenagers, because they've got fewer experiences to be satisfied about, but aren't so grumpy because they've got sex.

I don't have the breadth of experience to know the answer, but it'd be interesting to know if cultures that are less competition- and success-oriented see the same effect, both young and old. I'm guessing the general trend is no.

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Post by nisiprius » Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:38 am

Why are young people so &@#$%!! intense about everything? :)
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Post by mcblum » Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:42 am

I think it is because when you hit 50, the warranty on your body runs out. You develop aches and pains in your joints. This makes you short tempered and impatient. I'm there.
Marty

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Post by tonythered » Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:56 am

As usual, Cracked explains everything... check out item #4:
http://www.cracked.com/article_16952_6- ... ience.html

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Post by neverknow » Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:08 am

It is aging, itself. Aging is not a disease to be fixed or cured. It is the lucky result of having lived long enough.

I used to post here. Why I disappeared is too complicated to explain. But essentially my "grumpy old man" is getting difficult to manage, requiring more time, and much thought, to manage gracefully. He is 10 years my senior, and anyone who has ever read me, knows I hold deep respect for this man of consequence.

It is not an on / off switch, this aging thing ... the old gold watch and rocking chair image -- which is great, because in my grumpy old mans mind was the image that if you retire, you die (as his father did). So as of yet, he is still trying to act as a man of the world. In the old time image of a woman who stands behind her man, I have a close eye on him to catch him when he stumbles (it is now when, not if - which is taking up much of my time, and is not my first choice of what to do -- but I promised, so I am here).

This most recent stumble was so grandiose, as to be completely in congruent with who this guy has been all his life. So grandiose as to even command his busy adult children's attention (who of course are busy themselves, raising little ones).

"act as a man of the world" ... human dignity. Yes, to the comment of the basic human need to "be right". Yes, to the frustration of how things "should be". The world changed, while we all were busy living it. We don't notice. We don't notice as the world is changing, and we don't notice as we age, and as biological bodies are prone to do -- they simply do not work at age 65 the way they did when we were 20. No matter how strong willed we are (and believe me, my grumpy old man has one of the strongest wills to "never give up" I can even imagine).

Are there any 65 year olds out there that can claim to drink, back like when they were 20? Better think twice on that one. Your Kidney function has slowed and won't clear that alcohol like it used to. Can you will yourself to complete that tri athelon? Sure you can. But perhaps nice if the "pretty little woman" is there to nurse you back to health after wards.

This is what is working for me. Change the subject with your grumpy old man. Ask for stories about way back when they were young and strong. Ask for sentimental stories like their first love, their first car, the birth of their children -- or their favorite father story.

I would choose the grumpy old man, any day of the week -- over the shrinking old man, who has finally realized, not only are the men of the world, the next generation - but they are not even interpreting reality correctly.

And we all get to to do this as gracefully as possible, within the limits of our very humanness. My very strong willed grumpy old man is fighting me tooth and nail. That peaceful pasture of green grass is not where he wants to go.

I am glad his first born son has noticed, and is coming to see "what is what". I got a feeling I am going to need his help - at least in convincing this grumpy old man to let me help him.

Aging may be like the commercials, but my suspicion is the commercials are the exception -- not the rule.

Change the subject. Arguing will get you no where. Love them. Get them to tell you their hero stories of old, where they were the star character - the hero, who was right, in a story, that did conform to the way things should be.
neverknow

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Post by stemikger » Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:10 am

Becasue inside every old person is a young person saying "What the Hell Happened".

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Post by leo383 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:12 am

retcaveman wrote:
After a lifetime of caring, paying taxes, voting, many of these problems continue. The optimism and energy of youth leaves you. You realize that there is little to no resolution/closure. You just run out of time or maybe the goal is just unrealistic.
I think maybe people want solutions, and for a lot of these things there aren't solutions, only trade-offs.

I agree mostly with bottlecap: "I think it's because you start seeing the same things over an over again and you start to realize that almost everything you hear purports to have a higher purpose, but really is misinformation based on politics."

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praxis
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Post by praxis » Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:15 am

Not all old grumpies are men. Having too many decisions every day gets frustrating for many elders. So it's helpful to remove some of that clutter by developing routines in many things.

Watch an older person go thru their day and see the rigid patterns. Seeing life as black and white is comforting. Interruption or change creates frustration which produces what comes off as edgy, brittle "attitude" sometimes. More women seem to be adept at being pleasant in the face of this daily challenge.

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Post by smike » Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:20 am

No clue why they are grumpy. But....
The only thing we have control over in our life is our attitude. Our
attitude is shaped by our actions. Do good feel good.
Turn of the T.V. and radio. Volunteer at the local hospital,
nursing home, food bank, library,etc. etc.
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bNE-5TVAmg

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Post by Sheepdog » Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:24 am

tonythered wrote:As usual, Cracked explains everything... check out item #4:
http://www.cracked.com/article_16952_6- ... ience.html
Hey, there's lot of truth in that.
It doesn't help that today's old-folks were raised at a time when it wasn't considered cool to talk about your problems in any kind of constructive way. You sucked it up and lived with it. If you committed suicide, they would literally call you a fag in the obituary. Well, if you "suck it up" for 80 years it eventually just overflows onto everyone who walks past your house.

So despite how thrilling retirement sounds when you're 24 and planning on spending every waking moment of it drunk and naked in a kiddie pool; for elderly folks who wake up seven times a night to go to the bathroom, hobble around with arthritis and spend half their social security on food for a cat that pisses on all their clothes (see #5), retirement can be a long, drawn out frustration of building tension with no release and no control.


Thanks for lnking to this.
Jim
It's not what you gather, but what you scatter which tells what kind of life you have lived---Helen Walton

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Post by honkeoki » Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:25 am

Harold wrote:I wouldn't call my father grumpy, but his political views enter into virtually everything he says. It's really quite odd, -- even if the topic has seemingly nothing to do with politics, the axe comes out and the grinding starts. Frankly it stifles and ruins a lot of interesting conversation.
+1

And let me continue by saying that my dad isn't interested in conversing about political topics -- he wants to orate, expound and lecture on them and expects rapt attention and agreement.

I would guess he'd replaced his hobbies with talk radio, but I know that he's still very active in his hobbies. So I just don't know.

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Post by fishndoc » Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:38 am

"Why are old men so grumpy?"
Well, at least part of the reason is reading through too darn many Variable Annuity and Permanent Life Insurance threads!
:)
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Post by RadAudit » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:22 am

Maybe we're grumpy because the younger generation treats us as if we have no clue about today's realities. That somehow the whole world was created on the day they were born and nothing that we know could possibly be relevant and is in all probability wrong as heck - an opinion that the younger generation seems to hold to rather strongly.

My wife (who graduated from college in the early '70s) always thought my dad was a little too direct when she was younger. She especially objected to one of his observations which he freely and frequently offered. She now makes trips to his grave to let him know she finally agrees with him.
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Post by grandpajack » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:39 am

Tolstoy said, "The biggest surprise in a man's life is old age". Once the surprise is over, and one realizes the future ain't what it used to be, grumpiness can be the default of choice. But, it is a choice.

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Post by tonythered » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:38 am

Sheepdog wrote:
tonythered wrote:As usual, Cracked explains everything... check out item #4:
http://www.cracked.com/article_16952_6- ... ience.html
Hey, there's lot of truth in that.
Thanks for lnking to this.
Jim
Hi,
No problem! Cracked is actually a pretty well-researched site (ignoring the fluff). It's full of satire and inappropriate (AKA awesome :twisted: ) humor but I generally learn a lot from it. I'll often read an article there and then do further research on the interesting topics they discuss. Definitely a good site.

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Post by Jake46 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:44 am

Not sure it is "grumpiness", but now that I'm retired, I tend to say what's on my mind without worring about political correctness.

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Post by Patchy Groundfog » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:56 am

I was reading a book by a very interesting and thoughtful academic, who in making his arguments frequently referred to events that occurred in the 1950s and 60s. He was born in 1965, and as I read I realized that the reason he treated those events in what seemed to me an oversimplified way was that to him those things were history, while to me they were current events. I don't think any amount of explaining could make him understand those things in the same way I do. Greater than our differences in race and gender is that particular 20-year period that I experienced as an adult and he read about in books.

I think some of the grumpiness and monologuing by older people is caused by frustration at trying to convey an understanding that they know can't be conveyed across the chasm of age and experience.
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BlueEars
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Post by BlueEars » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:58 am

Could it be that men experience increasing isolation in American society? Men are often expected to be head of the family. That family CEO status brings a kind of isolation. Retirement makes this starker.

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Post by Polaris » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:16 am

Harold wrote:I wouldn't call my father grumpy, but his political views enter into virtually everything he says. It's really quite odd, -- even if the topic has seemingly nothing to do with politics, the axe comes out and the grinding starts. Frankly it stifles and ruins a lot of interesting conversation.

If that's something common among old men, I'd like to understand why.
Both of my parents are pretty much there now, so it's not just men with the politics obsession. :) They're very comfortable in retirement but spend lots of time being angry, writing letters to politicians, watching/listening/reading political-related propaganda.

On the other hand, my FIL seems pretty optimistic and spends quite a bit of his time trying to enjoy himself during retirement, despite not having the comforts that my parents have. I think he's on to something...

at ease
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Post by at ease » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:24 am

....we have trouble finding heros anymore, the bad guys win too often, todays role models come from hollywood.....we just miss the good old days, the good westerns at the movie with 10 cent popcorn...back then we could hear just fine and food had a great taste...and we had energy...lots of energy....all our moving parts responded quickly to our minds commands and we didn't know anyone really went to bed at 9pm...

...but as others said, age and experience has a way of seasoning folks, we know what bs sounds like now, and we do worry where our society is headed....and that can cause frustration for people who care and believe we have taken the low road, and that no one seems to care.....so, we just get cranky sometimes.....and, when you get old, you will understand.....

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Post by midareff » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:25 am

fishndoc wrote:It comes from hearing too much BS for too long. :evil:


Not that I'm grumpy about it... :)
Amen .. now which SOB said I'm grumpy?

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Post by jeff1949 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:25 am

Just to add to the conversation I will give a one word answer for part of the problem: menopause

Think about it.

Maybe somewhat tongue-in-cheek but there it is anyway.

:shock:

Beconwriter
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Post by Beconwriter » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:29 am

Check out "Grumpy Old Man Syndrome." Might be worth testing for low testosterone. For "Lady Who Rips Your Head Off Syndrome," low progesterone. Just to keep it balanced. :wink:

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Post by Munir » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:25 pm

When asked what creates the good life, Freud responded "Lieben und Arbeiten" (love and work). A contemporary of Freud, Bruno Bettelheim, eloborated on that by saying that "Freud saw the good life as one that is filled with meaning by the enduring, mutually helpful relations that we have with the people we love, and through knowing that we are working in ways that help others live better lives."

Maybe old men who are grumpy are not working anymore, and are not being loved or loving others in the way they used to in their younger age.

Another lost quality is playing. Old men are too serious, and not playful.

Love, work, and play- no matter how old you are. JUST DO IT :) !

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Post by bradshaw1965 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:57 pm

I think it is a growing inflexibility of opinion. The absolute assuredness of correctness is not an attractive trait no matter what the age.

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Post by lazyday » Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:01 pm

neverknow wrote:I used to post here.
Glad to see you, if only for a minute. :)

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Location: Indiana, retired 1998 at age 65

Post by Sheepdog » Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:17 pm

I had not read neverknow's trials with her aging man until now. It is so loving. She wrote.
I would choose the grumpy old man, any day of the week -- over the shrinking old man, who has finally realized, not only are the men of the world, the next generation - but they are not even interpreting reality correctly.
And we all get to to do this as gracefully as possible, within the limits of our very humanness. My very strong willed grumpy old man is fighting me tooth and nail. That peaceful pasture of green grass is not where he wants to go.


Then she wrote, Change the subject. Arguing will get you no where. Love them. Get them to tell you their hero stories of old, where they were the star character - the hero, who was right, in a story, that did conform to the way things should be.

He is a very fortunate man to be loved as he is. Neverknow, you do know. You are so very special. Thank you for your story.
Jim
It's not what you gather, but what you scatter which tells what kind of life you have lived---Helen Walton

RYD
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Location: California

Post by RYD » Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:55 pm

As a person in the age group of "grumpy old man" demographic I must be honest and tell you I am sick of my peers always finding a way to drag their political views into every discussion. In addition they are not even intelligent rather they are mean and very hard edged. It has gotten to the point I tell people not to forward political e-mails to me. In addition I find myself trying to avoid seeing some or talking with them. That is sad.

If the political views were based on and presented in a civil and intelligent manner it would be far better. I say this but only on a limited basis. There is far more to life than politics.

I have asked myself why? I really do not know I hope it is not a natural and normal part of aging. One reason I think it occurs is the amount of TV this age group watches. They have a lot of time on their hands and watch TV news type shows.

My mother told me the two topics to avoid discussing are religion and politics. Pretty good advice

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Lon
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Grumpy Old Men

Post by Lon » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:07 pm

At 76 years of age I have been called many things but GRUMPY ain't one of them. I have always been a pro active positive thinking guy that feels comfortable in his own skin. I live in a Age Restricted Active Adult Retirement Community of 3,100 individual homes where the average age of the males is 70. Some are GRUMPY types and some are not. I suspect that the GRUMPY ones haven't really changed that much since their middle age and were probably less than positive folks at that point in their life.

:D

MarcVH
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Post by MarcVH » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:11 pm

Interesting series of responses. Certainly grumpiness, combined with an inclination to make random controversial political/religious/racial assertions constantly, makes for a person few want to talk with. It doesn't really matter what specific views are, even if I agree with the grump I wish he would shut up.

I guess the big question I have is how grumpy old men feel about dealing with other grumpy old men. Are they respected as kindred spirits, people who have become wise enough to figure it out? Or do they annoy each other just as much as they do everyone else?

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