How Cool Dudes Become Grumpy Old Men
by Linda Sapadin, Ph.D, World of Psychology
October 8, 2018

In his 20’s and 30’s, Brad was a cool dude.

In his 40’s, and 50’s, Brad was a busy business man (with a wife and 3 kids).

In his 60’s and 70’s, Brad retired and became a grumpy old man.

What the heck happened? And what’s a grumpy old man anyway?

Brad became a grumpy old man (without realizing it) when his comments began to consist primarily of complaints. He’s become moody, quick to anger, intolerant of everyday annoyances, and upset with the world changing around him. Now that he no longer has his work to focus on, he’s not sure how to spend his time.

And so he finds fault with you:

  • “You spend too much money.”
  • “You keep asking too many questions.”
  • “I don’t want to go out with those people.”

What has happened to his inner world that has instigated this change?

  • He used to be the rock; the strong one; the one who took charge. Now, he feels useless. What is he supposed to do each day?
  • He used to be athletic. Now he’s got a litany of physical complaints. His back hurts. His knee is killing him. His sleep pattern is erratic.
  • He used to be upbeat. Now he’s sad and grouchy but he won’t admit it. Push him to admit it and he becomes angry, ranting at you to leave him alone.
  • He used to like to learn new things. Now he’s gotten set in his ways. The world is changing around him and he doesn’t like it.
  • He used to enjoy being with people. If you make it happen, he’ll go along with it (mostly), but not with a great deal of enthusiasm.
  • He used to have an occasional drink. Now whenever he gets upset or feels alone, he self-medicates with alcohol.
  • He used to like his job, even when he complained about it. Now he has no job and has no idea how to spend his time. He doesn’t want to do “stupid” things that his wife suggests; hence, he is alone a good deal of the time.

In short, he has no job, no friends, no outside interests, no belief in anything outside of himself. Try to help him and he shoots down your suggestions.

It’s difficult to discuss mental health issues with a person who believes it is a sign of weakness. Who believes that no matter what problems you have, you gotta “tough it out” and go it alone. You don’t talk about it at home or to medical professionals. What are they going to do? Will talking about it change anything? Will popping a pill change anything?

And so, a lot of grumpy old men remain isolated and depressed. The easy-going guys they used to be have been relegated to the garbage heap. Push him to do something he doesn’t want to do and he’ll shake his head, ignore you or go into a rant about “leaving him alone.”

So, can anything help grumpy old men? Yup, a few things can:

  • Get thee to a medical doctor to get your testosterone level checked.
  • Get thee to a psychologist to find a new purpose in life.
  • Get thee to old friends to renew affinity, camaraderie and create new goals.

Toughing it out, going it alone is best relegated to John Wayne movies; the way men were “supposed” to be in the good old days … but sorry folks, it doesn’t work these days.