"I Didn't Realize Until My 40s": 18 People Shared The "Cannot Believe It" Mistakes They Made In Adulthood That They Learned Valuable Lessons From

"I Didn't Realize Until My 40s": 18 People Shared The "Cannot Believe It" Mistakes They Made In Adulthood That They Learned Valuable Lessons From

You don't stop making mistakes as you get older, and unfortunately, some folks learn from their errors the hard way. Recently, members of the BuzzFeed Community shared the big mistake they made in their 30s or beyond that they didn't think they were capable of making, and it shows that nobody is perfect — no matter what age. Here are some of the most shocking and poignant stories:

1."I wasted our almost million-dollar retirement gambling. I was always so reliable, conscientious, and honest. I cannot believe how much gambling has destroyed me."

Two people playing slot machines with one labeled "Double Diamond" and the other labeled "Lion Ten Times Pay."

—Joan, 80, Oregon

Hitoshi Nishimura / Getty Images

2."I trusted my cousin even though I was told not to. He ultimately stole my social security number, raided my bank account, committed other types of identity theft, and broke into my house, stealing thousands of dollars worth of stuff."


3."When I was about 48 years old, my husband and I were struggling with emotional and physical therapy while raising two young boys, both of whom were very challenging kids, according to psychologists. I was so stressed and sad. I made the mistake of contacting a guy I'd known since I was 16, who I turned down for my marriage in my 20s. I truly just wanted to catch up with him, but he wooed me, and I let it happen. We both ended up leaving our spouses, and he left his kids. Fortunately, I refused to leave my kids, but it was hard on them and very hard on his girls. I never thought I'd break up another woman's marriage, either. I hate that I did that."

Two people lie on a bed embracing each other lovingly, with one person smiling while the other's face is partially obscured. There is a window in the background

4."Being so determined to finish my degree. Eight years and six schools later, I finally finished school...with over $50k of debt for a degree that hasn't paid off. I make $30k a year working to fill two positions by myself, and I take tons of disrespect from my sexist boss. My English degree was, and remains, useless. I wish I'd learned a technical trade when I realized how much I hated college."


5."I wasted my 20s in poor, unfulfilling friendships. I jumped at the crumbs that people threw at me rather than seeing how awful and dismissively I was being treated. The relevant part is that, even though I'd somewhat figured out my self-worth by 30 and distanced myself from my toxic friends, I focused on the mentality that 'no friends are better than fake friends.' I spent nearly half of my 30s convinced that everyone already had friends and relationships, and I would just have to be content with a complicated family, a dog, and some nice work acquaintances. I fully leaned into anxiety and introversion, to the point of writing off the rest of my life."

Man wearing glasses and a sweatshirt sitting in a cafe, holding a cup of coffee and looking out the window

6."Not using protection during sex. I was 30 and in a dark place after the end of a six-year relationship. I trusted my new intimate partner too quickly; he ended up giving me herpes. A week after my diagnosis, he was arrested for luring vulnerable women for sex by using a false identity. Wear protection, people!"


7."I was made executor of my late mother's estate. Half of my vulture family scooped in and looted the property of thousands of dollars of cash that my mom had hidden throughout the house. After, I had my sister and her husband move into the house so it could be insured. It was up for tax taking three years later, as they never paid taxes or utilities. Additionally, they practically destroyed the home's inside with foolish, ill-conceived, and never finished upgrades. I evicted them and then spent a year making the house suitable for sale. The settlement was fraught with greed and hatred. I am isolated from my family now; I saw their real personalities and am not disappointed that I'll never see or talk to them again. I will have my attorney become the executor of my estate to keep peace among my children."

A close-up of an elderly person's hand holding a pen while signing legal documents. The person's hand displays a gold ring
Westend61 / Getty Images/Westend61

8."Staying married to my husband, who had an addiction to alcohol. I should've divorced him the first time he lost his job for showing up to work still drunk from the night before. Now, he has cirrhosis and heart failure due to the drinking and can no longer work. We have kids, and all the bills and expenses are on me. With the rising cost of living, I've had to get a second job, and he hasn't slowed down with the drinking at all."


9."After 30 years and 50 or more screenplays, I finally accepted that I suck. I really wanted to be a successful screenwriter. I thought the validation from my peers would finally give me the self-esteem I lacked. I wish I'd appreciated the things I was good at rather than making myself feel like a failure for so long."

Hands typing on a vintage typewriter with a blank sheet of paper, surrounded by crumpled paper balls, a notebook, and a coffee cup

—Jim, New York

Westend61 / Getty Images/Westend61

10."I supported a man who'd just gotten out of prison. We were in a relationship. I got him an iPhone, tried to help him fix his teeth, took him to probation appointments, etc. ALL the red flags were there — like his numerous past relationships — but I ignored them. I found out later that he was cheating on me with a girl he'd met at his new job. I filed a police report on him."


11."My mother wanted to transfer nearly a million dollars to me before she died last year. My father, who's 92, and my brother, who's 60, went berserk! My mom was a businesswoman; my dad could never keep a job. I told my mom that Dad needed the money due to his age, as I was sure I'd get my inheritance at the proper time. Well, Mom told me not to trust my father and brother. I thought it was her dementia talking, so I stupidly trusted them anyway. After my mom died, my father went into my mother's brokerage account while my brother used his power of attorney to remove me as a beneficiary. The million dollars was transferred to my brother. My dad married Mom's 62-year-old caretaker a year later — three years younger than me. I was then removed from my dad's will."

A woman sits on a couch with her head in her hand, appearing distressed or deep in thought, in a modern living room with patterned walls

12."One of my biggest regrets is staying friends with people just because I knew them for a long time. I had 'friends' who were constantly putting me down, belittling me, and just being plain mean. If I said anything, I was told I was 'too sensitive' and 'couldn't take a joke.' They'd bring up shared experiences from childhood and remind me of our long friendship. It wasn't until I was in my 40s that I realized how toxic these longstanding friendships were and how much they got in the way of me making new friends with healthy boundaries for decades."

—Ellie, United States

13."I gave money, time, energy, and love to my sibling, but he turned out to be a needy manipulator. The second I cut him off, he shrugged off our 50-year relationship — one-sided as it was — and I haven't heard a peep from him since. It somehow feels like I knew it would happen that way, but at the time, I felt I was doing the right thing. Weirdly, I'm okay with all of it because I really was a good brother to him. That's my solace and his shame. Whether he actually feels shame or not, though, I'll never know."

A person in a gray sweater is holding a black wallet and counting several U.S. dollar bills


Grace Cary / Getty Images

14."I fell for a vegan bass player (there are already so many mistakes in that one sentence) who ended up using me for five months because he had no money. I paid $1,000 for his car to be fixed, paid his overdue phone bill so that his phone could be turned on again, and then I paid for his cruise trip for his brother's bachelor's party — which I shortly found out is where he cheated on me. There were a lot more issues than that, but I felt so used that it really scarred me. I don't keep up with him anymore, but I imagine he's still a loser in Florida. Meanwhile, I'm living my best life in Nashville! My advice to younger women is never to pay bills for anyone else. They can figure it out and work hard without you. Don't let anyone take advantage of you and steal the hard-earned money you've made."


15."Getting pregnant at 31 by someone I wasn't in a relationship with; I didn't like them, and they didn't like me. I thought about getting the morning-after pill, but I thought I'd be fine. Dumb decision. Even after he said he never wanted to speak to me again and gave me money for an abortion, I kept the baby and gave him the money back. Being a single parent is the hardest thing I've ever done. I have no business being a parent. I should file for child support, but it's been nine years, and when I first got pregnant, I didn't believe in forcing people to take care of their children. I was incredibly dumb. I definitely don't feel that way anymore, but I'm still too scared to file."

A pregnant woman in a blue shirt sits on a bed, looking down with her hand on her forehead, appearing stressed or deep in thought. A window is behind her


Justin Paget / Getty Images

16."I decided to help my sister by allowing her to move into my home. She'd quit drinking after overcoming an alcohol addiction, and I thought she'd be a nicer person after doing so. I was wrong; living with her was seven years of hell. My sister was no nicer sober than she was when drunk. Think twice about having a family member live with you. They can take you for granted even easier than a stranger would."

—Chonnie, 69, California

17."Between 2009 and 2013, I took back the same guy five different times. I was craving attention from a man (daddy issues) and thought that if I took this guy back, he would stay with me. The first time he left me should've been enough reason NOT to take him back. He left me for another woman he'd been seeing for less than six months and moved to Ohio to marry her. Never mind that he lived with me for over a year and never bothered proposing. Then, he contacted me because he realized how nice of a woman I was. I've since married and moved on, but he recently contacted me again. I read his text and deleted and blocked his number."

A woman hugs a man tightly, her expression serious and contemplative. They are indoors, suggesting a moment of support or comfort

—Carrie, 53, Kansas

Svetikd / Getty Images

18.Lastly: "While walking my dog, I met a man who turned out to be a neighbor, and we started spending time together. He told me he was set to inherit a lot of money from his deceased wife's estate but that the money was 'tied up,' so he only had access to small amounts at a time. I often heard him speak with his lawyer on the phone about investments, properties, cars, and more. We looked for a house to buy and settled on a beautiful two-million-dollar home. He told me his lawyer was taking care of the details and that all there was left to do was sign the paperwork. In the meantime, he was driving my car and borrowing money from me with promises to pay it back double. I paid for his prescriptions, our rented house, and everything else. Once we received the keys to our new house, he left to get a truck to move our things. Everything was packed up, and we'd even gotten our address changed; all we had to do was load the truck and move in. He never returned."

A woman with long red hair and a contemplative expression sits outside on a bench, wearing a casual sweater

If you're 30 and over, what mistake did you make when you should've known better? Share your story with me in the comments, or you can anonymously submit it using this form!

Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.