Do Women Like Older Men
“””I like older men,”” says a woman named Mary in “”The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”” Then she adds, “”But not too old.””
In real life, there’s no such thing as too old for love. Or at least, it doesn’t seem so. According to one recent survey, 20 percent of American women between 30 and 39 find their ideal man 40 or up. That same year, another poll found that 44 percent of female college students preferred an older partner over someone younger. And according to the book “”Why Him? Why Not Her?”” by sociologist Michael Silverstone, when asked which gender is most likely to be interested in them personally, women are far more likely than men to choose a male who is 10 years or more their senior. There seems to be something about those extra years of maturity — maybe experience, knowledge or confidence — that makes people think they’re attractive to both genders.
It isn’t just women who have this preference either. In fact, studies show that many young men also want to date women several decades older than themselves. A 2002 study conducted by University of California-Riverside researchers showed that 18-year-old boys were much less interested in dating girls ages 16 to 19 than in going out with other 25-year-olds. Similarly, a study published in 2005 concluded that straight 17-year-old boys had a stronger desire to hang out with older teens than did gay 15-year-olds. The findings suggest that these young males didn’t necessarily consider the girl hot; instead, they wanted her social standing and independence because it made them feel more mature.
So what does all this mean for single women looking for a serious relationship? Do you need to start hitting bars once you hit 35? Are your best options limited to men half your age? We’ll take a look next.
When To Go For It
Women may enjoy dating men two or three decades their junior, but is there any point where this becomes unhealthy? Is there ever a time when a woman should go after a guy closer to her own age?
Experts say yes. If you’ve reached your mid-20s without meeting Mr. Right (or if you haven’t yet met him), then you shouldn’t waste years waiting around for a potential mate.
Dr. Barbara L. DeYoung, associate professor of psychology at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, N.C., says that while women do tend to peak in attractiveness during adolescence, it can still be smart to pursue relationships with older men later in life. She points to the example of actress Demi Moore, who was married to actor Bruce Willis when he was 32 and she was 22. While the pair eventually divorced, Dr. DeYoung believes that the age gap wasn’t inherently problematic or harmful to their marriage. Instead, she suggests that the couple simply grew apart since they weren’t together long enough to establish common interests.
On the other hand, some experts insist that age gaps larger than five years can put both partners at risk. In his book “”Adult Dating Relationships: Communication and Intimacy,”” author Richard M. Schwartz writes that one reason people fall in love with each other is the way we perceive ourselves through our partners’ eyes. He argues that anyone outside the comfortable range of 5 to 7 years can cause problems for a romantic relationship.
If you don’t mind being labeled as a cougar, however, then you might try reaching out to men older than yourself. In 2007, former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani joined forces with singer Patti LaBelle and actress Halle Berry to launch a line of designer clothing called Urban Intimates. The company markets itself to women in their late 30s or early 40s, whom the founders describe as urban cowgirls. Sales from the first collection totaled $5 million in September 2008.
While you wait for your dream guy to appear, why not browse the following links to learn more about men, aging and romance?
Aging Isn’t All Bad News
One stereotype of aging is that it leads to loss of libido and sexual function. But in reality, sex lives improve as people get older. One 2003 study published by the Journal of Sexual Medicine reported that among 8,000 women aged 45 to 65, nearly 60 percent responded affirmatively to the statement, “”My sex drive has remained strong throughout my adult life.”” Only 28 percent of women in the study admitted that they felt their sexual interest and ability decreased with age [Source: Fox].
Another study showed that middle-aged women tended to report higher levels of satisfaction with sex than their counterparts in other age groups. Researchers believe that women become more sexually adventurous as they gain confidence in their bodies, leading to better performances in bed.
And a third study revealed that the majority of women in their 50s believed that sex improved with age, compared to only 37 percent of women in their 30s. This could explain why women in their 40s and 50s are more likely to use vibrators and masturbate regularly; they know that they can perform well in bed.
There are other ways to keep the spark alive after a certain age, including practicing safe sex and using condoms. With proper birth control methods, you can delay pregnancy until you meet the right person. You can also explore new hobbies that will help spice things up in the bedroom. Dancing lessons, art classes, meditation workshops or yoga retreats offer opportunities to learn new skills and stretch your mental muscles. Finally, remember that sexuality is fluid. No matter how old you are, you can always be open to experimenting with different positions and activities.
Many countries require men over 70 to wear special vests identifying them as seniors. In England, Scotland and Wales, drivers must carry license plates beginning at age 75. Australia requires identification cards for pensioners starting at age 67. Other nations set the retirement age at 65 or 62 depending on whether someone worked full-time before turning 65.”