Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

In Online Dating, Women Want Younger Men

AYI (Are You Interested?), one of the world’a largest websites and apps designed to help people find mates, studied the profiles of 36,000 of its users and made an interesting discovery. In what may potentially be yet one more result of more women in high-earning positions than ever before, AYI found that women, aged 30-49, are five times more likely to show interest in men five years younger than those who are five years older. Unforch, 42% of men from from the same sample group wouldn’t even consider dating an older woman.

As to why women are into younger men lately, AYI analysts suspect that women in their 30s and 40s “are inundated by requests from older men and while that might once have had some appeal — in a marrying-for-wealth sort of way — it simply doesn’t anymore.” That goes back to our discussion about the effect of women’s higher salaries on the marriage rate. Women simply don’t need men as financial providers in the same way women did fifty or forty or even thirty years ago. And as more and more women become the primary breadwinner in relationships and families, it makes sense that they would start pursuing younger men in much the same way high-earning males have pursued younger women since forever. Interestingly, a 2008 study published in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly found that “women who are 10 or more years older than their partner report more satisfaction and relationship commitment compared to women who are the same age or younger than their partner.”

Researcher, Dr. Justin Lehmiller, a social psychologist in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University wrote in his blog: “We don’t know for sure, but it may be because when the woman is older, it shifts the traditional heterosexual power dynamic toward greater equality. We know from a lot of research that greater equality tends to make couples happier.”

I will be interested to see what the studies say about this kind of relationship dynamic in 15 years or so. I’m especially curious about the dynamics of couples where the women are in her mid to late 30s and the men are in their mid to late 20s when they get together. If the couple wants children, do the men resent the loud ticking clock? Do the women come to resent the lack of experience and perhaps maturity in a 27-year-old man vs. a man who’s closer to her age? I can see how the power dynamic, and certainly, the physical attractiveness, of a younger man would be appealing to a woman of a certain age and success level, but I just wonder if that appeal is long-lasting and if it can over-ride potential feelings of resentment that may arise over time.

Any women readers with men significantly (more than five years) younger? What are your thoughts and experiences regarding the dynamics of your relationship?

19 comments… add one
  • TECH June 20, 2013, 3:25 pm

    I think overall people are just looking for youth. Our society is obsessed with it. Both men and women.

    Secondly, I think there is some stigma for people over a certain age. Like, when my mom met my stepfather. He was 45. Single. No kids. And there was this thought of, “Hmm, wonder what’s wrong with him. He could never get his act together to get married until now?” I know that’s a twisted way of thinking. But I think some women are turned off by men 40 and older who are perpetual bachelors. Younger men have less baggage, too.

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  • Lily in NYC June 20, 2013, 3:32 pm

    I’ve never done online dating, but I do prefer younger men. But not because I’m obsessed with youth like TECH wrote above. I even dated younger guys in HS when it was the kiss of death and everyone else wanted to date the seniors. My current bf is 13 years younger than I am (I’m 43).

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  • Paki June 20, 2013, 3:36 pm

    I did do online dating and am currently with a younger man (okay – only 2 1/2 years younger- lol). When I was online dating, a lot of younger men did express interest in going out. I went out with a couple and brought up the discussion of why they were interested older woman. A very honest answer was we are more financially secure, tend to have nicer houses, cars, etc then them. So I wonder if the trend isn’t that younger men are more open to dating older women than they have in the past?

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    • katie June 20, 2013, 6:36 pm

      haha, isnt that why most young-er women historically date old-er men?

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  • ktfran June 20, 2013, 3:55 pm

    I’m totally crushing on a dude who is six years younger than me.

    I mean really, men date younger women ALL the time. Why can’t women date younger men?

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  • csp June 20, 2013, 4:13 pm

    I think that younger people just have less baggage. I don’t think it is a “youth” thing. But a lot of my friends dating in that age bracket have to look at partners and they see ex wives and kids and drama. where many 30 year old guys haven’t been through that yet.

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  • Lindsay June 20, 2013, 4:14 pm

    This is interesting. I have no interest in younger guys at all. I guess I technically prefer guys around my age, but I’ve had more interest lately in finding someone slightly older, just to find someone more mature and more interested in something serious. I know it varies — young guys can want commitment and older guys can want something casual, but you know.

    It’s not that young guys as people don’t appeal to me, but I have this inst-bias in my head where if I find out a guy is younger than me, I assume he’s immature. That’s probably a bad thing.

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  • othy June 20, 2013, 4:23 pm

    Younger guys would not be a turn on for me. Of course, I’m 28, an age at which people are finally getting their shit together. Whenever I hear a friend is dating someone in their early 20s, I wonder why. They really aren’t long term partner material. Yeah, they might be a fun fling, but most people I know are finally looking for a marriable man.

    On a side note, I married a man 2 years older than me.

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    • Copa June 20, 2013, 4:53 pm

      Out of curiousity, do you only feel that way about 28-year-old WOMEN dating early-20s men? I think it’s slightly odd for anyone in his or her later-20s to date any early-20s, regardless of gender, because of the huge discrepancy of “life stage” they’re likely at.

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      • othy June 20, 2013, 5:00 pm

        Nope. I have a 30 year old male friend marrying a 23 year old woman. And I think it’s a terrible idea. She’s still in school and has no idea what she wants to do with her life. But mostly, I’m worried because he wants kids and she doesn’t. But they’re getting married anyway.

        My brother started dating his current wife when he was about 27. I went out to dinner with them shortly after they started dating, and ordered a bottle of wine. I didn’t know she was only 19 at the time, and ended up drinking way more wine than I should have because she couldn’t have any and I didn’t want it to go to waste!

      • Copa June 20, 2013, 5:06 pm

        Haha. I remember being 19 and having a HUGE crush on my sister’s 25-year-old friend. At the time I thought it seemed mutual cause we were flirtatious and all of that, and one day I brought it up with him. His answer was something like, “Look, you’re cute, sweet, smart, and funny — but you’re just too young to date.” At the time, I didn’t understand what he meant by that. Now that I’m in my mid-20s, I get it and knowing what I know now, would’ve thought he was seriously creepy if he HAD wanted to date me.

      • Lindsay June 20, 2013, 5:38 pm

        I dated a 28-year-old when I was 22, and ended up breaking up with him because he was too immature.

      • Painted_lady June 20, 2013, 7:06 pm

        Same. 21 and 27, actually. We’re still friends, though. But he’s still a child.

  • Copa June 20, 2013, 5:14 pm

    The funny thing about this is that when I was online dating (the whole hot second I actually tried it, haha), I didn’t really want to respond to men who were younger just because of their age. Granted, there were some men who were OLDER who I didn’t want to talk to because of age, either, but I guess my ideal range was 1 year younger – 6 years older. I don’t think there’s anything necessarily wrong with this, but it’s interesting to note because in REAL life (back in college) I briefly dated TWO guys who were both 2 years younger than I was. I got to know them naturally — both through work — and age wasn’t something I thought about. But when it was presented to me up-front and online? Yeah. Didn’t really do much but turn me off to know a guy is a couple years younger.

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  • Joanna June 21, 2013, 4:55 am

    Younger guys have always been a turn-off to me but then again I am 27. But there is no way I would even date someone my age. I prefer guys that are 8-13 years older.

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  • fast eddie June 21, 2013, 9:24 am

    When I was in my 30s some of my dates were in their mid 40s to mid 50s. They were more attentive to me then younger women who didn’t really know what they wanted, less pretentious and better in bed. Among our friends are some married couples that the men being 5-10 years younger who will have to wait longer to collect social security benefits. This isn’t a new thing but as the article points out but it’s become more common. After 15 years of singlehood between marriages my wife of 24 years is 5 years younger then myself. It wasn’t by design, just opportunity. She says that it was my (then) cute butt that attracted her. That being so, she paid a lot more attention to my other side. (snicker)

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  • Datdamwuf June 21, 2013, 11:21 am

    A long time ago, in my early 30s after long term relationship break up the dating of men my own age was awful because within a couple of dates they wanted exclusivity already while I didn’t want a relationship. So for about 3 years I dated men under 25, most of them were 21 or 22, the sex was great and I had a really good time. I had never really done the whole party thing in my 20s so it worked for me.

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  • Gigi June 21, 2013, 10:36 am

    I did online dating up til about a year ago, & I have to say many many guys who were 5-10 years younger than me emailed. I was not too interested, but I felt I was being shallow & gave it a try a couple times. 10 years was the greatest age difference I felt comfortable with since I was 43 & he was 33. The idea of a much younger guy was hard to get used to tho. I decided to dip my toe in the “cougar pool” after that, & had a short fling with a 27 yr old, but THAT was too much of a difference for me. I kept wondering what his mother would think, ha ha ha! And the difference in experience levels from 27 to 35 was amazing! I confirmed to myself that my preference is for men that are closer to my own age.

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  • Joe June 22, 2013, 6:00 pm

    I have no interest in dating older women. The only way I would date a women over 30 is if she spent a lot of money on me. Plus older women seem to want long term relationships (based on a friend’s experience) & most guys my age really dont want that.

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