One stereotype about men over sixty is that they prefer to date younger women. The problem with accepting dating stereotypes as true is that they can lead single men and women astray in their search for a partner.
Allow me to explain.
If you’re in tune with celebrity news, it seems that all male actors over sixty are required to have wives and girlfriends half their age.
As of this writing, for example, rocker Steven Tyler at 71 is dating Aimee Preston, 40 years his junior. Leonardo DiCaprio is said to be dating a woman 23 years younger. Sean Penn has had relationships with women 15 to 32 years younger. You get the idea.
It’s a picture of idealized romance and repeated failed relationships that has little to do with the life of an average single man or woman.
Sure, when it comes to finding love, age does indeed matter. Yet it’s only one of several factors. Following popular stereotypes in your dating quest can make it nearly impossible to find the right partner.
Let’s look at some of the myths about older men dating younger women and see where it leads us.
Table of Contents
Statistics on Dating Younger Women
Dating platform Zoosk surveyed their 40+ million members about men who date younger women. Here’s what they found.
📌 60% of men are attracted to younger women. Half of them prefer 1-4 years younger, 27% 5-9 years younger, and 22% 10+ years younger.
📌 27% are attracted to older women, defined as 1-4 years older.
📌 13% prefer the same age.
In short, the majority of single men prefer women within ten years of their own age.
Pew research found that in North America the average age gap for couples was only 2.2 years, with the woman being younger.
Statistics on Communicating with Younger Women
Zoosk’s study also found that men who message older women, or women their own age, get about a 2% better response than those who message younger women. However, men who message women 10+ years younger have a response rate 3% below average.
In other words, if you want to date younger women, it’s going to take a lot more work. Your messaging will need to be incredible to get a good response.
Benefits of Dating Younger Women
Obviously, men who date younger women get something out of it, or else they wouldn’t do it.
Some like the youthful outlook and different energy. Superficial single men like having “eye candy” on their arm.
For men who feel compelled to date younger women, a good questions to ask is, “What do I get out of it?”
If you’re not sure why the younger woman appeals to you, there could be unresolved childhood issues at play. Maybe you don’t like emotional attachment. Perhaps you are afraid of real relationships or don’t know what it takes to be in one. Therapy would certainly help.
Problems with Dating Younger Women
As the age gap widens, some things can become problematic.
Younger women will probably want children.
Statistics on expected births from the CDC show that over 90% of women younger than 44 expect to have one or more births in their lifetimes.
Do you want an infant at age sixty? Are you willing to make the commitment to being a proactive, proper father as you go through your sixties, seventies and beyond?
If starting a new family is a partner deal breaker, it narrows the pool of potential younger women by a tenth.
Age Gap in Social Circles
A younger woman’s parents may be your age or younger. Will that be awkward?
Her friends will be her age. Will that be socially difficult for you? Can you relate to the things their age group likes to discuss? Or will you feel like the baby sitter?
With age comes the likelihood of more health issues. Of course, men who take good care of themselves can be as fit as men in their twenties. I can say that it wasn’t until I was in my mid-forties that I attained any level of real fitness.
Whatever your current health status, it’s something to be aware of. If you’re sixty-five, dating a thirty-year-old, she might not be so tolerant if age-related issues arise as you head into your eighties.
Overcoming Stereotypes and Stigma
Older men also must overcome stereotypes and stigma.
Writing in Psychology Today, Wendy L. Patrick, J.D., Ph.D says,
“In terms of gender differences, they found that the link between perceived relational inequity and prejudice was higher when the man in a relationship was older, rather than the woman.”
In other words, people feel men have the upper hand and might be taking advantage of the woman’s youth and inexperience.
Another stereotypical belief is that women in these relationships have unhealthy relationships with their fathers.
Yet at least one study found no basis in fact for either of these beliefs. Patrick continues,
“Apparently many couples with age differences enjoy healthy, fulfilling, loving relationships. Having come together without ulterior motives or emotional childhood issues, many such pairings are strong, stable, and able to withstand societal scrutiny.”
Nevertheless, if you and your partner are emotionally healthy and find your way to a good relationship, you must still deal with age-gap stigma and stereotypes.
Is There Something Wrong with Men Who Date Younger Women?
Several years ago, I was walking around a popular beach vacation town. There were a noticeable number of white-haired gentlemen walking along with young women. My first thought was, “How nice all these fathers are spending time with their daughters.”
A second later I realized from all the hand-holding that these were senior men on vacation with much younger women.
I confess, it made me feel a bit creepy. But I realized that was my own societal prejudices at work. I had to take a non-judgmental step back from the “creepy” stereotype.
So, how do you tell right from wrong?
As with any relationship, it all depends on the motivation, no matter the age difference. If there are no ulterior motives or childhood issues at play, as mentioned above, there is a good chance for a healthy relationship.
For example, if a man has a history of failed relationships, there is good reason to question his motivation. There is probably some unresolved childhood issue fueling his need to date younger women.
Some older men date younger women for social appearance. Again, it comes back to motivation. Why is that so important?
One reason the younger woman stereotype is popular is that society leads them in that direction. Pop culture is overly influential, as we mentioned with headline-grabbing celebrity couple news.
These kinds of superficial motivations probably won’t lead to a satisfactory long-term relationship. Yet if both partners honestly understand their motivations and are okay with them, a relationship can succeed.
What’s the Maximum Age Difference for Dating?
There’s an old “dating rule” that figures your partner’s socially acceptable minimum and maximum dating age. No one knows who created the rule, but it’s been used a lot for a long time, and it goes like this:
Minimum dating age:
[Your age ÷ 2] + 7 = socially acceptable minimum age of potential dating partner.
Maximum dating age:
[Your age – 7] x 2 = maximum age limit.
For example, if you’re 60:
The minimum dating age: [60 ÷ 2] + 7 = 37.
The maximum dating age: [60 – 7] x 2 = 106. (Good luck with the dating pool!)
So, how true is this dating age-gap “rule”?
One relationship study quoted in Psychology Today found that men tend to adhere to this minimum age guidance, and actually prefer ages higher than the minimum.
When it comes to the maximum—no surprise here—they found that men prefer to remain closer to or slightly lower than their own age as they get past age 40.
The Ideal Age Difference for Dating and Marriage
There is, of course, no well-defined limit for age gaps in a relationship. There will always be outliers to any societal norm or rule of thumb.
In Is There an Ideal Age Difference For a Lasting Relationship? Daisy mentions an Emory University study of 3,000 people which discovered that the greater the age gap, the more likely the relationship is to fail.
The study found the “ideal age gap” to be a mere one year, with a three percent chance of divorce. At five years, the chance of divorce is 18%. At 10 years, 39% and at 20 years, a staggering 95%.
But don’t let that deter you. If we are maturing and gaining wisdom as we age, a handful of years difference will not be the determining factor in a relationship.
Are There Any Age Gap Dating Sites for Men Over 60?
There are two ways to handle online dating if your heart is set on a specific age gap in your dating partners.
The first way is to use an age-gap website such as AgeMatch.com.
Their online dating site is designed for older men or women who want relationships with younger partners.
The advantage to an age-gap dating site is that the users are all there for the same reason. The disadvantage is there will be a smaller audience than on the general dating sites.
The second way is to simply use the age-search features available on the major dating sites. Most of them let users target their ideal partner’s age when setting up their profile.
If age is important, write something about this in your profile. This helps to attract the right candidates and exclude the wrong ones.
The advantage of the more popular dating sites is the broad range of ages and interests to work with in a search.
Some of these include:
Dating sites that specialize in older men and women aren’t as likely to have as many younger candidates. But you don’t know until you look. There could be younger partners who signed up for the site precisely because it caters to a senior clientele.
Conclusion – Older Men Dating Younger Women
So where does all this information take us?
While age is important, it should not be the ONLY determining factor in dating.
It starts with knowing yourself and your motivations first. As Daisy says in The Mature Singles’ Quick Guide to Smart Dating, “If you don’t really know who you are, how can you present your best self to potential partners.”
Then, think about those things that you specifically want in your ideal partner. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, your search will take longer and be harder.
Your partner’s interests, lifestyle, finances, and personality will make a difference in whether a relationship will succeed. What is acceptable? What’s not?
If the age group you’re targeting isn’t responding, especially if there is a big age gap, widen your search a bit. And take a look at your messaging, at how you present yourself to the world.
For some smart dating shortcuts, advice and tips, be sure to check out The Mature Dating Game Plan and Mature Dating Challenges.
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