Two recent studies have changed the way we think about relationships between older men and younger women. “We” is defined as anyone who wants to think about these relationships in a different way. The rest of you are free to roam at will and can think whatever you want to. Life in the Boomer Lane has no dog in this fight.
We shall begin with the first piece of research: A recent study of Finnish adults has uncovered a shocking new revelation: Although older men are, indeed, attracted to (substantially) younger women, they are also attracted to women their age. And, as they aged, their preferences aged, as well.
Let’s first get a few things clarified, before you older guys start flooding LBL’s in box with all the reasons why you prefer nubile young things. She’s heard it all. She doubts that there is anything new you can add. “They are more fit!” “They are more active!” “They are kinder/more considerate/more thoughtful/more intelligent/more flexible/better cooks/better housekeepers/better in bed/able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!”
Another point to clarify: Yes, LBL knows that this research was done in Finland. And we all know that Finland is famous for only three things: unusually large heads, Angry Birds and Fiskars scissors. So she totally understands why American men wouldn’t put much stock in anything coming out of Finland.
Back to the research: Basically, the stereotype that older men go for young women is “too crude,” said researcher Jan Antfolk. Anybody named “Antfolk” has to be pretty darn sure of anything he says that will have his name attached to it. Antfolk continues, “An interesting finding is that as men age, they become less picky about age…They report an interest in both younger and older women…And of course in the real world, neither men nor women base their romantic choices on age alone. We look for many different characteristics when choosing a partner, and age is just one of them.”
Because LBL is loving writing the name “Antfolk,” she will add several more of Antfolk’s findings: “Overall, Antfolk found, young men preferred women their own age.”
How young is too young, you may ask? Antfolk explains:
“As women grew older, they generally put more limits on how young they would go: For each year in a woman’s age, her definition of ‘too young’ increased by about four months. Men’s preferences evolved, too, though not as much: Their youngest age limit crept up by two months, on average, each year.”
Here is the most interesting finding: “Men’s actual behavior looked different from their reported interests. They typically had sex with women who were close to their own age.”
LBL leaves it to readers to debate why this is so. She will now reluctantly turn her attention away from Antfolk and address herself to the second research: Are young women with older men looking for a Daddy?
Sara Skentelbery and Darren Fowler of St Mary’s U in Halifax examined the phenomenon of “age gap relationships” from an evolutionary perspective, noting that such pairings have benefits in terms of species survival.
We can see immediately that, while “Skentelbery” is a fun name, it cannot compete with “Antfolk.” In spite of this, LBL will forge ahead.
Skentelbery and Fowler found that women in relationships in which there were large age gaps had experienced no less positive a relationship with their fathers than did women who were in age-compatible relationships. In other words, these women were not looking for daddies.
So what are the younger women looking for? It turns out, mostly to be attached to power and prosperity, what the researchers called “socially valued attributes.” And, “these older men believe they’ll accrue even more power and status by sporting their younger, glamorous, and well-outfitted new spouse.”
There you have it, folks. Sex (or energy level or cooking or sensitivity or anything else) doesn’t seem to have anything to do with this.
LBL promises readers that she will continue to update you on research regarding older men/younger women relationships, as it becomes available. In the meantime, continue on with your lives and be grateful that you aren’t named “Antfolk.”
about Renee Fisher……
Renee’s entire life has been formed by her naturally curly hair and her having topograpanosia, a real disorder of the frontal lobe that results in a complete inability to orient herself in space, as well as an inability to remember people’s names. Because of this disorder, she gets lost a lot. If you see her wandering around anywhere, don’t call anyone. Just get her ice cream. That will calm her down. For the hair, there’s not much you can do.
She is, indeed, a former hula hoop champion, as well as the co-author of two books for women over 50. They are Invisible No More: The Secret Lives of Women Over 50 and Saving the Best for Last: Creating Our Lives After 50. She is also a Featured Blogger on Huffington Post and Life in the Boomer Lane.
photo from Deposit Photos