Braving "robbing the cradle" jokes, almost one-third of women between ages 40 and 69 are dating younger men (defined as 10 or more years younger). According to a recent AARP poll, one-sixth of women in their 50s, in fact, prefer men in their 40s.
It's not what you think -- the stamina or "re-boot" ability of the younger male. The women like the flexibility and sense of adventure of their more spontaneous, younger companions, Tina B. Tessina, PhD, a licensed family therapist in practice in Long Beach, Calif., and author of The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again, tells WebMD. For their part, the men like the sophistication and life success of their older mates, she explains. The much touted idea that women peak sexually in their 30s and men in their teens does not enter into it -- most of these couples are beyond both those age periods.
Other Reasons Behind This Trend
According to Tessina, other reasons underlying this expansion of everyone's dating choices include:
Older women are looking better every day, thanks to creative medical advances and a gym on every corner.
Women are more likely to come back on the dating market because of divorce and a longer expected life span.
Not as many women are looking for the picket fence and two cars. Now companionship, travel, and fun are coming to the forefront.
Women may also want a man with a less-developed career who could follow her or take care of children, if that is a factor.
For their part, younger men often find older women more interesting, experimental, fun to talk to, financially settled, and more adept sexually.
But what about the notion that men are "hard-wired" to seek a smooth-faced, curvy receptacle for reproduction and thus are drawn to younger women? "Humans are relatively flexible species," Michael R. Cunningham, PhD, a psychologist in the department of communications at the University of Louisville, tells WebMD. "Factors other than biological can be attractive. You can override a lot of biology in pursuit of other goals."
Interestingly, Cunningham did an unpublished study of 60 women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, who were shown pictures of men aged to those decades. "The women," he says, "were more interested in men their own age or older."
As for the men, he says: "I guess it could be nice not to hang around a ditz with no knowledge of music or something like that."