Reasons Why Women Prefer Dating Older Men

couple doing yoga


Key takeaways: 

  • Know what’s attractive about older men
  • Recognize the difference between 28 and 45
  • Understand why these age-gap relationships succeed or fail

Okay, Evan, I agree mostly with your opinion on younger men/older women. What do you say about the reverse? I mean, I can see why an older man would want to date a younger woman – physically, that is, but why would a 28-year-old woman be attracted to older men and want to date a man 45 or more?

~ Penelope

Dear Penelope,

The conventional wisdom as to why older men tend to go for younger women is straightforward. Younger women, for the most part, are in better shape, with better skin and less baggage from broken relationships. Life experience creates wisdom – but it also creates responsibilities and complications — mortgage, kids, career, etc. All of this makes dating more and more complex as we get older.

It’s a lot easier for a man to take out a carefree, responsibility-free, baggage-free, wrinkle-free 28-year-old, which is why so many men try to go in that direction. I’m not condoning this. I’m OBSERVING that it happens.

Still, most of them fail miserably for the exact same reasons that I think Penelope is suggesting. Older guys want much younger women, but rarely do much younger women want much older men. Put another way, if a woman has an array of other quality options closer to her age range, what incentives would she have to date an older man who is SEVENTEEN YEARS OLDER?

She doesn’t NEED an older man who’s 45. She can find that same amazing guy at age 30. Or 35. Or 40.

Not many, I’m thinking.

Before any 40+ people get all hot and bothered about this — I am not judging. There is nothing wrong with aging. I do think people improve with age (my wife is nodding). But let’s not pretend that we, as a culture, don’t worship at the altar of youth. If you’re over the age of 40 and have ever said, “But I’m told I look five years younger than my age,” then you’re not immune to it yourself. But see, for older men who covet younger women, it’s not whether you look good for your age — it’s what age you really are.

Because it’s competitive out there for all of us, people have choices. And nobody has more choices than a 28-year-old woman. If women date a guy who is 6’2”, makes $400,000+, likes skiing, is within ten miles of her house, and is within five years of her own age, you know what? She could probably find him. All she has to do is go on a dating app and wade through a few thousand applicants

The point is, she doesn’t NEED to date a man who’s 45. Why start dating an older man who’s paying child support, and  will be  taking Viagra when she’s sexually peaking at 43?

Don’t get me wrong. There are advantages to the 45-year-old guy. Now that I’ve passed that age, I get it. At 45, he’s a man. He’s got the job, the home, the car, and has been divorced with a kid already. So if a woman finds it more appealing to just step into that world — to jump from the prolonged adolescence of the late 20s into full-fledged settled-down womanhood — that could make sense.

Of course, there may be many other things that are attractive about older men. Older men embody wisdom and stability. Older men can afford nicer restaurants and vacations and have cultivated greater tastes in the arts. Older men are more experienced, more chivalrous, and more likely to want to settle down than twentysomething younger guys or party boys.  

And yet, they probably resemble Penelope’s dad more than they resemble her brother…

This is the most compelling reason why younger women might be attracted to older men: they’re daddy substitutes. An older man is going to be the strong, nurturing guy who takes care of her, teaches her, and treats her like a princess — the kind of relationship that she probably lacked growing up.

Hey, I’m no psychologist — just your friendly, neighborhood dating coach. But I do know women and have coached many women in their 20s. And the truth is that most of them are completely creeped out at the prospect of dating a guy with a significant age gap who was alive two decades before she was born.

Whether we like it or not, there is nearly a full generation age difference between 28 and 45. A few women may bridge this gap for lust or money or dimestore psychological reasons, but most of the 28-year-old women who come to me for dating coaching would prefer to date a great, stable 30-40-year-old.

Okay, older men – tell me why I’m wrong. But don’t forget, you and your younger girlfriends are the exceptions. I’m writing about the RULE in an age gap relationship.

By the way, my wife wants it on record that she would totally have slept with Harrison Ford when he was in his 60s. So there’s that.

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