Both Men and Women Prefer Dating Younger

a young man dating a young woman

Add this to the annals of studies that confirm things we already know anecdotally.

A piece in Time Magazine cites numbers from the Are You Interested Facebook app that concludes that, among 35,942 users ages 30 to 49, a woman was five times more likely to show interest in a man who was five years her junior, rather than one who was five years older.

Men’s preferences are shaped not just by looks but by fertility, which is why many have 35 as a cutoff.

Similarly, among 26,434 men ages 30 to 49, 42% wouldn’t even consider a woman if she was older than him. However, if contacted by an older woman, men wouldn’t necessarily turn her down. The data shows that a man is only 22% less likely to respond to an older woman than a younger woman if she initiates contact.

This is the exact same observation I make in Finding the One Online. Namely, that if you look at a typical 40 year old man’s search preferences, it will generally read 27-35. And if you look at a typical 40 year old woman’s search preferences, it’ll generally read 35-45. However, men’s preferences are shaped not just by looks but by fertility, which is why many have 35 as a cutoff. And while women will write 35-45, they will almost always prefer a man her age or younger.

There are WAY too many exceptions to this for us to fight about, so please, let’s not. Let’s just agree that women, like men, prefer dating younger, that men are receptive to emails from all sorts of women, and that both genders are equally driven by youth and beauty. The difference is that women also care about money, career, education and height, which makes their dating pools shrink proportionately.

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  1. 221
    Peter 51

    My first wife was 5 years older than me. Parting after 28 years had nothing to do with age difference. (Childrearing). My second is 34 years younger. That doesn’t have much to do with age difference either. As time goes on, the difference between those who avoid temptation and those who fall grows. The pool shrinks and one tends to be choosier. (I was never a person for one night stands, so quality mattered). Single women over 50 aren”t very interested in marriage anyway. In the past some   Orthodox Churches wouldn’t marry women over 60 as they couldn’t bear children. There’s no record of serious revolt. Perhaps there were enough toy boys? FWIW in NW Europe from about 2200 to 1800 the average age of marriage for men was 28-39, about where it is now. For women it was 21 to a 30 year old in hard times to 25 plus to a 28 year old easier times. Women preferred established men. Illegitimacy rates were very low so promiscuous One Night Stands were not the order of the day. Celibacy was in. On the other hand, there is the term, The Merry Widow. There were many widows who inherited their husbsns’ property and sometimes trade. Perhaps they kept toy boys? Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, a widow, was pretty racy.

    1. 221.1

      Peter 51   .. Good for you for finding quality mates regardless of age. Like you Ive found that age hasn’t been as big a factor as say attachment style is . Lucky for you there isn’t a stigma or derogatory words thrown at men who are with someone younger.
        I agree that many women in their 50s may not want marriage. I broke up with a BF who was 10 years younger because he was rushing me about marriage.
      Interesting history lesson. A change in economic times is having an impact it seems.     

      1. 221.1.1

        Yes Kathleen, economic times have changed.   I know some guys I’ve met who even admit that they want to marry well established older women for their money, assuming that this is better than shacking up for a few years because this way, he doesn’t leave empty handed.   This is going to be much more likely with a younger man than a man her age or older.   Their goals for marriage are likely to be much different.   The same of course can be argued when the man is much older than the woman.   Is she marrying for love or wealth/stability?   Most older women are quick to tell you that is 99% likely that it is the latter.


        Think Prenup, and insist on it.   Protect yourselves, and I would advise men who are marrying women to do the same if he is the one with the assets.   If the other person is in it for love, a prenup should be no problem.

        1. Henriette

          Wooaah, @Rusty!   Guess what…?   We agree!   Pre-nups for everyone, male or female.

          Not only do pre-nups help (alas, not fool-proof, but useful nonetheless) protect assets, but they force couples to have those tough conversations about married finances before they say “I do.”   A woman can easily nod and say, “of course I’d never try to take half your hard-earned money if we were to divorce” but you might see a different response when you ask her to make that legally binding.   A man might smile and say, “sure, if you stay home and raise the kids, I consider that a Real Job and if we were to split, I’d make sure you were compensated in a way that reflected that.”   But request that he sign to a dollar amount and he might sign another tune.

          See, @Rusty?   We share lots of common ground 🙂

    2. 221.2
      Peter 51

      Kathleen. Thanks. However, there was a type. 34 should be 24. Sorry about the history lesson. i immediately take the helicopter view on most things. It is NOT an advantage.

  2. 222
    just wow

    These posts make online dating look REALLY unappealing. “I want A,B,C,and D and I’ll drop B but he/she must have E and F but he/she has to be this age and make this amount of money has to be a 9, 10, etc, etc” Little talk about what I bring to the table and even less about any traits that actually sustain a long term relationship while claiming that I actually want one. If this is the reality of online dating thanks but no thanks!

  3. 223

    Today I read that Madonna and Sean Penn are thought to be sleeping together, almost 30 years after divorcing.   However, this rumour was summarily dismissed because it’s well-known that she prefers younger men and he prefers younger women.

    I understand that this is only celebrity gossip but I found it hilarious that two people who were once married are now each “too old” for the other.   What kind of world have we created!?

    1. 223.1

      Yes its ironic but this seems the norm in my age group. I get messages everyday from guys my age or older who list their criteria range limit younger than me. When I say Im not in their age range they say Im “hot” so they just seem delusional. Yesterday I got a message from a 71 year old who I was too old for LOL .   The worse site for this is Match.

      With these ageist men, I think its a reflection of their own fear of aging because most look in bad shape and seem unremarkable

      At least I don’t have to put up with this from younger guys 🙂

    2. 223.2

      That really is hilarious! Actually I think those two shouldn’t reunite because they didn’t seem good together when they were married–nothing to do with age!


  4. 224
    Karmic Equation


    “Anyway… The only older woman I would marry is Karmic Equation, then she would probably divorce me a week later because we would have a fight about how I’m washing dishes wrong! (^_^)”

    Hmmm….Let me see if I can summarize properly:

    1) You are model handsome

    2) You’re in med school

    3) You’re sensitive as well as thoughtful (as evidenced by your posts)

    4) You do dishes

    5) You’d marry me

    Where do I sign???

    <3 <3 <3

  5. 225

    To Karmic Equation,

    You just looking at income is sad and pathetic. Are you lazy? Do you not want to work? Why should a guy make a lot of $ for you. Do you make a lot of $? Make something of yourself and make your own $. And yes that’s shallow. The only thing I can see I like about you is you are under 5ft which for me is very sexy.

  6. 226

    What!!!! Hell no! 100 1000 times NO for me. I will never date younger guys never. I prefer older guys( maximum 9-10, minimum 2-3).

    I strongly dislike relationships in which women are older. I don’t understand those women. Some even are the age of mother to their bf(40-20). It is really stupid. You are too much older. You should know the right thing to do& what to avoid. You are more mature. Put love aside! Use your brain! ‘I don’t care what other talk about us. I love you.’ this is what teens do. Not over 40!

    Do you think he will always be loyal to you? Most men are not. Even the same age or even they have younger gf, they will likely to taste the new dishes. So if you are too much older than him, think about it.

    For your sake…..

    I respect all.

    1. 226.1
      Karl R


      If you prefer older guys, that’s fine.   Most of them prefer younger women.

      If you don’t want to date younger men, then you don’t have to.   It might make finding a good partner a little harder for you, but probably not.

      If you dislike (other people’s) relationships in which women are older, that’s your problem.   In general, those couples are  not seeking your approval.

      According to the best data that I’ve found, 21% of men and 16% of women cheat on their spouse.   Therefore, most men are loyal.   I can find no evidence that husbands who are younger than their wives are any more likely to cheat than husbands who are older than their wives.

      I’m curious about your assertion about marrying an older man being “the right thing to do.”   I am not aware of a single world religion that prohibits younger men from marrying older women.   Can you tell me which religion prohibits it?   Or are we just supposed to take your word for it?

    2. 226.2

      Wow,  woman. For only dating the “mature” ones you’re such a child.

      Perhaps that’s why you exclusively date such older men. Child looking for a daddy figure perhaps?

      My man is almost  seven years younger than me and it’s the happiest, healthiest relationship I’ve ever had.

  7. 227

    I am 53. For most of the 22 years I’ve been divorced, I was raising a child and running a company.   Whether or not anyone I dated turned into a relationship that lasted more than a few months really didn’t matter to me. My daughter rarely met any of the men I dated, and I didn’t talk about them when she was around because I knew they were just passin’ through, even if they pleaded for more.   I don’t date younger men.   I prefer men my age or older – sometimes lots older, esp in my 30s when I was working through some father abandonment stuff.   (The oldest two back then were 31 and 28 years OLDER than I was.   There were benefits and drawbacks in each case.)

    Since my daughter graduated college, I’ve been looking for someone who pleases me and to whom I am desirable.   What a surprise to discover that while I wasn’t paying attention, I’ve become invisible! In the last decade, I went from being extremely successful, very fit, very pretty, very wealthy to being fairly average, for a long list of reasons (some of them my fault, some of them “acts of God” type stuff).   Sure, I can rest on some impressive laurels, but who cares?

    So after 5 solid years of trying to find someone I like well enough to keep, and who likes me in return, I’ve decided to…give up. Online dating has been fraught with all the issues dissected in these posts. It’s all true.   I’ve decided to take up weight lifting again, spend more time traveling, leave behind all online dating sites, smile at any attractive men I see, and just live my life.   I have an apparently unusually high sex drive, but I am loathe to invest that energy in whatever temporary partner I may scrounge up. It’s too much drama to disentangle their emotions or mine or both.

    If I find someone, OK. If I don’t, it will have to be OK.

    Part of being older is being wiser, one hopes.

    Wisdom seems to indicate that at this stage of the game, I should make it all about me now and if any interesting partner shows up, hurray!   And if not, well, them’s the breaks.


  8. 228
    Eve Hunt

    Being younger is no help with these. A few years ago I was researching for an op ed piece regarding the truth behind online dating. I registered at over 50 sites and used various ages in profiles. Paid & free sites were used and it ranged from ChristianDate to f-book. At match I actually broke a site record for my profile picture for number of views in a day & number of total likes. Out of that, a very few conversations and a couple of dates.

    It went downhill from there and I had one hell of a fight with okc and later did a very popular review of on sitejabber. The article did not get published for pay as it involved to much scandalous insider info & I would have been sued blind. SO……I uploaded it as volunteered on the AP wire and it got carried by several publications.

    This industry is NOT a social one. Legally these are ALL registered for license and tax purposes as ENTERTAINMENT. There is no implied obligation by them for anything aside from your entertainment. This is why the most sophisticated AI in the world is used on these and many governments have provided funding for this to be a AI test bed. This is why chat bots now run it all and it will get even more complex soon enough.

    I actually do not recommend ANY online dating site or app outside of just mulling for fun.

  9. 229

    I just think there is something messed up about putting of marriage and family till the women of your own peer group are approaching infertility and then thinking your going to be entitled to a very young wife.

    It’s treating women like wombs. Children are no guarantee infertility can happen at any age. Men who act that way aren’t good marriage bets.

    And I have found that many of these men still want to delay delay delay…

    Age gap marriages can work but honestly the ones that do work work inspite of the marriage gap

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