Men Are Most Attracted to 20 Year Old Women. So What?

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I love big data.

While statistics can, theoretically, be used to prove/disprove anything, smart people can usually see through the lies to focus on the numbers.

Christian Rudder, president of OkCupid, is the guy who digs up the numbers from the millions of people using his free dating site. In his book, “Dataclysm,” he points out that who we want to be and who we really are can be two very different things. Data reveals truths that we might not want to say out loud.

While statistics can, theoretically, be used to prove/disprove anything, smart people can usually see through the lies to focus on the numbers.

In this 538 article about Rudder, the author recounts a presentation Rudder gave with graphs that illustrate the ages at which men and women find each other the most attractive. From the piece:

“Women who are, say, 28 find guys who are also 28 about the most attractive, and so forth. Up until about 40, when that’s getting too old.”

This is no surprise, much to the chagrin of 40+ year-old guys who swear that they have the same chance at the hot 28-year-old as they did 10 years earlier.

Of course, when you flip the data around and look at what age men find women most physically appealing, you get an appalling answer. Instead of the female curve, which suggests that 34-year-old women like 34-year-old men, men find 20 year-old women most physically appealing, no matter how old they were.

20 year old men prefer 20 year old women. 40 year old men prefer 20 year old women. It’s shocking to see on paper, but not so surprising if you’ve ever talked to an actual man, read a men’s magazine or looked at porn intended for men. This doesn’t mean that 40 year old men want to MARRY that 20 year old woman, only that they find her the most physically appealing. To tell men NOT to feel this way would be akin to telling them not to breathe.

I think we’d all be well served to pay attention to how people really act when no one’s looking instead of taking their word for it.

Now, I don’t always agree with all of the conclusions that Rudder draws from his OkCupid data. Once upon a time, he was trying to illustrate why free dating sites were “better” than paid dating sites, but it was clear that he was advocating for OkCupid. Regardless, big data is often very revealing about people’s real preferences – height, weight, age, income, sex, and so on.

The one problem with big data is that it removes the human element – and dating is very much about human connection. But the same way I try to lay out best practices for dating and relationships while allowing for many exceptions to the rules, I think we’d all be well served to pay attention to how people really act when no one’s looking instead of taking their word for it.

Your thoughts, below, are appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 141
    Rosemary

    Oh, please – give me a break.   In my 40s, I was pursued by a lot of men, even dated a guy in his 20’s (just a fling for us both). Now, over 60, I   can’t attract a male for ANYTHING. They KNOW you’re postmenopausal and can’t run fast enough.   I look a lot younger and better than most women my age – do you think I’m turning heads anymore?   Or, being approached by men in my age bracket? An older guy who worked with my son, told my son I was “too old” for him. And, he was very close to my age – no great shakes himself! WTH do these men see in THEIR mirror? No one CHOOSES to be bitter, so let’s not put the onus on women who are fed up being rejected by guys who are no George Clooney themselves. As far as procreation is concerned, by the time their imaginary offspring are in kindergarten, they’ll probably be dead. PUHLEESE!!   How do you explain the feeling SO MANY women have of becoming “invisible” to men? There are a LOT of dirty old men out there,and they’re smug, because they’re so outnumbered by the women. The only happy ones are those fortunate enough to be celebrating 40 or 50 years of marriage!

  2. 142
    Rosemary

    I’d   like to add that I tried online dating, age-appropriate.   I posted my picture and, while my profile got checked out, I   received few “likes” and probably no winks or flirts.   Same thing on Match, Eharmony, jdate, Christian singles, OurTime, etc.   It’s demeaning enough to have to stoop to a data base to try and find a partner, but the rejection is too hurtful. And, I’m a feminine woman, not an “angry” feminist or anything. I like men who open doors for you, and treat you like a lady. I’m not Christie Brinkley (an anomaly), but I’m not fat or ugly, either.

  3. 143
    Karl R

    Rosemary said: (#142)

    “No one CHOOSES to be bitter,”

    Quoting Charles Swindoll:

    “The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past … we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.”

    Quoting Joel Osteen:

    “The only thing we can control is our own attitude.”

     

     

    Rosemary,

    Nobody (besides you) can force you to be bitter. Only you have that ability.

    I know many single women in their 50s, 60s and 70s who have great attitudes. I could try to make them feel angry and bitter about being single … but I would only manage to make myself sound like a jerk by doing so. Their attitude is independent of men’s actions.

    However, because they have a better attitude, they also generally have better dating lives. Men tend to be attracted to good attitudes and driven away by lousy attitudes.

     

    Rosemary said:  (#143)

    “It’s demeaning enough to have to stoop to a data base to try and find a partner,”

    I’ve seen women imply similar things in their online profiles, so you’re not alone. Let’s turn this around.

    Let’s say you’re out doing something (maybe something you enjoy), and it’s someplace where you go on a regular basis. And let’s say a moderately attractive 60-something man shows up. After a while, he starts making some small talk with you….

    … and one of the first things hes says is, “I can’t believe I’ve stooped to coming to this place to try to meet women.”

    Does that attitude make you more interested or less interested in dating him?

     

    Clearly the hypothetical guy thinks there’s something wrong with that place, the people who go there regularly, and even himself, for walking in the door. Any woman with decent self-esteem will be hoping the man departs the premises.

    Granted, the women who  feel demeaned by  dating online are a bit more subtle than that. But they’re not subtle enough to be undetectable.

     

    Rosemary said:  (#143)

    “I’m a feminine woman, not an ‘angry’ feminist or anything.”

    So you’re an angry, bitter, non-feminist. Even worse, you come across as a misandrist.

    Would you date an angry, bitter misogynist? What if the misogynist was age-appropriate, fit and attractive?

    Given the choice, most sane women would date an older, fatter, uglier man before dating a bitter misogynist. (Or they’d happily avoid dating either … but they’d be  happier about avoiding the misogynist.)

     

    I almost certainly know women who are older, heavier and less attractive than you … and who are finding long-term boyfriends, sometimes getting married. Instead of ranting about men, why don’t you try to figure out how those women are managing to kick your ass?

  4. 144
    Ashley

    As a 21 year old femals I’m totally repulsed by men in their 3s0 and 40s trying to date me or even trying to flirt with me. My friends and I have talked about this many times after leaving a club or even being on dating sites like when I was on ok cupid. Some loser is his 40s writing me just creeped me out. Worse still if they had kids. GROSS get help!!!!   Seriously do they think we find their old ass hot? because we don’t!! When we get hit on by older guys at a bar sometimes we say f**k off and sometimes we’re nice depends on the mood we’re in but how we feel is the same, gross on every level! My dad would kill a guy if he found out some dude that old was trying to date me or talk to me. My dad’s 47 he’d want to bash the guys head in.   It’s not normal. Maybe they’re child molesters too I mean that’s what I think of when these creeps try to talk to me. They’re old really old seek help seek psychiatric help and leave us the f**k alone!!!

    1. 144.1
      No Name To Give

      I left one site because the fellas half my age wouldn’t leave me alone.

  5. 145
    J

    Men have always been attracted to young women. Always have and always will. I think Kendall Jenner, Selena Gomez & Miley Cyrus are hot. I like looking at pictures of them. I also think Ellen Pompeo, Naomi Watts, Grace Park, Cate Blanchett are hot, and they are all pushing 50 years of age. And I also think Helen Mirren, 72, is hot and a very sexy lady. So just because men look at / lust after young women, doesn’t mean we’re not attracted to same age / older women.

    I wonder what the age difference among men & women is among the visually impaired? Do the blind date / marry older / younger?

  6. 146
    A woman

    Of course men prefer the appearance of 20 year olds, it seems to be a mix of:

    biology, therefore instinct (the venus fly trap of fertility, even when he doesnt want more kids!),

    status

    the appeal of new / shiny / novelty

    A physical reminder of a time when they themselves felt most alive and virile.

    This is understandable, as females instinctively are attracted to certain attributes too that are age and genetically conditional. But, what I DON’T understand is why relationship blogs all over the web keep rubbing this (ancient) ‘breaking news’ in women’s faces and even inviting conversation knowing where it will lead!

    Look, women can’t grow younger. So if a man would be discouraged with constant reminders that he is not the leader of a large group of suborinate men and a line up of female comments about how repulsive he is due to those missing attributes, why would a woman not be discouraged with this post? Is this what we humans are made of? Responding hatefully to bait?

    So men prefer the aesthetics of youth over older women…possibly they also prefer the emotional and intellectual connection with a more mature woman over a 20 year old. What one lacks the other provides. It can be tempting to assume it means only 20 year old’s have the ‘it’ factor and I guess they do for being at their prime as being a visual sexual object, but that is the only winning factor in that age group and is the primary concern mostly of the type of man you wouldnt want anyway.

    This is the last time I read an article that steers toward the negatives, life is too short and I have some great things to get on with and generally there are more helpful articles on here. Women, please take care, focus on the postives of what you have to offer and let your common sense filter the type of men you want in your life.

     

    1. 146.1
      Sue

      A Woman: you stated that beautifully. The reason there are so many negative articles targeted towards us is because they are likely subsidized by the beauty industry. If we all loved ourselves and stopped worrying about our looks 24/7 – stopped getting surgeries and buying makeup – the economy would collapse.

  7. 147
    Beeb

    Of course in general 20yr old women are more physically attractive than 40yr olds.   It’s all glossy and lovely!   BUT I know many women in their 40’s and 50’s…. my age group who are drop dead gorgeous, smart, wise, capable and sexy.   I’m a heterosexual women BTW.

    Ok, I was married at 24 to a 27yr old man.    OMG if only I had been wiser!   He has only now matured in his 50’s,   and only because he has been shocked into it because I left him 4yrs ago after 3 kids and a long marriage. I left not only because of his past indiscretions, but because of his complete inability to be a grown up.

    he now admits ( who knows if it’s the whole truth) that his affairs were totally to feed his ego.   None of the women were as attractive as myself, nor as able to connect with my silly, foolish but sometimes brilliant ex.   He is not terribly sexual.. I am and often wondered and voiced to him my concern.   He would not do a single thing to help…. very lost soul….. a mama issue I think.

    Anyhow after divorce I started dating a man a year older than myself, I was 47 at the time.   He had previously at 40 dated and lived with a 20yr old,   and when I queried him on what was his motivation for dating someone a couple of yrs older than his daughter, he answered it was his ego!!   She wasn’t hot and gorgeous ( I’ve seen photos). And he also says she wasn’t,   apparently she didn’t like sex, and didn’t like any PDA because she was embarrassed about the age difference.   The relationship lasted 2yrs, and it was all so he could brag to his friends about dating a 20 yr old.

    After that at 45 he dated and lived with a 30 yr old.   He calls her a crazy bitch, couldn’t stand it that she wanted to party all the time.   But he loved to brag to his friends.

    Then we dated,   oMG he pursued… but turns out he can’t keep up in bed.   Is a cranky petulant little boy who was jealous of and competed with my two sons who are now 21 and 18.   All about his fragile ago.

    of course we broke up!   I broke it off 8 mths ago when his behaviour escalated to downright petulant verbal abuse!!

    Some men are forever mamas boys and have pretty complex issues around women.

    i am a confident 51 yr old,   I am attractive and I am maintaining that… I have to work a little more in it now that I’m on the b side of 50. When I say work on it I don’t just mean the physical side, but keeping happy, upbeat and positive.    The personality is the most profound source of attraction.

    I Don’t think all men are as underdeveloped as my ex husband and subsequent ex boyfriend,   I probably have to monitor my ability to judge a boy from a man.

    i guess my point is some people- men and women are just driven by their insecurities and fragile ego’s.

  8. 148
    Sue

    I am 47. I used to read all this BS and thought I may as well lay down and die since no one would want me. Just for the heck of it, I joined Match and found that there were many men out there in my age bracket who were looking for age appropriate women. I even had a few offers from younger men (one unbelievably hot one who probably just wanted to have sex). Anyway, of course I am aware that if I were 20, I would get 100 times more responses but who cares? We only need one person. Perhaps what really matters is youthfulness, which is attractive to either gender. I am petite, slim, Asian, and girlie. Maybe it is just important to take care of yourself, try to be as happy as possible and not bitter, and you can attract your fair share of appealing partners. Yes, men can be sexually appealing for longer in general and many times can attract much younger women but that doesn’t have to be the last word. My friend’s 20 yr old daughter is (sadly) a sugar-baby. For $2000 a month she sleeps with a wealthy 45 yr old attorney twice a week. In order to do this, she tells me she has to get very drunk from expensive wines in his cellar. At the same time, however, she herself admits falling for a 40 yr old once. So personality and taking care of ones body might count for most of everything.

  9. 149
    gggggggoooooo

    As a woman now mid/late 30s, I have never ever been attracted to a man older than me by more than 4yrs. Old men with money hounded me throughout my 20s (and teens- the unfortunate plight of girlhood for almost all of us) and I thought and still think it’s weird and gross, so did every girl I knew, there was always one who liked oldies, but she was the exception-money or no money-young girls like young guys and young people in general do not consider things like finances in love. Some girls think of old guys like doing what they have to do for the time being, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be that guy. The weird thing is that in my mid 30s, only men much younger (or MUCH older) than me are ever interested, which I also think is weird. One comment stated that it wasn’t gross that he was 40, 50, 60 and still prowling for 20yr old girls because he did it when he was 20. I dated guys who were 20 when I was 20, but now….I would feel ridiculous and creepy with a 20yr old kid! It’s flattering that young men are interested in me (and strange to me) but I just could never feel very good about myself dating a kid (or attracted to them for more than a moment), now that I’m not one. I know I probably won’t find a guy my age- and unless I can get into dating 20yr olds or 55yr olds, well….. the pool is limited! So, sad there is no swimming! Ha!

  10. 150
    namori

    I also wanted to add this, though it doesn’t apply to old guys dating 25 and up, which is weird, but not predatory (over 25 – you are who you are going to be)….that older males do serious damage to very young girls this way…you know what makes crazy older women, all the predatory guys when you are still just a kid who trusts everything. If you are dating or flirting with a teenager and you are over 30, you are indeed a big part of the ills of our society. I want to believe that men my age and older (mid 30s) (at least some of them) are better than this, but having been a teenage girl and having known many others who have been teenage girls- there isn’t a one, not a one, who hasn’t dealt with this. Some men need to grow a conscience so what actually decent men there are don’t get such a bad rap. Don’t you guys have daughters? Sisters? Mothers?

  11. 151
    Priscilla

    Men,

    40-year-old man should not be interested looking at a 20-year-old girl who can be their daughter!   Let’s say you had a 20-year-old daughter would you want a 40-year-old man trying to date her ?   Put yourself in check !

  12. 152
    Sexist Realistic Pig

    The plain looking Janes in their 20’s are attracted to men in their own age range because no older men who happens to be wealthy, famous, or both wants anything to do with them. Now, the really hot 20 year old women who are model looking types and for which I can bet you a pretty penny are nowhere represented in this comments, this type of women know that their sexual market value commands top premium, which, “DING DING” guess who can afford them?? Older, powerful, wealthy men!

    The supply of very hot young women is small depending on where you live. You will not find hot women in abundance in say, Idaho! But you will find them in abundance in LA, New York, Austin, because that is where the MONEY IS! Similarly, the supply of wealthy older men is also a bit small. When this two types of individuals meet is like an unspoken rule of the game, they each know what the other one wants, and some even flourish into meaningful relationships while others just turn into short lived, albeit fun adventures. There is evidence of this type of power couples all over the entertainment, political, and business world.

    The bottom line??

    It’s true, the hot model, and even the plain looking Janes will not date the old pervert working as a janitor at your local gym. However, that same hot model (not the plain looking Jane because she is not hot enough) will date the old pervert who happens to be the CEO of a fortune 500 company.

    So boys, if you are in your 20’s or even 30’s focus on your purpose in life. Forget about chasing women at this stage. Become immensely successful so when you do get older (50’s, even 60’s) you can bang that hot young thing in her 20’s.

    One final thought, if you are a wealthy man DON’T GET MARRIED! NOT WORTH IT AT THAT POINT! All you have to do is look at the divorce rate in this country and that should scare you FAR AWAY! If you do want to sign your life away at least make her sign a prenup.

    1. 152.1
      Lynx

      “Hot model” vs “plain looking Jane”

      “Wealthy older man” vs “janitor at your local gym”

      The vast, vast, vast majority of us fall between these two poles, and ALL of us should have some purpose in life beyond simply being in a romantic relationship.

    2. 152.2
      No Name To Give

      It’s good to see there are advantages to having no SMV whatsoever.

  13. 153
    Sugar Daddy

    As a 43 yr old Man.. I recall the time when I was in my 20’s and there was a common trend for girls my age to chase older men. The reason is simple.. $$$$$. I watched hot girls brag to their friends about the older guy they banged for a gym membership or car payment, etc… Keep it real ladies… The hot ones get the attention. The appeal is that as a 40 year old, I can plan a trip to Hawaii for lunch.. a 20yr old dude (rich or not) lacks that kind of structure.. and that’s what the young ladies like, with $$$$$ of course.

  14. 154
    Graham grayman@talktalk.com

    I am 80 been alone for a number of years I would like to have a woman to comfort me

     

  15. 155
    Ricc

    Some of the woman seem to have a real low esteem here judging men by their age and claiming they can only be dated because of their financial background if they are old.

  16. 156
    Jenny2

    It’s hilarious to read the comments from these old men thinking that 20 yr old women are attracted to them and not to power or security. If self delusion is bliss you’ve mastered it. That is, unless you’ve also discovered that your market value in that dating scene is zero and you’ve become a bitter beta male incel because you can’t get a date with the woman you think you deserve. The reason older women are into younger men these days is because they are less likely to buy into old attitudes about what makes a person datable. If old men would progress then women who aren’t dating for money or security would be into them too. Yes, attitudes do change as society progresses. There is nothing hypocritical about women celebrating progress, no matter how big of a tantrum you men throw.

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