Why Would a Younger Woman Want to Date a Much Older Man?

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 want to date a man 45 or more?


Dear Penelope,

Beats the shit out of me.

I can totally understand why older men go for younger women. There’s no denying that they’re, for the most part, in better shape, with better skin, and less baggage from broken relationships. Time 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. Men want much younger women, but rarely do much younger women want 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 a man who is SEVENTEEN YEARS OLDER?

She doesn’t NEED a guy 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 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 she wants to date a guy who is 6’2”, makes $400,000+, likes skiing, is within ten miles of her house and five years of her age, you know what? She could probably find him. All she has to do is go on Match.com, and wade through a few thousand applicants. The point is, she doesn’t NEED a guy who’s 45. She can find that same amazing guy at age 30. Or 35. Or 40. She doesn’t need a guy who will be taking Viagra when she’s sexually peaking at 43.

Don’t get me wrong, there are advantages in a 45-year-old guy. He’s probably a man. He’s got the job and the home and the car, and 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 20’s into full-fledged settled-down womanhood – that could make sense.

Most of them are completely creeped out at the prospect of dating a guy who was alive when JFK was alive.

There are many other things that are attractive about older men. They embody wisdom and stability. They can afford nicer restaurants and vacations and have cultivated greater tastes in the arts. They’re more experienced, more chivalrous, and more likely to want to settle down than a twentysomething party boy.

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

This is the most compelling reason behind why younger women might go for older men: they’re daddy substitutes. An older man’s 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 lots of women in their 20’s. And the truth is that most of them are completely creeped out at the prospect of dating a guy who was alive when JFK was alive. These women were born in the EIGHTIES. They grew up with computers. They’re contemporaries with Britney Spears. Whether we like it or not, there is nearly a full generation gap 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 I know would prefer to date a great, stable 30-40 year-old – who also knows what Snapchat is.

Okay, older men – tell me why I’m wrong. But don’t forget, you and your younger girlfriends are the EXCEPTION. I’m writing about the RULE.

By the way, my girlfriend wants it on record that she would totally sleep with Harrison Ford if he should be reading this. So as a gift to both of them: Sure, why not? Happy 66th, Indy!

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  1. 211

    Peter, I am not young. I looked up a man I had a fling with when I was 28 and he was 40. He now looks pretty old, while I kept in shape and looking good. Sometimes I wonder if men want “daughters” because they can control them. But just like guys who bring foreign brides, once these women feel confident and more independent, they want out. My relationships have been with men my age and the experience is so much better. Common views and interests. Older men always think they look younger than they really do. 

  2. 212

    I don’ think I look younger! I think I look exactly the age I am.. 41. Quite happy about it thank you.
    Everyone gets old Ninive, even you I’m afraid. Thats not a bad thing. I’m much happier as a person now than I’ve ever been.
    I’m sure your comments probably hold true for SOME people. But don’t tar everyone with the same brush.
    It may surprise you but some relationships are based on not only looks (although I do alright I guess) but also trust, mutual support, romance, laughter…
    I didn’t actively seek someone younger, I just met her. Chemistry and all that Jazz.
    And I can’t say that a younger partner really makes me feel any better about myself. Frankly we’ve been together for a couple of years and I don’t even really think about it now. We’re just happy and enjoying life together. And what I do know is that you never know how long you’ve got. 
    Silly one-size-fits-all rules are strictly for those trying to sell you something.
    Peace X

  3. 213

    So Peter is proving to everyone that he took a foreign bride? I don’t think its telling the story you want it to Peter. I don’t have any desire to date men my father’s age when I have no problem dating men in their 30s.

  4. 214

    Physical attraction starts relationships and ends them when it’s gone. Without physical attraction there is no sex: you are just friends. I don’t know the difference between your and your GF, but at 41, you are still young. Men start aging rapidly after 50. When you are 70 and she is ?? she will wake up to an old shrivelled man next to her. And  she might change her mind. I have seen too many of my friends who married older men leave them when the women reach 40 or 50-and want someone their age. But when they were 25 they thought it was “cool” to have an older man making them feel mature too. People change…

    I am not attracted to any guy more than 5 or 6 years older. I don’t want to date grandpa! No matter how rich they are. To each their own…

    When the man is much older they start feeling insecure and start controlling the women: happens a LOT in May-December relationships. And they start putting her down too. No thanks.

  5. 215

    Sure, but I’ve also seen many men leave women who are their own age or younger. I’ve left men who were older, younger and the same age.  Age didn’t have anything to do with it but I do remember an older man leaving me for .. an older woman.   
     I personally would be wary of marrying someone who puts great store on physical appearance.  I find it shallow but to each their own.

  6. 216

    I am surprised as to where you get your knowledge about men. 
    What an unusual perspective you have.
    Can I point out I am flat broke. Have been for ages. Money just ain’t part of the equation.
    Relationships can break down for all sorts of reasons (and I suspect age is actually way down the list)
    I suspect you’ve got friends who’ve left there partners for just as many other reasons. Good relationships last, not-so-good ones don’t.
    And also, if I happen to be lucky enough to reach 70 I’ll be thankful for that the way I drink and smoke lol. I live life for today, not some uncertain future. In fact to be technical for a moment, as I have reached 40 and my partner is only 23 this means I actually have a longer average life expectancy! and even more ironically, the longer I live, the longer it gets!
    Perhaps this is why I’m so happy. 😉
    My partner and I joke thats its quite cool.. she get two bites of the cherry. If all goes well I’ll pop my clogs early, and she gets to do it all over again with the benefit of a handsome insurance payout lol… I’ll be pushing up the daisies, so its not really much of an issue for me.
    I wish you well.. I wish you much luck in love.. sounds like you need it.

  7. 217

    Ah, there you go, not knowing anything about my personall life and already being sarcastic…it’s going very well indeed thank you very much. Funny, when I was 23 I would NEVER consider dating a 40 year old man…eeewww…that was close to my father’s age…I had self esteem and I was going to grad school-And lot’s of guys in their 20s to choose from, many of them smart and hard working young men. Ah, and attractive. Since you got personal Peter I hate to say that reality will hit your child-bride in 10 to 15 years…she is still so naive nd inexperienced…and you will go downhill in 10 years..mark my words…you will remember me. I hope not though…

  8. 218
    Orlando J. Garcia

    I guess then that Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Denzel Washington, Matt Damon, Dominc Purcell, Vin Diesel, Brett Michaels and Chow Yun Fat are just examples of us unattractive men over 40 that women in their 20s would NEVER be interested in, right? Lol….

    (Dude, you’re choosing a half-dozen rich and famous men. Newsflash: the average 29 year old is creeped out by the average 45 year old. Your exceptions don’t disprove the rule.)

  9. 219

    Would I want Brad Pitt now that I am 45? Yes. Would I have wanted him as he is now when I was in my 20’s? No! No way Jose.
     The women I see who goesfor men 15 years plus older usually have these characteristics:
    1. They are usually plain Janes. They know it’s hard for them to attract ANY man so they go for the older dudes. And when they are beautiful, they only accept an older man if he has A LOT if money-let’s say millions and millions.
    2. They are usually oveweight and have low self esteem because if it.
    3. They are poor, uneducated or come from a poor country. They think they have no chance of survival, or want to live in a first world country. So a middle class frumpy middle-aged man is better than nothing.
    4. They have a history of father abandonment. 

  10. 220
    Orlando J. Garcia

    Lmfao! Dudette, you are definitely an exception! I guarantee you most women do not feel like you.
    My reality is COMPLETELY different than yours ever was. Young, hotter than fire women… All the time… Btw, Im not rich… 😀
    Attraction is biological. You can’t help being attractet to whomever you’re attracted to. Contrary to your “issues” thesis, sexual attraction is hard wired… What makes you tingle netween the legs happens against your will…
    That being said. No matter what you believe is going to change reality. You can accept it, have issues with it or decide not to accept it -for whatever reason(s). It’s a moot point. Just sharing -whether you accept it or not, believe it or not, have issues with it or not… The people here with significant sexual and life experience will know what I’m talking about.

  11. 221
    Peter 51

    The facts are that the older the man relative to the woman, the lower the divorce rate.  And the older the woman the higher.  Except that there is a huge spike in divorce rate when the man is two years older than the woman.  Older women/younger men were very stable by comparison.  This was a UK Office of National Statistics study and a census not a sample.
    According to a study by the US Census office, Mail order bride marriages have half the five year divorce rate of normal US marriages.
    I think that these and other indicators suggest that people who marry outside the norm take more care about things.
    I am not rich but I do have a business in Russia.  My fiancee, 37, about Ninive’s age from my perspective, was my landlady for 3 years before we dated.  (See various comments around here).  She was a real estate agent but by dint of considerable short term sacrifices has turned herself into a property developer  She has more property than I although most of her income pays loans so I have more disposable income.  She refuses to leave Russia which is a problem as life is definitely easier in the UK.

  12. 222

    Orlando, you must be a charming man! All the power to you! I have had many much younger guys hit on me but I know better…I just don’t go there. This statistic is strange Peter. Most married couples I see the man is a couple of years older, not only in the US but in other western countries. Basically, I am not attracted to older men because most men in America get fat and go grey, and I cannot date a guy more than a generation younger because of different lifestyle and experiences. I take good care of myself and the contrast with older guys is too wide. So I stick to those around my age, and I have had success that way. Anyhow, whatever makes you happy! 

  13. 223

    “I am not attracted to a guy more than 5 or 6 years older”
    “When I was 23 I would NEVER consider dating a 40 year old man…eeewww …I had self esteem…and lot’s of guys in their 20s to choose from”
    but five years later…
    “I had a fling with [a man] when I was 28 and he was 40”
    Ok I’m confused. So you’re not attracted to a guy more than 5 or 6 years older, except sometimes, in which case a 12 year age gap is acceptable. But Simon’s 17 year age gap is eeewww?
    marymary is dating someone 15 younger than her – is that eeewww too? Or does it only apply when men date younger?
    “Basically, I am not attracted to older men because most men in America get fat and go grey”
    Lol. And why do you reckon young women are in such high demand?
    Nineve, I think it’s reasonable for you to date whoever you want to date, and whatever age you want. But it’s also reasonable for others to date whoever they want without you assuming they are “plain Janes/overweight/poor/uneducated/have issues with father abandonment” etc. or describing them as ‘eeewwww’.
    Julia #214
    “I don’t have any desire to date men my father’s age when I have no problem dating men in their 30s”
    That’s ok. But some women in their 30s do have a desire to date men their father’s age, and that’s ok too.

  14. 224

    And guess what Julia: there’s many guys who don’t want a much younger woman, and prefer a woman close to their age. Touche.

  15. 225

    This is Diane of #201.  I am proof that all of your assumptions of why younger men date older women is wrong.  Go back and read. 
    The next irony that disproves your theory.  At the moment, I’m playing the field.  I’m seeing a man who is 66, 0ne who is 61, one who is 59, and one who is 52. I’m still not ugly, poor, or uneducated. (note my spelling).  I’ve received numerous marriage proposals and men seem to like me.    I am 60.  When I was 28 I married a man who was 42 and we had a long and successful marriage. You’ll note I was also dating a 19 year old when I met him.  I’m sure you’ll make something out of this, but the bottom line is many beautiful and successful women are looking beyond the superficial problem of age and finding pleasure in men of many ages.   So are many men.  Not every man wants a young woman on his arm.  Try being less critical.  You’ll enjoy life more. 

  16. 226

    @Orlando, most of the men on your list, on top of being rich, famous, and really good-looking ARE actually with women their own age, so that kind of says a lot.  
    At the end of the day, most people date people from their generation. It usually takes a lot of money, fame, or issues to trump that.   And you usually either have really rich old guys who can “buy” the attention of a younger woman, men who find women who are desperate to come to the US and for whom your money has the same impact that a rich guy’s money has in the US (although as was mentioned, when they see that they ony have a brass ring and not a gold one, many of them move on), or men who are dating really young women who have daddy issues or who think that the attention you give them “proves” something.  As someone who mentors teenage girls, I tell them to wonder why an older guy isn’t appealing to women his own age, since for young adult women, and teenagers, some of the men who are hitting on them cannot really “compete” in their own age group.  
    That isn’t to say that some people don’t genuinely find affection with people of a general generation, but it’s not the norm and an older man shouldn’t expect to be able to compete for women who are 15-20 years younger.  
    It’s easy on the internet to pretend you are an average guy who is pulling supermodels half his age.  Doesn’t make it true.

  17. 227

    I guess people who care about age care A LOT, and those that don’t are more flexible. 
    As for Peter, his fiancee may be younger but a 37 yr old property developer is not a child bride.
    I understand the need to hammer everyone into stereotypes but the more I see, the less I know.  I won’t be starting my own advice column obviously.

  18. 228

    Interesting Diane: why aren’t you seeking older men now? All your dates are around your age. If older are so enticing, why aren’t you dating the 80 year olds?
    My point is that women like older men when they are young themselves (they like the validation) and do NOT want older men when they become older, wiser and more  confident. 
    And to all these men who say they only date younger women (thankfully not the ones from my circles), why is that? What’s wrong with a woman your age who is in shape and takes good care of herself? 

    Simon is the one who is dating a girl who is still immature…not Peter.

  19. 229

    I can honestly say I don’t ever think about someone’s age when I meet them.
    I met my girl (who’d be dismayed to be called immature) completely by accident. Two people fall in love and unfortunately there’s no much I can do about her age.
    What would you expect me to do? Say ‘you’re lovely and we get on really well and your my ideal partner… but you’re in the wrong age group.. sorry’.. lol.. As if.
    There’s nothing wrong with people my own age.. never said there was. Just happen to be in love with someone younger.
    And what’s ‘being in shape and takes care of herself’ gotta do with it? What, do you think I go to the gym to find my partner? lol…
    Maybe diane will date someone who’s 80.. who knows..
    I was taking you seriously, but I begin to suspect you have the depth of a paddling pool so best of luck.. time to stop giving the site free content 😉

  20. 230

    @ Ninive #223:
    If most American men get fat and go grey, aren’t you likely to end up with a fat, grey-haired guy at some point in your life no matter what you do?  I suppose you could always continue try dating 30-year old guys when you yourself get fat and go grey…

  21. 231

    Well Joe, by then I will be older too and feel lucky I have anyone! 

  22. 232

    Dear Simon, at 23, EVERYBODY still has a lot of maturing to do…that’s why getting married before you’re (not “your” Simon) increased the chances of divorce. Your girl will change A LOT. Let’s talk in 25 years…

  23. 233
    Peter 51

    OK.  I’ll get defensive.
    Julia, as regular readers will know, I have a business in Russia so this is not quite a mail order bride issue.  The woman in question was my landlady for three years before we dated.  I spent about three months a year there.  She doesn’t want to emigrate anywhere.  I may end up in Russia but not in July and August, dear God – 42 degrees.  And Generals January and February speak for themselves.  winter is really December to April.  3 weeks of -35 C is great but not a whole winter struggling with six inches of ice on the pavements.  The rain and dark of a British winter is not so bad in comparison.
    I’ve let the argument run a bit because I am interested in the stereotypes that emerge.
    As MaryMary kindly pointed out, I am not engaged to a child bride or indeed a plain, fat, poverty stricken, uneducated one.  I think that she is influenced by many of the same factors that apply to Evan’s readers.
    At 173 cm tall my SO is 3 cm taller than the average man in her region.  I am 178 cm.  There is minority group (race/tribe) there who have the genes for tallness on the scale of the Kurgan from Highlander.  It was in fact the area of origin for the Kurgans.  Even the women are 180+, the Russian basketball team is based there but the “Kurgans” tend to stick to each other.  So, her height limits the pool of potential husbands due to the usual hypergamy/threatened masculinity issues.
    In Soviet Times, clever children were fast tracked.  As such a pupil, she had time to pursue a 4 year master’s in Psychology and a 4 year master’s in Law. This level of education is intimidating to most men in bureaucratic (state and large company) organizations where status as much on qualifications as on achievement or clubability.  Men in professional practices (Law or Real Estate in this specific instance) also depend on intellectual distinction for their status.
    Artisans and self made businessmen are less concerned about academic attainments.  Plumbers, car mechanics and consulting engineers can all find their masculine identity in their work.  A Master Plumber with an handful of employees can outearn a surgeon.  However, even in this group a lot of self made businessmen have a strong need for control. It’s how and why they have taken the punishment involved in building a business.  A wife who has her own independent business that gives her income and an ability to accumulate capital can be a threat to the masculinity of the man who wants to be the provider.  This applies to my SO’s property development business which got in the way of a relationship with a successful software developer (programmers aren’t REAL techies).
    She has also dated creative types, indeed was sought after as a(n upaid) model by more than one in her late 20’s.  Her currently 28 year old, very pretty, little sister went the whole hog and dates the lead singer of an unsuccessful death metal band.  And there’s the rub.  The stereotype appears true.  Creative artists are unconcerned about academic qualifications or intellect in their partners.  They want a sexual, domestic and financial support system so that they can do their “creating”.  Nevertheless, these men often attract large numbers of women. Faithfulness is unlikely,
    She is also a single mother.  She married the son of the senior partner at the law firm where she started work.  He started beating her when their child was three months old.  She left, and there perhaps was the drive to be independent. However, no Russian man with options takes on a single mother.  (Her stepfather from 6 y.o. being a very honourable exception).
    So, height, education, independent money and an inability to tolerate disregard and unfaithfulness from artistic types leaves my SO with a very restricted dating pool. She also burdened herself with requirements for a hot man with a sense of fashion.  She has now mostly abandoned her own efforts with fashion. I assume that she feels secure.  On the whole I think that she sounds more like Evan’s regular client than an uneducated, poor, fat, bad looking (judge for yourself, not an 8 but OK) visa seeker.  Her solution was to diversify her choices by considering less conventional options (foreign, old, ugly) to find a man who might be more secure in his masculine identity.
    There are probably a multitude of reasons why large age difference couples have much lower divorce rates (way to go Marymary) than “two year older man” couples.  I suggest that one is that at least part of the couple is confident about their own identity.
    Keep commenting.  I have a very thick skin.

  24. 234
    Orlando J. Garcia

    Hun, I must have struck a nerve, lol… I have absolutely nothing to gain by “pretending” to be anything. The fact remains that whether you can accept it or not plenty of men look very good as they “age” and plenty of women their age and younger are attracted to them. I look very young. It’s genetics. it runs in my family. I date very attractive women of all ages, all the time. I am also not rich. I am indeed very fortunate. Some people have a problem with that. 
    Some people have it, others don’t… Don’t be a hater, hun… lol! 😀

  25. 235

    It doesn’t matter what other people think. You’re the one who has to live with your choices.  If it doesn’t work out at least you gave it a shot. If it doesn’t well, you get the last laugh.  It’s not going to help either of you to be sitting home alone comforting yourself that some people you don’t even know are no longer offended by your relationship. They aren’t even offended, they’re already thinking about something else.
    I confess I do find it a bit odd if someone will ONLY  date significantly older or younger, but  I am not going to follow them around telling them what is wrong with them and their relationship.  I too was moving in the same circles as my boyfriend and we became attracted to each other. I didn’t go hunting for him.  I was actually looking for older.
    It sure does point to how short our live are that a decade or two seems such a very long time.  Love isn’t super super rare but neither should it be tossed away for something “better” when we are blessed enough to find it. 

  26. 236

    @Peter 51
    If that is the case, I apologize. However, I still maintain that most women are not going to want a man who is significantly older than them. 

  27. 237

    I believe you. My family look young as we take after our father who is still climbing trees in his 80s.  Of course, he doen’t look as good as he did when he was in his 20s. He was frankly beautiful.

  28. 238

    Peter, can you show where you got these stats? They don’t match what I see in real life. Now that women have more power and money through careers, they have the courage to leave a much older man-whereas in the past they were stuck.

  29. 239

    From what I heard, ageism is crazy in Russia when it applies to women. I wouldn’t know myself, as I was 29 and married with kids when I left it. But some of my friends who go back to visit, tell crazy stories. Like, a guy my age (45) is wondering if he shouldn’t maybe dump his 30yo mistress because she’s too old. (Yes, you read that right, he is married and has a 30yo on the side.) So in Russia, 37 and 50+(?) wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. (But 50+ and 50+ might!)
    Personally I’ve had a hard time dating people outside of my age group, but, just like marymary, agree that tastes differ and some people prefer to go far outside of their age. If it works for them and their partner, and both are having a good time, then why not? Good for them for finding what works best for them and the other person!

  30. 240

    @Orlando, I didn’t make any comment about how you look and I’m more than happy about how I look for my age.  Genetics doesn’t change anything about what it is like to deal with a person who is 15-20 years older than you, or change the fact that a lot of your cultural references and interests are quite different.
    So not sure how I’m a hater or what nerve you might have struck other than the fact that you cannot prove anything you said, plus the blog owner and actual dating expert also pointed out that your examples were weak.
    Saying that George Clooney dates younger women is not proof that there are loads of younger women lining up to date older men.
    So keep high fiving yourself.  It doesn’t change the reality for most of the older men who try to contact my friends and me and who continue to be creeped out by it b/c they ALL brag about how young they are but they do not look young to me or anyone else.  

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