The AGE Issue: Older Men, Younger Women

Gathered around the water cooler chatting about the latest oo-ah moment on Reality TV?  Or which antidepressant doesn’t impact libido?

Morning around the proverbial water cooler, to catch up on hot topics.Arguing on your cell over the term “cougar” – now part of popular culture – whereas “lech” seems to have disappeared from contemporary usage?

What do you think – really – of a 45-year old woman who is involved sexually with a 33-year old man?

What if they both are three years past divorce, have 5-year olds in the same class, and share a love of NBA basketball and blueberry scones? Does that change your opinion?

Switching it up

Now reverse the scenario. 45-year old man, 33-year old woman. Do you even raise an eyebrow, or ask if there is any basis for a relationship – sexual or otherwise? Do you even notice?

Let’s change the numbers. 50-something woman, 40-something man. Still a 10 or 12-year spread. Maybe even 15 years, like several well-known Hollywood couples.  Do you raise an eyebrow now? Do you expect it’s only a temporary sexual adventure?

Quicksand, prejudice and preference

Let’s go one step deeper into the quagmire, shall we?

And quicksand it will become, as we take that hypothetical 50-something woman, toss her into the universe of Internet profiles, coffee dates, hook-ups, family fix-ups, and even strolling the aisle of the local Home Depot in the hopes of encountering a heterosexual male possessing a baritone voice and the power of verbal communication.

And I don’t mean chatting with a 20-year old in an orange apron, asking where to find halogen bulbs.

Any hope for her, unless she’s particularly hot for her age? Or nipped, tucked, and in a nip-tuck-acceptable region, where she has a snowball’s chance in hell of dating someone her own age?

After all, who – in this culture – will consider dating a 50-something woman, generally? A 60-something man? 70-something? And what of the man who shares activities, stage of life, energy and sexual activity level? Will he even approach her, or dismiss her as soon as he gets wind of the year of her birth?

Elsewhere, in land of Internet dialogue

In a conversation on older men and younger women, in fact – an amusing story and written without any malice – this particular issue raised the ire of several typically amiable women. A remark was made about a preference for women who “work out and are fit” – the assumption – athletic bodies are the result of taking care of oneself – something more prevalent in a younger woman. (Subtext: older women are no longer fit, the result of not taking care of themselves.)

A few women spoke up, vociferously. And I was one of them. My response? Many of us who have had children are healthy, fit, work out, but don’t have the bodies we had before pregnancies, in other words, the bodies of 20 and 30-somethings who haven’t yet had children. For that matter, some women have athletic bodies regardless of child-bearing status. They are fortunate, and I think, the exception.

Body memory, body reality

Body type is in part inherited. And then there are the aftereffects of pregnancy and childbirth, and life events we cannot control – like illness and injury.

Pregnancy changes a woman's body, sometimes irrevocablyAre those women who are less than perfect physical specimens – usually after bearing children – to be tossed aside as no longer viable sexually, or worthy of being loved? And what about accidents or illness, that also take a toll on the body?

In a land of commodity relationships, do we assume there’s always another bus (woman) coming along, with exactly what we want, or even better? The newer, younger, sleeker model – only to eventually repeat the cycle?

My experience

I’ve been chased by men 50 years my senior (when I was in my 20s), by men 20 years older (in my 20s and 30s), and now, at the half century mark, many men in their sixties (if they know my age) pass me by for women in their 30s or 40s. Why?

Because they can.

Ridiculous? I think so.

Wonder why women lie about their age? This is exactly why. If we still enjoy the company of men – energetic, life affirming, sexually-active men with whom we’d like to be energetic, life affirming, sexually-active women, we lie. You (gentlemen) leave us few options.

Am I pissed at this peculiarly American reality? You bet. I’d rather be honest, enjoy sharing what I’ve learned, the comforts and openness that come with age in all realms – as part of the celebration of real connection.

Doesn’t that sound like a better plan?


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  1. says

    Ya know you hit the nail on the head with the statement about men dating younger women ‘because they can’. Even at my age – 39 – I know that as soon as that 3 is replaced by a 4 I become less desirable for many men. I’ve never considered lying about my age before but on second thought I think what’s good for the goose…

    Maybe I’ll just be forever 39! 😉

  2. says

    I did an experiment once. I posted two profiles on In one I was my true age, in the other I was 15 years younger than my true age.

    I think you can guess which profile got the most hits and offers. I dated two guys, both thinking I was way younger than I actually am.

    Both dates went well. Both men seemed interested. Both thought me a good looking woman. Things changed at the end of the date though when I revealed my true age.

    That is when I learned that these men and most men in the good old U.S.A. don’t date a woman, they date a number.

    I don’t think it is about not being seen if you are past a certain age. I think it is about women not being seen at all no matter what your age.

    Maybe the problem isn’t about age but about men who aren’t able to make a “real connection.” It is emotional shallowness and Lord help the woman who becomes involved with one regardless of her age.

  3. says

    I was married to a woman older than me. Now I’m at a place in life where I want to be the older party. As for fitness levels – my own personal preference is for a woman who stays fit. I’ve run seven marathons, and currently cycle centuries. Fitness is a huge part of my life. I’ve been seeing a few 40-something women who would put a 20-something to shame in the fitness department.

    My taste in a woman’s appearance isn’t the rule for all men. I’m an ass and legs man, and a buddy of mine is a breast man. He loves heavier women because they often have larger breasts. I like more petite women with runner’s builds. To each his own.

    All that said, (and since you kindly highlighted my older men younger women post) – I have had sexual relationships with women 15-20 years younger than me. It worked great for what it was. Would I enter a “real” committed relationship with them? No. Can older women enter relationships with younger men? Absolutely.

  4. says

    From 20 to 26 I dated a guy who was 12 years older than me. My ex was 4 years younger, the last serious relationship I had was with a man 8 years younger.

    These days I tend to gravitate toward younger men because honestly, the men my age can’t keep up with me.

    I have nothing against older men and younger women. What gets under my skin are the men who make it about age instead of the woman.

    When I stop and think about it, I’m not sure I should be so bothered by it. I mean, why should I care if some neanderthal thinks I’m too old?

  5. Paula says

    My mom is 69 and was sleeping around w/ a guy in his 30s just this year. My single sister – age 45 and tall, slim and good looking, said, “Man, this sucks, mom is getting more than I am.” She’s a cougar for sure. What the hell!

  6. says

    When I was post-divorce dating (ages 34, 35), men my own age barely looked my way. It was the older guys (mid-40s and up) who were interested. And almost to a man, they declared they never dated women their own age because said women “couldn’t keep up” *wink, nudge*

    Needless to say, neither could these guys, lol!

    I love getting older. Life just gets better!

  7. says

    I am so amused by this cougar phenom. As a boomer, I get it only in the sense that the younger guys find it less pressure, a more willing partner, and that the older woman may have some money and not be looking to them for support or anything along those lines. On the other (sexist) hand, it just don’t usually look good if the guy is much younger than the gal. Face it, women got the short end of the stick in this regard (especially if they’re blonde). Yeah, ethnic women age better (I’m married to one who is just 4 years my junior but looks 20 years younger than this grey-haired, bald guy) but guys can get away with wrinkles and a little pudge while women usually can’t. I’m not saying this is right or fair, but it’s a fact. Plus, men are more turned on by the visual while women are more turned on by other things (humor, for instance). So, I don’t think this current older woman/younger man fad will last. We’ll see. I also didn’t think rap would last!

  8. says

    @Cathy – I’ve realized that I have met some pretty awesome women, due to men who only saw the women as a number.

    My personal preference isn’t someone older or younger. And, I find women in their 30’s to look the best. Now on the other hand, I have been finding more women who are 6-10 years my younger, taking notice. I’ve had a difficult time with this trying to figure out how to obtain a committed relationship in this age group. It’s like we are reading to different books.

    Some of the most attractive women I have ever seen are the ones that show a maturity, while maintaining a good level of confidence.

    Intelligence, wit and a great smile will also do it for me.

  9. says

    Rock on, Wolfie!
    I have to say, though, that a good friend of mine–a super-hot, super-cool mid-50s chick in a relationship with a 29-year-old guy) is a delightful counterexample.

  10. Ted says

    It ultimately boils down to evolutionary biology. The biological function of sex is procreation. Thus, males of any species tend to be attracted to females with the best chance of producing healthy offspring. A woman who is 36 is past her prime child bearing age and hence her sexual value declines. On the other hand, a man is still capable of fathering children well into old age. And unlike other animals, a man’s declining physical abilities in later life do not preclude him from increasing his status. In fact, most societies tend to be dominated by older, more seasoned men instead of young bucks in their physical prime. It’s not fair for the ladies, but Mother Nature doesn’t seem to care much for fairness.

    • BigLittleWolf says

      If we follow your premise, Ted – then when a man is no longer interested in procreating, then does he stop seeking 20-something women? After all, men (theoretically) hit their sexual peak at 17-18, and women, around 40.

      Then again – that may be what the experts say. My own experience and that of friends tells me that libido varies widely, culture plays a huge part (having lived in France which I found freer in so many regards, that’s certainly my experience), and individual couplings “work” for many reasons, at various times in life.

  11. Ted says

    Good question, BigLittleWolf. A man continues to seek 20-something year old women after he is no longer interested in procreating because he still has his sex drive. Humans are one of the very few species on the planet that engage in sex purely for pleasure. Sex is a pleasurable act because if it wasn’t, we probably wouldn’t be compelled to propagate our genes. Remember, birth control is a relatively recent invention in human history. So even though a man may have made the choice to no longer reproduce, he still has a strong biological drive for sex and because the natural function of sex is procreative, younger and more fertile partners are still more desirable.

  12. Ted says

    Also, BigLittleWolf, I would like to point out that “sexual peaks” refer to when sex is most enjoyable or when the partners are best able to “perform.” But this concept of sexual performance is again something that is unique to humans. So far as Mother Nature is concerned, a man has “performed” well enough if he can fertilize a female i.e. deposit sperm. Most men are capable of fathering children well into their 60s.

  13. Danger says

    Why do Men date younger women? Because they can.

    Why do younger Women keep multiple men on the line even while they are dating another? Because they can.

    The dating game changes as you age ladies. I know tons of girls who did not want a relationship in their 20’s but rather wanted to hook up with all of the hot guys.

    Not a very wise decision, as now more than half of them are scrambling to find a willing man to marry them.

    What goes around, comes around.

    • BigLittleWolf says

      Thanks for joining the discussion, Danger (and Ted).

      I’m curious, relative to men dating younger (because they can), and women dating however they please (paraphrasing you), also because they can – what, to you, is a workable relationship?

      Are you in a long-term relationship? Are you looking for a good woman, or a hot one? Slightly peripheral to the discussion, but still in the general area. Share what you’d like (or not), but I’d be interested to hear.

  14. Ted says

    BigLittleWolf, in answer to your question as to whether men are seeking good women or hot women, the answer is yes. Ideally men would like to have both as I’m sure most women would like to have a man who is both good and hot. The two qualities are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

    • BigLittleWolf says

      Glad to hear it, Ted. And thanks for the response. I agree – they are not mutually exclusive. Hope you stop by again and join the conversation.

  15. Mike says

    I’m a young guy and I know girls my age want and get the older male. I’m 22 and happily still a boy. If a girl my age NEEDS a 39 year old, that is right for so many reasons. And good for the guy, it’s usually earned and deserved by them.

  16. says

    I have been scouting through online dating for 5 yrs since my divorce was final at age 45. I look quite young for my age but still agonized last year and considered changing my age online when I was about to turn 50. I already anticipated the damning consequences that would come from being bumped up into that 50-60 age range- leading me further into ‘she’s invisible now’ to the fifty year old men.
    Nancy Kay recently posted…Money and Divorce: Will You End Up Homeless?My Profile

  17. BigLittleWolf says

    Well I think we have David to thank for this ever-entertaining topic!

    MindyMom – stick at 39! It’s a great number! Old enough for the boy toys who want to explore, and young enough to stay marketable!

    Cathy – I love your “raw research.” And I think many of us dated older when we were younger, as you did. And then date younger, for a variety of reasons. Like someone we like and are compatible with. (We just can’t tell them the chronological age, apparently, unless blood tests and Vegas Elvis sashay into the picture.)

    You know, it used to be that the numbers men cared about were of the 36-24-36 variety, but then, I guess I just dated myself… hmmm, there’s a thought.

    David, you’re a gentleman. It ain’t easy out there, no matter what the scenario.

    Paula! You cracked me up! Your mom dispells yet one more myth that women over a certain age aren’t interested in sex. (Does she borrow your sister’s shoes and clothes? Now that would irritate me…)

    I will say that the LTRs I’ve had in the past years have both been with younger men (French) – one 5 years younger, the other 7 years younger. It was never about age; it was always about meeting, hitting it off, mucho in common, and that delicious je ne sais quoi that we like to call chemistry.

    I guess that’s all I’m saying. It ought to be about the total package, not statistics off a checklist. Two people who click, and just let whatever happens… happen.

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