Older Women Who Date Younger Men Are More Satisfied

Older Women Who Date Younger Men Are More Satisfied

Relationships in which a woman is significantly older than her male partner have always attracted a lot of attention and scrutiny. Case in point: remember what big news it was when Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher were together? Or the international media obsession that followed French president Emmanuel Macron and his spouse, Brigitte, who happens to be 24 years his senior?

This same scrutiny isn’t usually applied to relationships in which men are significantly older than their female partners. For example, U.S. President Donald Trump happens to be 24 years older than Melania. Certainly, the Trumps have attracted a lot of media attention—it just hasn’t been for their age difference! Research on age-gap relationships bears out this double standard.

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Older Women Who Marry Younger Men: They're Stigmatized, but Highly Satisfied

Older Women Who Marry Younger Men: They're Stigmatized, but Highly Satisfied

Both before and after the recent election of French president Emmanuel Macron, his wife, Brigitte, found herself to be the target of constant attacks on social media. Why? Because she happens to be 24 years older than her husband.

Age-gap relationships in which a woman is significantly older than her male partner have always attracted a lot of attention and scrutiny. Case in point: remember what big news it was when Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher were together? As you may have noticed, this same scrutiny isn’t usually applied to relationships in which men are significantly older than their female partners. As some evidence of this, just consider what a non-issue it has been that U.S. President Donald Trump happens to be 24 years older than his wife, Melania (the same age-gap as the Macrons).

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Infographic: Gender and Sexual Orientation Differences in Preferred Romantic Partner Age

Infographic: Gender and Sexual Orientation Differences in Preferred Romantic Partner Age

Several studies have found that men and women have different age preferences when it comes to selecting romantic and sexual partners, with men preferring partners who are somewhat younger and women preferring partners who are somewhat older. Much of this research has been interpreted through the lens of evolutionary theory, which argues that it's adaptive for men to have evolved a preference for younger women because they're likely to be most fertile, whereas it's adaptive for women to have evolved a preference for older men, who presumably have more status and resources. But if that's the case, then what happens when reproductive concerns aren't part of the equation, such as in the case of same-sex relationships? 

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Sex Question Friday: Older Women Dating Younger Men--Can It Work?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know whether it is possible for an age-gap relationship to work out when it involves an older woman and a younger man.

I am a 46-year-old woman recently married to a man 18 years younger than myself. We've been together about 2 years, and got married mainly so that he can live with me and my two children from a previous marriage. So far we all get along great, but from the beginning I've wondered how realistic it is to hope for long-term success given the age difference. In particular, our society ridicules and devalues older women, and I worry that as I get older, it will be harder and harder for my husband to feel attracted to me even if he still loves me. I don't know any other women who have tried dating younger men, but I've noticed that you are one of very few people who has published research on this subject. Is there any advice you would give, based on your research or on your experience with age-gap couples?

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