Do you know any couples with a significant age difference? It seems to be a common pattern in celebrity couples, but are relationships with an age gap a healthy thing? You might be wondering why do older men like younger women, and what kind of relationship dynamic a significant age gap can create. Here is what you need to know about couples with a significant age difference.
What Is the Average Difference in a Couple?
On average, heterosexual couples have an age difference of 2.3 years, with the man being slightly older than the woman. However, a study conducted by Zoosk found that 9% of its user had conversations with users that were ten years older or younger.
Even though the majority of couples don’t have a significant age gap, some studies suggest that men have a preference for women who are younger than them.
The Zoosk study found that approximately one man out of two would like to date a woman who is one to four years younger than they are, while 22% of men would prefer to date someone who is ten years younger than they are.
The study reveals that a majority of men want to date someone who is close to their age range, but there is still a significant percentage of men who prefer someone who is younger than them.
Why Do Some Older Men Prefer Younger Women?
There are some stereotypes associated with couples that have a significant age difference. Those stereotypes typically portray the woman as being after money and financial security, while men feel more comfortable in a relationship with a power dynamic that works in their favor.
Some studies have found that men typically view women in their early 20s as being more attractive. Physical attraction and our culture that associates youth with physical attraction probably plays a role in how older men view younger women.
However, the fact that a majority of men prefer to date women close to their age range suggests that there is a discrepancy between physical attraction and how we choose our partners. A man who finds younger women attractive will not necessarily approach or date one.
From an evolutionary point of view, some researchers argue that men tend to prefer women in their 20s because they are more likely to have healthy children. A woman’s fertility decreases with age, and a younger woman will have more energy to raise children.
That factor could play a role on an unconscious level since not all men want to have children and might not ask themselves whether a partner would make a good parent when they start dating.
Why do older men like younger women? It’s possible that some men prefer young women because of their energy levels. They are likely to have a healthy sex drive and a willingness to try new things. The relationship could feel more exciting to a young woman, and she will be less likely to bring emotional baggage into the relationship.
On the other hand, an older woman who has had her heart broken a few times or perhaps went through a divorce will be more hesitant about getting into a new relationship, and might not display the same level of enthusiasm. Existing baggage can get in the way of a relationship, and make two experienced partners incompatible.
Age Differences and Gender Roles
The way we think about traditional gender roles could have an impact on age differences in relationships. In our culture, there is a notion that men should provide for their families. Even though we are challenging gender roles and an increasing number of women have successful careers, a lot of men still feel that their value depends on their ability to provide for their families.
An older man has an advantage over younger counterparts because he has had more time to build a successful career and reach milestones like purchasing a home. In other words, an older man typically makes a better provider and might see himself as a more desirable partner than he was twenty years ago.
A study looked at relationships with significant age gaps in different countries. It found that those relationships were less common in countries where gender equality was more prevalent.
A relationship with a large age gap might be more comforting because it allows the man to step into a more traditional gender role. There is less confusion over the role of the two partners, and the man might feel more valued due to their role as a provider.
There isn’t necessarily a power imbalance between the two partners, but it seems that it would be easier for the man to feel appreciated and valued by a younger partner.
Our culture looks at relationships with a wide age gap differently depending on whether the man or the woman is the older partner. Even though there are negative stereotypes about both types of relationships, it seems easier for men to have a younger partner.
A study found that women were less likely to consider dating younger men. Among women who would consider dating a younger man, the study found that they were more likely to have an age limit they felt comfortable with and that the age limit increased as they get older to reduce the age gap.
On the other hand, the study found that men were more likely to consider dating younger women. They were still likely to consider dating a much younger woman as they got older.
Stigma and stereotypes seem less damaging for men who date younger women. It’s possible that some men see those relationships as a way of looking younger or more successful, or simply don’t care about what other people think.
Women seem less likely to consider dating younger men because of the negative stereotypes associated with those relationships. Women might be more aware of those stereotypes or might put greater importance on how others view their relationships.
Changes in the Dating Scene
Relationships and marriages with wide age gaps have always existed, but recent changes in the dating scene could change how we see those relationships.
Online dating and dating apps have changed the way we meet new people. We have access to a wider pool of potential partners, and it’s easy to connect with anyone by simply messaging them. It’s also easier to reach out to a larger number of potential partners and see which ones will respond.
A man who would like to date younger women has more chances of finding a young woman who is interested in them thanks to that wider pool of potential partners.
Relationships with age differences aren’t a new thing, but in a situation where we depend on our social network or job to meet new people, the pool of potential partners is much smaller. Statistically, a man would be less likely to find a young woman who is interested in them in that scenario.
The new dating scene is changing the way we connect with people and could contribute to helping us date a more diverse range of partners, including partners that belong to different age groups. Having access to a wider range of potential partners might also make us more open to new experiences.
Past Experiences and Expectations
One of the appeals of dating a young woman is that she will be less likely to carry emotional baggage from a previous relationship. She might not be sure what she wants from a relationship or have a few basic expectations for her partner.
A more experienced woman who has been in a few serious relationships probably has a list of deal-breakers and might go through a different process to select a partner. She is more likely to have specific standards and expectations that a man has to meet for her to date him.
An older woman might have some specific goals in mind for the relationship and will want her partner to engage in personal growth and make other efforts to build a strong relationship. A young woman might not have well-defined expectations or be unsure of what she wants in a partner.
A young woman will also be more likely to compare an older man to her peers and instantly see him as successful because of his financial stability.
Some men might prefer younger women because it seems easier to create a relationship where both partners are happy. It might be easier to make a younger woman happy and to meet her expectations, and those expectations might be easier to understand and navigate compared to a more experienced woman.
A man’s financial stability and experience become desirable qualities and signs of success in the eyes of a young woman, while a more experienced woman wouldn’t consider those things as significant achievements.
A man who isn’t an ideal partner for women in his age range because of his flaws would make an ideal partner for a young woman because she might not notice those flaws or choose not to focus on them. If a man is not willing to engage in personal growth, dating a young woman who will not expect them to grow can be a more attractive option.
A man who goes through a midlife crisis will often experience regrets about his past and feel anxious about getting older. They might feel unhappy in their marriage and feel unsure about the future as they enter a new chapter of their lives either due to divorce or their children leaving home.
It’s questionable whether experiencing a midlife crisis is actually a thing. Researchers don’t believe that all men go through a midlife crisis and feelings of anxiety and remorse can appear at any stage of a person’s life.
However, there seem to be higher levels of anxiety and depression among men and women who enter midlife. It’s possible that those feelings play a part in why some older men prefer younger women.
Some men might prefer to date a partner who doesn’t share their remorse and anxiety so they can temporarily escape those feelings. It might be challenging to find a partner in the same age range if both parties are dealing with those negative feelings and are unsure about the future.
Being around a young woman could help a man feel younger and deal with the anxiety associated with aging. A man who feels unsure about his future might also want a partner who will want to have fun and enjoy the relationship without making long-term plans right away.
It’s complicated to assess the extent to which a man going through a midlife crisis would prefer to date younger women. Some men prefer younger partners throughout the different stages of their lives, and one might argue that dating a young woman could make a man feel even older.
Why do older men like younger women? Dating someone who belongs to a different generation can be fun and exciting because of generational differences.
Millennials grew up in a very different environment compared to older generations. Young women are more likely to have an education and more likely to delay having children. Dating an older man who already has children or who doesn’t want a family wouldn’t be an issue for a young woman who isn’t thinking about starting a family or who wants to delay that milestone.
A young adult is likely to have different opinions and a different way of seeing the world. And because gender inequalities are less pronounced than they were in the past, a young woman is likely to see her role in the relationship differently than an older woman.
Older men could be attracted to young women because a young partner can challenge them with new ideas and introduce them to new experiences. A man who is looking for stimulating conversations or who wants to try new things would find that novelty by dating someone from a different generation.
Being with a younger woman can make dating feel new and exciting again because of those differences, and because a young woman will be more likely to be active, energetic, and spontaneous.
Some men enjoy being around younger women because of the ego boost. A young woman is more likely to be impressed by things like experience and stability, and maybe less likely to notice a man’s shortcomings, or at least less likely to focus on his flaws.
Some men seek that kind of dynamic because it makes them feel good about themselves. They can take on the role of mentor or provider and have a younger woman who pays attention to them and listens to them.
Even though not all relationships with a significant age gap result in a power imbalance, those relationships seem more likely to give the man an ego boost.
A young woman will value an older man’s experiences, wisdom, and advice. Those things wouldn’t be viewed as qualities in a relationship with two partners who are in the same age range since both partners would possess a similar amount of experience.
Statistically speaking, older men are more likely to have been through divorces or difficult breakups. Those experiences can be damaging for a man’s self-esteem, and dating a young woman can be a way of regaining that self-esteem.
In fact, a significant age difference is more likely to happen in a man’s second marriage compared to first marriages. That trend could indicate that men are more likely to seek a younger partner after going through a painful divorce.
The Rule of Seven
There are no studies or research that support the rule of seven, but some people believe that it can help you find the age of the ideal partner. According to the rule of seven, a man should marry a woman who is half his age plus seven years.
Some studies suggest that the rule of seven isn’t accurate and that partners are more likely to find happiness in their marriage if they share common goals and establish healthy communication, regardless of their ages.
However, the rule of seven suggests that it’s more desirable for a man to have more time to progress in their career, achieve financial stability, and gain some experiences. It reflects traditional gender roles by establishing the man as the primary provider, but the fact that the rule of seven is part of our culture suggests that we still tend to value experience and stability in men more than in women.
Are Relationships with a Significant Age Gap Likely to Work?
Studies show that divorce becomes more likely as the age difference increases between the two partners. Couples who have a one-year age difference have a 3% chance of divorcing.
That percentage increases to 18% among couples with a five-year age difference. Couples with a gap of ten years have a 39% chance of getting divorced.
There seems to be a link between age differences and divorces, but it’s unclear if the age difference is the reason for the divorce. It’s possible that individuals who are likely to enter a relationship with a large age gap are also likely to divorce for other reasons.
Relationships work in the long-term if both partners share similar values and goals. Communication is important, and the couple should know how to resolve conflicts in a healthy manner. It’s also essential to talk about the future and make long-term plans for the relationship.
Relationships can work regardless of the age of the partners, but couples with a large age difference might not share the same values or worldview. They might not want the same things from the relationships and might have a hard time establishing common goals due to being in different stages of their lives.
Couples with a significant age difference can encounter challenges when it comes to work-life balance or even their schedule. One partner will retire while the other is still working on establishing their career, and one partner might already have children from a previous marriage while the other will start thinking about starting a family.
Getting Older Together
Most people in romances with a large age difference describe the experience as being magical at first. It’s common for an older man to adore his younger partner and to do anything for her. The younger woman typically feels that her older partner is incredibly romantic, stimulating, and fascinating.
However, things change with time. The older partner will continue to age, and their decreased energy levels or health problems can impact the relationship in ways that weren’t foreseen.
As the young woman gains more experience, she might start expecting different things from her partner and start asking herself what she wants from a relationship or partner.
Studies found that there are no differences at first in terms of marital happiness in marriages with a large age difference. However, as the couple gets older, unhappiness is more likely to appear in relationships with a significant age difference.
Women tend to get a higher sex drive in their late 30s, which can create a mismatch in sexual desire with an older partner. A woman might also start thinking about having children as she gets older and finds that her partner feels too old to start a family.
A woman might also realize that she respected and adored her older partner because of his experience and stability. Those things will become less important as the woman ages, and she might realize that her partner is not who she thought he was.
Relationships and marriages between an older man and a younger woman aren’t doomed, but both partners need to understand how the relationship will change as they get older. It’s essential to consider whether or not the two partners share common goals and values, and how they will plan for the future as they enter different life stages at different times.
It’s possible to build a happy marriage with an age gap as long as there is commitment, companionship, respect, and fun.