We’ve all heard the cougar jokes and seen the depictions of older women dating younger men in movies like “The Graduate”, but how often do women date men younger than them, and is it really that big of a deal anymore? As our ideas about men, women, and relationships evolve has our views on age and dating changed as well?
In 2017, the online dating platform Zoosk found that singles were 9% more likely to like, message, or have a conversation with someone who was ten years older or younger than them than they were in 2016. That’s a pretty big age difference when you think about it. And a big change in attitudes in just one year.
To find out more about how age affects attraction, they took a deeper dive into the data to see what other trends they could find. As it turns out, even though overall attitudes about age are shifting somewhat, older women dating younger men is still not as common.
Here are a few interesting takeaways:
31% of older women prefer dating younger men.
In addition, women who show interest in younger men prefer to date men who are only 1 to 4 years younger. So even though there’s a large percentage of women who like to date younger men, they don’t like to date men who are that much younger than them.
56% of women prefer dating older men.
And of that 56%, the majority (56%) like men who are 1 to 4 years older than them, 30% like men who are 5 to 9 years older than them, and 14% like men who are more than 10 years older than them—a pretty wide range of ages, compared to women who are interested in younger men.
14% of women prefer dating men their same age.
Give or take a few months, there are also a lot of women who prefer men their own age. (Though it’s more likely for them to find someone who’s simply close to their age. )
27% of younger men are attracted to older women.
And similar to women who are attracted to younger men, men who show interest in older women don’t stray too far outside their age range. All of the men in that 27% prefer to date women who are only 1 to 4 years older.
So what do we do with all this information? (Other than think to ourselves, Huh, that’s interesting.) Well, for starters, just keep it in mind. There are a lot of reasons why older women may prefer to date younger men. And, contrary to what Hollywood or gender stereotypes may tell us, it’s not necessarily because they’re predatory.