The Case For An Older Woman

February 16th, 2010 by Christian Rudder

"Women older than me keep messaging me. Sorry, but that is not going to happen."—recent feedback from a male user

The above comment is typical. As it is, men between 22 and 30—nearly two-thirds of the male dating pool—focus almost exclusively on women younger than themselves. I'll be investigating this phenomenon today, with gusto and charts. Ultimately, I'll argue that they would be well-served to expand their search upwards, to women in their thirties and forties.

Because it has been a successful way to introduce previous posts, I wanted to put real faces on this demographic before I delve into a bunch of numbers. Pictured below are some single users in their mid-thirties or early forties, taken from the first couple pages of my own local match search. Nothing I'll talk about today pertains necessarily to any one of them, but I wanted to put forward some people to go with the statistical discussion.

The Back Story
Dating Preferences & Age

It's no secret that dating changes radically as you get older. As you can see below, the number of online daters peaks at 24, drops sharply at around 30, and then gradually tapers off, as the remaining singletons either find mates or withdraw themselves from contention:

The bar chart here shows how the woman to man ratio changes over time. As you can see, it's basically flat. In a better world, this would imply that older people don't necessarily have a harder time finding decent mates than younger ones, as the composition of the dating pool holds relatively steady from age to age. Put another way: a 45 year-old woman shouldn't in theory have a harder time finding a date than a 20 year-old, because the female-to-male ratios at those ages are equal (roughly 11:9).

Of course, we all know that 45 year-olds do have a much harder time, because the male fixation on youth distorts the dating pool. Look at how men have set their age preferences on OkCupid:

As you can see, a man, as he gets older, searches for relatively younger and younger women. Meanwhile his upper acceptable limit hovers only a token amount above his own age. a man, as he gets older, searches for relatively younger and younger womenThe median 31 year-old guy, for example, sets his allowable match age range from 22 to 35—nine years younger, but only four years older, than himself. This skewed mindset worsens with age; the median 42 year-old will accept a woman up to fifteen years younger, but no more than three years older.

A man's bias toward younger women becomes even more evident when we overlay his stated preferences with his actual messaging habits.

This next graph is what's called a heat map. It shows messaging concentrations by age; for each vertical age bracket, the greenest areas have the most messages, the reddest have the fewest, and the yellow have the average.

As you can see, men tend to focus on the youngest women in their already skewed preference pool, and, what's more, they spend athe median 30 year-old man spends as much time messaging teenage girls as he does women his own age significant amount of energy pursuing women even younger than their stated minimum. No matter what he's telling himself on his setting page, a 30 year-old man spends as much time messaging 18 and 19 year-olds as he does women his own age. On the other hand, women only a few years older are largely neglected.

So you can see how differently women think about dating and age, here are the corresponding charts for them:

Except in their early to mid-twenties, when they apparently want nothing to do with younger guys (i.e. guys who are still in school?), women show an admirable openness to both reasonably younger and reasonably older men. Notice also how a woman's actual messaging activity, shown in the heat map below, is roughly centered on her own age (as illustrated by the dotted "age parity" line).

This second chart also contains something very peculiar that we didn't see at all in men. Notice the vertical stripes at ages 20 and 29. These color discontinuities indicate dramatic changes in a woman's dating mentality: when a women turns 20 she decides it's okay to message significantly older men (i.e. the upper reaches of the chart suddenly become less red). At 29, a woman becomes even more open to older men and, in addition, stops writing the youngest ones. The typical 28 year-old women sends a small but significant number of messages to men too young to drink. The typical 29 year-old sends practically none.

In any event, here's what happens when we synthesize all the above data. By tallying the number of people interested in each age group and gender, we can get a dynamic picture of the dating pools. I've made a little javascript widget to illustrate what's going on.

The Shape Of The Dating Pool

a by-age distribution of men who would date an 18 year-old woman

men seeking women women seeking men

I was tempted to title this The Tides Of Longing. Move the slider to the right, toward middle age, and you can watch the pool of dating possibilities gather, crest, then drain away. Metaphors aside, we can evaluate the potential matches for a given age/gender by summing the area under the curve (AP Calculus, ftw!) I made these calculations in the chart below, and we can see that women have more pursuers than men until age 26, but thereafter a man can expect many more potential dates than a woman of the same age. At the graph's outer edge, at age 48, men are nearly twice as sought-after as women. Here's the data:

A woman's desirability peaks at 21, which, ironically enough is the age that men just begin their "prime," i.e. become more desirable than average. Following that dotted line out, statistically speaking, a woman's desirability
peaks at 21
you can see that a woman of 31 is already "past her prime," while a man doesn't become so until 36. As we mentioned above, after age 26, a man has more potential matches than his female counterparts, which is a drastic reversal of the proportion in young adulthood, when women are much more sought-after. Because men's dating preferences skew so young, and women's are age-equitable, men peak later, and have a longer plateau of desirability, than women.

So that's the lay of the land, and now I'd like to say why I think it could be different. In the next three sections of this post, I will show that an older woman's attitudes, both about sex and life, are just as good if not better than her younger counterparts', and hopefully I'll convince more guys to venture north of their current age-limits:

Exhibit A

Articles touting a woman's mid-thirties "sexual peak" have stalked the pages of Cosmo since time immemorial, but these articles typically cite clinical testosterone/estrogen/progesterone studies and attempt to make the leap to "sexual peak" from there—if they bother to cite any data at all. I, on the other hand, can make my claim by looking at a woman's stated preferences:

Ideally, how often would you have sex?
age of the population

This is a nationwide "age progression" of American women, a normalized heat map similar to the ones you saw above, but with an added geographical component. By moving the slider you can watch how attitudes become more sex-positive as the population gets older.

This older-women-are-more-sexual pattern repeats across almost every proposition. Here are a few more data sets just as sparklines (computed, like the map above, for our sample set of 100,000 women). Again, these are just a handful of examples; whether we ask about bondage or kissing, women are the most sexual in their thirties.

Researching this post, I also came upon an interesting complementary pair of graphs illustrating sexual dominance preferences. Younger men want to be dominated. Older women are generally interested in doing just that.

In addition their lack of physical inhibitions, older women have much healthier attitudes in two other areas of sexual concern: STD testing and contraception.

Is contraception morally wrong?
age of the population
How often do you get tested for STDs?
age of the population
These maps lead directly into my next topic:
Exhibit B

There are two operative stereotypes of older single women: the sad-sack (à la Bridget Jones) and the "cougar" (à la Samantha from Sex In The City) and both, like all stereotypes, are reductionist and stupid and I've tried to avoid them. I hesitated beginning my case for older women with something about their sexuality, like I did in Exhibit A, because that territory borders right on cougar country. But the evidence there was too compelling to ignore.

On the other hand, I found no basis whatsoever for Ms. Zellweger's version of the thirty-something single woman. The data indicate that they are in fact way better adjusted than their younger counterparts. For example:

It might be hard to eyeball, because the bottom graph isn't steeply sloped, but women in their thirties are 4.0% more likely to be happy than their younger counterparts. As anyone who's been in a relationship with someone who lacks them can attest, self-sufficiency and confidence are awesome qualities in a match.

The graph below shows a similar trend, until a poignant drop at the end.

Either something very sad happens to a woman at 40, or something incredibly awesome happens at 39. Hard to tell. And I also want to say, guys, that just because a woman is older, she's not necessarily on the fast-track to marriage:

Exhibit C

The final thing I want to address is looks, because I think that is guys' most fundamental worry about dating someone older. There's no doubt that younger people are are more physically attractive—indeed in many ways beauty and youth are inextricable. That's why most of the models you see in magazines are teenagers, and turn-back-the-clock surgeries like face-lifts are so popular. There's no getting around this fact, and I don't want to hide it:

But, combing through the data, I intuitively felt like this graph didn't tell the whole story. So I dug deeper, and found something interesting. If you separate out the absolute best-looking women, almost all of whom are very young, and also remove the people you won't realistically want to date (the worst-looking women), you find that everyone else's attractiveness doesn't change much with age:

In other words, given that nobody is drop-dead gorgeous or drop-dead hideous, your average 25 year-old is roughly as good-looking as your average 35 year-old. for the vast majority of men, dating the absolute hottest girls isn't realisticYes, throwing out the prettiest of the pretty young things is a clumsy handicap to put on an age-by-age comparison. But at the same time, for the vast majority of men, the best-looking women are simply out of reach, so it's actually accurate to exclude them as possibilities. In fact, unrealistic male expectations inspired this article, so we want to do everything we can to correct for them.

Many of you are probably scoffing at the idea that many 35 year-olds are as attractive as many 25 year-olds, but there are social factors at work that you might not consider as you go through life making judgments. Most importantly: nationwide, thirtysomethings are much more likely to be married and therefore much more likely to have stopped optimizing their attractiveness. So the typical 35 year-old woman you see out in the world isn't representative of the single 35 year-olds who are still dating and looking good.

Anyhow, that just about concludes my case. Ultimately, you be the judge. Here are single women in their mid-twenties and women in their mid-thirties, all in the 70th percentile of attractiveness, side by side. The older women are on the left, in case you can't tell.

Of course, you could also do your own search and see for yourself. Thanks for reading.

721 Responses to “The Case For An Older Woman”

  1. Linda Guest says:

    I am in my 40s now, would love to marry and have children, but never got the chance.

  2. Terence M. Darway says:

    Well, i’ve read lots of inspiring things@ tis site. And i’ve found joy to have come in contact with it. So i’ll appreciate any women@ the age of 30yrs to 50yrs. Its no joke about tis. For me age is a number n has nothing to do with love. Myself is 31yrs n like i said will warmly welcome any women of the slated age rang. Try me n 8s… Terenic

  3. Wally says:

    Young is dumb for the most part now that I’m older I know I’d rather have a more mature, less superficial woman. I want someone that knows what love is not lust. For the most part head games aren’t as much but some do get better. 22 or 42 I’ll take 42 personally but when you get my age you know what you want. I was the same way for a while but boy a woman that knows what she’s doing and who she is, IS wonderful.

  4. Dan says:

    Maybe one of the reasons guys message younger women is that’s what the site is sending us. I keep getting gals in my “Quiver” that are way under my minimum age and have a max age lower than my age. What gives there?

  5. Innerpeacepls says:

    I’m 40ish. I find in public, men of all ages (Mostly young) flirt with me constantly. On the front of on-line dating, where there is a forum for you to really get to know people, I get hardly any bites. I’m a lively and sexy woman, but hardly a chance for men to find this out because they don’t make connections with me.

    When I was in my 20’s and early 30’s, I was too busy taking care of kids. Now I have less responsibilities, better body…guys are missing out. I do know what I’m doing and who I am. It’s just too bad.

  6. EcceNoHomo says:

    I’d have no problem whatsoever dating an older woman so long as she takes care of herself. A person can maintain a youthful appearance for sometime if they put for the effort.

  7. CherryAA says:

    Well, I am 52, going on 25 in attitude and outlook (and 5 in typing skills).

    Since I restarted this dating lark not many moons ago, I have been contacted by guys of all ages 18 to 75. I never pay any attention to what age someone is. Sense of humour, intelligence and passion for something (anything) is what I like to find. If they interest me in chat, then they probably will for real and vice versa. As a result I have had some interesting encounters and enjoyed myself thoroughly. Who knows if Mr Right will turn up and how old he will be if and when he does, but in the meantime its great fun looking. My profile says 20-90, In truth I don’t care what age anyone is, if you can add something to my life, then I am happy to know you, 18 or 98. I don’t specifically chase younger guys, but if anyone sees my profile and wants to know me, I don’t turn them away due to age – ever – that would be silly !

  8. Kimbolita says:

    I love that you have all of this data and are actually studying it and sharing your findings!

    I would love to see a post studying women 35 to 40 that provides data on what we can do to be more successful. Much like the profile pic post but for our age range. Perhaps you could give us hints for our profiles and messaging as well. And from what I can tell from other posts, it would be great if it was broken out by race.

    I realize this is a very small age range but I pick it for a number of reasons:

    The desirability/age graph shows that desirability decreases about 10% from 25-30 and 30-35. But from 35-40 it decreases 20%! Clearly it is critical for unattached women in this age range who desire a relationship to pull out all the stops because our desirability is getting exponentially worse.

    I also think this range is unique because I feel like while we are no longer youthful, we are generally not yet old looking either so we can still use our looks to our advantage.

    And women who desire biological children are running out of time. They need your help. Maybe you could send this post to all male members between the ages of 35 and 45!

    For the most part this, post confirmed what I already knew. Although, the drop off in interest wasn’t really obvious to me until I was 35 which also happens to be when I suddenly realized that I looked less youthful. It was like it happened overnight.

    I’m now 37 and it is really demoralizing to know that I am about 20% less desirable than I was at 30 and will be 30% less desirable in 3 years. I feel really lucky that I’m not desperate to have children and know I can be happy without them. That’s really got to be a stressful burden.

    I would be really interested to know what you think of my comment.

  9. Lovinlifeinchrist says:

    First thing, let me say OKCupid, thank you, thank you, thank you for all the great work you’ve done compiling all the great data from us all. I’ve learned so many really interesting things and love your site!
    The thing that erks me is not the men who want women only in their own age group, but the ones that have the gall to be 56yrs old and specify they will only accept women 40 yrs and younger. What is wrong with them? We women are already going to outlive them in industrialized nations by 5-10 yrs., so if they get their wish we’ll be outliving them by 20 yrs ’cause they’ve served themselves a double disadvantage! I’m 57 yrs old, look and act younger than most 45 yr olds and many 35 yr olds.
    Wake up men! If you don’t even want someone your own age what makes you think some gorgeous young gal is going to be interested in you? Look for someone that is compatible to you and your faith, lifestyle, likes & dislikes . . . and stop trying to recapture your youth that you misspent.

  10. catholicguy says:

    Well, I am 30 have been single for eight months and am back out there. I have decided that it is great to talk to anyone. Younger or older, as long as their is chemistry and similar interests and everyone is legal.
    I think once you become an adult age does not matter so much in life. You either like people or you do not. I have talked to women 20-50, do not think it matters much. I have found that older women are more honest and do not play as many games. They seem to know what they want. I think chemistry is the most important factor.

  11. jgirlnow says:

    I just ended a 10 year relationship with a man who was 7 years younger than myself, it was fulfilling in many ways. Age is irrelevant in my thinking. For that man out there who has only been with women his age or younger, it might open up a whole new world if you expand the age parameters…. try it!

  12. Trippy16 says:

    Why didn’t you say anything about men’s appearance? Why is it always on a woman’s shoulders to stay beautiful after a certain age? I have never in my whole life seen so many unattractive men over 45! Paunchy, disheveled, and showing torsos that should have stayed covered!

  13. jesikrumlov says:

    I am 44 and in the best shape of my life. When I was in my 20’s I was so insecure that it shows. Beauty comes from within. Meeting people whether for friendship or other reasons involves risk. What do any of us have to lose?

    There is no “silver bullet,” magic spell or ritual that will protect us from feeling rejected sometimes. The solution is to find satisfaction within. Right when we’re happy with what we have somebody shows up. Sometimes this isn’t always a good thing. So good luck all you lovers.

    I will laugh though at the folks out there who keep looking at people’s outsides and imagining they’ll match their insides.

  14. richy13 says:

    This is all interesting and informative but what about an older man seeking a match with a younger woman? There must be some plusses to an older man than just being written off as not good enough. I am 63 years old and I feel and look much younger than my age. Is there something wrong for a man to be older and not for a woman?

  15. JewelD says:

    I’m 51, and I pretty much never really thought I’d get married, even though 3 guys asked me (one asked me a number of times.) I’ve always been considered cute/pretty/beautiful, but I wouldn’t say drop-dead gorgeous, more like a 7.5 or 8. I also keep busy & happy, I’m educated & creative, and do my own thing.

    I also spent a lot of time reading and learning about men – this is VERY important for women: to understand the male experience, in an un-judgmental way.

    I did notice it seemed harder to date as I got older, but I also got choosier, and I socialized a lot as a single. I also dated younger guys, and didn’t mention my age, since I look & act a lot younger.

    Then, some high school friends found me on facebook, and one particular guy was here in my city. Six weeks after meeting up (again) we got married – and we were both used to dating younger, very attractive people.

    So, don’t go strictly by statistics. Be active & resourceful & upbeat, and you’ll be the happy exception to any rule! :)

  16. ChicagoS says:

    I have better luck out in the real world where people don’t know my age and they think I’m in my late 20s and early 30s. I’m on Okcupid and since hitting my 40s the number of men asking me out has declined significantly. When I was 39 – I got emails by the truck load, after 40, forget it because I don’t even make it into their searches.

    People make too many assumptions about chronological age. It’s biological age that is more accurate.

    The stigma of being 40 or older is unbelievable. We aren’t even at middle age for our generations life expectancy, yet people are still stuck in archaic thinking patterns.

    Good luck to all those missing out on us women over 40. This is the happiest time of my life and I’m sure many women will agree. We make good partners, but many men are limited in their ability to think beyond the stereotypes.

    And as for fertility – many women have healthy babies now in their 40s and even early 50s. The times they are a changin’ so roll with it.

    I appreciate Okcupid for trying to “make a case” for us, but you just can’t shake most people’s outdated beliefs.

  17. jeannie says:

    NO SH*T,
    I just turned 40, I swim a 500 in 20 min 2 times aweek 3 times a week I’m in the gym not scince I turned 40 but science I’ve been twenty. Most of you young girls are so CLUELESS when it comes to sex and men forget about it …Its called “the trainer”.,the reason for that is there are so maony men from age 30 to ???? that do not take care of themselves but want a stripper in the bedroom.Look I can school uyou people for hours .However I’m about ot do a 25 yr old STALLION

  18. Impressed says:

    I have been analyzing data as a profession for over 20 years. This is really first-rate work!

  19. needswants says:

    For “Amused” who commented that there seem to be more males leaving negative comments than females:

    In the POV of a male this article feels like totalitarian social pressure to “force” men to date older women and ensure socialstability (by keeping the older women happy and stopping them taking out their frustrations on society).

    We live a capitalist world. Cougars, you want action with younger men, go to southern Europe or the Caribbean and pay for it because that’s what many older men do too.

    If you’re looking for marriage, again money comes into play (what else are you going to bring to the table?) – be a sugar momma. After all, the same applies to most older men who want to settle down with a much younger woman (there are exceptions of course, but that’s why it’s called an exception).

  20. featherstone5 says:

    Great survey indeed; just a pity it stops at 40 and 48. The ‘confidence kink’ at 40 is not surprising: For some reason, people reaching this magic number (male and female) start thinking they are getting ‘old’ with all the horrible attitudes associated with it. I started relaxing about age again in my end-40s – and it was no problem anymore! And I had my wildest sexual relationships after that; one was with a 21year old, one with a 54 year old woman.
    Just want to shout to everyone having hang-ups about age (their own or others): It matters a f…!

  21. crocodilexp says:

    Your assertion that “average 25 y.o. is as attractive as average 35 y.o.” is absurd. There must be factors you’re overlooking. However, let’s assume for a moment that is true. That average 25 y.o. has 15 years of being attractive remaining. The 35 year old, on the other hand, has 5 years.

    On a biological level, 25 y.o. has 10-12 years of prime low-risk childbearing capacity. The 35 year-old has 2 at best. Is our mechanism of judging attractiveness so broken that it can’t account for this difference?

  22. Matt says:

    Wow, lots of comments here railing on guys for not wanting older ladies. Surely it must be frustrating, the stats here sort of tell the tale of how under-appreciated many older women are.

    However, it seems like a lot of commenters are trying to “argue down” biology. As far as physical attractiveness goes, younger women are simply FAR more attractive than older ones. I think it’s much more dramatic than the graph above represents, since the ratings there are taken from a skewed pool – those who are searching in that age range. People also naturally want to “be fair” and tend to take age into account when rating attractiveness, so in reality most guys find a 4-star 20-year-old MUCH more attractive than a 4-star 40-year-old.

    In that sense, the biological expectation would be that men ALL prefer young women, regardless of how old they themselves are. Of course that gets tempered by several factors: fairness (if you’re 40 it seems only fair that you should at least consider other 40-year-olds), social propriety (you feel “creepy” messaging girls half your age), and most importantly intellectual & lifestyle compatibility / maturity. But nobody should expect that to come anywhere close to “leveling the playing field”, when so much of what men desire is driven by biological need.

    It’s really unfortunate for older women who have great qualities, but that’s just a fact of life. Most men aren’t going to do a cerebral comparison of ages and realize that “oh yeah, age doesn’t actually matter that much in this day/age, I should maybe talk to her”, any more than they’ll be persuaded that attractiveness in general doesn’t matter that much. You can see the validity of the arguments, and think “yeah, there’s really no reason why facial symmetry / body proportions / height / weight / etc. should matter”, but that’s not going to help make you attracted to someone who’s just plain ugly. Similarly, I totally see the validity of the points made in this blog post, and by many of the commenters above, but that’s not going to make my instincts/subconscious feel any more attraction toward older women.

    When it comes down to it, attraction is largely a sub-conscious process, and overriding it consciously can be difficult or impossible. Consider that it’s generally more difficult for men to override those instincts than for women, and that age is one of the single biggest determining factors for attractiveness to men, and the result is that we’re not going to have much luck trying to “reason” with our natural urges for younger women.

    The best of luck to women who are frustrated by these trends, though. I’d much prefer that we men WERE attracted to older women, it’d make it much easier to find someone with a great combination of looks & intellect/experience. :)

  23. honestly says:

    “Biological imperative” arguments used to justify the status quo always sound fishy to me. It’s far too easy to make up a backstory that “explains” the way things are. Plenty of men seem to be without the “biological imperative” to have children; why should those same men put such a premium on “perceived fertility”?

    As for attraction being a subconscious process, even if that’s true, how does it explain why men set their highest allowable match age so low? How does anyone subconsciously know that he will find womaen five years older unattractive, so it’s not even worth searching for them?

    The poster who said that a 35-year-old has “five years of attractiveness left” isn’t operating on a subconscious or biologically driven level. He and the other men here who think like him are simply reflecting the cultural belief that 40-year-old women are necessarily old hags. The word for this is “prejudice,” not “biology.” And people react badly when their irrational prejudices are pointed out to them.

  24. jamesmichael says:

    Women who are older rock! They know what they are doing, are nicer, fun, honest, supportive, and they don’t have to be. They are confident and have taught me more than a few new tricks. They are in better shape and when you are with an older woman, you can’t do back to the inane, hot bodied, but doesn’t know what to do with it younger women. Younger women will tell everything you do with them, have no romance and are so frigging insecure or arrogant that they are get UGLIER the more sex I have with them. Older women respect a guy for who they are. They tend to laugh at the faults and they want sex more often, because they are comfortable in their own bodies. I want to learn more about the world and they are happy to help. Younger women tend to be takers and slu*****. This has been my experience more than once. Older women don’t judge me or my friends as much and like to give me freedom. Good looking older women who are in great shape and fun have a TON of guys after them MILFs are the BEST!

  25. pupu says:

    Da charts get more and more complicated – is that because the issues necessitate that, or because you guys are already in the second semester of your stats courses?

    But that’s small talk. I’m more curious why you haven’t told me yet how to get laid.

    I’m 5’4″, and say I’m 5’4″; I’m … shit, mememememe, we’re talking statistics here, man, not psychoanalysis.

    Okay. You have some of the expected values taken from tax returns and you claim people lie up on their income. What if they make the extra bucks on unreported income?

    you take the old women (35 ) and lump them in with the younger chicks (18-25). Where do we buy tickets?

    And if old geesers are wanted more, how come I haven’t even as much as shaken the hands of an OKC woman yet?

    What I would like you to report is the mental/emotional fitness of the folks. I am quite certain we are all hugely and seriously damaged here. At least in the sample I try to sample. I include myself in this sample. People I get to write to, are all suffering of major psychiatric illnesses. How does that skew or screw your data? Does that matter? I mean, is the mentally diseased population also more prevelant in your samples of younger groups, or is that why you cut your data off at 48 by age? I am not bitter about you, you make the analysis on what you have — but what about reality? Do you worry about that? If yes, why not? Reality is for investigative police work and for life insurance companies, but still.

  26. magicflower says:

    Now past 60, I found the analysis and comments quite interesting.
    Men as young as 18 on this and other sites often contact me. While this is flattering, my goal is an enduring love relationship, not physical intimacy, so I focus on men over 50, though I find it fraught with frustration :>).

    I want a man who knows the difference between love and sex and is interested only in love. In over 3 years of searching online and offline, the only men I’ve met who meet this criterion are all overweight unhealthful eaters with health problems that are going to get worse. Why would a slim, athletic, attractive woman with a healthful lifestyle want to be with such a guy and probably eventual be his nurse?

    The few over 50 trim men with healthful habits I’ve met have not asked for second dates, though my photos are recent and I’m at my fittest ever. My guess is that these few 50+ healthy men want and can succeed with women several decades younger. It’s no secret that men this age often can’t get it up as well as when younger. From my experience including what Platonic male friends share, the 50+ male’s main goal seems to be finding a woman with whom they feel instant chemistry, a euphemism for having an erection when with a woman. If the woman causes a rare erection, these men seem to ignore negatives, like incompatible interests, poor character, rude treatment, etc.

    Without such immediate attraction, men will not pursue a compatible attractive woman with whom they could be happy. This is sad because for me and many other women, chemistry develops with time spent together and from loving treatment by a man. Many middle-aged men are alone and lonely because they won’t take the time to be friends first and let lasting love chemistry develop gradually. Even a male like psychologist John Gray, Ph.D. author of Mars and Venus on a Date, writes that these men are on the wrong track and guaranteeing an unhappy future with their superficial approach. I mention this issue because of its connection to men not pursuing older women. Maybe our facial lines, etc. make it less likely for men to feel that instant chemistry they crave.

    I’d love to see OKCupid perform a similar analysis for the 50 to 100 age range.

  27. Betty Ann says:

    I’m 49 and I have plenty of men asking me. Very very attractive men with good careers.. yet I am being highly selective. I find too many not spiritual or just not intelligent emotionally. Or other issues. They are not free every weekend due to childcare .. had children later on in life.. Or married 2 or 3 times and that is a turn-off. Or workaholics etc. Or sad to say.. too many men seem to be on some type of prescription mood drugs. It is too all ages to be honest. Or they are consumed with a lot of responsibilities with grown children that are back home with drug issues; or bi-polar; etc. They just don’t seem to be in the right position to concentrate fully on their own lives.

    Yet.. the younger one I know including my 25 year old daughter keeps meeting players; men that don’t want to commit at even 28.. so they have their more men to choose yet not finding a balance man either.

  28. curiousabby says:

    can someone make ‘the case for a younger man’…. i’m a woman in my mid 30’s that would normally not consider dating someone more than a few years younger than me, but consistently get hit on or checked out by much younger men. (i look my age)

  29. Arthur says:

    Dear Women,

    Be comfortable and confident with yourself. I am 56 and I am looking for a woman who is intelligent, curious and passionate about life (believe me when I tell you that as an artist, I know something about passion!), If you still believe in yourself and your dreams, you will be attractive to men.


  30. Barbara says:

    Wow, I am 50 and just signed up with this site. It all sounds kind of disappointing going by the comments I read so far and it doesn’t speak well for this site. I am only single for a short while but I have been approached by guys as young as 21- 47(though from another site). While I don’t see myself with someone half my age I don’t mind going down a few years. For myself I find myself full of life, I know what I want, I am more passionate then ever before. I am more open minded to things than when I was young. Try me and I might just surprise you… in every aspect of life. I know I wouldn’t want a man that is superficial…..but I didn’t care for them when I was young either. Thanks for the study, it was interesting to read, but it would be nice to see a study for the older ones. Men …you have no idea what you are missing out on. I plan to enjoy the rest of my life, because if God grants me another 50 then I have just reached the middle lol.

  31. Barbara says:

    Wow, I am 50 and just signed up with this site. It all sounds kind of disappointing going by the comments I read so far and it doesn’t speak well for this site. I am only single for a short while but I have been approached by guys as young as 21- 47(though from another site). While I don’t see myself with someone half my age I don’t mind going down a few years. For myself I find myself full of life, I know what I want, I am more passionate then ever before. I am more open minded to things than when I was young. Try me and I might just surprise you… in every aspect of life. I know I wouldn’t want a man that is superficial…..but I didn’t care for them when I was young either. Thanks for the study, it was interesting to read, but it would be nice to see a study for the older ones. Men …you have no idea what you are missing out on. I plan to enjoy the rest of my life, because if God grants me another 50 then I have just reached the middle lol.


  32. Marie says:

    May-December relationships usually don’t work very well and the “May” partner usually makes the “December” partner look awful.

    Does anyone here watch Mad Men? If you do, I think you’ll agree that John Slattery has aged very well and is a good looking man. He looked great in a scene with his middle aged wife. But in a sex scene with a much younger woman, he looked sooooooooo old. I was shouting out at the screen, “Please Roger, keep your shirt on. You look so old. You just look awful.”

    On another note, the OK Cupid article was good but the misogyny on this thread makes me wonder if anyone’s relationship has a chance.

    Online dating makes celibacy look sexy. :-(

  33. Martin says:

    I find myself most attracted to women between 2 years younger, and 6 years older. I am 24 years old, looking at that your graphs I feel I may be in a hard age range for finding women interested in a guy my age. It is true that there are many beautiful women in the thirties. I think part of my attraction to older women is probably their high maturity level when it comes to being able to ask them straight forward questions, and have conversations. Unfortunately dating sites consist of mostly men, so statistically I’m already at a disadvantage. However looking at the sexual active populations, and their concerns with birth control, and std testing, I’m not sure if I should be living in Wyoming, maybe I should shoot for Oregon, or Arizona.

  34. Dorje013 says:

    I’m a 36 yr old male and basically agree with this article. Women under 29 or 30 are not that much fun for me to be around in general, they may be pretty but pretty doesn’t last long if you don’t like them. I’ve dated gorgeous girls that stop looking good once you get to know them.

    For me, attractiveness comes from personality and lifestyle. I lead an active lifestyle, snowboard, mt. bike, etc and I find women that enjoy these activities retain their good looks and fun personality. Unfortunatley, a majority of older women seem unattractive because the changes in their life as they get older may not be positive. But, I am looking for a fellow “thrillseeker” so my experiences may not be similar to other men who don’t like these sorts of activities.

    The last 2 women I’m interested in are 41 and 39 and they are still gorgeous by any standards.

  35. Bob2581 says:

    I’m an older widower and your charts only go up to age 50. That is a memory. There definitely are not too many “older women” where I’m concerned. My kids told me I can’t date anyone younger than they are. Who would want to? I would like to date, not adopt. I hope you realizze that this is written “tongue-in-cheek” (for those old enough to remember the phrase.)

  36. A Fan says:

    I enjoy this site and am now enjoying reading you analysis of the trends. Cool stuff…keep up the good work!

  37. J says:

    This is great data and topic, like many of the others posted as well! It’s hard not to laugh at all our cultural perceptions. Turning 40 this year, I guess I’m dead and over the hill. But due to marrying and dating younger men, I must be a ‘cougar’ :-) That is so funny. I never had to pay any of these younger men to ‘love me’, as suggested somewhere on this post. Older men do it, so it makes sense why not older women?

    But the answer to that is…drum roll please… many of us seek love. :-) You can’t buy love or acceptance. My conclusion is us 40 plus over the hill women or men who are perceived to have less to give based on outer appearance will just have to deal with it. The bonus is we have confidence, confidence I never had at 20 as a female, but grew and bloomed into a real woman for decades.

    Some mentioned at 35 years, we may look no different then a 25 year old, but we only have 5 more ‘good years left’. I find this odd with the high divorce rates. Some people are lucky to be married 5 years 😉 Why not just enjoy the journey and enjoy relationships based on if you enjoy someone’s company?

    And another thing, I don’t feel old at all. Sometimes I feel younger. I’d rather date someone who has a youthful mind than an old man in a young man’s body any day. A youthful mind cannot be determined by chronological age. A youthful mind does not equal immaturity.

    Cheers 😉

  38. Jack Kessler says:

    Contrary to the apparent view of the OKCupid staff, people do not universally die or become asexual at 40 or 48. I am 64 and my retirement years are the most sexually fulfilling of my life. Mainly with women in their late 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Yes, child, 80’s.

    I would love to see either charts extended into the 80’s and 90’s, or a separate set for boomers and older.

  39. Bob Wood says:

    You stop at age 50 ? I’m 81 and get just the right number of women interested.
    I’m so happy that women can self-select themselves out of writing me.
    Our group is getting bigger, and It would help a lot of you took that more into account.

    At our age, I believe people are slightly more inclined to be honest, forthcoming about themselves- knowing more of life, having fought through to our own identity, knowing we have no intention of starting a family, building a happy molecular couple.

    I think we are glad to share our singularities, develop acceptant companionship, a mature loving relationship, good sex, and share the share-able, then give each other peaceful privacy. That’s a good enough reality show for me.

    I’ve traveled to world, had four different careers, fought in WWII. I’m ready to end this long ride on a jackass… I’m now in the promised land, and would appreciate more interest in this age group. Your endlessly entertaining, often simplistically foolish questions ( no idiot left behind) are a major attraction. I’ve done over 500 of them.

    Keep going.You’ll find a column, a color, a percentile for me and my group.

    Bob Wood

  40. ANON says:

    What are balanced men? I dated a man that is older than me. He got an ego trip anytime a beautiful woman gives him attention. He has a colostomy and other medical problems. He knows how to con the woman and they fall for him. I have a decent job, look somewhat attractive for being older, help him out, and I’m treated like crap. Woman need to stop coming on to guys that are with woman already and men need to be happy with their own age group. The men also need to stop going after women that have men.
    For the woman that want to have babies start thinking about the life the children will have to live there is always going to be some pain and suffering for humans.

  41. Anon says:

    Guys want a pretty woman, evolutionarily, so they can have a family and bear children. The prettiest women aren’t out of reach, there are plenty in other countries, or in the US if you stay physically fit or have money. It is not shallow at all to desire a pretty woman, it means more years to have kids, if the relationship works, larger family. Further it will give your children great advantages in life, attractive people are judged more successful, have more careers open to them (acting, modelling), have a much easier chance getting laid and finding high quality people for relationships, and because they are pretty tend to invest more in themselves rather than “letting themselves go” and developing health problems later.

    Beauty wins, and no not everyone is competing for pretty girls. That’s just OKC. But even on OKC I dated a super hot girl for a while. If you want a pretty girl go make yourself some money and get an account on one of these sugar daddy websites. Top attractiveness for a woman is being young and hot, for a guy it is being rich and reasonably fit.

    Don’t tell people to date older ladies, they simply aren’t attracted to them. There are plenty of women in the world to satisfy men’s attraction, especially considering the US per capita has more money than other countries. Women are hypergamous, men look for young beautiful women it’s just a fact of biology.

  42. JJ says:

    At 32 I just returned to OKC after breaking off a relationship with someone 8 years younger. I’ve dated/hooked up with more than my share of younger men but I’d prefer to date a 35 year old. According to OKC this ideal 35 year old is an apparently unrealistic goal.

    The messages I’ve gotten on this go-round are mostly depressing and much, much less frequent than I got even at 30. Mostly from men 38+ which I would have NO problem with, if they weren’t dumpy suburbanites who have let themselves go. The expectation here is some kind of “King of Queens” dynamic I’m not up for. The only thing keeping me from falling on a knife is the fact when I go out I still get hit on by attractive men my age or younger. My being 32 has never turned anyone away when we’ve met in “real life” so maybe OKC just isn’t the way to go for me anymore. When I see a 36 year old guy seeking age 20-35 my reaction is ‘sad man/avoid.’

  43. Mark says:

    It’d be interesting if okcupid did a country by country trend of this since I notice it seems to be far more accepted here in the UK for guys to date younger girls compared to US comments I read online but older women who date significantly younger guys are pretty much ostracised.

  44. EyeBlong2U says:

    Younger woman are more willing to have un satisfying sex, Older woman are not. Ounger woman are easier to tell you non truth to get what they want from a man. Older woman are not. Younger woman are more liable to have sexual regrets….. WE older woman know what we want what we need ( across the board) and are willing to do for ourselves’ as the evolution of the human creature evolves so do we…..

  45. Leslie1947 says:

    These graphs all stop before age 64, my age. I realize I’m a small part of the dating pool, but can’t help wondering what things are like in my age group. Speaking from my on unsupported bias, I find that both men and women gain in maturity as they grow older. I think this is a good thing on both sides. Those of us in my age group should be more willing to give each other a chance and try to be less dogmatic in our outlooks.

  46. lostdreamer83 says:

    what nonsense… i always WANTED to date women older than me (and still do) but as these statistics clearly show, women are almost exclusively interested in older men. sure there are some exceptions and that is always a big plus for me. even though i know women don’t care about impressing men around here because they get bombarded anyway… but… i don’t play by the rules 😉

  47. EhaydenB says:

    I’m fifty-three years old and I get tons of mail from really brave young men! I’m laughing as I write this. I don’t ever take them up on their offers, but it is flattering at my age to be considered beautiful and desirable.

  48. cestglenn says:

    Fit, tall-ish and a still young 40, clean cut younger man loves older women.

  49. captivebeauty says:

    I’m 42yrs old and I am proud of it! Please,you can card me anytime!;-)I’m new to this whole online dating thing and being a single woman. I’ve noticed that I get hit on (online and in real life) by more men in their 20’s and 30’s than men my own age or older. As the charts shows that men my age or older go for the younger women that I have less chance of attracting them,which is also interesting as younger men are more successful,assertive,and bolder at pursuing me to date than the older men! I find their assertiveness in their pursuit of me a huge turn on!

    I’ve asked younger men why they are so attracted to older women and their answers time and time again is that older women are hot! They know what they want,love their self confidence,comfortable in their own skin,no dramas,may have had children already and don’t have the pressure that they need to be in a committed relationship right away. They are very independent,great lovers, tending to their lovers satisifation,more sexually open,great with communication,have a life time of knowledge,intelligence,wisdom to share or impart with younger men. It’s this combination they find that is very,very attractive and sexy and why they are after us in droves especially from Online dating!;-)

    It’s fine that men my age or older aren’t pursuing me cause the younger men hopes that they never do, they’d rather keep me to themselves!;-) And actually as an older woman I’d prefer younger men too,just as long as they are intelligent,mature,confident,assertive and have a positive outlook on life! It’s about atittude and how well you connect not about chronological age. Cause you’re as young as you act and feel! And I feel and act like I’m in my 20’s,I look like I’m in my 30’s! But armed with intelligence and life experience of a mature woman in my 40’s! I look forward to living my life fully with or without a man in my life cause you see I’m already complete and I don’t feel like I need a man to complete me!That’s also a secret we older women keep to ourselves and why younger men seek us out!

  50. alabamah says:

    i’ve just turned 40. i look between 32 and 36. in recent times i have always gone for younger men. i work out and i like guys who do too. i love sex and i am emotionally mature enough to separate sex and love. why can’t men do this too. ideally having the same partner leads to better and better sex but younger men seem to believe women want and expect little in bed, and at times believe they have blown your mind so you are instantly in love with them. but i’m fairly shallow and go for muscular and tall and in their twenties. gym bodies sadly don’t often go with intellectual conversation…

    being a little fed up with unsatisfying sex with a younger guy i tried dating a man five years older than me. experience and technique are absolutely essential. we can laugh, lie naked (i wouldn’t even do that at 18) give instructions and relax. maybe finally i see why people say a woman has to be turned on mentally as well as physically.
    so much better