Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

What is the significance of a woman being attracted to older men?

Asked by wundayatta (58599points) May 11th, 2011

Sometimes, I think, women who have been abandoned by their fathers spend a lot of time trying to find father figures to be their partners. There must be other reasons why women are attracted to older men. I’ve heard women say that the older men are more mature. Also, a woman might not be particular to a person of any age; they might be willing to partner with a person in a wide range of ages.

But let’s say it is because of father “issues” of one kind or another. Or it is because the woman wants to feel safe or protected or taken care of.

Is using a man this way a sort of psychological treatment? If so, does the treatment work? What is it treating the woman for? Is it always self-esteem? And if the treatment works, will the woman lose her attraction for the older man? Could she be using this experience as practice that will help her with other relationships (say to her father) or for future relationships? I.e., could, at some point, she “graduate” and move on to someone who is more appropriate for her because she has finally grown up?

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32 Answers

Coloma's avatar

I think that most women are looking for stability and yes, maybe an unconscious ( or conscious) father figure that implies a sense of safety, security, maturity.

Biologically speaking younger women would probably be better off with a mature man that would make a better husband, father. But…in reality, and I have seen this in my own experiences with family and friends, most of the time, when the woman is reaching her prime in her 30’s and 40’s they will leave the man who is slowing down, perhaps having health issues and or sexual issues.

My ex sister-in-law married a man who was 18 years older than her when she was 26 and had a 3 year old daughter. By the time she was 45 and he was 63, with diabetes and not caring for himself properly and the subsequent impotence of the situation she divorced him. Rather sad, but, he also would not do what he needed to become healthier. Over ate, smoked, didn’t exercise. Can’t say I blamed her really.

While the situation may work for awhile, it is unlikely to work long term.

Blackberry's avatar

I think a major factor is stability. It’s like evolutionary gold digging lol. Older people in general are more stable in many ways.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

I don’t think there is a simple answer to this. I think there is the classical “father identification” and that is touted as the most popular reason.

However, I still ascribe to this: you fall in love with who you fall in love with.

I know of a woman who married a man when she was 20 and he was 45. He left his family for her and they moved in. No one thought it would last. She was a university student and he was a professor. That was 40 years ago. They are still together.
Now, she is dealing with his issues with dementia. But she is still with him. And they are happily married. Did she have father issues? I don’t know. But she did not run away when she “grew up”. She grew up with him and stayed.

Not all stories are like this (see@Coloma). You have to take things on a case-by-case basis because it isn’t that simple. You cannot classify and label all “young/old” relationships like that.

What I would recommend is this….if someone has a May-December relationship, they should seek counselling and or do some workshops to make sure that the relationship is being fostered for all the right reasons….not money, power, prestige, control.

I once heard a younger woman say she liked older men because they were “more appreciative” than younger men…who simply get online and find another “new date” when they tire of the person they are dating. She also said that younger men just “play” at love and aren’t ready to settle down and older men are more “mature”. If they played around they have gotten it out of their system.

Mariah's avatar

According to evolutionary psychology (if you believe any of it), women are looking for men who could provide the most resources for her offspring. Older men, usually having their act together, are often a target for this reason.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Oh, come on, I know you didn’t just do the old ‘they’re looking for their daddy’ spiel. I’m sure there is a myriad of reasons.

bob_'s avatar

Hasn’t this question been asked several numerous times?

* sits down and waits for one side to be all “men are pigs” and for the other to be all “age doesn’t matter, I’ve seen it work” *

Coloma's avatar

Personally, age aside, MOST people stay in relationships long after they have run their course. It is rare to find a marriage where both people have continued to grow and evolve together. I don’t consider stagnant relationships that have a long shelf life to be anything to aspire to. lol

I think the viability of any relationship should be based on mutual growth not simply the duration in years.

I know people that speak with pride about being married for 20, 30 something years, like the number itself is some sort of accomplishment, when, in reality they are both just dependent on each other and havn’t really SEEN the other person since about 1982. lololol

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@bob_ Why would ‘all men are pigs’ come up in this one?

JilltheTooth's avatar

I have known some women who have “daddy issues” to seek older men. I have also known women who are simply more comfortable with older men for maturity reasons. In my 20s I spent a lot of time working on and around boats, so I dated men who were also involved with boats. Most of them were older as they were the ones that could afford boats and thus we shared similar interests. It was really that simple.

bob_'s avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Young women are naive, and older men, being the pigs that they are, take advantage. Aren’t you a gender expert? You should know this! ~

Blackberry's avatar

@JilltheTooth Did they wear Sperrys lol? Chicks dig the boatshoes lol.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@bob_ Oh, but I thought this q was about making assumptions about the women being unable to differentiate an older man from their daddy. I have a big brain, I know, but I really do forget all the stereotypes sometimes.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Blackberry : In those days, the Sperrys were the best deck shoes…we all wore the Sperrys!

nikipedia's avatar

Older men are very good at appreciating my youth and making me feel really beautiful and sexy. Younger men take it for granted.

Interestingly, I think the older men I’ve dated have been no more stable than the guys nearer my age.

Blackberry's avatar

@nikipedia It’s hard to find a stable mate in a slow economy lol.

nikipedia's avatar

@Blackberry: Lots of rich guys where I live. Lots of douchebags too, though. Related?

bob_'s avatar

@nikipedia I always thought douchebaggery and wealth had a non-significant correlation.

Blackberry's avatar

@bob_ Well, being a douchebag when you’re poor is just too much arrogance lol.

@nikipedia You should conduct some research :)

nikipedia's avatar

@Blackberry I’m way more interested in the men who fall in the non-overlapping set of rich and not a douchebag. Because, you know, all women are gold diggers, and that’s why we like older men.

Blackberry's avatar

@nikipedia I don’t blame anyone, I’d like my children to have a multitude of opportunities as well, who wouldn’t :)

nikipedia's avatar

Well, my dad, for one. See how I just tied these threads together??

Blackberry's avatar

@nikipedia Yes, very nice :) Maybe both of our dads are hanging out together.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Generalizing here. Older man- Younger woman means:

He’s experienced to recognize and appreciate (rather than try to best or scorn) a good woman.

He provides security in the way that at his age he will appreciate the woman’s youth and not be as big a gamble to stray as man closer to the woman’s own age.

He provides security in having a past of consistency to look at, a reputation built that can be attractive be it as a great guy, a responsible family man, a responsible worker, etc.

He sees time differently. He is not threatened by “the big picture” because he’s probably already been there, learned what works and what is redundant or negative.

His priorities are different. There is less posturing and obsessing to prove himself so he can concentrate on living life rather than speculating or dreaming about someday.

If he’s financially secure then he’s less paranoid about sharing, treating or doting on a woman because he’s learned his limits as far as the line between spoiling and being taken advantage of.

He’s more adventurous and open to new experiences having grown past the idealism of his youth. Most things are now a “why not, you only live once” type of thing.

Again, this is me generalizing from the things hundreds of men older than me have talked about around me and also what I’ve observed with men who’ve gone through multiple marriages and families.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Ok, seeing as how you’ve decided to focus solely on women who use it as a pathology, is there any way to not see it as pathological? If you don’t approach the issue with an open mind, you aren’t going to find anything other than confirmation.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

From this woman’s point of view. I don’t think it’s pathological that young women have attractions to older men. I don’t think the financial security thing is all wrong either. Think about it, if you’re a young woman who’s interested in a man who can provide the best family life (let’s say you’re an average family orientated human) then who are you going to feel most secure with?

a) A younger man with no track record, maybe no secure job, in the mindset of “omg-so many women, so little time- better party like a rockstar before I get bald or fat- I can’t settle down with this girl because that one there is so much hotter and maybe I could land her- still want to see if I can get a PHD in video game design- I want to be the next skateboard shorts megamogul.


b) An older man who has a track record for job stability, good spending habits, generosity with family, fidelity interests in couples/family activities aside from if he can pull of a 3-some or not.

MilkyWay's avatar

I’ve always been attracted to guys who are much older than me… and yes. I think looking for a “fatherly figure” and feeling safe both play a part in it.

woodcutter's avatar

Because older guys rock, that’s why.

syzygy2600's avatar

Although they would never admit it, for some women it’s because they want money and an older man is more likely to have it. You often see executives in their 50’s and 60’s with women half their age, but I don’t see to many old janitors with younger girlfriends.

MilkyWay's avatar

I must confess, I get attracted to older guys without even knowing if they’re rich or not. Or what it is they do for a living. I just get attracted to them…

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