General Question

MilkyWay's avatar

Is it wrong to be attracted to older men/women?

Asked by MilkyWay (13745points) June 25th, 2011

As some of you may know, I dig men more than boys.
That’s just how it is and I don’t really know why. When I go out, and don’t you dare say you don’t do the same I tend to look at older guys and just ignore boys my own age. Is this wrong?
I seriously don’t think it has to do with money or anything like that, as some people have suggested.
I’d really like your veiws on this. Thanks :)

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74 Answers

FluffyChicken's avatar

Women mature much more quickly than men do. Also, what is your relationship with your father like? I’m not saying this is you in particular, but lot of women who don’t have a very good relationship with their fathers tend to go for older men.

MilkyWay's avatar

@FluffyChicken My relationship with my father is far from good. Why does that make a difference?

Photosopher's avatar

Nothing wrong with it at all. Just dangerous, and sometimes for the reasons @FluffyChicken alludes to. Sometimes not… A bit of self reflection may provide insight as to whether a young fatherless girl is trying to fulfill a subconscious desire to have one.

FluffyChicken's avatar

This is just my theory, but I think it’s an attempt at replacement of what you are missing in your relationship with your father.

Also, give a gander at the Electra Complex and the Oedipus Complex .

Quite often women end up with men that resemble their fathers in certain aspects of personality.

When I was 20 I almost ran away with a 40 year old man

MissAnthrope's avatar

People with parental issues (one, the other, or both) tend to seek out their parents as mates. In psychology, they say this is to keep reliving the hurts of childhood until you’re able to figure out how to heal them. People who have parental issues also have a tendency to seek out mates that are considerably older than they are.

It’s not wrong, no. What’s wrong is if you are underage and the other person is not, then it becomes an issue of legality, which is quantifiably ‘wrong’ (in the eyes of the law). The actual act of liking older people or whatever, that is not wrong.

Photosopher's avatar

Parents as mates, or mates as parents?

MissAnthrope's avatar

@Photosopher – Not literally. They seek out mates that are copies of their parents in deed and action.

Facade's avatar

@queenie I feel the same way. My SO is 6 years older than me. The whole father issue theory sounds reasonable; my relationship with my dad isn’t that great either. Also, I’ve always felt older than I am and am attracted to mature people in general. So maybe that’s what’s going on with you?

Photosopher's avatar

Yes that’s what I thought, seeking a mate to subconsciously fulfill the parental role.

What’s odd is that it’s just reverse with young men. If they are over cuddled by mommy, they seek a mate who over cuddles and fills the mommy role. They’re not trying to get something they never had. They try to continue what they had all along. If they have no relationship with mommy, they’ll view women as untrustworthy and all bad, and perhaps treat them badly because they never had the experience of that bond… not a global statement by any means.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

Out of curiosity, what is the consensus on dating a younger woman? A woman my age gave me a guideline of half my age plus 9 years. That about right?

Photosopher's avatar

“A woman my age gave me guideline of half my age plus 9 years.”


Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@Photosopher low range of a woman’s age I could date without being creepy

Photosopher's avatar

@queenie I’m interested to know what you consider the difference between a man and a boy to be.

MilkyWay's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought Why is dating a woman younger than that creepy?

MilkyWay's avatar

@Photosopher Hmm, well. Men look different to boys, if you know what I mean.They look older. They also have a more mature attitude. They know more about life, they’ve got experience.

Photosopher's avatar

You do understand that a great percentage of seemingly mature older men are just little boys in aging bodies… don’t you?

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@queenie the issues the others are discussing. That maybe if you go much wider than that she has parental issues and I perhaps have a need to act like a father in a relationship.

zenvelo's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought The rule of thumb I go by is half my age + 7.

As for me that’s about the border of creep factor between older and younger partner.

I live in a town that is overall pretty well off. Although I was 40 when my son was born, I am far from the oldest dad at the PTA. I see a lot of second wives that are much younger than their husbands. A man dating a woman that is 20 yrs younger gets awkward 15 yrs later when he is in his sixties and she is still a good looking woman in her 40s.

For me, I wouldn’t date a woman more than 10 years younger.

MissAnthrope's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought – I’ve heard the various ‘rules’, but I think it’s silly. Mainly because it’s kind of a curve.. there’s a period where more of an age gap is acceptable than others.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It is only a bad idea if you are attracted to them due to their age. The maturity factor, as well as how the two partners connect should weigh more when it comes to potentially having a successful relationship.

Photosopher's avatar

Yes that’s right @Imadethisupwithnoforethought. Younger girls must be very careful of older men who accept this arrangement. Their willingness to accept the “fathering” role could easily be a psychosis manifest by not being capable of dealing with mature women close to their own age. Weak men are so easily intimidated by level headed mature women. Easier for them to entertain a young girl, filling her head with fantastical possibilities of utopian companionship. A mature woman can see right through the bullshit of a weak older man.

MilkyWay's avatar

Gee, I don’t even know the age of half the guys I see. As I said, they just look more mature.
The way they dress, walk, talk, it’s all different to a boy.
I understand what you guys mean though, about the whole parent/partner thing.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@queenie You might find the older men who you should be dating that are older than you, won’t date you because they actually worry about you. Be careful if a much older man seems too easy to get.

Photosopher's avatar

To expand on @Imadethisupwithnoforethought‘s wise comments, consider that healthy relationships are an adventure explored in togetherness. Experiences are best remembered and honored when they are experienced for the first time together, as a couple. Though it may be tempting to subconsciously view a previously experienced male as some type of life guide, or coach, in the long term, be prepared for future regrets that the two of you didn’t experience the challenges of life for the first time, together as a couple.

stardust's avatar

I’m attracted to older men and I don’t see anything wrong with it at all. I’ve found it hard to relate to guys my own age. I prefer older men as they’re more mature(not all of them, of course) and have had more life experience. It’s merely a personal preference. I don’t have a good relationship with my father and am aware of my feelings around all of that.

_zen_'s avatar

Is it wrong? No.

Natural? Why not. Older men can be handsome – look ay my avatar, or Sean Connery or Harrison Ford.

The question is whether you act upon it. That’s where I would advise caution.

Women peak sexually at about 35 years of age. Men – about four minutes.

FluffyChicken's avatar

@Photosopher “healthy relationships are an adventure explored in togetherness” strikes me as very profound, and I’m stealing it. I hope you don’t mind.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I’ve always been attracted to older men. You don’t have to date people your own age.
Just for the record, I have a wonderful relationship with my father… and it definitely has nothing to do with money.

Photosopher's avatar

@queenie “Hmm, well. Men look different to boys, if you know what I mean.They look older. They also have a more mature attitude. They know more about life, they’ve got experience.”

While I appreciate your perspective, I must disagree. Especially about the “mature attitude”. That is very easily faked at the drop of a hat for most fellas. Hard for most dudes to keep that maturity in play long term.

Consider another difference between boys and men.

Men pursue what’s best for others, even at the expense of their own suffering.

Boys pursue what’s best for themselves, even at the expense of others suffering.

FluffyChicken's avatar

@Photosopher if that statement is true I know a lot of 40+ year old boys.

augustlan's avatar

Psst. While answering this question, let’s remember that @queenie is now @jailbait for a reason.

If you’re a legal adult, it’s fine. You’re not just yet, and it can be very dangerous for reasons others have stated. More than that, it’s awfully easy for an older man to take advantage of a younger girl. Trust me on this… been there, done that.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@jailbait (/facepalm) That’s pretty normal actually. It’s common for girls to be attracted to older men, because a 16 year old girl often has the same emotional maturity as a 20 year old man.

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Just be careful, please? And definitely remember the “look don’t touch” policy until you’re of legal age, so that no one gets into any trouble, okay? We really love you here, and I’m sure a lot of us moms worry about you. (((hugs)))

FluffyChicken's avatar

I second that… Don’t get anyone in trouble please, especially not yourself.

WasCy's avatar

I don’t give it any thought at all. People are attracted to those who attract them, period. It’s acting on those attractions that can get a body in trouble.

pshizzle's avatar

You can’t control your sexual preference. It’s better in my opinion to go older rather than younger.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s not wrong, but a lot of people think it’s weird. They think that the man is taking advantage of the girl. They think it’s unequal. They think the relationship is unbalanced.

Friends of mine are like that. I think he was ten or so years older, back when he was 30 and she was 20. Now that’s not so much of a difference, but back then it made a big difference. She saw him as a kind of guru and teacher, and basically she did whatever he said. She wasn’t really her own person.

At some point in their relationship, things changed. She had grown sufficiently that she no longer needed nor could tolerate such an unequal power relationship. It was pretty difficult for them to negotiate this stretch, and it was weird, because they wrote about it in their Christmas letters. But they are still together.

She definitely had issues about her father. I don’t know what they were, but I know they were there. I would feel safe making a generalization that the vast majority of women who are only attracted to older men are looking for the father they never had. This is not conscious, of course. But it makes sense. I don’t think it’s psychobabble, either.

I think they are dealing with self-esteem issues. Their fathers never told them anything nice about them. They look to other older men to get the approval they never had. They are trying to figure out what makes them worthy of any attention at all, and often times, they think their bodies are what makes them worth anything.

Of course, bodies get old eventually, and so that is not stable ground for self-esteem, so it’s a trap, because when they do get older, the older men often “trade them in” for a newer model.

The older men have issues, too. They are often immature in a way. They aren’t comfortable dealing with an equal. They derive their worth from being able to order a woman around, but when women get older, they tend to gain more power as they begin to understand their worth comes from something other than their bodies. A lot of men are uncomfortable with this, and prefer the girls who dote on them and worship the ground they walk on.

It makes me sad that these patterns play out so often. It seems difficult for any kind of understanding to happen between people (and not just older men and younger women), because we play out these scripts that we learn as children, but they don’t work for us. There are a number of scripts, but I’m not sure there are all that many.

That’s scary because it means we aren’t as unique as we’d like to think we are. I don’t want to be predictable, but anyone who knows my past will be able to make a lot of good guesses about how I will respond in various situations and they’ll be right on target. I used to think that mental illness made me special, until I discovered thousands of people who react to the same situations exactly the way I do.

I’m a lonely guy and I always will be a lonely guy, no matter how many people love me, because I’m the one who doesn’t believe the love. I’m the one who can’t see it is genuine. If I had a young woman adore me, would I believe that? It would make me feel good. But I don’t know if it could last.

My wife , who is my age, has stuck through a lot of serious, often marriage-breaking troubles with me. She has saved my life. She loves me to death. But do I feel it? Sometimes it seems like you can’t win even though you are winning everything in sight.

Photosopher's avatar

@jailbait “My relationship with my father is far from good.”

I’m sorry about that. I know a few ladies who feel the same, and some, over time, have reached a limited but grateful reconciliation with their father. It’s not easy when the child is more mature than the parent, and it’s so common in current society.

I ask you to consider that hope for reconcile is never lost, and offer you the wisdom for what it’s worth to exercise your relationship with patience, empathy, and hope that one day, with your diligence, a satisfying relationship of sorts will be found acceptable.

Nullo's avatar

Not particularly. Much older men could be problematic, though, for societal, economic, and medical reasons.

BeckyKytty's avatar

No, nor vice versa!

flo's avatar

The word “wrong” doesn’t even come into the puicture if they are both over 40 , it is not a big deal. It is when one is 18 and the other is 22 let’s say, that the older person’s maturity level is less than good. It is wrong for anyone 18 and over to be with anyone under 18. It is not “wrong” to be attracted to them though, since human beings don’t work on being attracted to someone.

MilkyWay's avatar

Thanks for answering guys, all your veiws are much appreciated.
Just for the record, I’m legal in my own country.
And yes @WillWorkForChocolate I will be careful honey. My choice of name was only because of the fact that it was recognisable to the jellies close to me ;)

JLeslie's avatar

It’s understandable that young women might be attracted to older men. Young men tend to be very immature. Hre’s the thing, if the age difference is very large, and especially if the younger girl is under 20, the danger is the older man seeks very young women. It is not so much the girls attraction to the man, but the man’s attraction to the girl that bothers me. Older men have an incredible advantage over young women. They can work you over pretty good, they know what to say, how to control you, how to suck you in, much better than a teen boy who is just figuring this stuff out. The older man like younger women because they can be more easily controlled, or because they have firm young bodies, both disgusting in their own right. Older women can also have amazing bodies, but there is a distinct difference between a 16 year old body and 26 year old body, even if they both look fantastic. If the guy always is going to seek 16–18 year olds, even when he is 45, yuck.

Sometimes people do just hit it off well, and are very different ages, and one is veru very young, of course that happens and can be a good relationship, but I think it is rather rare.

I do think many times it is playing out a sort of electra complex, either repeating a father daughter relationship, or trying to repair a father daughter dynamic. Personally, I married my mother, lol, not sure what that means? I hear my mothers “voice” come out of my husband’s mouth all of the time.

Bellatrix's avatar

When I was your age I always dated older men. In the end, the men I have married are both only about five years older than me. It also wasn’t anything to do with money or status but more intelligence and maturity. As long as the person is dating you because of who you are and not how old you are, I don’t see a problem with this.

I don’t like these rules that say you can only date a person three years and five months older or younger than you or whatever. We are individuals. If you meet a man who inspires you and makes you feel wonderful when you are around them, who gets you and encourages you to live your life fully, regardless of their age, if it feels right to you and him, enjoy.

Aethelwine's avatar

I also liked the older guys when I was your age. Maybe 10 years older than me, at the most. There’s nothing wrong with that. I really don’t have more to add to what has been said here, only that you should never date someone because of their age. You may miss out on a really great guy who is the same age as you if you limit yourself to older guys. I met my husband when I was 20 (we’re the same age), and he was wiser than any older guy I dated before him. :)

cheebdragon's avatar

I’ve never dated anyone within 5 years of my age, even when I was 13. I just don’t even think of guys my age in a sexual way. I see them as boys, and I’m only interested in men.

KateTheGreat's avatar

It’s not wrong at all. I find older men more attractive at times.

King_Pariah's avatar

It’s completely natural you’re looking for someone of a similiar level of maturity and as much as it pains me to say it, most of us guys mature way slower than girls

but if you’re really jailbait, please don’t tempt us, we have a hard enough time as it is stopping ourselves from divulging in debaucheries. lol

Uberwench's avatar

If you’re talking about being attracted as in looking, it’s more than okay—it’s understandable. Like you said: 16 year old boys look like boys, but 30 year old men look like men. When it comes to dating, you just have to be careful about why someone too much older would want to date someone so much younger. If it’s because women their own age don’t want them, that’s often a bad sign.

bob_'s avatar

One can’t decide who one finds attractive.

On a side note, the age of consent in England is 16, so you don’t have to worry about potential legal ramifications of your actions.

ratboy's avatar

The best hours of my dotage are spent cougar hunting at the nursing home.

Berserker's avatar

There’s nothing wrong with it. And even if it was wrong, it’s not like you can help your drives and attraction.
Just please be careful, if you ever venture beyond than just being attracted.

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MilkyWay's avatar

Thank you all for answering :)

seekingwolf's avatar

As long as you are in the relationship for the right reasons and you are of the age of consent in your area, I don’t see the problem. As you have stated, you’re not a “gold digger”.

I have been in a couple long term relationships with older men. From the time I was 18 to about a year from that, I was with a man 15 years my senior. I ended up leaving him and spending a little time single and ended up with a man who was 38 years…my senior! He was 57 and I was barely 20 when we met. We had a great relationship together, no regrets. My father even knew of us and was supportive. I have a wonderful relationship with my father. He’s always been one of the most important people in my life.

Let me give you some insight into what I went through. My older man had many health problems. We also were on different pages. Not in terms of maturity, but what we wanted/could do. I liked to go for walks and he just couldn’t do those. He, being much older, was very set in his ways and would get irked if I did something that was out of them. I also am young and enjoy alcohol. I never was the “party” sort (prefer to drink at home and not get drunk) but he stopped drinking ages ago and didn’t like when I drank. at all.

While he treated me well and we loved each other deeply, I didn’t feel that I was getting what I needed emotionally. Sexually, nothing was happening there and while I accepted this for a long time, I realised that it was something that I did want in my relationship. I eventually left him. We are still close to this day and I contact him each day to see how he’s doing.

I’m now 21 and I’m in a relationship with my best friend, who I have known for years. I used to swear to myself that I’d NEVER date a guy my age, a “boy”. My best friend is an old soul and I love him dearly. And it’s true, I won’t ever date a “boy”. I only date men. But what makes a man isn’t his age, it’s his composition. You can find men at our ages (20s or teens) and you can find boys at older ages. Trust me, I’ve met both sorts. Gotta keep your wits about you.

My advice is, be open. I had awesome experiences with both age groups so I won’t put either down. My advice is don’t date someone too old. I do think that if you do that, you run the risk of having to deal with them being ill and elderly when you are far too young and I think that will be really hard on you, or anyone for that matter.

Remember, it’s about the person, not the age. Love can come to you at any age…maybe he’ll be your age or a little younger, 5 years older, 10 years older…25 years…? Who knows!

MilkyWay's avatar

Thanks @seekingwolf. It’s good to know it actually was a good relationship :)

seekingwolf's avatar

Oh yes. It was a fine relationship. I learned a lot about myself and how to be a good partner. No regrets. He’s even been my personal reference for me on jobs and I was for him when he wanted to adopt his new dog. He’ll always be in my life.

I am just curious but what sort of age difference are you attracted to in a relationship?

MilkyWay's avatar

Around 10–12 years older.

throssog's avatar

If age, as such, becomes a meaningful criteria for selecting friends or potential mates then there are problems with the criteria, imho. I do not think that people are “their age” but are themselves. Please, do not try the “pedophile attack” as that is not my meaning here. If there is “someone home” then I am interested – if not, I am not.

Nullo's avatar

I’ve found this XKCD comic insightful. Standard Creepiness Rule: don’t date below [(your age)/2]+7

seekingwolf's avatar

@Nullo that’s a good rule when you’re concerned about what people think. Not necessarily a good rule for what age difference is considered “good” for a relationship but it’s a VERY good rule of thumb for what sort of age difference is considered “acceptable” by societal standards.

My last piece of advice is just be careful. I say that to everyone, regardless of the age difference. Always look closely at the people that you intend to date and make sure that the wool isn’t being pulled over your eyes.

Nullo's avatar

@seekingwolf My own moral system is not based on what society deems acceptable. But a lot of people recognize no other, what with that relativism and everything.

seekingwolf's avatar

@Nullo Oh I know, me too. I was just saying that because I have heard people use that math rule and be like “This means that you SHOULDN’T date someone over/under this age..blah blah” and I don’t think it should be used in that way. I’m just saying that I feel that the rule has nothing to do with determining who people “should” date or what is right. All it is is a good measure of what is “acceptable” in others’ eyes. There seems to be a range of age difference that society is willing to except, depending on the age of the people involved.

Dumb, I know. But it’s good to know that upon entering such a relationship, you are likely to get some backlash from people, even strangers. Just be prepared and you’ll be fine. My ex boyfriend and I encountered very rude people when we were out in public together and almost were not served at a restaurant once because the waitress was so offended by our mere presence.

People get so bent out of shape at times.

MilkyWay's avatar

Thank you all once again :)

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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

If you want to play the ideology card, then it is wrong. If you go by biology then it is not. Going the ideology way is like trying to say you will be less wet if you fell into a swimming pool than if you fell into the ocean, wet is wet, not matter how large the body of water. Ideology lends credence to many beliefs:

• She is seeking a daddy figure.
• She will end up with a man like her father (wonder how that works if the father was out of the picture?).
• She will be taken advantage of.
• She will be controlled by him.
• He doesn’t want an equal but a puppet he can boink.
• Etc, etc, etc.

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